The Netherlands is one of the most unique countries in all of Europe. It has wonderful charm, priceless art, historical riches beyond belief and cities that are fun to live in and explore. If you are looking for a truly European lifestyle, you can’t do much better than living as an expat in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is unique in that the majority of the land lies below sea level. An intricate array of locks and dykes keep the land dry and habitable. Those seeking an expat lifestyle will have many images of windmills, bicycles, canals and the notorious old quarter in Amsterdam on their minds and these landmarks and cultural attributes will definitely fulfill your expectations.
The Netherlands is considered a maritime climate. It is characterized by predominantly mild winters and cool summers. Although farther north than New York City, it generally stays around 36 to 40 degrees during the winter months and hits the high sixties to low 70’s during the summertime. For those that like seasonal weather, but not extreme cold or heat, Netherlands is perfect.
As far as sunshine goes, there are generally many clouds in the skies each day and the winters are notorious for being foggy. In Amsterdam it does rain frequently and can be damp throughout the year. This makes perfect conditions for dairy production and livestock that feed off the grasses, but not so good for other types of crops that require lots of sunshine.
The Government of the Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy, however, like Britain, it has a constitutional monarchy. The population of the Netherlands is about 16.5 million of which the Dutch make up 80% of the population. Minorities include Germans, Surinamese and Indonesians. The language in the Netherlands is Dutch and many residents in the Netherlands not only speak Dutch, but at least one or two other languages, usually English and German.
The economy for the most part is very strong in the Netherlands and while it is not one of the richest countries in the world, as it was in the 16th century, it has an extremely efficient infrastructure, museums and wonderful architecture and an old world charm.
For most people that come to live in the Netherlands, there first stop is the bustling city of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is now a mix of old and new, having an old world town and also offering modern buildings and infrastructure in the surrounding area. Other towns and cities that are popular in the Netherlands are Harlem, which is quite close to Amsterdam and mostly residential and Rotterdam which is mainly known as an industrial city.
As far as moving to Amsterdam for business or pleasure, receiving an extended visa is fairly easy, especially if you have been asked to work in the country by a corporation. In addition, if you are an entrepreneur or investor, the Netherlands will definitely be interested in any economic activity you can provide. For expats that are looking to live in the Netherlands for the short term, your best bet is to enter under a tourist visa, usually good for 90 days and exit at the end of the period. After you have flown home or traveled out of the Schengen area, you can simply reenter the country.
You can find more information about visas at the Royal Netherlands Embassy’s Offices in the United States or you can contact the US Embassy in the Hague.
The Netherlands has one of the highest tax systems in Europe for both individuals and corporations. The highest bracket for individual income tax is 52%; the highest bracket for corporate tax is 29.6. Besides these taxes, there is also a Value Added Tax (VAT) and a real estate tax.
While the Netherlands does have some of the highest taxes, for certain types of businesses that collect royalties or copyright materials, there may be certain tax advantages. You might want to talk to an accountant in the Netherlands regarding these specific tax advantages.
The Netherlands has an extremely modern and efficient medical system in place. No matter where you are in the country, you are usually only minutes away from a hospital, clinic or emergency medical service. While many governments control their medical system, the Netherlands is not in control of the medical system per say, this falls under private health care providers. However, the government does control the quality and accessibility of the medical system.
Every citizen and resident in Amsterdam has access to health care and must purchase at least basic coverage. For the most part, a basic health care package costs around 100 Euros per month. For those that are not legal residents or are planning on staying less than one year, purchasing healthcare is not required. If you are a European citizen, you can apply for special European coverage, if you are an American and have your own health care, you may be able to use it in the Netherlands. For those working in the Netherlands and staying for more than one year, you will usually be required to purchase at least the basic health care plan.
Purchasing or investing in property in the Netherlands is straightforward and simple. The contracts are very secure and the judicial process for any disputes is efficient. For the most part, purchasing property in the Netherlands can be moderately more expensive than in the states, especially in popular locations. It is also important to factor in the currency of the Netherlands which is the Euro. The Euro is extremely strong right now, making most real estate high priced.
For those expats looking to stay for a short period of time, your best bet is to rent or share an apartment. You can usually find an apartment to live in that is reasonably priced. For those on small budgets look to sharing a room with other, sharing a room with others usually can cost from 200 Euros per month per person to about 500 Euros per month, per person.
Shopping in Amsterdam is a pleasure. Just like the rest of Western Europe, you can find all the necessities and any luxuries you need. If you are looking for top stores and boutique shops, head to the main cities.
For those that are looking for entertainment, the Netherlands definitely has it all. In Amsterdam, you will find some of the highest quality paintings in all of Europe and plenty of museums.
If you enjoy good food and drink, there are plenty of bars, clubs and nightlife to satisfy anyone’s style or lifestyle. Besides the normal fare, you find in most European cities, Amsterdam is unique with its red light district and special coffee shops. For many expats, Amsterdam is the place to chill out.
Cost of Living
For the most part, Amsterdam is not terribly expensive, however since the tax rate is high and the Euro is strong against the dollar, the Netherlands can be difficult on a small budget. While it may be difficult, it is definitely doable and there are plenty of opportunities in the Netherlands for work or entrepreneurship.
Blogs from Expats in The Netherlands
The diary of a British Expat living and working in The Netherlands.
Extradition from Netherlands
The Extradition treaty between the Netherlands and the US was signed on June 24, 1980
This treaty was entered into force on September 15, 1983