I have lived in the Netherlands for a little over two years now. The reason I am here is that my boyfriend is Dutch. Over my two years here, I have learned a lot about Dutch culture and have changed my lifestyle completely. I get a lot of questions about living in the Netherlands, so I decided to make this blog post answering the most commonly asked questions I get. All my sources are linked in the text in red.
How do you make friends here?
A lot of Dutch people make friends from school or being part of some sort of club like cycling or tennis. If you have a hobby, then join a club. That way you get to meet like-minded people. I made friends at my Dutch language school and by meeting with people in expat Facebook/WhatsApp groups. The most important thing to remember is, put yourself out there.
Do you like living in the Netherlands?
Yes, and no. I absolutely love the quality of life here. It is so much better than life in the USA. People have lives outside of work and working all the time isn’t seen as something good. I love how much vacation time people have and that everyone cycles. I do miss some things about the US, like amazing customer service, huge grocery and department stores, how friendly people are, and a lot of other things. For me, the good things about the Netherlands outweigh the bad things.
What is the cost of living?
The cost of living depends on where you are living, how you spend your money, and how much money you’re making. I find that housing is very expensive but most groceries are cheaper than in the US. Gas and electricity are very expensive. Income tax, retail tax, and other taxes are also very very high. The minimum wage in the Netherlands is €10,77 an hour for someone over the age of 21 working 36 hours a week.
How do you deal with being homesick?
This is never easy, especially this year. I haven’t been able to go back to my hometown, Milwaukee, WI, USA since November 2019. I think the best way to get through it is video call with your loved ones, find hobbies to keep you busy, and visit as often as possible. Make friends here. They will help you feel more at home. Moving is hard, especially to a new country, just give it time. Read my blog post about one of the first times I felt at home here.
How did you get residency/visa to live here?
I am here on a partnership visa. That means my partner and I are in a committed relationship and he sponsors my visa. Legally, he is financially responsible for me. There are many different kinds of visas available to be able to live in the Netherlands such as a student visa, a DAFT visa (Dutch American Friendship Treaty), and a work visa. You can find more information about all the different kinds of visas here.
Do you have to learn Dutch? Do people speak English?
Yes, I am required to learn Dutch. I need to take immigration exams within 3 years of getting my visa. Most people speak English, so that makes it hard to stay committed to practicing my Dutch. The Netherlands is a trade country, therefore, everyone learns English from a very young age.
How did you find a job? Is it hard to find a job?
Fortunately, I didn’t have to find a job here. I was working in NYC for a real estate management company. When I moved here, they allowed me to continue working remotely. Depending on what kind of job you’re looking for, and your qualifications, finding a job can be easy or hard. I can tell you that the work contracts here are some of the best contracts in the world. They really protect employees. Here are some popular sites to look for jobs: LinkedIn, Monsterboard, and Indeed.
What cities should you check out while visiting/living here?
I’d recommend you check out smaller cities/towns like Willemstad, Heusden, and Breda, If you’re looking for some popular tourist destinations, then check out Amsterdam, Keukenhof, Kinderdijk, and Giethoorn.
What foods should you try?
If you want to try some traditional Dutch snacks, then try these: bitterballen, kaassouffle, kroket, haring, friet, frikandel and drop. Do you have more of a sweet tooth? Then try these: oliebollen, stroopwafels, poffertjes, and appeltaart. Do you love good beer? Try these: La Trappe Isid’or, Bavaria Wit, and Grolsch Herfstbok.
What is the best city to live in here?
That depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to live among a lot of internationals and be in a busy city, then someplace like Amsterdam or the Hague is for you. If you want a bit quieter, then maybe Breda is for you. Big cities come with extra costs like very expensive housing. That is something to consider when deciding on where you want to live.
Is health insurance free?
No, health insurance is not free if you’re over the age of 18. The basic health insurance is around €100 per month. The basic health care package varies in cost every year. You also need to pay a deductible starting from €385 per year. If you want any additional insurance like seeing a physical therapist or acupuncture, you will need to pay more monthly or yearly to get those insured.
How much vacation time do people get?
Full-time employees start out with a minimum of 4 paid weeks of vacation a year. Some employers choose to give more vacation time. If you’re in a union, then you can even more vacation time.
Which country do I have to pay taxes in if I’m working internationally?
I really can’t answer this question. It completely depends on where you make your money, where you’re living, and on a bunch of other things. Please contact the Dutch tax authority or a tax expert. They can assist you with all your tax-related questions.
Do you have a question that was not answered above? Ask me your question in the comment section. I’d be happy to answer it.