The complete expat guide to the Netherlands

Are you planning to move to the Netherlands or currently looking for a job in the low countries? In this expat guide you will find everything you need to know about this little country. From relocating to living and working. We’ve got you covered.

More than windmills, clogs and cheese

The Netherlands is one of the world’s most popular expat destinations, and with good reason. A buzzing economy, friendly locals, liberal cosmopolitan cities and stunning landscapes are just a few of the reasons expats are increasingly basing themselves here.

As an expat looking for the next step in your career, you will find no shortage of job opportunities. The Netherlands is a global trendsetter in governance, banking, commerce and entertainment, and consistently ranks as one of the top expat destinations. Clogs, windmills, tulips and cheese are some of the iconic and somewhat stereotypical things you might associate with this small country, but it’s about so much more.

With an A+ in diversity, the Dutch are known for their tolerance and liberal ideas, and like-minded expats typically have no problem integrating into this laid-back society. As an expat you can easily swap the bicycle bustle of the cities with the staggering beauty of rural villages, our pristine coastline and picturesque meadows. Add the friendly locals into that mix and you’ll understand why the Netherlands is known for offering an excellent quality of life.

Cost of living in the Netherlands

The cost of living in the Netherlands has risen steadily over the past few years but despite this it still remains lower here than it is in many other European countries. However, you should be prepared to pay quite a bit of rent when you are looking to move to bigger cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht. The housing market is very competitive with locals, expats and students bidding on the small amount of available spaces.

Luckily, life in the Netherlands as an expat isn’t all doom and gloom. Thanks to the many different supermarkets, both high-end and low cost as well as the many markets and independent retailers, groceries have remained fairly cheap. Medical services can also be accessed at a reasonable price and even going out for dinner or drinks can be done without breaking the bank.

Expat job and career opportunities

Because unemployment rates are so low and you can find many international companies in the Netherlands, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a job as a highly skilled expat. The country is home to a wide range of international and multinational companies. Making the Netherlands an interesting multicultural hub where English is one of the most spoken languages besides Dutch.

There are a number of growing job sectors in the Netherlands. These include agriculture and food, energy, IT, health, logistics and creative industries. So no matter which sector you specialize in, there will always be a job for you. If you’re from the EU or the EEA (Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland), you won’t need a work permit to seek employment in the Netherlands. Short-term, temporary workers won’t need one either. Otherwise, if you’re staying longer than three months, you will need to apply for a work permit. It will be a combined residence and employment permit (GVVA).

Nonetheless, finding a job can still be quite the hassle for an expat who has just started on their journey. Relocating to a new country always comes with a few challenges. Fortunately, there are many recruitment agencies in the Netherlands that can help you get started.

At Undutchables we specialise in helping highly-skilled expats get ahead in their career. Check out our vacancies here. Or register so we can help you get started on your job hunt.

Some more facts every expat should know before moving to the Netherlands

Here are some final facts about moving to, working and living in the Netherlands. As an expat these might be the questions you bump into every once in a while. Or they’re simply things that are handy to know.

  • The Dutch are honest, blunt and direct. If there’s something on their mind they will say it. This might take some getting used to but at least you’ll never have to worry about what people secretly think of you.

  • Unfortunately there are only a handful of national holidays in the Netherlands. So any vacation days negotiated as part of a contract will not be supplemented.

  • If you’re living on a permanent basis and/or are earning a salary in the Netherlands you are required to purchase at least a basic health insurance from a Dutch health care insurance company.

  • Everyone living in the Netherlands above the age of 14 are required to carry some form of identification as proof of residency status.

  • Every once in a while the Netherlands seems to be gripped by the colour orange. The Dutch only need the slightest excuse to turn their whole country into a dazzling explosion of bright orange. Especially during sport events and the king’s birthday you won’t be able to escape the colour.

  • And finally, even though the Netherlands is much more than it’s tulips, clogs and cheese. We do truly love these things :)

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