Your New Home in the Netherlands
Have you taken steps towards relocating to the Netherlands? Here are a few things to keep in mind when making the transition to your new home.
1) Politics: The Kingdom of the Netherlands
Move aside Prince William, King Willem-Alexander is in the house. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, in which the constitution outlines the responsibilities of government authorities and the sovereign. As a new resident of the Netherlands, you will have the opportunity to hear the King’s annual speech, during which he introduces plans for the upcoming year, counsels the head of Parliament and signs royal resolutions and laws.
On an international level, the Netherlands has a central role in the European Union. In the past, its forces have also contributed to UN peacekeeping efforts.
2) Economy: It Has Seen Better, and Worse, Days
The Netherlands is slowly but surely recovering from economic trouble. The government budget deficit decreased to 3.3% of the GDP in 2013. However, tax increases and the rising unemployment rate have caused a decline in disposable household income, leading to a contraction in the Dutch economy. The economy is mainly services-based, but trade also plays a major role.
3) Residency Requirements: Here to Stay
All foreigners, besides EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals, are required to report to the Foreign Police (Vreemdelingenpolitie), in the municipality where they will be residing, within three day of their arrival in the Netherlands.
If you plan to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months and would like to apply for a Dutch residency permit, you need a document authorizing your temporary stay. In this case it would be the so-called MVV (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf).
You must apply for the MVV at the Dutch Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence before leaving for the Netherlands. However, nationals from certain countries do not need an MVV to apply for a residency permit.
To qualify for a residency permit you need to fulfil requirements based on the motivation for your stay. This includes, for example, work, education, and/or family. If you have a MVV or do not need one, you can apply for a residence permit at the local municipal office (Gemeentehuis). The decision can take up to six months.
4) The Hague: Where Justice Is Served
Also known as the “International City of Peace and Justice” or the “Legal Capital of the World”, The Hague is crawling with expats due to the 150 plus international organizations located there. Such organizations include the International Criminal Court and Europol.
The Hague is also a haven for journalists and politicians, as the Dutch Royal Court and Government, as well as foreign embassies and government ministries, all call this city home.
5) Amsterdam: Where Finance and Culture Coexist
Amsterdam is both home to the world’s oldest stock exchange and Van Gogh central. It is here that the headquarters of multiple Dutch institutions and corporations are located and branches of multinational corporations can be found. At the same time, museums house plenty of Van Goghs, Vermeers, and Rembrandts.
6) Healthcare: Healthy Is a Lifestyle
The Netherlands will look after you, thanks to its comprehensive healthcare system. The government puts aside a significant share of the annual GNP for the health sector. There are about 140 hospitals, 80 psychiatric clinics, and 330 nursing homes in the Netherlands. It is obligatory for anyone living in the Netherlands to have health insurance, under the Health Insurance Act (Zorgverzekeringswet). If there is ever a medical emergency, dial 112.
7) Education: The Intellectual Side of Life
The Netherlands requires children to attend school from the age of five to 18, or until they receive a basic qualification from an upper secondary program. Up until the age of 18, education is free. Following eight years of primary school, a recommendation concerning further academic options is given to children. Secondary school is four to six years and there are three types (Vocational Secondary School, General Secondary Education, and University Preparatory School). Foreign languages are a priority in all types of secondary education.
For expat children, an alternative to Dutch schools are international schools. Your best bet for international schools is life in a big city. At the university level, make sure your children learn Dutch if they would like to have the possibility of studying close to home, though some academic programs are available in German or English.
8) Transport: How to Cruise around the Netherlands
Whatever your preferred form of transport may be, the Netherlands offers a public transportation system between cities, many bike paths, and a highway system, although traveling by rail is often a convenient alternative to driving. If you prefer driving, keep in mind that the Dutch Government has reduced speed limits on some roads near cities in hopes of reducing air pollution.
9) Taxation and Expat Expenses: Lucky Duck
There is a 30% ruling for expats in the Netherlands that allows expats with certain, nationally scarce skills to receive 30% of their salary tax-free. Expats with children get further perks. Tuition fees for expat children attending primary or secondary school at an international school or in the international department of a non-international school can be reimbursed by the employer, also tax free.
10) Buy Property
On a whole, apartments up for rent in the Netherlands are unfortunately limited, especially for foreigners and those living in big cities. If you are lucky enough to find something it probably will not be very affordable.
If you see your future unfolding in the Netherlands, buying an apartment or a house is, for the most part, a better alternative. There are no restrictions on buying property for immigrants, and agents or the local newspapers are there to help you find the perfect home for you, your family, and the couch you could not leave behind.