The Hague is a busy place with a relaxed, independent lifestyle. Though Amsterdam is the official capital, the Hague (Den Haag in Dutch) is the Netherlands’ administrative center. The nation’s Cabinet, Legislature, Supreme Court, and Council of State all reside here, along with the king and queen.
Besides being the seat of government, the city’s also a diplomatic hub. More than 200 international organizations are headquartered here, including the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, not to mention numerous foreign embassies and multinational corporations, such as Shell Oil.
Despite the city’s administrative and diplomatic status, the Hagenezen (residents born and raised in the city) and Hagenaars (residents born outside the city) don’t waste much time slaving away at the office. They have some of the fewest working hours in Europe. Many work part-time or freelance. Remote work may be new to the United States, but here it’s old hat. Hagenezen and Hagenaars have been working happily from cafes and kitchens for years. And when they do go into the office, few bother with suits and ties.
This same informality also extends to every other aspect of life. The Dutch are big believers in the concept of “alles mag” (everything is allowed). People here are free to live however they please, without judgment. What you do isn’t your neighbor’s concern, but neither is your wellbeing. Communities expect citizens to look after themselves. There are few rules limiting what you can do, so long as you take responsibility for it.
This type of personal freedom is one of the reasons people love living in the Hague, but it’s not the only one. People also enjoy the city’s:
Because of its diplomatic connections, the Hague has a huge community of foreign nationals, mostly Turks, Surinamese, Moroccans, Indonesians, and Poles. However, it’s likely you’ll find plenty of people from your home country as well. The enormous expat community is not only a chance to expand your horizons, it also helps new arrivals settle in. No matter where you're from, it’s easy to touch base and make friends with like-minded people. Even if you’ve traveled thousands of miles, somehow, after a few weeks, the place feels like home.
The Hague isn’t Bermuda, but its climate isn’t nearly as harsh as some of its European neighbors. Because it borders the North Sea, the city enjoys mild winters and warm summers. While there is occasional snowfall and temperature spikes, the weather here is mostly comfortable, rarely freezing cold or broiling hot.
Good schools might not be a selling point for children, but living in the Hague gives them access to one of the best education systems on the planet. All of the city’s primary schools are publicly funded. There are fees for lunch and extracurricular activities, but these are small. Most schools are set up close to the major neighborhoods, so kids can bike there on their own, rather than hitch a ride with mom and dad. What's more, they’re open to everyone, including foreigners.
Secondary schools aren’t free in the Netherlands, but their tuition is subsidized by the government so the cost is low. There are also specialty programs that teach Dutch to foreign children, in order to integrate them into the school system as quickly as possible.
Parents planning to stay for only a few years may prefer to send their children to an international school instead. These offer classes in the student’s native language and follow the main curriculum of their home country, so after they leave, students can pick up right where they left off. Unfortunately, international schools aren’t subsidized. Tuition is paid out of pocket, but for parents who don’t intend to settle permanently in the country, the costs may be worth it.
The Hague is one of the few foreign cities where it’s not necessary to learn the national language. Practically everyone speaks English. Most are fluent, while the rest usually know enough to work out what you're saying. Because Dutch isn’t spoken much internationally, English is the Lingua Franca in the city’s business and diplomatic sectors, making it even easier for Americans to assimilate.
Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, the city housing the International Criminal Court is one of the safest in Europe. While serious crimes are almost unheard of, petty crimes such as vandalism and illegal possession do happen from time to time, though not enough to register with most Hagenezen or Hagenaars. People living in the Hague don’t look over their shoulder when they walk down the street. Parents feel safe letting their children ride their bikes alone through the streets and countryside.
Most Hagenezen and Hagenaars don’t have to go far to enjoy nature. The city has a ton of green space. But while every neighborhood has its own parks, residents go out of their way to visit:
Nightclubs are widely advertised in most cities, but in the Hague, you have to hunt for them. While the city has its share of pubs and taverns, the best ones are often tucked away. Wander down a side street and odds are you’ll encounter a drinking spot that’s survived hundreds of years or a club playing smooth jazz for select patrons.
Exploring these hidden gems makes nights here a kind of treasure hunt. Every neighborhood has its own lucky find, but there are a few spots worth seeking out, such as:
Allied’s international moving team takes the stress out of settling down overseas. We cover you door to door, making sure everything in your household is transported smoothly from your home country to your new country. Contact us today for a free quote!