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Moving to Netherlands? A Guide to Dutch Living, An Expat’s Guide

Moving to the Netherlands: Your Complete Guide

While there are many compelling reasons to go to the Netherlands, the primary reason for expats is that this is a country that takes in thousands of expats each year. The Dutch lifestyle is easy to adjust to, and most expats find that living in the Netherlands allows them to find the opportunities they’re seeking while also enjoying a peaceful, safe, prosperous way of life surrounded by beautiful scenery. Unlike many other places in Europe, expats who gain residency in The Netherlands are allowed to vote in local elections. This, among other things, makes The Netherlands a wonderful place to call home and encourages expats to develop a long-lasting relationship with the country. When you take the time to consider that The Netherlands is also an immensely beautiful place, it’s no wonder that so many people flock to this peaceful country.

Dutch Visas and Work Permits

Once you’ve decided to move to The Netherlands, you’ll need to invest some time in getting your visas and work permits sorted out. Since The Netherlands is one of the 26 countries involved in the Schengen Agreement, citizens from other Schengen countries will be allowed to travel freely to and from the Netherlands. Citizens from other European Union countries won’t need a visa to live or work in the Netherlands – regardless of how long you’re planning to stay. You will, however, be expected to register in the personal records database and get a citizen number, which doubles as a tax number and a social security number. If you’re not an EU national, you’ll likely be required to secure more advanced documentation. As it stands now, The Netherlands offers two types of visas for short stays:

When it comes to long-term Dutch visas, new residents are required to apply for long-term entry registration and a residence permit. Often, new expats are also required to take and pass an immigration exam.
Because the Dutch immigration requirements may change frequently, it’s wise to do your due diligence by researching the requirements with the Dutch Citizenship authorities before your move gets underway.

Renting Property in The Netherlands

Renting property in The Netherlands, while possible, is often complicated. Because of this, the first thing you need to do when considering moving to the country is hire a Dutch real estate agent. A professional in the industry will be able to help you navigate the complex rules of the Dutch housing market without becoming frustrated. In The Netherlands, renting is incredibly common, with upwards of 40% of Dutch nationals renting a property. Renting is so popular because purchasing a property is expensive and time-consuming, and few people have the budgets or the time to deal with the process.
If you plan to move to The Netherlands, renting is likely your best option. Because few expats qualify for the social housing system in The Netherlands, it’s wise to look, instead, for private flats. Again, a real estate agent can help you with this process and will be able to guide you toward the most desirable neighborhoods and the most reasonable rental prices. Without the aid of a professional, it’s easy to find yourself overpaying and living in an undesirable area of the country. Keep in mind as you’re searching for apartments that “unfurnished” flats don’t have light fixtures, carpets, or any other furnishings you may be used to in your home country. Because of this, it’s wise to look for a flat advertised as “gestoffeerd,” which means “soft furnishings.” These apartments often include curtains, rugs, and kitchen appliances.

The 5 Best Places to Live in The Netherlands

The Netherlands is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to finding a beautiful place to live. Ranked the 6th best country for expats by the BBC, it’s no surprise that virtually any of these cities will feel like home in an instant:

1. Amsterdam
The capital city of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is a varied and diverse place just waiting to be explored. The streets, which crisscross the city’s trademark canals via bicycle-lined bridges, are lined with flower markets, canal-side cafes, shops, and flea markets. The city boasts plenty of open green space and city parks, and there are multiple festivals to be found throughout the year. Art enthusiasts in Amsterdam will have their pick of the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum, which features items that detail the art and history of Amsterdam. History buffs will love attractions like the Anne Frank house and the city’s numerous other World War II stopovers. While rental prices are expensive here, people who want to work in any of Amsterdam’s larger establishments will find living downtown convenient and enjoyable. Plus, it’s not difficult to make a stopover at the Heineken brewery after a long day.

2.  Utrecht
The fourth largest city in The Netherlands, Utrecht was once a Roman holdout upwards of 2000 years ago. Today, the city is a well-known college town that offers many of the same attractions and pastimes as Amsterdam, but without quite so many people. Residents of Utrecht love the Old Town city center, which features dozens of cafes, shops, galleries, and canals. Widely known as the religious seat of The Netherlands, Utrecht is also home to many of the country’s most impressive cathedrals and churches. The city also boasts several nods to its ancient heritage. One of the most notable is the Kasteel De Haar, which is widely known for its immaculate and well-kept gardens and stately exterior. While rent in Utrecht is far from cheap, it’s more affordable to live here than it is in Amsterdam, and expats who want all of the same amenities with few of the same crowds will love this beautiful city.

3. Haarlem
Just outside of Amsterdam, Haarlem is a smaller city that dates back more than 1,000 years. The city’s crowning jewel is its market square, Grote Markt, which is the heart of the historic district. Here, it’s possible to take canal boat rides, stock up at the local flower markets or spend an entire day touring buildings that remain largely untouched since they were built in the 14th century. Haarlem is also close to the beach and some of the country’s most scenic golf courses.

4. The Hague
The third largest city in the country, The Hague sits on the banks of the North Sea and acts as the seat of The Netherlands’ government. Far less busy than cities like Amsterdam or Utrecht, The Hague exudes a quiet elegance that is relaxing and engaging all at once. Many residents in this city work for the United Nationals or the International Court of Justice, so it’s a wise place for anyone with an interest or skill in politics to settle down.

5. Delft
Delft is a short 6-mile drive from The Hague and boasts the title as “the most charming town in The Netherlands.” Known for its Delftware pottery, Delft is famous around the globe for its beautiful, blue and white, hand painted pottery, which it exports around the world. Aside from the pottery, Delft also offers timeless attractions, scenic waterways and parks, plenty of delicious local coffee shops boasting handcrafted baked goods, and more. The ideal spot for quiet expats who want to raise a family or start a business, Delft is a fantastic representation of The Netherlands and all it has to offer.

Pros and Cons of Living in The Netherlands

While there are dozens of beautiful places to live in The Netherlands, it’s wise to consider every aspect of moving to this country before you take the plunge. With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of moving to The Netherlands:

Pros

Cons

The Weather in The Netherlands

While many expats believe the weather in The Netherlands is Mediterranean, the opposite is true. Dutch weather is temperamental and can change quickly between humid, hot days, raging thunderstorms, and even snow in the winter. Because of this, it’s wise to be prepared to experience four distinct seasons upon becoming a resident.

Moving to the Netherlands: Your Big Opportunity Awaits

Whether you’re taking a job or merely looking to enjoy life a bit more, The Netherlands is an excellent place to settle down. Boasting dozens of beautiful, historic cities and more than enough cafes to keep virtually anyone busy, The Netherlands is one of the most popular expat destinations in the entire world. What’s more, it’s also a beautiful, safe, welcoming country that promises a high quality of life, good jobs, ample attractions, fascinating history, and cheese unlike any you’ve tasted in your life. When you’re prepared for all that moving to The Netherlands entails, you’re better equipped to enjoy a smooth, stress-free relocation from A to Z.