Expat's Challenges and the Role of ECL in Overcoming Them

This research focused on expats in the Leiden region and the problems they encounter when coming to and living in the Leiden region. Through a survey, published in our monthly newsletter and on several local social media channels, expats could let us know what they struggled with and which solutions would overcome these problems best. 

In the graph below, we can see that people who do know the ECL face fewer difficulties than people who do not know the ECL in almost all areas. 

Only 9% of people who know the ECL would not recommend the ECL to new internationals coming to the Leiden region. Moreover, 85% of the people who did not know the ECL indicated that such a service would have been useful when coming to and living in the Leiden region. 

These numbers demonstrate that the Expat Centre Leiden is doing a great job in helping expats throughout their time in the Leiden region. 


Many expats indicate that they have problems with meeting locals and socializing with them (56%), as well as daily life in the neighbourhood (42%). It is difficult to get in touch with locals for many expats, as they do not speak the language fluently. This is a problem since the main language at almost any neighbourhood activity is Dutch, which makes it hard to co-organise or participate. Moreover, many expats work at companies that employ mostly or only internationals, leaving them with hardly any Dutch colleagues to socialize with. This makes it even more difficult for expats to integrate into society.

One way to integrate better into society is by helping out in community centres or volunteering. 47% of respondents to the survey have indicated that they would be interested in this. Do you want to volunteer yourself? Have a look at BuZz LeidenIncluzio, and Dorpscentrum Oegstgeest, to find out how you can volunteer here. 


48% of respondents indicated that they have encountered language problems when filling in documents and 58% would like assistance with this. If you do not understand a document that is written in Dutch, or encounter other problems when filling in (legal) documents, do keep in mind that we have partnered up with multiple companies and organisations in the Leiden region which can provide support in many different areas. For example, we have partners in taxeslegal services, and more, that can be of assistance to you if you encounter any difficulties in these areas.

Not speaking Dutch fluently hinders expats in many ways. Not only does  this make it diffcult to participate and integrate in Dutch society, it also hinders expats in understanding and filling documents, such as tax forms. Do you want to learn Dutch? We have partnered up with several organisations that offer Dutch language courses. You can check them out here

You can also improve your Dutch and meet other people through Gilde SamenSpraak, for which basic knowledge of Dutch is required. This is an organisation that focusses on the integration of people from different countries, by matching them with Dutch individuals to learn Dutch culture and language. Participants will meet up with their buddy to talk Dutch once a week. This allows internationals to become more fluent in Dutch, while also meeting up with a local citizen. Learn more about their activities here.  

Informative events

61% of respondents have indicated to be interested in information sessions on practical matters, such as taxes or healthcare. We organise these events regularly in cooperation with our partners. These events will be posted on our event page, as well as our FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn accounts. 

We would like to thank all respondents to the survey. The results of this research will help us better help you!

This research was done from February to June by our intern Claire Lahaye