Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands (350,000 inhabitants) and is located in the center of the country, so all major cities are nearby (such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam or The Hague). It is quite small, so you do not need a car, but at the same time it offers everything that a much bigger city can offer. Living in Utrecht can be a great experience.
The city center is incredibly beautiful, and given the small size of the city, you can bike or walk along the canals, admiring the historic buildings and the most picturesque squares of the city. There is also no shortage of bars, pubs and restaurants, and nightlife is always lively thanks to the many students in the city.
Utrecht, like the entire Netherlands, is quite an expensive city. Both food and transportation are quite expensive. But as far as public transportation is concerned you can save money by using the bicycle, which is most common here.
The main problem is housing, which is not only expensive but also difficult to find, especially if you are a foreigner, do not speak the language, and have no local support. However, the housing problem affects a bit of everyone, as evidenced by the fact that many move to neighboring cities and use the efficient Dutch public transportation system to get to work in Utrecht every morning.
Utrecht is one of the most vibrant cities in the Netherlands and for this reason a popular place to live for many students and foreign workers. Communication is not a problem, as most of the city’s inhabitants speak English, but if you really want to integrate and get to know the country’s society and culture in depth, you will have to learn Dutch. Although it is a difficult language to learn, it must be said that it belongs to the Germanic languages and has many similarities with English, so if you already know English well, you will do very well. In any case, the best way to learn Dutch and any foreign language in general is always to meet with locals, because if you meet only with compatriots, you will never learn the language.
But even if you know the language, it does not mean that all Dutch people will automatically become your friends. They have their own circle of old acquaintances and hardly let newcomers in, especially if they are foreigners. You can not say you have made friends with a Dutch person until you receive an invitation to dinner at their house, which can take years. People love their privacy and personal space. So avoid getting too personal in conversations, do not get too close or physically touch them, and never start a conversation with a stranger.
Speaking of work, the presence of numerous students, and therefore graduates, who leave its prestigious university each year has led many established or start-up companies to choose Utrecht as their headquarters. The companies range from finance to banking, from research to science and IT. Its strategic position makes it an ideal location for logistics and transport companies, which are numerous here. Not to be forgotten is also the important commercial port.
Living and working in Utrecht pros and cons
Living in Utrecht, pros
- Very pretty city with many canals and historic buildings
- Friendly and open-minded people.
- Excellent public transportation
- You can go everywhere by bike
- Good job opportunities
- Excellent services
Living in Utrecht, cons
- Heavy traffic
- High cost of living (especially housing)
- Nordic climate
Living and working in Utrecht, conclusion
Utrecht could be called a city on a human scale: It is possible to reach every place by bicycle. The city has the liveliness that only a student city can offer, and there is no shortage of places to have fun or spend a few pleasant hours. People are generally friendly and outgoing, and if you ever get bored, you can take the train and be in Rotterdam or Amsterdam in 30 minutes.