[Column] Why is the Netherlands so expensive?

During a trip to Sweden, student Bas Rooijakkers discovers that almost everything in the Netherlands is actually more expensive. Except alcohol.

Bas Rooijakkers: “Until a new Cabinet takes office, I’m holding my breath.” (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

I recently went to Stockholm with some friends to visit a friend who was studying abroad for one semester. I had never been to Sweden or any other Scandinavian country before, but they have a reputation for being relatively expensive compared to other European countries. Now that I was there, I can say that there is no difference. Even more so, some things are more expensive in the Netherlands.

I am ashamed to say it, but I flew to Stockholm. I took the train from Delft to Schiphol which took an hour and cost EUR 11. From the airport close to Stockholm it was also about an hour by train, metro or bus to the capital city. I could pay everywhere using my bank card and the whole trip cost me EUR 3.50. I could rent a city bike for a week in Stockholm for EUR 3. Compare that to an NS bicycle for one day. Does that mean that the NS is expensive? Yes, but there were other things that made my inner Dutch person very happy. Almost every shop had discounts for students, there was free water everywhere, and you could have a cheap lunch at IKEA. This made Scandinavia seem not that expensive. If I am at TU Delft and go to the Aula for lunch, I pay EUR 4 to EUR 5 for a bread roll.

Every right minded student will receive a money injection from DUO today

Everyone is experiencing that the Netherlands is becoming more expensive. Inflation is hitting the Netherlands harder (in Dutch) than most European countries. This is supposed to be because of the liberalised energy market. I, and a lot of other students, will mostly notice this in the months of December and January. Joep de Jong, a TU Delft student, recently came up with a handy ‘trick’ whereby you can fix the interest you pay on your student debt if you stop borrowing money before January 2023. You can benefit from a lower interest rate of 0.46%. This means that every right minded student will get their last injection of money from DUO today and will have to live off it till about the end of January. These are the months in which people use the most heating and in which they celebrate the festive season. It will not be cheap. Students are more likely to come to the warm TU Delft buildings sooner and will share fewer beers.

It feels strange that the Netherlands is just as expensive as a Scandinavian country now. You ask yourself why everything is so expensive here. I thought that things were well organised here. I have now been back for a week and I see that there was one thing that was incredibly expensive in Stockholm: alcohol. If you go out you pay about EUR 7 for one beer. So it’s not yet that bad here. In summary, your everyday needs were affordable, but the fun things were very expensive. They should think about a price ceiling for alcohol there.

Bas Rooijakkers is a master’s student in Applied Physics. He was born in Brabant and spent part of his youth on Curaçao. He enjoys jogging and since the corona pandemic has also picked up cycling. He is also always in for a coffee or a craft beer.

Bas Rooijakkers / Columnist

Columnist Bas Rooijakkers

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