The Netherlands at a Glance
Living in the NetherlandsFotolia
The Netherlands are a great place to live for expat families.
Foreigners and ethnic minorities make up about 19% of the country’s population, with most of them living in the Netherlands’ bigger cities like Rotterdam, Amsterdam, or The Hague.
Expat life in the Netherlands will make you realize that the Dutch themselves are welcoming and cordial, albeit rather reserved. Indeed, it is not common for the Dutch to let themselves be overwhelmed by emotion. In conversation, they tend to be friendly, but also straightforward and honest. If you are used to distantly polite interaction, this may come as a shock.
Renting an Apartment in the Netherlands
There is only a limited number of rental apartments available to foreigners living in the Netherlands. Especially in the bigger cities, it is quite difficult to find affordable accommodation. While Dutch nationals have the option of contacting building cooperatives for available housing, expats can only go house-hunting on the open market. This means paying higher rents and, if necessary, moving to the suburbs.
Most apartments are offered through real estate agents who usually charge a fee of one month’s rent plus taxes for their services. In addition, you will have to pay between one and two months’ rent as a deposit to your landlord. This charge may be even higher if you decide to rent a furnished (gestoffeerd) apartment. Rental prices vary depending on where exactly you will be living.
If you are planning to spend of the rest of your life in the Netherlands, buying an apartment or house is an attractive alternative to renting. Fortunately, there are no restrictions on buying property for foreigners. An agent can help you find the right place for you and your family. If you want to save the agency fees, you can also check the classified sections of local newspapers.
The following offices provide model contracts for property purchases:
- the Dutch Consumer Advice Center (Consumentenbond)
- the Dutch Association of Real Estate Agents (Nedelandse Verenigung van Makelaars)
- the Dutch Homeowner Association (Vereniging Eigen Huis – VEH)
The sales contract does not have to fulfill any formal requirements, but it should state the basic rights and responsibilities of both parties. The transfer of property needs to be attested by a notary living in the Netherlands.
Healthcare in the Netherlands
Leading a healthy life in the Netherlands is quite easy with the country’s comprehensive healthcare system. The government invests a significant share of the annual GNP in the health sector. About 140 hospitals, 330 nursing homes, and 80 psychiatric clinics can be found all over the Netherlands.
The Health Insurance Act (Zorgverzekeringswet) makes it obligatory for everyone living in the Netherlands to have health insurance. Private health insurance providers are committed to accepting every resident in their area. The insured pays an income-based contribution to their insurance providers. The insurance will in turn provide them with a standard package of essential healthcare services.
The Dutch Education System
School is obligatory for all children living in the Netherlands aged five to 16. Most Dutch schools are privately run, but supervised by the state. They are free of charge for all children in the Netherlands up to the age of 18.
The Dutch school system is divided into primary (Basisonderwijs) and secondary education (Voortgezet Onderwijs). After eight years of primary school, a recommendation regarding further academic options is issued to all children.