Moving to the Netherlands:
What Does It Entail?

See also: Cultural Intelligence

People looking for a country where they can start a new life often choose Holland as their destination for being one of the friendliest places in Europe. With a low unemployment rate, excellent work opportunities, low cost of living, wonderful healthcare system and high level of education, it is hard to be surprised by its popularity.

There are several things on the checklist to do before and right after moving to Holland. What does moving to the Netherlands entail?

A person holding a Dutch flag.

Discover the real image of the country 

Imagining a country knowing only its symbols and landmarks is usually far from reality and does not concern landscapes with canals, bicycles, windmills and tulips. It is quite another to visit a place for a week, and moving to the country to live there is a completely different story. That's why we're taking a look at the Netherlands: A highly developed European country full of career opportunities. We'll also delve into the soft skills needed to thrive in this country.

The Netherlands is generally home to many tolerant and open-minded people, but you need to compare the cost of living to that in your home country. Larger cities may be more expensive, but on the other hand, the job opportunities are great, so you can get a salary that can cover all expenses. The Netherlands is a relatively small country with a well-functioning public transportation system, which leads to considerable savings as you do not have to rely on your car.

Learn about immigration requirements

Depending on the country of your origin, the first formal and crucial thing to check is what documents you may be asked about when planning life in the Netherlands. The country is a member of the EU, which gives EU/EFTA residents the right to live there without a visa. However, a stay longer than four months requires registration with the government. Citizens outside the EU/EFTA zone need to apply for an entry visa and residence permit.

Finding a job

It is advisable to start looking for a job before you decide to emigrate to avoid the stress of the lack of income. The unemployment rate is low in the Netherlands, however, one crucial requirement to start work in the Netherlands may be the ability to speak Dutch. However, there may be some jobs where English will be enough for the beginning, and you will learn the language fast through constant contact with the Dutch.

Dutch directness & soft skill development

Enhancing your soft skills is essential when moving to the Netherlands, particularly due to the distinctively direct communication style prevalent among the Dutch. This cultural characteristic can initially come as a surprise to newcomers, who might find the straightforwardness in both personal and professional interactions somewhat blunt. However, developing a good grasp of this communication style can greatly aid in understanding and adapting to local norms. Skills such as active listening, clear articulation of thoughts, and openness to feedback become invaluable. Embracing these aspects of Dutch directness will not only ease your integration into Dutch society but also enhance your interactions and professional relationships in a country that values transparency and efficiency.

Take care of your finances

Living in any country wouldn’t be possible without access to your salary and savings, which emphasises the importance of managing your finances before starting your new life.

First, check your banking options to make sure you can pay by your card abroad. You can also open a bank account right after you arrive to avoid the cost of the currency exchange. Consider if you are willing to pay taxes in the Netherlands, and make sure you can receive your pension and any money earned on your investments while living in the Netherlands.

It is necessary to learn more about insurance of you, your family, and your belongings. Check the option of international money transfers.

Don’t forget about health insurance

One of the most crucial issues you should deal with is the health insurance for you and your family. There is no need to worry about the quality of the health care you will receive as Holland has one of the best health care systems in the world! Remember that as a resident of the country, you are obliged to pay for the health insurance.

Here’s a breakdown of how the Dutch health insurance system works for those planning to move to the Netherlands:

  1. Mandatory Insurance: All residents in the Netherlands are required by law to have at least basic health insurance (basisverzekering), which covers standard medical care, including visits to the general practitioner, hospital stays, and essential medications. This ensures that everyone has access to necessary health services without facing significant financial barriers.

  2. Registration Requirement: Once you move and register at the local municipality, you have a legal obligation to obtain Dutch health insurance within four months. Failing to do so can result in fines.

  3. Choosing a Provider: There are numerous health insurance companies to choose from, each offering the basic package alongside various supplementary coverages that can include dental care, physiotherapy, or alternative medicine treatments. Premiums can vary significantly depending on the insurer and the level of coverage selected.

  4. Health Insurance Premiums: Premiums for basic health insurance are relatively standard across providers but can vary based on age, chosen deductibles, and optional coverages. Adults pay their own premiums, while children under the age of 18 are covered for free under their parents' insurance policy.

  5. Deductibles: The basic health insurance comes with a compulsory deductible (eigen risico) that you must pay out-of-pocket before most services are covered by your insurer. For 2023, this deductible is set at €385. Certain services, like visits to the general practitioner and maternity care, are exempt from the deductible.

  6. Healthcare Allowance: To help offset the cost of premiums, low-income residents may qualify for a healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag), a monthly subsidy provided by the government based on income level and family size.

Find a flat or house to rent

The rent in the Netherlands is not extremely high, but it may be a bit more expensive than in some other European countries. Check the available options and analyse your budget to make sure you can afford the rent. You can choose from a typical canal house, a modern waterfront apartment, or just something more standard.

The Dutch housing situation

The housing market in the Netherlands is currently experiencing significant challenges, making it difficult for both locals and expatriates to find suitable accommodation. This difficulty is largely driven by a combination of high demand and limited supply, particularly in major cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. The country's population continues to grow, yet the rate of new housing construction has not kept pace, leading to a shortfall in available properties. Additionally, strict zoning laws and regulatory constraints slow down the development process, further exacerbating the scarcity of housing. The competition for available spaces is fierce, often resulting in elevated rental and purchase prices. This situation is compounded by the attractive investment environment for real estate in the Netherlands, which draws in both domestic and international investors, tightening the market even more for everyday residents seeking affordable housing options.

Are you ready to make the move?

In conclusion, moving to the Netherlands offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern efficiency, wrapped in a culture known for its openness and direct communication. To make the transition as smooth as possible, it's crucial to understand the nuances of Dutch society—from the cost of living and immigration requirements to securing employment and managing finances. Equipping yourself with a working knowledge of the Dutch language and embracing local customs can greatly enhance your integration. Additionally, taking care of legal necessities such as health insurance and ensuring you have suitable housing will set the foundation for a fulfilling and successful life in the Netherlands. By preparing thoroughly and approaching the move with an open mind, you can truly immerse yourself in the vibrant life and culture of this welcoming country.