So maybe you’re coming to the Netherlands permanently or thinking of taking the first step. Excellent choice! So here’s all you need to know about preparing, when moving to the Netherlands (well not all you need to know, but these 7 things about coming to the Netherlands should really be on your checklist).
1) Coming to the Netherlands: Sort your visa
You can skip this step if you are an EU National (yes, Brits, this is still you for now).
It’s not possible to live/work permanently the Netherlands without a valid visa if you are a non-EU national. You must sort out a valid visa relevant to your stay prior to your move. Click the link to find out all the information you need to apply for your visa.
2) Coming to the Netherlands: Find a place to call your home
So, first things first, you need to find a place to call your own. I’m going to get straight to the point: finding a place to rent in the Netherlands can be a bit like a game of cat and mouse. Be prepared to look not too far in advance, but not last minute either and be one of the first to call the letting agency when they put a place up for rent.
It might be a good idea to come to the Netherlands in advance before deciding on where to live in the Netherlands, take your time to look around and decide on a place to stay. As like most places, the cities are most expensive and the further towards the center you are, the higher the rent.
Coming to the Netherlands as an international student is especially a challenge when it comes to finding housing. Rooms in Dutch student cities are sparse, as you can read in this article about the student housing problems.
3) Coming to the Netherlands: Find a job
This could be number one on the list when you plan on coming to the Netherlands, especially if you don’t have enough money to sustain yourself jobless. Also, some rental agencies will not put you on the tenancy if you are not currently earning (some also have a certain amount you should be earning before you can rent with them). *This is very important to check out first, it will save a lot of time!*
So… job hunting in the Netherlands. Nobody likes to job hunt. So what is it like in the Netherlands? If your written and spoken English is excellent, you are heavily advantaged. If you have both excellent English AND Dutch – now we’re talking. A degree is also preferable with a lot of jobs. Don’t fit these criteria? It’s not impossible. It may be a bit of a strain, but something will come up eventually.
Sites such as Together Abroad are good if you are after a job search.
4) Register with your local ‘Gemeente’
What does this mean, you ask? Every area has a municipality where you have to register to that city. Even Dutchies have to (and yes, you too EU nationals). This is usually possible in the town hall and it’s important to book an appointment well in advance as sometimes the earliest appointment is 2-3 weeks away, as I sadly learnt myself. You must do this so you are legally registered and so you can do the essentials such as open a bank account (I’ll get onto that in a minute).
Please make sure you do this – I learnt the hard way, sitting in my empty apartment with no way of properly paying the rent, bills and the inability to buy essentials such as a internet connection. This is because I had a 3 week wait for a Gemeente appointment, so I couldn’t open a bank account etc! So, what ever you do, don’t do that, be prepared.
Tip for when you’re coming to the Netherlands: Also something that was not immediately clear, was that for appointments one of the requirements is bringing a legalised birth certficate. I just brought my birth certificate which is not the same thing. It must be send off to be stamped and approved legally. This is called an ‘Apostille’. This will then save you the hassle (and cost) of sending it back to your own country and waiting for them to send it back again.
5) Open a bank account
Opening a bank account is as easy as it is at home. Just turn up at your local bank (or make an appointment). Bring your important details such as your passport and BSN (Citizen Service Number) given by your Gemeente and they will do it all for you.
Some popular banks in the Netherlands include ING, Rabobank and ABN Amro. If you are after an online bank provider, BUNQ may be for you. BUNQ is the same as a regular bank, but it’s fully functional online and on your smartphone.
6) Sort your health insurance in the Netherlands
By law everybody who resides in the Netherlands should at least have a basic healthcare insurance (around €100 per month). This must be taken out within 4 months of registering (if non-EU) and within 1 year (EU citizen, BUT only if you are not earning, once you earn, you pay straight away also). Trust me, once you get your head around it all, it will seem easy.
7) Start learning Dutch!
Once you arrive in the Netherlands you realise that most people speak perfect English (as modest as the Dutch are, they say they don’t, but they do). It’s really easy to therefore get into the trap of not speaking Dutch. Some would argue ‘well there is no need.’ And some would say ‘well you are in the Netherlands so you should speak Dutch.’ In theory, yes, you should. There is absolutely no harm in doing so. You miss out on really embracing the country that you live in. It also opens your horizons for better job opportunities. I wish I made more of an effort from day one, rather than a year and a half later. So get downloading those free language apps (such as Duolingo), buy those children’s books and start talking terrible Dutch.
To get started, don’t forget to watch this.
How do you feel about coming to the Netherlands? Share your experience with us in the comments!