Long history, beautiful nature, lively cities, exceptional social tolerance, high-quality living conditions – all of this is representative of the Netherlands (also known as Holland). The country is extremely diverse and multicultural and reportedly over 24% of its citizens are of foreign or ethnic minority background. This relatively small country has a lot to offer and if you’ve decided to move there, you’ve definitely made a good choice. Unsurprisingly, the Netherlands is ranked 5th in the World Happiness Report 2020 and tops many positive charts.
Capital City: Amsterdam
Population: 17.23 million
Official language: Dutch
Commonly spoken languages: Frisian, English, Papiamento
Exchange rate to pound: €1.00 is equal to £0.89
Where to live in the Netherlands
According to statistics, there were about 100,000 UK citizens living in the Netherlands in 2017. Other research by ECA International shows that 4 of the Netherlands’ cities are present in the top 10 list of most livable cities for European expats:
The Hague – this is actually the best Netherland city for expats. It’s the capital of the South Holland province and is located on the western coast of the country on the North Sea. The Hague is home to some of the most important international organisations, such as Europol, the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court, International Court of Arbitration, numerous foreign embassies, and many more. The city offers high-quality living conditions, international culture, and is also the greenest in the country, with the most parks and green spaces. Being a rather calm place, it’s preferred by young professionals and families.
Eindhoven – this is the fifth largest city in the Netherlands, located in the south of the country. Eindhoven is the oldest city in Holland, with its written history dating back to the 13th century, and is one of its largest industrial centres. For all football fans, you’d probably be happy to enjoy a game or two at PSV Eindhoven’s Philips Stadium.
Amsterdam – this is the capital of the Netherlands, as well as its commercial and financial centre. It’s the most populous city in the country, located in the province of North Holland. You can often hear it being referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to the large number of canals in the city. The many interesting sights to visit there (Anne Frank’s house, the Van Gogh Museum, the popular Tulip Fields, among others) make Amsterdam one of the most preferred cities for tourism in Europe.
Rotterdam – located in the province of South Holland, Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands. The port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe. The city offers a lot of opportunities and is famous for its unique and modern architecture (you can check out the cube houses).
How to become a Dutch citizen
If you are a Netherlands citizen before or on 31st December 2020, you will be able to stay in the country. You must obtain the new residency card by 30th June 2021 as per the Withdrawal Agreement. There are a couple of other things you should do, applicable for all Netherlands citizens:
- Register with your local municipality in order to be assigned a citizen service number (BSN). This should be done within 5 days following your arrival in the Netherlands. Details on the whole procedure are available here.
- Register in the Personal Records Database (BRP). This is obligatory for every resident of the Netherlands. You can do this at the same time you apply for your BSN.
- Apply for the new residency under the Withdrawal Agreement.
If you have Dutch citizenship or a valid Dutch national residence permit, you don’t need a new residence document. You can read more details regarding the different processes, as well as keep up to date with the latest changes in the UK government’s guide to living in the Netherlands here.
Working in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has one of the largest economies in the world. High GDP and GDP per capita, as well as low unemployment rate (3.2% in December 2019), are only a few of the things making the country desirable for foreigners. Holland is highly industrialized, relying strongly on foreign trade. While the country has oil reserves of little importance, it holds about 25% of the natural gas reserves in the EU. The Netherlands holds the headquarter of the Royal Dutch Shell PLC – a British-Dutch multinational oil and gas company. The country also has an exceptionally well-developed tourism sector.
The Netherlands has a very competitive labour market, providing extremely good working conditions. Some of the most popular and in-demand jobs are in the engineering, technical and IT sectors, finance, marketing, sales and customer service, healthcare sector and education. According to data from numbeo.com, the average monthly net salary in Holland is €2,466.96.
Transportation in the Netherlands
Holland has an excellent public transport network, consisting of buses, metro, trams, ferries and trains. It’s super reliable, modern and easy. You’ll need a public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart) which applies to all types of public transport. According to numbeo.com, on average the monthly cost of getting about in the Netherlands is around £87.00 as opposed to £150.00 in the UK.
You’ll notice a large number of people using their bikes since biking is very popular with the Dutch.
Driving your own car in the Netherlands
According to an article in Expatica.com, expats moving to Holland from EU or EFTA countries do not need to exchange their license in the short term, as they’ll be valid for up to 15 years (if issued since January 19th, 2013) or 10 years (if issued before this date). Driving licence rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020. When driving in the Netherlands, you should always carry your driving licence, insurance documents, and ID such as a passport or residence permit.
If you’ve decided to bring your UK-registered vehicle to the Netherlands, please read the following article on the UK government’s website. It’s very important that you register your vehicle with the Dutch authorities.
On the plus side, there are no toll roads or vignettes you need to buy. The roads are extremely well-maintained and will make your travels easier. Whether your car runs on gasoline, diesel, or any other type of fuel, Dutch gas stations have it all. Most cities in the Netherlands have introduced paid parking similar to many other European countries.
Owning a car in Holland does not come cheap. Gasoline is a bit more expensive than in the UK, according to data from numbeo.com. According to the same source, buying a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) or a similar quality commuter vehicle in Amsterdam will cost up to £25,070.92, whereas buying the same vehicle in London will cost up to £22,771.42.
Education in the Netherlands
Holland’s educational system is one of the best in the world. The country has both public and private institutions for all education levels. Most Dutch primary and secondary schools are free, with the exception of some private schools. Compulsory education for all pupils starts at the age of 5. The primary school has 8 grades from 5 to 12 years of age. Then, pupils transfer to secondary school until the age of 16. Further education is optional.
Being a student in the Netherlands
If you are living in the Netherlands on or before 31 December 2020, you will still be entitled to receive student finance and pay statutory tuition fees as long as you meet the residency conditions.
The Netherlands is home to one of the world’s oldest and most highly respected systems of higher education, dating back to the 16th century. [U2] Thirteen Netherland Universities have been included in the QS World University Ranking 2020. Some of the best ones in the country are the University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, etc.
There is a variety of English language courses which make Holland a very popular choice for international students. The annual tuition fees vary depending on whether you are from the EU/EAA or overseas, your major and whether you study full-time or part-time. If you are an EU/EAA citizen the tuition fees are a bit over €2,000, as opposed to €6,000 to €20,000 for non-EU/EAA student. On average, a student in Holland will need between €1,000-€1,300 depending on the city they live in.
Healthcare in the Netherlands
You should arrange your health insurance within 4 months of moving into the country. All residents of the Netherlands should have at least basic health insurance that covers GP appointments and hospital care. If you are resident in the Netherlands, you must not use your EHIC from the UK to access healthcare in the Netherlands. When you travel from the Netherlands for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in that country.