The Netherlands might be one of the happiest and most prosperous countries in the world, but there is always room for a helping hand. A small, densely populated country in northwestern Europe, the Netherlands is a thriving country made popular for its rich history, friendly culture, and iconic capital city of Amsterdam. Volunteering abroad in the Netherlands will be a fun and adventurous experience. As a volunteer in the Netherlands you will be able to experience Dutch culture fully and make a difference in local communities.
The Netherlands is a small country and none of its major cities exceed one million people in population. Most volunteer work in the Netherlands will allow volunteers to venture outside of the cities and live and work in rural areas and villages. Anywhere you go, expect a welcoming environment and warm hospitality from the Dutch.
Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital and largest city. A historically vital port city located on the Amstel river, today Amsterdam is a popular international destination for travelers from around the world. While it might best be known for its infamous coffee shops and red light district, Amsterdam is actually a thriving global city and one of the most important financial centers in Europe, making it a great place overall to live and volunteer abroad.
Other cities where volunteers might find volunteer placements in the Netherlands are Utrecht, Rotterdam, or The Hague. Utrecht is a cultural and educational capital of the Netherlands, located at the crossroads of a major transportation hub. The commercial city of Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port, known for its pristine coastal beauty and sweeping modern architecture. The Hague, a main city of the United Nations, is the seat of the Dutch government and host of many international organizations. These cities each offer a distinctly different feel, and are all fantastic places for volunteer work in the Netherlands.
Projects & Placements
Common volunteer placements in the Netherlands include child care, youth development, animal welfare, and historic and environmental preservation efforts. Even though the Netherlands is a highly developed country, there remain a variety of social and environmental issues which are in constant want of help from volunteers. Volunteer work in the Netherlands within homeless shelters, schools, or other community development projects is also popular.
Some volunteer programs in the Netherlands will place participants in one location for an extended period of time (generally anywhere from two months up to one year), while other programs combine volunteerism with travel or other cultural excursions throughout the Netherlands. These adventure programs are typically shorter in duration and participants are frequently on the move, blending work with play.
The Netherlands has a temperate climate and can get considerably cold and damp in the winter months, so consider summer time to be the ideal time to volunteer in the Netherlands.
Costs & Affordability
Most everyday expenses while volunteering in the Netherlands will be included in volunteer program fees, so you will typically not have to worry about the cost of food, housing, and transportation aside from those included in upfront costs. However, it is good to know that the Netherlands is a fairly expensive country, it enjoys one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world. Those who volunteer in the Netherlands for an extended duration are more likely to notice these costs taking a big chunk out of their wallet, so be sure to have some money to fall back on.
Accommodation & Visas
Individuals who volunteer in the Netherlands will most likely have accommodations organized by their program provider, in either apartments or homestays most often. Homestays are typically offered for volunteer programs of shorter durations or geared toward younger participants. Staying with a local family while volunteering in the Netherlands will give volunteers an authentic experience of the warm Dutch culture. On the other hand, living in an apartment might be a better option for individuals who choose to conduct volunteer work in the Netherlands for a longer period of time. Housing prices vary from city to city, but expect to pay less away from the more touristy cities or downtown areas.
If you are planning to volunteer abroad in the Netherlands for over three months than you will likely need to obtain a temporary visa. Your volunteer program organizer will typically help you make visa arrangements. To learn more about visa policies, check out GoAbroad’s Dutch Embassy Directory to locate an embassy nearest to you where you can ask questions and apply.
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteering abroad anywhere in the world is a great way to gain exposure to other cultures, but volunteering in the Netherlands specifically will allow you to see beyond the stereotypical characteristics that draw most visitors to the country. In the Netherlands you will be welcomed with open arms by an industrious and hospitable culture, which will also challenge you to independently direct your volunteer experience.