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Dutch people live closer to the countryside than they think!

One of the main reasons that Dutch people (wish to) emigrate, is that they want more space and access to nature. Yet surprisingly, at least 89 out of 100 Dutch people actually live less than 1 kilometre from a green area such as a public garden, park, forest or heath land! It would appear that Dutch emigrants can no longer see the wood for the trees!

In June this year, the Centraal Bureau Voor Statistiek (Statistics Netherlands) reported that the majority of Dutch people needn’t travel far by car to benefit from some invigorating, fresh air. For many Dutch the average distance to the nearest park or forest is under a kilometre. In fact some residents have to stroll less than 100 metres to reach the nearest green space, where they can enjoy a picnic basket filled with delicious Dutch products such as crackers, Dutch cheese, ‘borrelnootjes’ (cocktail nuts) and a refreshing ‘witbier’ (wheat beer). If you want to live close to nature in the Netherlands, yet still stay within the city limits, you should pay close attention to the name of your chosen neighbourhood. The name of a city district often indicates whether a forest or park is within easy reach, such as the Westerpark neighbourhood in Amsterdam, the Oosterpark district of Groningen and the Julianapark suburb in Rijswijk. If you prefer to live near a forest, then it’s best to choose Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe, North Brabant or Limburg, as these provinces boast the shortest average distance to woodland. Even if you live in the Randstad, you are closer to nature than you might think. Residents in the Azië-buurt in Delft for example, are fortunate enough to be just 200 metres from the splendid Abtswoude park, only another 200 metres from a small, natural open green on the outskirts of the city and barely 5 minutes by bike from the Abtwoudse Forest.

However, if you stop to consider the Netherland’s population density, you might begin to understand why some Dutch people prefer to seek their fortune elsewhere. The Netherlands has some 403 inhabitants per km2 and is the 26th most densely populated country in the world – only city-states such as Singapore and Hong Kong have a higher population density! Compare that with Australia, which has a population density of just 2.7 inhabitants per km2 (227th place), or Canada, which counts only 3.4 inhabitants per km2 (223rd place). Closer to home, residents in other European countries benefit from significantly more space, including Germany (52nd place, with 230.6 inhabitants per km2), France (101st place, with 99.6 inhabitants per km2) and Ireland (141st place, with 59.8 inhabitants per km2) … so, if you’re looking for plenty of room and some peace and tranquillity, perhaps it’s better to emigrate after all?!

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