Raising a Family in the Netherlands: Dream vs Reality

May 28, 2018
  Yung girls smilign at the camera in a swimming poolLife in the Philippines is difficult and uncertain. Having lived in an impoverished environment myself, I just know that raising a kid in my home country would be painfully challenging. My friends who have kids are struggling to make ends meet and the majority of the population are still living in poverty. Cost of living in the Philippines might be cheap but a good quality of life is very expensive. Parents need to save a lot of money in order to give their kids a better future. Good schools are expensive but still not on par with international standards. Moreover, healthcare and other government services are unreliable and inefficient.   Living in the Netherlands for almost 2 years now, I can’t help but compare how significantly different the Netherlands is to my homeland. It is everything my home country isn’t – much more advanced, services are reliable and organized, kid-friendly institutions, allowances for education and public transport, more healthy food options than fast food outlets, organizations dedicated to kids, and most importantly, the Netherlands is a much safer place to raise a family.

Pros and Cons of raising kids in the Netherlands

  • The government services, especially the healthcare in the Netherlands, are highly efficient and organized.
  • The government provides financial aid and subsidies to help parents raise their kids well until the age of 18.
  • Education is free in the Netherlands until the age of 16; the quality of education is excellent and some Dutch universities are among the best in the world.
  • The country is ranked high among the best and safest countries in the world for children.
  • The Dutch approach to food is generally healthier for kids.
  • The environment is clean.
  • The economy is stable and infrastructure is backed with sophisticated technology.
  • The expat community is huge and cities are filled with people from multi-cultural backgrounds.
  • Support network for expats are in their home country and so it can be difficult if something goes wrong with the pregnancy or with the relationship in general.
  • It is common for women in the Netherlands to give birth at home with no available pain relief or anesthesia and for expat women this may seem like an unpleasant situation to be in.
  • The liberal culture in the Netherlands may pose some problems to otherwise strict and conservative expats.
  • Family is not as close-knit in the Netherlands compared to other countries and divorce is legal and common and so it may look less ideal for expats from families with strong ties.
  • Finding a full-time job for expats and non-Dutch speakers is difficult.
5 male children smiling at the camera on a beachAs with every situation, the decision to leave one’s home to seek a better life somewhere else is one that should never be taken lightly. There are still some nights when I stare at the ceiling and ask myself whether I made the right choice or if it is all worth it. But you know what? I rest easy with a smile on my face, content in the fact that I know I am in a better place. I don’t have kids yet but that can wait. For now, I am where I dreamt I would be.  

Amani Gonzales, Kickstart Student