The Southernmost and oldest city in The Netherlands with a population of 123,000, Maastricht, has been voted the most beautiful city in the country by many. Take a wander through its cobblestoned, tangled streets and you will be amazed by the historic buildings and breath-taking cathedrals. As well as its striking beauty, Maastricht offers quality living, a mix of cultures and languages, limitless shopping opportunities, wonderful culinary delights and is a hub for creativity, enterprise and research. It is this eclectic mix that makes Maastricht the ideal city to relocate to.
However, don’t take our word for it! We interviewed Rachael, a British expat who recently relocated to Maastricht. Read her experience of moving to Maastricht and her life as an expat in the city.
MOVING TO MAASTRICHT
What documents did you need when moving to Maastricht?
If you are moving there for a certain period of time or longer, you need to register with the municipality. You need proof of identity, birth certificate and confirmation of your address in the Netherlands.
What is the healthcare service like in Maastricht?
I haven’t used any healthcare services since arriving in Maastricht, however, my friends have used GP services and found them to be fine. When working in the Netherlands, you have to take out Dutch Health Insurance and that’ll cover any visits to the doctor.
What is the public transport like?
The best way to get around the city is undoubtedly by bike! It’s a small city and there are cycle lanes everywhere and plenty of second-hand bike shops.
If you would prefer to rent a bike, there’s a scheme called Swapfiets where you rent a bike for roughly 15 euros a month. Make sure to purchase bike lights to use if you’re cycling at night, as you can be fined for not having them.
As Maastricht is a small city, there are no metro or tram links to get around. Bus services are regular and reliable although a little expensive. If you take the bus within Maastricht or travel further afield on the Dutch trains, the OV-chipkaart is the most cost-efficient method. You preload this with money and receive a reduced fare.
WHERE TO LIVE
Which areas are the most popular amongst expats to live in?
Wyck is probably one of the most populated areas. It’s right beside the train station and has lots of nice shops, bars and restaurants. It is definitely the trendy area of Maastricht and Brusselsepoort is also quite popular too.
What is there to do for young people?
Young people tend to enjoy visiting the cool bars in Maastricht, specifically Café Zondag and De Gouvenour. For nightlife, Complex is a huge club which has a nineties themed night once a month. For clubbers, Muziekgieterij is also a popular spot. Pub quizzes are also popular and expats and locals tend to frequent Capucijnenstraat, a relaxed bar with has lots of ping pong tables.
Maastricht also offers a variety of shops, including most of the big brands, but also independent stores. It’s nice to have a walk around the centre and do some shopping. There are some cinemas too.
LIFE AS AN EXPAT
What do you love most about living in Maastricht?
I love the fact that the city is perfectly sized: not so small that it’s boring, but not too big that it’s overwhelming. Everything is accessible and within cycling distance.
It’s also a pretty city: the architecture and Meuse river are beautiful and you are surrounded by lots of parks and green space. It’s a lovely city where you can always feel safe. The people are friendly and it’s easy to feel at home.
Finally, it’s so perfectly situated, and you can be in Germany or Belgium pretty quickly. This makes it a really central place to explore Europe.
Was there a language barrier?
Not at all. Maastricht is an international city therefore, most restaurants, stores and bars are used to conversing in English. The majority of Dutch people speak almost perfect English, so it’s really easy to get around without speaking Dutch. I’ve only met a handful of Dutch people who don’t speak English. Obviously, it’s nice to learn simple things such as please or thank you, but it’s not a necessity.
What advice would you give to an expat moving to Maastricht?
Definitely put yourself out there and try to meet new people. There’s always so much going on in the city, so make sure to be proactive in trying to get to know people. It’s such a small city, it won’t be long until you start recognising everyone.
Also, cycle! It’s so quick and easy to get around and is a fantastic way to keep fit. It’s a much nicer commute to work than using a bus.
Take a look at some photos of Rachael’s life in Maastricht:
If you are considering relocating to Maastricht, read our article on Finding Accommodation in Maastricht. If you are an International Tax Professional interested in a move to Maastricht or anywhere else in the world, please contact a member of the team.