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Social life and settling in

When you decide to move to the Netherlands and bring along your family there is a great deal that needs to be taken care of. We will provide some information on schools, childcare and learning Dutch to help you settle in in the Netherlands.

Dutch schools

In the Netherlands children attend school from the age of 4 and are legally required to do so from the age of 5. Elementary school, or primary education (basisschool), lasts 8 years. Under Dutch law, education is compulsory until the age of 16 or even partial to the age of 18 until the attainment of a starters' qualification (vmbo, havo or vwo degree).

Secondary education (starting from the age of 12) is offered at several levels (vmbo, havo, vwo). Senior secondary vocational education and training (mbo) may vary in duration from one to four years. If you would like to read more about the Dutch educational system, please consult the EP-Nuffic document on the Dutch education system. More information on choosing a school in Leiden or The Hague:


There are several options for childcare in the Netherlands:

  • Public daycare (kinderdagverblijf)

    Public daycare is available for children between the age of six weeks to four years old, and run by fully qualified childcare staff. Opening hours are usually between 8 AM and 6 PM. You can make custom arrangements on the required amount of childcare days (or half days).
  • After-school care (buitenschoolse opvang / BSO)

    After-school care is available for children between the ages of 4 and 12 after school hours.  Elementary schools may arrange this care for their pupils.
  • Guest parents (gastouders)

    Guest-parents are basically self-employed childminders who can take care of a maximum of four children. Gastouders  either take care of the children in their own home, or may work in your home instead.

University daycare

Leiden University has reserved 50 daycare places exclusively for staff and students of Leiden University at Daycare Centre De Kattekop. Would you prefer another daycare centre? You can find an overview of all registered daycare centres on landelijkregisterkinderopvang.nl or on kinderopvangkaart.nl (private website).

Childcare costs

Even though costs vary between childcare centers, on average costs per child are:

1 day a week

36 hours a month x €6,50 = €234

2 days a week

72 hours a month x €6,50 = €468

3 days a week

108 hours a month x €6,50= €702

The Dutch government reimburses a substantial portion of the costs. You can apply for this child care allowance (kinderopvangtoeslag) online. You will more information on belastingdienst.nl.

Learning Dutch

It is possible to live in the Netherlands without speaking Dutch. Most Dutch people speak at least some English. However, the University expects staff and students who intend to remain here for a longer period to acquire at least a passive knowledge of the Dutch language. There are many ways to learn Dutch. You can for instance take a course at BplusC.nl. Or you can take a course at the Academic Language center (ATC). The ATC specialises in teaching language and culture to learners with a higher education background. Check with your supervisor if he/she is willing to reimburse the costs of the course.

Your (life) partner's career

Your (life) partner will have full access rights to the Dutch labour market, as long as you (as a staff member of Leiden University) are registered as a sponsor. Maybe your (life) partner will qualify for the Dual Career Programme.

A good way to find a job is through a job site:

If you prefer some help in finding a job you can also contact a temp agency (uitzendbureau) or recruitment agency. Temp agencies often have temporary work. If you are looking for work at a Bachelor or Master degree level, you might prefer to get in touch with a recruitment agency. There are several recruitment agencies that specialise in non-Dutch job seekers:

Social groups

If you are interested in meeting other internationals outside your working environment, you will soon discover that there are a lot of vibrant communities with lots of different activities. The Expat Centre, for instance, organises a variety of activities that are often free of cost. Many internationals meet though different expat communities:

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