Last year, at the time of the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, Dutch television maker Arjen Lubach published a video entitled “America First, Netherlands second.” The clip now has more than 27 million views on YouTube. Of course, this was meant to be satirical, but it has a serious undertone.

The Netherlands is the gateway to Europe. In our country with only 17.5 million inhabitants, the Netherlands has the largest seaport and, after London Heathrow Airport, the largest airport in Europe with around 70 million passengers per year.

Golden Century

Let’s go back in time. Way back. To the 17th century, the so-called “Golden Century.” Dutch tradesmen from the Dutch East India Company travelled around the world. The first stock exchange in the world is opened in Amsterdam. The constitution has been written. Amsterdam became the liberal city it is still today. The Dutch business spirit and perseverance continue to attract companies.

The Netherlands has been the location of international corporates such as Philips, Shell and Unilever for decades. In recent years, international corporates like Netflix, Uber and Staples have established their headquarters in the Netherlands. Booking.com is currently building a new office campus of 730,000 ft2 in the Amsterdam city centre. Recently the European Medicines Agency (EMA) chose a 450,000 ft2 office for their transfer from London to Amsterdam. According to an EY report, 13% of companies leaving the UK are considering a new location as a result of Brexit: Netherlands. Why?

Confidence in the Dutch business climate is significant, but for many companies other factors play an even more important role.

Quality of life

People like to live here. Why? It is a great country – after the US obviously. Safe, liberal, a good social system and a healthy work-life balance. According to the Better Life Index, published by OECD, The Netherlands placed 6th on the scale (behind Scandinavian countries and Switzerland).

Logistics infrastructure

As mentioned earlier, the Netherlands has excellent logistics infrastructure by air, water and road. The journey time from Schiphol Airport to downtown Amsterdam is just 30 minutes – during rush hour.

Level of education

30% of Dutch people have completed a bachelor or university degree. In addition, most are multi-lingually educated with English, French and German (which according to Arjen is a fake language). The Netherlands has several leading universities in the field of technology, (civil) engineering, law and healthcare.

Costs of office space

The office costs for corporates are certainly not unimportant. The prime rents in the Amsterdam CBD area are around € 450 per sqm per year ($ 50 per ft2 per year). Rents in grade A office areas are around € 250 ($ 27). Compared to the other European capitals, this is very moderate.

The aforementioned points have meanwhile led to the Netherlands and especially Amsterdam becoming overcrowded. In a city with 900,000 inhabitants, 7 million tourists come annually and there are too few affordable houses for local residents.

So the conclusion is indeed: “America First, Netherlands Second.” But please, do not come to the Netherlands all at the same time!

About Erik
Erik Tijsma (1975) has an architectural background. He started at DTZ in 2000 (now Cushman & Wakefield), followed by several years at G-Star as Global head of real estate. Since 2010 Erik has served as partner and shareholder of Solved. He specializes in strategic real estate advice and transactions.

About Solved
Solved (2008, Amsterdam) is the leading tenant rep firm in the Netherlands. Our team of 15 specialists advise clients with real estate strategy, transactions and project management. Currently Solved advises international companies such as Polaroid, Mizuho bank, Greenpeace, Karl Lagerfeld and IDEXX.