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Living in The Netherlands is known as the Gateway to Europe as a result of its waterway network, which links Belgium, France and Germany. With a population of approximately 16.6 million people, it is a very densly populated place to live and is one of the most crowded places in Europe.
The Netherlands is extremely flat with a staggering 27% of the entire country being built on reclaimed land. This has led to the immense sprawl of dykes throughout the country, for which it is now famous.
Living in The Netherlands: Expat job and career opportunities
It can be very challenging to find a job in the Netherlands if you are a foreigner. The majority of jobs require good Dutch language skills and there are also restrictive regulations regarding the employment of non EU/EEA citizens. Finding a job is easier for those who are living in The Netherlands and looking for work in retail, restaurants/bars or teaching foreign languages.
A significant source of employment within the Netherlands is within the services industry and the majority of jobs exist in areas such as business services, health and welfare services, trade and transport and communications sector.
Renting a property in the Netherlands
Online property portals are popular, and you can also find rental properties through letting agencies (verhuurbureaus) and advertisements in local newspapers, as well as classified ads and internal company websites. Commissioning an estate agent to find you a place will typically incur a fee equivalent to one month’s rent.
As most Dutch industries are relatively closely knit, even in the big cities, it’s best to only sign up with one agent or risk displeasing them all. Estate agents are obliged to work in the best interest of the tenant and should provide you with full information about the property.
Online property portals
Specialised property portals
Cost of living in Netherlands
Registration in the Netherlands
If you are staying, or plan to stay, in the Netherlands for more than four months then you need to register (inschrijven) at the town hall in the municipality (gemeente) where you are living.
Whether you're a Dutch citizen or an international, everyone living in the Netherlands is required to be registered at their home address. Being registered allows the Basisregistratie personen (BRP or Municipal Personal Records Database) to better handle emergency situations, to track the size of the Dutch population and to allocate the right municipal taxes to each household.
Documents needed to register
When making your appointment to register you will be told the exact documents you need to provide.
The necessary documents usually include:
How much tax in the Netherlands do you pay?
Each year you earn income in the Netherlands, you will typically be required to file a Dutch income tax return and pay taxes in the Netherlands.
Different categories of income are treated differently for tax purposes on the tax return and subject to different Dutch tax rates. There are three types of taxable income:
Box 1: Income from profits, employment and home ownership. This includes wages, pensions, social benefits, company car, and WOZ value of owner-occupied property – maximum 52% Dutch tax rate.
Box 2: Income from substantial shareholding (5% minimum holding) at a 25% tax rate.
Box 3: Taxable income from savings and investments at a 30% Dutch tax rate. Income from property, for instance, owned but not lived in as a main residence, is taxed here: not the actual income but the value of the asset. Tax is relative to assets held on the 1 January each year.
Each resident in the Netherlands is entitled to a tax-free capital threshold, set at €30,360 in 2019 for an individual (or €60,720 for fiscal partners).
Social security in the Netherlands
In general, however, all foreigners who live and work in the Netherlands are required to pay into the Dutch social security system and in return can claim various government benefits, including family benefits, maternity and paternity leave, unemployment benefits, long-term care, sick leave and disability benefits.
Social security benefits are also paid out based on the value of your assets and savings, such as a car or house, and owning assets over the threshold amount can nullify your right to claim benefits.
The amount of Dutch unemployment benefits you receive is based on your income from the previous 12 months before unemployment; you will receive 75 percent of this income for the first two months, after which it drops to 70 percent. The maximum benefit is EUR 203.85 per day.
Opening a bank account
To open a bank account in person, take the following documents with you:
If you intend to live and work in Amsterdam or anywhere else in the Netherlands then it is absolutely essential that you have a local Dutch bank account. Generally, bank accounts can be opened once you have an income in place. To open a bank account you need to personally visit a branch, preferably near to where you live or work.
Health and Insurance
Everyone living in the Netherlands must have Dutch health insurance, whether public health insurance in the Netherlands or private health insurance. Read about the Dutch health insurance system for expats.
Health insurance is compulsory for all people who live or work in the Netherlands. Expats from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland who arrive in the Netherlands must take out Dutch health insurance within four months of receiving their residence permit, even if they have an existing foreign policy. EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who are working in the Netherlands must take out Dutch health insurance within four months of registering at their city hall.
Register with a GP (huisarts)
After you have chosen your Dutch health insurance provider, you should register with a general practitioner. Once you have a GP you can easily schedule an appointment to discuss any health issues you may have. If you need a specific examination you should first liaise with your doctor, who will then refer you to the right specialist, clinic or hospital.
You can find Dutch doctors in your area online, usually by searching for "huisarts" and your city name. Some websites also provide comparative listings of doctors based on patient reviews.
You may also be required to register with your local pharmacy (apotheek) so they can keep a record of your medication history and so your GP can easily send prescriptions through.