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Moving to The Hague

Located in the west of the Netherlands and on the edge of the North Sea, The Hague is often referred to as the judicial capital of the world due to the many international courts in the city. It’s the seat of the national government and the country’s third largest metropolis. The Hague is also a major UN host city and home to more than 150 international organisations, as well as many EU institutions, multinational companies and embassies, all of which make it one of Europe’s most popular expat destinations and give it a distinctly international character. 

The Hague might not have edgy dynamism of the country’s capital, Amsterdam, which lies a short distance to the northeast, and it has a reputation as a wealthy, conservative and sedate city. But that doesn’t mean it’s a dull place to live and it boasts plenty of green space, a beautiful coastline, attractive shopping streets and picturesque historical buildings.

It has seen a lot of development over recent years, with more and more modern buildings popping up, but The Hague is still a compact city and has an efficient public transport system that makes it easy to travel to local and international destinations. The Hague is also very pedestrian-friendly.

Expats with children needn’t worry about the quality of their education, as the city has several good international schools and universities. Not to mention, family-friendly entertainment opportunities abound in the form of museums, shopping streets, restaurants and other attractions.

Much like the rest of the Netherlands, the city has a temperate climate and its coastal location means that winters are slightly milder than inland cities, while summers are sunny and warm.

Accommodation in The Hague

While The Hague may not be as diverse as Amsterdam, it’s still home to large communities of foreigners and it’s not uncommon to find people from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures living alongside each other in the city.

There are a number of accommodation options available, but demand is high which means they’re more expensive. Due to the short-term nature of most assignments, many expats opt to rent rather than buy property in The Hague.


Types of property in The Hague

As space is limited, most people live in apartments or row houses as opposed to standalone properties. Most homes in The Hague come with a balcony or access to a small garden, but it’s difficult to find places with designated parking spots, so those who own a car will need to look into renting a bay at an additional cost. 


Finding property in The Hague

To get an idea of what is available and property prices, expats can look at options on estate agency websites before they move to the Netherlands. Real estate agents are also good sources of information. They have an in-depth knowledge of the local market and most agencies in The Hague share listings, which will give expats access to a bigger pool of potential homes. It’s important to note that, in the Netherlands, the tenant is responsible for paying the agent’s fee, which is usually equivalent to a month’s rent. 


Signing a lease in The Hague

When renting accommodation in The Hague, expats should carefully confirm what exactly is included in their contract. For example, utilities aren’t always covered in the rental price and may need to be considered as additional expenses for the tenant. Deposits range from one to three months’ rent and will be returned once the tenant moves out, provided there are no damages.  

Areas and suburbs in The Hague

The Hague is the capital of the South Holland Province, which includes other cities such as Delft, Wassenaar and Leiden. All of these are located in close proximity to The Hague and many people commute into the city from these areas each day.

Factors that must be taken into consideration when choosing an area to live in The Hague include proximity to good international schools, access to transport links and available amenities.

Below are of some of the most popular areas in The Hague.


Neighbourhoods in The Hague

Centrum

This central part of the city is close to shops, embassies, restaurants, cafés and green spaces. Accommodation options include luxury villas, historical buildings and modern apartments. Rental prices are high and reflect the area’s desirability, and space is limited, which makes parking a challenge.

Wassenaar

Known as the Beverly Hills of the Netherlands, Wassenaar’s gated villas typically house diplomats and wealthy expats. It’s highly desirable due to its proximity to some of the best international schools, but prices are among the most expensive in the Hague.

Haagse Hout 

This area boasts large homes and plenty of open space, and it’s particularly popular among families. In addition to having access to lots of green spaces, residents of this district will also find that they’re within easy reach of the beach resorts of Kijkduin and Scheveningen.

Segbroek 

Segbroek is a peaceful suburb located near a quiet section of beach. Houses are modest, rent is reasonable and there are lots of little shops, coffee houses and other amenities in the area. Active expats will enjoy taking hikes through the nearby forest.

Education and Schools in The Hague

School is compulsory in the Netherlands for children aged between five and 16. All schools in the country, including private institutions, are bound by the rules of the Ministry of Education, so the standard of education is the same across the board.

Expat children can attend public schools, providing there are spaces available. Teaching standards are high and schools are efficiently run, albeit with a slightly more casual feel than some expats may be used to. As lessons are mostly taught in Dutch, public school is really only a feasible option for younger expat children who are in a better position to overcome the language barrier.


Public schools in The Hague

Government-funded primary schools (basisschool) are free to all children aged between four and 12. For the first year, attendance is optional and only becomes compulsory on a child’s fifth birthday.

There are three types of public secondary education and recommendations made by primary school teachers aim to ensure each child is matched with the option that best suits their character. All three types begin with a generic curriculum for the first two years, after which they specialise in different areas. VMBO (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs) schools offer a practical and vocational programme, while HAVO (hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs) and VWO (voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs) are more academically focused. 


Private and international schools in The Hague

Private and international schools are partly funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, which means that while they have greater flexibility when it comes to the curricula and teaching methods, they’re still required to meet the standards set by the ministry. 

Most of these schools offer the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) or the International Baccalaureate (IB), but there are some international schools that follow the curriculum of a specific country. 

International Schools in The Hague

Many international schools in The Hague are partly funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, which means that while they have greater flexibility when it comes to the curricula and teaching methods, they’re still required to meet the standards set by the ministry. 

Most of these schools offer the Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels or the International Baccalaureate, but there are some international schools that follow the curriculum of a specific country. Below is a list of some of the most prominent international schools in The Hague.


International Schools in The Hague

American School of The Hague

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.ash.nl

The British School in the Netherlands

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE, A-levels and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.britishschool.nl

European School The Hague

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: European Baccalaureate 
Ages: 4 to 18
Curriculum: www.eshthehague.nl

Deutsche Internationale Schule Den Haag

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.disdh.nl

The International School of The Hague

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Primary Curriculum and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 4 to 18
Website: www.ishthehague.nl

Sekolah Indonesia Den Haag

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Indonesian
Ages: 6 to 18
Website: www.sekolahindonesia.nl

Lifestyle in The Hague

While The Hague might not have as much to offer in terms of lifestyle activities as Amsterdam or Rotterdam, expats relocating to the city will still find all sorts to suit people with varied interests. 


Shopping in The Hague

The Hague is the ideal place to shop in style. Shoppers will find chic fashion boutiques in and around Hofkwartier and Denneweg, but for alternative and edgy styles, they should head to the Prinsestratte and the Oude Molstraat. For a really unique shopping experience, there’s De Passage, which dates back to the 19th century and is the oldest mall in the Netherlands.

When it comes to grocery shopping, all of the big names in the Netherlands can be found in The Hague. For seasonal and local produce, it’s best to visit the local markets. 


Eating out in The Hague

Dutch food is fairly simple and consists of traditional roasted meat dishes, potatoes and boiled vegetables. While it’s always worth sampling local delicacies, expats will also find a range of international cuisines, including African, French, Italian, Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Chinese. 


Sports and outdoor activities in The Hague

Active expats living in The Hague can take part in a wide variety of sports, from swimming and water sports to hiking, fishing and cycling. There are also a number of wonderful national parks that are worth a visit. The Scheveningen Woods, just a short drive from The Hague’s city centre, offers a number of picturesque walking and hiking trails and cycle paths, as well as a children’s playground.

Those who prefer to exercise indoors will find plenty of gyms and fitness centres throughout the city, many of which offer personal training services at an additional cost.

Kids and Family in The Hague

Expats moving to The Hague with children will find that the city has plenty to keep the little ones entertained. Below are a few fun ideas for both rain and shine.


Kid-friendly activities in The Hague

Among the most popular outings for children are the incredibly realistic miniature cityscapes at Madurodam and the fascinating underwater scenes of the Sea Life aquarium.

The seaside suburb of Scheveningen is popular with families during the summer and The Hague’s many parks make great picnic spots too. Westduinpark boasts some easy walking trails along the dunes that provide great views of the city. There’s also the tranquil and historic Clingendael estate, and animal lovers will enjoy a day at one of the city farms or petting zoos.

When the weather is unfavourable in The Hague, parents will find that there are a number of excellent indoor activities for children as well. Planet Jump’s indoor trampoline centre is a brilliant venue for children’s parties and a good way to burn up excess energy. Glow Golf provides a unique indoor glow-in-the-dark miniature golf experience for kids.

Getting Around in The Hague

The Hague is a compact city where residents can get around easily on foot. The public transport network is efficient and easy to use and while owning a car is not a necessity, many families choose to have their own vehicle for convenience. The city-wide public transport system consists of light rail, trams and buses that connect the various districts.


Public transport in The Hague

The public transport system in the Netherlands is integrated and passengers can use the services via the OV Chipkaart system, a card which is swiped as passengers enter and exit a bus, tram or train. This card system is used all over the Netherlands, making it easy to travel between different cities. There is a variety of cards available.

Buses

The buses offer an extensive service throughout the city and surrounding areas. The buses are mostly used to travel between districts and larger areas in The Hague.

Trams

The trams in The Hague offer fast and efficient services. Services vary according to route, but are regular and run on time. The trams are mostly used to move around in the major areas, as it is quick to get on and off.

Trains

Using the train is often the best option for journeys to destinations outside The Hague. The Nederlandse Spoorwegen has a comprehensive network that stretches across the entire country.


Taxis in The Hague

While travelling by taxi can be expensive, the fare structure implemented throughout the Netherlands means that passengers can’t be overcharged by drivers. Expats must be certain to only use authorised taxis to ensure that they are not overcharged. Legitimate taxis can be recognised by their blue number plates. 


Driving in The Hague

Parking is limited in The Hague and can be expensive. Most residents use public transport, but those who want to explore the country might find it useful to have a car. The roads are excellent and because of the relatively small size of the country, most places are easily reachable.


Cycling in The Hague

Locals love to cycle and expats will find this is a fast and cost-effective way to get around. Secondhand bikes are cheap to buy and The Hague’s cycling infrastructure is very good. Unfortunately, bike theft is a problem in the Netherlands, so expats should ensure that their bicycles are always locked up safely.