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Moving to the Netherlands

Moving to the Netherlands Moving to the Netherlands is a popular choice for expats from all over the world looking to relocate for work or lifestyle purposes. As with moving abroad to any country, or even just a local move, there are lots of things to take into consideration. Plans have to be made as to where you will live, where you will work and, if moving with family, where your children will go to school. We take a look at what is required for those planning on moving to the Netherlands from where to live to how to get around.

Why the Netherlands?

As a popular tourist location there are many reasons for people to choose to visit the Netherlands (also incorrectly known as Holland, since Holland is just a popular region in the Netherlands) but why do they choose to live there? With moving to the Netherlands being a popular choice for many from across the world, it seems this country has a lot to offer. From the vibrant social culture (the Dutch love a celebration) to the history and culture of this beautiful country, there are plenty to see and do all year round. In the summer there are often pop up festivals occurring in the public spaces like parks and greens. It may seem like a cliché but the Netherlands is typically famous for tulips and bulb fields, wooden shoes (aka clogs), Gouda cheese, windmills and of course thousands, if not millions, of bicycles. With a moderate marine climate the sea ensures that it is never too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer, however, this also means that, in countries such as the UK, there is always the chance of a shower. Moving to the Netherlands - windmills

Where should you live in the Netherlands?

With a long North Sea coast, the Netherlands shares its borders with Germany to the East and Belgium to the South. If you were to travel across the sea, directly to the west, you would arrive in the UK and can easily access cities like London for a weekend trip. Where you choose to live though will largely be down to what you want from your lifestyle. If you are looking to make the move with your job then you will most likely be based in the cities of Amsterdam or Rotterdam, maybe The Hague or Utrecht. For those who want a more rural existence the east of the country has an expanse of farming and agricultural land.

Moving to Amsterdam

If you are moving to Amsterdam it could well be because you are relocating with your job. This is the reason that many current expats have moved here, taking up residence in one of the city’s large and spacious apartments. There are many major corporations here that hire English speaking people to work for them, so if you speak English well then there are plenty of opportunities for work. Amsterdam is a beautiful city and a popular tourist location. With its canals, attractions, cafes and restaurants, there is no shortage of art, history and culture. There are very good transport links to take you to other places in the Netherlands but one popular mode of transport is, of course, the bicycle so you might want to get yourself one. Whether you are relocating here because of your job or because you fancy a change of lifestyle then you can’t go far wrong when moving to Amsterdam.

Moving to Rotterdam

As the biggest port in Europe, Rotterdam is a hive of activity with a population of approx. 600,000 which makes it the second largest city in the Netherlands. Based in the South of the country it has seen major development since much of it was destroyed in the Second World War. It is now home to skyscrapers amongst other contemporary architectural buildings. With the shipping industry a major economic force in Rotterdam and many large corporations based here if you are moving to Rotterdam and needing a job there are plenty of opportunities. With various suburbs to suit all sorts of requirements, there is something for everyone moving to Rotterdam making it a popular expat destination.

Moving to Utrecht

Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands, behind Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. If you are considering moving to Utrecht then what can you expect? Well, Utrecht is very popular with the under 30s – it is vibrant, cosmopolitan and, for those living there, it can be quite expensive, especially if you are considering living in the centre. Many people choose to live outside of Utrecht and commute in. Like most cities, there are areas to avoid and areas that are a must see. In terms of things to see and do when moving to Utrecht there are plenty of things to see with the old town, many Christian monuments (Utrecht is a very religious centre) and canals. Wherever you choose to live, the excellent transport links, especially in the Randstad region, mean that you can easily travel between the major towns and cities. Another factor in where you choose to live will be the cost of living. Apartments are a very popular choice of residence in this densely populated country and vary greatly in price from one area to another. Dutch apartments are spacious, light and airy but do tend to have the kitchens attached to the lounge in an open plan style format.

When should you move to the Netherlands?

Is there a good time for moving to the Netherlands? How do you know when the best time is? Well for many it largely depends on when everything comes together in terms of planning. Once you have found a job, found somewhere to live and got everything in order, then you can arrange your moving date. It is best to check if there are times that are better than others or whether it is cheaper for your international moving company to move you at a specific time of year. Also look at when the public holidays take place as you will probably want to avoid these times. School holidays may mean more expensive flights or travel to the country, but then you may not want the children to miss any time at school. You also need to make sure that you are in a secure financial situation before you move in case you need a buffer while you get settled.

Carry out a survey

If you have never visited the Netherlands before then you may want to consider a visit there first, especially if you are planning on making it your new home. From checking out the various cities and towns to experiencing a little bit of Dutch culture, you can’t beat a visit in person. If it is not feasible for you to visit the country beforehand, then you will definitely need to do your research. Where will best suit you and your lifestyle? Are you looking for a busy social life or do you prefer some peace and quiet? Will you need to find a job or are you looking to retire? Do you have a family and will you need to arrange schools? All of these things will need careful consideration and you will need to be able to match your requirements which isn’t always so easy from thousands of miles away. Luckily there are good sources of online information which include forums from other people that have gone through the same experiences when moving to the Netherlands. Carry out as much research as you can until you feel you know all there is to know so that it minimises the stress for both you and your family when you arrive.


As an EU country, it is relatively easy to make the move if you are from within the EU. You can find a job and secure a property and apply for the necessary paperwork with relative ease. If you are from outside of the EU however, it is not quite so easy. When it comes to jobs in the Netherlands, the employers have to prove that they cannot find anyone suitable for the job within the EU before they can offer to it to non-EU residents. This may make it harder to find work if you are based in the US for example unless of course, you are moving with your job. Whether you are travelling to the Netherlands with or without needing a visa there are still rules that apply. Before you make the move it is important to check which rules apply to you and which applications and permits you need. In addition to the entry requirements and visa applications, there will be other things that you need to consider. All residents that move to the Netherlands are obliged to take out health insurance both for basic healthcare like GP visits and in some cases, more extensive health care.

Language barriers

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. While many will speak English they do prefer that resident foreigners make the effort to at least learn the basics of the language if they are going to reside there. If it is all overwhelming for you and you, don’t manage to get to grips with the language before your move, don’t worry you will soon pick it up as you come to know certain phrases and learn what it is that you need to know. There are plenty of ways to learn Dutch from evening classes to online solutions and failing all other methods there is always Google Translate. Although it may not offer the best teaching of pronunciation, it will at least help you to get by. For the children, it will depend on the school they go to and the friends that they make. If they go to an English speaking school with friends that all speak English, it will take them a lot longer than if they are surrounded by Dutch children. This may be something to consider when choosing a school. Moving to the Netherlands - Amsterdam

Getting around the Netherlands

For many the image of the Netherlands conjures up people cycling and cycling is certainly one way to get around but the Dutch do have a very good transport system. They have a very dense population which requires the infrastructure to support this. With one of the densest road networks of anywhere in the world, it also has a strong rail network and of course a very well structured cycling network. Rotterdam port is the largest in Europe and is connected to Germany, France and Switzerland by the Meuse and the Rhine. Half of all travel occurs by car so if you are planning on being able to get around then while a bike is certainly the healthier alternative you may need a car for longer journeys. Once you have decided on where you will live, where you will work and how you will get around you can start to look at the finer details of living in the Netherlands. You need to make arrangements for utilities and luxuries to be connected and fitted and make sure you know where everything that you need are – the local supermarket for a start. Finding out this kind of detail in advance means that come moving day you can unpack your belongings and start your new life without having to stress about the everyday things.
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