Monday 02 August 2021

Expats ‘shun’ Amsterdam due to housing and education shortages

Amsterdam's Zuidas business district. Photo:

Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district. Photo:

Expats are starting to steer clear of Amsterdam due to the cost of housing and lack of international schools, TomTom’s chief executive has told the Parool.

Harold Goddijn told the paper on Thursday that companies are struggling to find international staff because of competition for housing and education. These issues can cause ‘a bottleneck or even be a noose around the neck’ for international companies, he said.

‘We like being in this city, which is growing as an international hub for creative businesses,’ he told the paper. ‘But the housing market and international education systems are beginning to show the cracks…[Expats] will not come if their children cannot get a place.’

TomTom, the vehicle navigation service, employs nearly 1,000 people in its headquarters near Amsterdam’s main railway station – and counts 60 nationalities among its global staff.

High rent

Petra Tiel  of the employers association VNO-NCW told the Parool: ‘We often hear that the Amsterdam housing market is a problem for companies…mainly a shortage of mid-priced rentals. Young talent earns too much for social housing but too little for Amsterdam’s high rents, let alone to buy a house.’

Figures from housing platform Pararius earlier this year show people renting a house in the non-rent-controlled housing sector now have to pay over €2,000 a month.

She added that Amsterdam might want to take advantage of Brexit by attracting companies from London but these obstacles might mean places like Barcelona or Berlin would have the edge.

Kajsa Ollongren, head of economic affairs at Amsterdam council, told the Parool that these questions often come up, but that the city is constructing 50,000 new homes by 2025 and creating 1,500 extra places at international schools in the next four years to ease the pressure.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.