Working from tulip fields: Netherlands' impressive GRWI 2023 ranking

Ranked second globally in the GRWI, the Netherlands seamlessly blends social safety, digital infrastructure, and economic stability. Discover what makes this windmill-dotted country an exceptional choice for businesses and remote workers alike.

Netherlands in GRWI map


Key takeaways

  • The Netherlands stands overall second in the Global Remote Work Index (GRWI), setting a strong remote work environment.
  • With a second place ranking in social safety, the country highlights the nation's extensive personal rights and inclusivity.
  • In digital and physical infrastructure, the Netherlands holds a commendable 8th position worldwide.
  • The Netherlands leads among the Benelux countries in the GRWI, surpassing Belgium (12th) and Luxembourg (27th).
  • The Netherlands and Portugal share remarkable similarities in cyber safety, economic safety, and social safety despite their geographical distance.
  • While the Netherlands is a prime spot for remote work, cost of living affordability and healthcare are mostly better in other top 5 countries.
Overview of countries GRWI measurement scores

Cyber safety

The Dutch National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), among other measures, ensures a high cybercrime response capacity (3rd) in the Netherlands. However, its cybersecurity infrastructure (11th) and legislation (9th) lag somewhat behind in their respective rankings. This places the Netherlands 17th in the overall cyber safety ranking. Nonetheless, the scale of challenges that the country faces as a major economic and digital hub justifies these statistical shortcomings.

Comparison with neighboring countries

Among the Benelux countries, the Netherlands leads the overall GRWI ranking, with Belgium trailing at 12th and Luxembourg at 27th place. The Netherlands distinguishes itself chiefly through its social safety ranking, taking a clear lead (2nd), with Luxembourg ranking 9th and Belgium—27th.

In terms of economic safety, the Netherlands again holds the helm (11th), while Belgium closely follows at the 12th, and Luxembourg lags considerably at the 53rd place. This is largely due to its appeal as a tourist destination (4th) and widespread English usage (2nd). However, its healthcare ranking (16th) and cost of living (85th) put it in the middle among its peers.

When it comes to cyber safety, Belgium (9th) surpasses the Netherlands (17th), and Luxembourg (37th) falls behind both. When it comes to physical and digital infrastructure, Luxembourg (7th) leads among the three, with the Netherlands following in the 8th and Belgium in the 30th place.

Comparison map with neighbouring countries

Finding a non-neighboring country that has similar index results

Surprising similarities emerge between two geographically disparate but statistically close European countries: the Netherlands and Portugal. They both score high in the overall GRWI rankings and share specific parallels in cyber, economic, and social safety.

In the cyber safety category, both the Netherlands and Portugal show striking similarities in infrastructure (11th and 15th, respectively), response capacity (3rd and 4th), and legal measures (9th and 8th). As for economic safety, they run neck and neck, with Portugal pulling ahead in the cost of living (56th vs 85th) and the Netherlands outstripping in tourist attractiveness (4th vs 5th), English language proficiency (2nd vs 10th) and healthcare (16th vs 21st). Competing with the Netherlands on social security is a tall order, but Portugal stays close, particularly in personal rights (5th vs 3rd), safety (24th vs 20th), and is slightly further adrift on inclusiveness (13th vs 6th).

Their main divergence, however, lies in digital and physical infrastructure, where the Netherlands clearly leads, particularly regarding internet quality, e-infrastructure and e-government. Nonetheless, in physical infrastructure, Portugal (11th) doesn't lag too far behind the Netherlands (5th).

Illustration of neighbouring countries GRWI

Top remote destinations for Dutch workers

The Netherlands is an appealing place for those free spirits who seek to enjoy high social safety in a country that is tourist-attractive, fluent in English, and has reasonably developed healthcare, infrastructure, and cyber safety. Yet some might prefer working residence outside the country someplace lower on the price of living scale, slightly safer, or even more developed on the healthcare and digital infrastructure front.

Weighing cost of living affordability

If the Netherlands, being among the most expensive countries to live in, is a bit over the budget, there are other options, offering an attractive overall GRWI-to-cost of living ratio. Places like Spain and Portugal instantly catch the eye. However, if a compromise on social safety is not a concern, Poland could also emerge as a compelling choice, not only for its cost of living and internet, and also strong cyber safety. 

Prioritizing safety

Liberal legislation and high economic standards do come with their own risks, one of which is general safety. While the Netherlands is generally safe (20th in the safety rating), one still might be tempted to go somewhere quieter. In this regard, rich and strictly regulated Middle Eastern countries like the UAE, Qatar or Oman lead the rankings. However, if Ramadan and desert sand are not really your thing, stunning and serene places like Switzerland, Iceland, or Slovenia, which is also the most budget-friendly of the bunch, seem to be great choices.

Working remote employees illustration

In terms of healthcare

We are all different and may have various needs. Among those needs, healthcare may be one of the most personal and sensitive topics. If the Dutch healthcare system (16th) does not quite meet your needs, there are a few but significant alternatives. Scandinavia is a clear leader in this department, with Sweden, Norway and Denmark ranking at the top three respective positions globally.

Considering digital infrastructure

If the otherwise decent Dutch e-infrastructure is still not enough, you can explore two major directions: east, such as South Korea or Singapore, or north, like Norway and Denmark. These countries combine excellent internet quality with e-infrastructure and can give you the required edge.

Or is it better to stay at home?

All things considered, there are few places that can compete with the Netherlands when it comes to remote work environments. The country is truly the land of the free, with high personal rights and inclusivity. It also has a well-developed physical infrastructure and is very fluent in English, making it an attractive tourist destination. Finally, it also performs relatively well on the cyber safety front. So, perhaps there is no need to go anyplace else?


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