Places where every day is Dierendag

Today it is ‘animal day’ – but in some places, every day is Dierendag On the the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, the world celebrates World Animal Day - Dierendag. Around the country, on October 4th, business will host special events, children bring their pets to school and more. But, as Molly Quell reports, in some places, every day is animal day. The Dutch have nearly as many pets as bikes, almost two for every man, woman and child. According to Dibevo, the Dutch organisation for animal-related companies, there are 33.4 million pets living in 7.6 million Dutch households. Fish are by far the most popular pet - with 18 million, there are actually more fish in aquariums than people. Birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, reptiles and rodents make up the rest of the list . It isn’t just families trying to teach tweens lessons in responsibility by walking the dog or feeding the fish. Business owners also like to have friendly face hanging around their establishment. 'Who doesn’t love a little puppy?' asks Frontaal Brewery owner...  More >

What does Brexit mean for expat finances?

Brexit is set to have more of an impact on expats than many people realise. Residency rules might be changing, but the financial fall-out is already being felt. International workers need to act now to make sure their finances are properly protected in a post-Brexit world. There is much uncertainty surrounding the eventual outcome of Brexit but whatever happens, investments in Britain - whether savings, pensions or property - will all be affected by the changes set to come into effect by 2019. 'Brexit is not going to land on your head out of nowhere. Everyone is watching,' says Paul Brown, director of expat financial management company Blacktower. 'Now is the time to act. You have got to hedge your bets.' So what should expats be doing to reduce potential risk exposure and to take advantage of opportunities which may no longer be available once the outcome of Brexit has been determined? Expats, says Brown, should start planning and considering their options now rather than...  More >

Blog watching: cycling with a disability

Hilary Staples was born in the UK but moved to the Netherlands with her tricycle when she was young. She writes about cycling in the Netherlands along with her husband on Holland Cycling. Here's their entry about making the most of bikes when you have a disability. Do you have a disability or other health problems? Cycling might still be possible with the right type of bike. Thanks to innovative technology, more bikes are coming on the market for cyclists who can't ride a regular bike. What options are there and where in Holland can you rent them? Types of bike Do you have a disability or other health problems? This does not necessarily mean you can't enjoy going out for a cycle ride. With the right type of bike that suits your needs, more might be possible than you think. Thanks to innovative technology more suitable bikes are coming on the market - heavy, clumsy invalid bikes are luckily a thing of the past! Here are some options that are available in Holland. Standard...  More >

12 great things to do in October

October is the time for Halloween pumpkins, Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven and the school half-term holidays. Hanneke Sanou has some suggestions of things to do. Get to know Couperus – surtitled in English For the third consecutive season, Ivo van Hove presents an adaptation of a novel by Louis Couperus (1863 – 1923). The Small Souls (De Boeken der Kleine Zielen), the story of a once prosperous The Hague family in decline, will premiere on October 8 in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. For tickets and other performance dates go to the website. Look up at Haring at the Stedelijk The Stedelijk Museum of modern art, also in the capital, welcomes back Keith Haring's 12 by 20 metre sun screen. Sprayed onto cloth some thirty years ago by the artist in a day long performance in situ, Haring's cartoony creatures needed restoring. Haring's 'velum' will be back shielding the museum's former entrance staircase from October 12. Website Raise an eyebrow with 007 On October 13...  More >

Podcast: The Cannibal Car Park Edition

The podcast team report on a scrap for the finance minister's job, a narrow escape when a car park couldn't stand the heat and a penalty shoot-out that's being decided in the courtroom. We also find out why the defence minister is coming under pressure over a military accident in Mali, and why prosecutors are investigating a doctor in a euthanasia case. In our discussion we examine the benefits and challenges of the Dutch health insurance system. Top story Coalition parties scrap for finance minister's job Defence minister under fire over critical report on Mali mission News Doctor reported to prosecution service over euthanasia case September confirmed as wettest for 16 years Amsterdam gets tough on illegal street cafes Eindhoven Airport's car park brought down by design flaw 'Substantial' gas field found in Waddenzee Efteling music used to drive teenagers away from Amsterdam central station Sport Feyenoord struggling to stay in Champions...  More >

What you need to know about Dutch divorce

Divorce is difficult under any circumstances. Separating from a partner is a challenging emotional time and it also carries a number of financial, legal and practical implications. Those issues can be made more complicated if you or your partner (or both) are non-Dutch nationals. If you have more questions, you can visit our stand during the I Am Not A Tourist Fair on October 8th 2017, where we will be giving free fifteen minute legal consultations. Here are the top eight things that you should know. Regardless of which country you married in or what your nationality is, it is possible (in most cases, there are some exceptions) to divorce in the Netherlands. You do not need to provide a reason to get divorced in the Netherlands. All divorces are considered no-fault and can be requested for any reason. You must retain a lawyer to file for divorce. You and your ex-partner can share a lawyer or you may retain your own lawyers. You can also make use of a mediator during the...  More >

New in Amsterdam: emergency Dental365

Imagine falling off your bike and breaking a tooth before a crucial job interview or a great party that you've planned. Help is now at hand in the form of Dental365, the new walk-in emergency dentist in Amsterdam. Dental365 was established by a group of dentists and specialists who believe there is too little emergency assistance in dental treatment in The Netherlands. The concept of Dental365 is that quality, emergency care and availability are complementary to regular dental care. To get the most out of this concept, Dental365 works closely with dental care practices, hospitals and specialist in the regions The Hague and Amsterdam. When they are not able to provide aid, they can redirect their patients to Dental365 for example, outside working hours, at the weekend or when a dental practice is closed due to holidays. The first Dental 365 practice opened over a year ago with the emergency dental service in The Hague. This was followed by a second practice to deal with dental emergencies...  More >

'A bitterbal is like eating flaming lava'

Toronto native Matt McNeil decided to forgo a career as a broker in Canada to move to the Netherlands with his girlfriend. They’re now the parents of a baby boy and he’s the proprietor of Coffee Company Leiden, one of the few North American-style coffee bars in the city. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Like so many other people: love. I was studying at the University of Concordia in Montreal and my girlfriend was there doing a half-year exchange. We met at the beginning of her trip and we were pretty much inseparable for the remainder. This was followed by a long-distance relationship that went on for four years. By that point I was out of school and I was working as a business broker, which is sort of like being a real estate agent but for businesses. Something had to change. She was in the middle of her master’s degree so I came over here. I eventually started working at Coffee Company in Amsterdam and things went from there. How do you describe yourself – an expat,...  More >

Can a taalcafé really boost your Dutch?

Learning Dutch can be a tricky thing, so teachers are always coming up with new ways to help learners absorb the language. So what is a taalcafé and can it really help improve your Dutch? Deborah Nicholls-Lee tests it out. I have just had a French conversation with a Dutchman about Russian literature, discussed the shortage of student accommodation in Dutch with a Turk, and learnt - thanks to an English-speaking German PhD student - about Economics’ inability to provide concrete answers. I was nervous as hell beforehand, but the language café experience is proving fascinating. Tonight is party night where language learners are invited to come together in one big melting pot. It’s a polyglot’s paradise, but can it help me learn Dutch? According to Koen Gyzel, from Amsterdam Dutch language school Koentact, it can. He opened the school’s first language café to provide ‘a more free-style playground’ for students who had completed his courses to keep up with their...  More >

Six ways to get to know your neighbours

Neighbours needn’t be strangers. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on six neighbourhood initiatives that are connecting local residents in the Netherlands. How well do you know the people next door?  If you still haven’t borrowed a cup of sugar, enjoyed a pavement borrel, or shared a moan about dog mess/bin days/noise, Burendag - Saturday, September 23 - is a great opportunity to meet your street, discuss the issues of the day, and lend a helping hand. To mark this most gezellig of events, here are six other Dutch initiatives connecting local communities. De Buurtcamping What if there was just canvas between you and your neighbours rather than bricks and mortar? De Buurtcamping helps neighbourhoods organise camping weekends in local parks across the Netherlands. This year it is celebrating its 5th anniversary. For Annemiek Tigchelaar, the organisation’s communications officer, the most special thing about the event is the coming together of diverse groups: ‘Neighbours...  More >

Podcast: The Horses and Hoedjes Edition

The podcast team review the hats, horses and financial repercussions of Prinsjesdag, explain why a toilet protest had to be cancelled and try to pick their way through a consignment of 300 identical bikes in Tilburg and a disorderly penalty shoot-out in Amsterdam. Our discussion asks why Hema's decision to change the way it sells children's clothes sparked an outcry on social media. Sint-Maarten fundraising day collects €13.3m for disaster relief Top story Few giveaways in outgoing government's last budget Read an English translation of the king's speech from the throne here. News New government already more unpopular than its predecessor Protest against fine for women peeing in street cancelled Amsterdammers in show of respect as terminally ill mayor steps down 300 identical bikes add to parking chaos at Tilburg apartment block Sport Tom Dumoulin celebrates world time trial title win KNVB investigating irregular penalty shoot-out in cup tie...  More >

I am not a tourist: 15th edition

Sunday 8th October 2017 sees the 15th edition of Amsterdam’s renowned 'I am not a tourist' Expat Fair. Come to the stunning Beurs van Berlage in the heart of Amsterdam to explore what the Netherlands has to offer you! Every year we give you the chance to take part in engaging and useful workshops, mingle with thousands of fellow internationals and network with companies from across the country in what has become the largest expat focussed event in the Netherlands. And, what’s more, it’s free! Get your complimentary ticket right here! Whether you have just moved to Holland, are a long-term resident, or a digital nomad the 'I am not a tourist' Expat Fair promises everything you need to know about living, working and enjoying your time here. This year’s fair will be the biggest yet; offering more than 3,000 expats the chance to talk with professionals from diverse industries and explore a wide variety of social clubs, volunteering and entrepreneurial opportunities. We...  More >

The Netherlands: a tale of two governments

The Netherlands: a tale of two governments The longer the process to form a new coalition takes place, the more the Netherlands is becoming a country run by two governments with a shared prime minister, writes Gordon Darroch During the 1950s the Netherlands was famous for having two foreign ministers. When asked to explain this curious situation, one of them, Joseph Luns, is said to have quipped: Als klein land heeft Nederland heel veel buitenland. ('As a small country, the Netherlands has a great deal of foreign parts'). That the Dutch have become more inward-looking in recent years is reflected in the fact that the country currently has two governments, both concerned mainly with domestic issues and conjoined by a shared prime minister, Mark Rutte. On the one flank there is Rutte-II, the partnership forged in adversity of the right-wing Liberals (VVD) and centre-left Labour party (PvdA). It drove through a package of reforms to lift the economy out of the mire of the banking crisis, but at the cost of the near-annihilation...  More >

Podcast: The Game Show Finger Edition

While storms ravaged the Dutch coast and Sint-Maarten continued to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the coalition talks remained stuck in the doldrums on the eve of Prinsjesdag – or 'Budget Day' as we're fond of calling it. This week's podcast gives you the lowdown on the history, horses and hats that make up the ceremonial opening of the Parliamentary year. We also tell you about a woman who lost €147 when she was caught short in Amsterdam and a man who lost €5 million when his nerves got the better of him on live TV, and explain why neither the prime minister nor the Dutch flower trade are as romantic as they might seem. In this podcast we said the record for the longest cabinet was held by the Den Uyl cabinet of 1977. We did, of course, mean the Van Agt cabinet of 1977, which took office after Joop den Uyl had tried unsuccessfully to form a government. Click here if you'd like to donate to the Red Cross Hurricane Irma appeal Nederland helpt Sint-Maarten Top...  More >

Our favourite summer photos

Summer in the Netherlands: our favourite readers’ photos We asked our readers to send us their favourite summer photos in the Netherlands. We got lots of great photos from far and wide but we had to narrow down our favourites to pick the winner, who gets two tickets to MUST. You can see all of the photos that were submitted on our Facebook page. A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 6:15am PDT A summer terrace - Stepan Khachatryan A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 6:46am PDT One happy couple - Jaileen Jasleen A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 5:36am PDT Local wildlife in Zuid-Kennemerland National Park - Karolina Kasperek A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 5:25am PDT The Pooping Man in Flevoland - Marko Markov A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Aug 29, 2017 at 5:21am PDT What's a Dutch summer without rain? - Hanneke Sanou A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl)...  More >

Forget savings accounts: Buy-to-let

With interest rates at record lows – making the return on savings minimal – investing in property to rent out is becoming increasingly popular. Buy-to-let has been big business in Britain but is now catching on in the Netherlands as well. ‘A buy-to-let mortgage is intended specifically for someone who wants to buy residential property to rent out,’ says Ralf van Arkel, of Expat Mortgages. ‘For expats who have the financial means, it's a great way to invest their savings and enjoy extra, tax-free income in the form of rent.’ Buy-to-let mortgages were out of favour in the Netherlands for years but in 2015 the tide began to turn. Expat Mortgages, which specialises in helping expats find a mortgage, has now introduced a special unit Expat Buy2Let, specifically to help international workers looking for an alternative to banks to put their money. ‘Given the incredibly low interest rates right now, it is a much more lucrative thing to do than putting money in a savings...  More >

'Imagine what Anne Frank went through'

British national Paul Brown has considered himself a Hagenaar for 26 years, eats his herring without bread and pickles and raves about Dutch beaches. Single with one son, Paul is the director of financial advice group Blacktower. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I moved to the Netherlands in the early 1990s for work. I was working in financial services in London, there was a recession in the UK and someone told me about the exciting market working with expats overseas. I wanted to go to Hong Kong. However, the company I had an interview with sent me to Holland instead. I was peed off, but it was a job. I stayed with that firm for a while before joining another firm where I became a partner. Subsequently, in June 1996 I started my own firm, which eventually merged with Blacktower in 2014. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? I'd say that I am an international because although I live here, I travel a lot. Technically I suppose I am...  More >

There's more to NL than the Wilhelmus

Dutch national identity goes further than singing the Wilhelmus National identity is about more than the national anthem, writes Kim Putters, head of the government's social policy advisory body SCP. This summer the search for what constitutes the Dutch identity took centre stage once again. A rumour about including the national anthem in the school curriculum as part of the next government's policy programme got tongues wagging. Opponents responded by protesting that the Dutch colonial past should be given more priority. It never ceases to amaze me how any discussion about what does or does not belong to the national identity becomes mired in whataboutery. Our children should be taught about the Wilhelmus as well as our colonial past, but they should be taught much more than that. In my opinion, this trade-off of historical achievements represents an insidious and broader erosion of historical and cultural awareness. The arts and culture ceased to be a priority for the Dutch years ago. When the SCP asks people what the government...  More >

Podcast: The Suicidal Kleptocat Edition

The podcast team wraps up a busy week in the news that included Hurricane Irma, a ban on sugary drinks in schools, a controversy over a suicide drug and a cat that's been nicking knickers from its neighbours. We also discuss the likely impact of the court judgment that required the caretaker government to come up with new plans to tackle air pollution. Top story Hurricane Irma devastates Dutch Caribbean islands News No budget debate this year (NOS, Dutch) Suicide powder boosts membership of assisted dying club Immigrants told to take extra integration tests Sugary soft drinks banned from sale in schools Passengers spending less money at Schiphol Lost wartime letters reunited with owner Sebas the jatkat can't stop stealing from neighbours' houses Sport Dutch hopes of qualifying for World Cup hang by a thread Discussion Dutch state has two weeks to produce clean air plan, court rules Netherlands latest EU country to be told to improve...  More >

The Netherlands' top 10 largest companies

Annual revenue is usually the main yardstick in judging corporate size. In the Netherlands, however, another standard has to be applied: Dutchness. Many large global companies are domiciled in the Netherlands through a shell or letterbox construction, but their presence in the domestic market is much smaller than the figures suggest. Chief among them is LyondellBasell Industries, a multinational chemical company with American and European roots, incorporated in the Netherlands and based in Rotterdam. However, its US headquarters are in Houston and its global operations are run from in London. We say it ain't Dutch enough. The same goes for EADS, the parent of European aerospace group Airbus. EADS Is headquartered in Leiden, but its very substantial operations are elsewhere in Europe. That has the distinct clatter of the letterbox, so we've discounted it too. And with the current global takeover mania just warming up, who knows how many of the companies on our list will remain...  More >