Post-Brexit edition: Dispatches’ 2020 list of Europe’s 5 best cities for expats

TIE No. 3 Eindhoven: 495 points (2019 505)

Though no longer No. 1, this is still the city that has it all … great career opportunities, access to all of Europe through its airport, a top technical university, affordability, low-crime and high quality of life.

Eindhoven’s foundational company, ASML, just earned a long post in The Economist because it’s the lynchpin for the entire global semi-conductor industry. No Eindhoven, no advances in microcircuitry every industry from autos to healthcare depend on. THAT is the definition of a global innovation center.

This is our headquarters city and we know it well … its strengths and weaknesses.

On the upside:

• the largest startup hub in the Netherlands … three – soon to be four – dedicated buildings on High Tech Campus Eindhoven

• multiple tech/advanced manufacturing giants including ASML, NXP, VDL, Philips as well as scale-ups, including Additive Industries, SendCloud and JW Player

• entire new sections of the city with high-rise apartments, future-forward retail and restaurants such as Strijp-S

• entire expat communities such as Meerhoven, which has a Chinese “mayor”

On the down side:

• this isn’t postcard Netherlands. There’s one canal and just a handful of pre-war buildings. Most of the city was leveled during World War II and was rebuilt with a lot of bizarre architecture, some of which borders on Brutalist. But it also has a lot of intriguing neighborhoods and a belt of green parks.

• let’s just say it … there’s a Dutch provincialism here you don’t find in Rotterdam. Though that’s changing with a huge influx of cosmopolitans.

Overall, Eindhoven can compete with any other small city in terms of amenities and far exceeds the competition when it comes to career opportunities and an affordable, yet high, quality of expat life.


• Overall cost of living compared to London: Score 75

COL in Eindhoven is about 32-percent less than London, down from 36-percent in 2019, according to Expatistan, with rents having risen dramatically since 2016.

• Quality of life/availability of housing: Score 70

Rents are about 41-percent of those in London, according to Expatica, again rising from 50-percent for 2019. Eindhoven officials have announced plans to add 27,000 homes in the region during the coming five years, about 15,000 of which will be in the city itself.

• Talent and serious career opportunities: Score 100

If you’re a skilled engineer or physicist, you can get hired here in about 30 seconds. Same goes for people with serious management chops and business development experience.

ASML alone hired about 5,000 people last year, and there’s an entire research campus with 12,000 people. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you can join a deep-tech venture at HighTechXL. Outside of Mountain View, Boston or Austin, there’s really no place like it in the world.

Prevalence of English: Score 100

As in the rest of the Netherlands, everyone speaks English. But the influx of expats and foreign students means you can sometimes go into stores and restaurants and people working there don’t speak Dutch, which is kind of weird.

Availability of International Schools: Score 50

Eindhoven gets dinged here compared to just about every other city on the list including Rotterdam. Even though tens of thousands English-speaking internationals are pouring in, there’s still one international school. There is a new SALTO International Program, which at this point is just classes at two Dutch elementary schools taught in Dutch and English.

Corruption: Score 100

The Netherlands ranks No. 8 on Transparency International’s list, one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Most Popular

To Top

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest news and updates from Dispatches Europe. Get lifestyle & culture, startup & tech, jobs and travel news dispatched to your inbox each week.

You have Successfully Subscribed!