Ensconced between verdant pastures and a belt of dunes shielding it from the harsh North Sea winds, lies The Hague. Not only is it the largest Dutch city on the North Sea, it is also famed for being the ‘City of Justice’.
The Hague’s incredibly well educated residents (two-thirds of its workforce has completed higher education) lend it a distinct dynamism. The hustle and bustle is balanced by a dignified calm found in the city’s expansive avenues, rose-scented squares, elegant architecture, and myriad tinkling streams that meander throughout.
Close to half of the city’s residents are either expats or immigrants, representing roughly 100 different nationalities. The Hague hosts no fewer than 131 international organisations, over 90 non- governmental organisations (NGOs) and hundreds of European organisations. Consequently, English is the city’s second language.
This intellectually and culturally stimulating city has recently turned its focus to health and environment. The Hague boasts over 400km of cycle paths, which see you end-to-end in less than 24 minutes. With nearly every street flanked by a cycle path, you’ll find that opting for two wheels over four is often the fastest commuter option.
Boasting a population of 495,000, this modest city extends across a land area of 100km2, of which one-third comprises green space. This ‘green city by the sea’ has no fewer than 70,000 trees lining its streets, stretches along 11 km of coastline and boasts two popular beach resorts.
The city’s current mantra, ‘Let’s Move’, is part of a healthy lifestyle campaign targeting obesity among children. The city is paring down its ‘carbs’ both socially and environmentally; it aims to be carbon neutral by 2040 and has invested heavily in renewable energy, solar power in particular.
Intelligent, inspiring, interesting and healthy, as ‘great places to live’ go, The Hague ranks very high indeed - as evidenced by its burgeoning expat community.
What is special or unique about your city?
The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament, the Supreme Court and the Council of State. However, The Hague is not the capital of the Netherlands, which constitutionally is Amsterdam.
About 50 minutes away from The Hague is Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is called "the Venice of the North" due to its many beautiful canals. In addition, the centre of the city boasts nearly 7,000 national monuments, from 15th -century fortifications to the grand gables of the Golden Age.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
City life in The Hague concentrates around the Hofvijver and the Binnenhof, where the Parliament is located. The city doesn’t have a university and therefore only has a very limited student population. The city has many civil servants and diplomats. The number of foreign residents (especially the expatriates) makes the city quite culturally diverse with many foreign pubs, shops and cultural events. The Hague has two distinct beach resorts. The main beach resort is Scheveningen, located in the north western part of the city. This is a popular destination for tourists as well as for inhabitants.
Are these impressions likely to change?
What is the local language?
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Almost everyone living and working in the Netherlands is able and willing to speak English. It would be very unlikely that you would have to speak Dutch. Many expats in The Netherlands do take basic Dutch classes and this is appreciated by the local population and your Dutch colleagues if you intend to stay here a longer time.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
The warmest months of the year are June to August, when temperatures range between 21 and 26 degrees Celsius. There are rarely extreme temperatures and even in winter the temperature does not often fall far below freezing point.
The weather can often change several times within the day so it is always sensible to carry a raincoat and an umbrella.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
A compact city, The Hague is human-sized. You can cross the city in half an hour on foot - or by bicycle if you are a true Netherlander!