Settling in the Netherlands? Here’s a round-up of useful expert tips for people about to start their expatriate life here.
Are you about to start your expatriate life in the Netherlands, this small European country that is not only known for its tulips, windmills and cheese, but also for being the seat of numerous international organizations and businesses alike? If so, then you will surely be interested in the following tips for living in the Netherlands.
When it comes to housing, we have got both good news and bad news for you. The good news is that there are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in the Netherlands. So if you manage to find your dream house, there is nothing keeping you from actually buying it (except maybe your budget). Just remember that you will also have to pay property tax (Onroerendazaakbelasting).
The bad news is that rents can be quite high in bigger cities, especially in Amsterdam. This is due to the limited number of apartments available. However, if you keep looking, maybe even enlist the help of a real estate agent and potentially consider living in the suburbs as a viable option, then surely nothing will stand in the way of you finding an affordable accommodation. To give you a brief example of rent prices: A furnished 50m2 one bedroom apartment in the especially with expats popular city center of Amsterdam will cost you around 1,500€. For nearly the same amount of money, you can already get a 3-bedroom double the size in the Nieuw-West district of the city, so be sure to compare prices!
When moving to and living in the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to procure healthcare insurance with a private insurance company. This insurance must at least cover the standard package as defined by law, which includes medical care by a general practitioner of your choice, medication, necessary hospitalization and more.
The funding of this standard health care is partly covered by a premium that must be paid by everyone aged 18 or older. The actual sum varies slightly from one insurance provider to another, but does not depend on your personal level of health, age or gender. Currently, this premium amounts to around 1,200€ a year. The other half of the health care fund is provided through an income-based contribution paid by all employees. While this contribution is reimbursed by employers, the reimbursed sum is still taxable.
Furthermore, you can always choose to take out additional insurance to cover, for example, dental care which is not included in the standard package. Rates and services offered again vary from company to company. Children under the age of 18, by the way, are insured by the system with no additional costs to their families.
Long-distance public transport in the Netherlands relies mostly on railway services and the occasional long-distance bus service. In cities local buses, trams and in some cases metros and ferries will get you where you want to go. Tickets are available in numerous varieties, from the standard one hour ticket which costs 2.80€ in Amsterdam, to season tickets meant to save frequent travelers money.
In case you are a frequent user of public transport, you might also be interested in acquiring an OV-chipkaart. With this card – that you purchase once and then keep charged with money – you can use the Dutch public transportation system, even trains after a first activation, cashless and hassle free. Plus, you can also add specific travel products such as the aforementioned season tickets to your card.
And while it might not exactly be a form of public transport, we dare not to omit mentioning the use of bicycles when writing about transportation in the Netherlands. As the BBC has only recently pointed out in its Magazine, there “are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands” and the local infrastructures of major cities clearly take this into account. In The Hague for example, all main streets have designated bike paths and you can get from one end of the city to the other in just 45 minutes. So maybe you will want to try out this healthy alternative for getting around when living in the Netherlands.
Driving your own car
While driving in the Netherlands is comparatively relaxed, you will need to be prepared for the following costs if you want to own a car in the Netherlands: When first buying a new car or importing your own you will need to pay a one-off private vehicle tax (BPM) at registration. An additional motor vehicle tax (MB) will be charged every three months. Since both of these taxes are calculated among other things on how environmentally friendly your car is, you might want to take this into account when choosing a car in the shop.
Furthermore, for residents of the Netherlands a Dutch car insurance policy is mandatory. Every few years, depending on the age of your car, you will also need to bring your car to an obligatory inspection, the so called Algemene Periodieke Keuring (APK). And last but not least, note that the Netherlands is one of Europe’s most expensive countries to drive in when it comes to petrol prices: For a liter of unleaded petrol you currently have to pay around 1.77€ and diesel, while cheaper than petrol, is still relatively pricy with 1.48€ per liter.
This article was provided by InterNations, the largest expatriate network worldwide. It was created to help members meet other high-profile expatriates from around the world living in their city and connect with them, both online and offline through events and activities. InterNations also offers its members the know-how and support to make moving abroad more manageable. InterNations was founded in 2007 and now has over 1 million members in more than 390 Local Communities around the world.
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