The cost of living in the Netherlands has gone up since the introduction of the Euro. Compared to other cities in the country, Amsterdam is the most expensive one to live in. However, it goes without saying that the actual cost of living entirely depends on one’s personal expenditure.
Wages are average compared to the rest of Europe. They are higher than in Spain and Italy, but lower than in England and Germany. The average salary is from €25,000 to €30,000 a year.
Salaries are communicated gross (before income tax) per month or yearly base. Comparisons on an hourly or weekly basis are usually done for part-time jobs. Salaries are usually paid monthly at the end of the month. The Dutch tax system works in the lines of the more you earn, the more taxes you pay as a percentage of your income. The income tax is already included in your wages. Income tax is deducted before the monthly payment by your employer, which means you get net wages transferred to your bank account, usually at the end of every month.
Twice a year you will receive an extra payment. Once at Christmas (sometimes as a 13th month), and in summer (June/July) which is considered as vacation money. However, you have often been automatically paying this vacation money through a monthly contribution out of your salary.
According to Dutch law you are allowed to work a maximum of 9 hours a day and 45 hours a week. However, a person is only allowed to work 2080 hours a year, thus the average working week is 40 hours. The working week is usually Monday to Friday, depending on the type of work. Also, there is a legal minimum of one day's rest a week, normally Sunday. Normal hours are 09:00 to 18:00 with two 15 minute breaks and an hour and a half lunch break. Many people don't take breaks, eat their lunch at their desk and then leave at 17:00 instead of at 18:00.
You are entitled to a minimum of 20 days a year for holidays. Employers often allow five extra days. Employees receive normal pay during their holidays. Unfortunately there are few national holidays in Holland, so you do not get many extra days.