Choosing where to live Germany , Netherlands OR Switzerland, A Perspective
I lived in Netherlands as well as Germany. I recently visited Switzerland.
First off, it totally depends upon your personality. Your likes and tastes matter a lot.
Out of the three countries, my preference is Germany. Yours may be different.
Let me categorise it:
I studied my MSc in the Netherlands and during the second year, I moved to Germany for my internship and master thesis.
In the Netherlands, you do not need to learn Dutch to live there. Almost everyone speaks English. However, there are multiple problems associated with that. It is very hard to learn Dutch because people readily switch to English. That would mean that it will be very hard to make real Dutch friends. The Dutch circle is almost impossible to break through if one doesn’t speak fluent Dutch. I have seen even the Flemish people struggle. You will most probably hang out with international students, mostly from neighbouring European countries.
In Germany, you absolutely have to learn German to live there. Very few people want to speak English although many would know it. But, German is easier to learn because one would have plenty of opportunities to speak it. I don’t know Dutch very well but I speak German fluently. Once you start speaking in German, you could easily make German friends, even if you struggle to speak it in the beginning. The Germans would bend head over heels to help you if you put a sincere effort to learn German. Additionally, if a German person considers you a good friend, your friendship will last very long. One would also meet a lot of international students in Germany but perhaps not as much as in the Netherlands because of the restricted usage of English.
The education systems differ by moderate margin. The Netherlands is less rigid compared to Germany. The students tend to have a lot more freedom and usually participate in a wide range of activities. The quality of education is same in both countries. There is however a difference found in some fields of study. For example, if you are studying Water Resource Management, there is no better country than the Netherlands. If you are studying Automotive Engineering, Germany tops the list.
There is a weird sort of ‘segregation’ in the Netherlands. Dutch students and international students rarely share a dormitory. In the university where I studied, international students, including rest of the EU, could not apply for residences where Dutch people lived and vice versa. In Germany, if such a system were to be introduced, it will spark riots. So, it is always easy to meet and befriend German students compared to Dutch.
Switzerland has an excellent education system. Some of its top institutes surpass the top institutes of the Netherlands as well as Germany. The tuition fee is nominal. But, they may not offer the variety of fields that could be found in Germany or the Netherlands.
Overall, Germany has a larger number of amazing institutes compared to the Netherlands and Switzerland. But some universities in Netherlands and Switzerland have a much higher quality because of high funding.
Weather, food, and living expenses
For international students, the tuition fees in the Netherlands is very high compared to Germany. For local students, the education is almost free. The living expenses in the Netherlands are slightly higher than Germany. The Netherlands is very rainy, windy, and gloomy compared to Germany.
I very much prefer Germany for food. There is a large variety and the prices are very low. I didn’t like Dutch food very much. I got tired of eating cold lunch in the Netherlands.
Switzerland is §$%&§%&%$§ expensive. It is just mad! A Döner Kebab will cost CHF 12. Whereas in Germany and Netherlands, it is €3,5 or €4 maximum. Also, since it has a different currency, visiting neighbouring European countries becomes a pain in the ass since all of them use Euro. Switzerland has a cold climate since most of the country lies between the Alps.
If you want to work in the Netherlands, it is better to study there. If you want to work in Germany, it is better to study in Germany. On a European level, a good institute from any of these countries should give you an edge. The main advantage I see is that, if you live in Germany, there is a definite chance of you speaking a major European language apart from English.
The need for skilled workers in Germany is higher than in the Netherlands. However, most jobs in Germany require you to know German. One would also be required to know Dutch in the Netherlands, but that is usually not mentioned in the initial job requirements. Many of my friends had applied for jobs by looking at the required qualifications but had been turned down because they didn’t know Dutch. As I said before, it is much easier to learn and practice German for an English speaker than Dutch.
Switzerland, is a special case. There are four linguistic zones: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. To work in these regions, you have to know the local language. The only exceptions are Zürich, Basel, and Geneva. Since Switzerland is not in the EU, getting a work permit is incredibly hard and finding a job in an EU country later could also be complicated.
People, culture, and life
I really like the Germans and the Dutch people. They are very direct and honest. The Dutch are a bit more informal compared to the Germans. I personally liked the Germans more because I felt that they were more open than the Dutch, although at first it may not be obvious.
However, I will not place all the blame on Dutch people because there is a mistake on my side too. I didn’t put enough effort to learn Dutch. On the other hand, I worked my ass off to learn and speak German. Perhaps if I had learned more Dutch, I could have been a bit more closer to many Dutch people.
Both, the Germans and Dutch know how to party well. They are incredible in that sense. In Germany, you get very good beer but almost all of them are German. In the Netherlands, you get very good beer from Belgium as well as Germany. Life is amazing in both countries.
Both countries have a rich history but Germany really stands out. There are numerous places to visit in Germany. Berlin, Köln, München, Aachen, Hamburg, Göttingen, Freiburg, Augsburg, Nürnberg, Bamberg, Stuttgart etc are wonderful places with rich history.
In Switzerland, people are much more stiffer. They are definitely more reserved than the Germans and the Dutch. One would definitely get the feel of ‘mountain dwellers’ attitude in Switzerland. In an attempt to keep everything beautiful and perfect, the Swiss sometimes fail to provide ‘life’ to their country. I could definitely feel that because I live in Italy right now and that is an entirely different feeling.
Life could be amazing in the Netherlands. Life could be amazing in Germany. Well, I don’t know much about Switzerland. It really depends upon the person who you are and what you like.