November 1, 2006 4:37:04 PM CET
Soon I will be moving to the Netherlands near Leiden. I have been told Wassenarr is the place to live for expats. Any ideas? Kids are in college and I find without kids at home it is harder to meet people. I heard that a lot of expats live in wassenarr so it would be a good choice. I heard that Leiden is exciting but it would be harder to connect with expats. This will be my first time overseas, so I am a total novice at all that comes with this move. Any ideas would be welcome. I am excited!
I've lived in Holland for close to 12 years, and the last 9 have been in Wassenaar, also known as Expat Alley.
Wassenaar is a favorite among expats (diplomats and corporate executives) with children, particularly because of the American School, and the shops which cater to expat needs.
Known as the Beverly Hills of The Netherlands, you'll need a large budget for housing as it is the most expensive place to buy or rent in the country.
The downside of living in Wassenaar is that because so many expats live here, it's very easy to become isolated from the Dutch community.
Also, Wassenaar Centrum is one of the most disappointing town centres in NL, with shops closing and declaring bankruptcy more often than you'd expect.
If you do not have school-aged children, I'd skip Wassenaar and explore other areas of The Hague, such as the charming Statenkwartier, Benoordenhout or Mariahoeve (Similar to Wassenaar, with a 50/50 mix of Dutch and expat residents, but cheaper real estate prices).
If you're considering Leiden, look at renting in Oegstgeest (pronounced ooooost-haste), which also has an International School, and a number of expats living in the area. The town has plenty of green space, is quiet, and is just a 10 minute bike ride from the centre of Leiden.
Another option for you is the lovely little village of Voorschoten (like Wassenaar, this is an annex of The Hague), which has the British School and a train station, so commuting to the city would be easy. It also has a fairly large expat community, and housing prices are much more affordable there than in Wassenaar. The town centre has a lovely mix of restaurants and shops, and unlike Wassenaar, businesses in Voorschoten seem to be thriving. (Voorschoten is just a 15 minute bike ride from the centre of Wassenaar.)
You might check www.funda.nl
to compare housing prices of the different areas I've listed above (click on "Funda Wonen"). My top three choices would be Oegstgeest, Voorschoten, and The Statenkwartier (in the Hague).
Good luck with your move.