Recently, I got some messages about my experience working and living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, especially from Asian readers!
So, in this post, I have summarized all the important things you need to know if you want to work or move to the Netherlands. In addition, you will know what it is like to live/work in Amsterdam and the pros and cons of living and working in the Netherlands as an Expat.
This is the one and only picture of me on the website.
My name is Min, and I am originally from Taiwan. I was very curious about the world and would love to travel. However, that was not possible, so I read a lot of magazines about world business/news and cultures.
ps. I am now a freelance website designer. If you need help with your website, check here!
From the magazines, I knew there was a country, which was very similar to Taiwan, relatively small in Europe, around the same size as Taiwan, and famous for flowers, named The Netherlands.
When I had the chance to have an exchange program in Europe, the Netherlands was definitely on my list. This was the turning point of my life because I knew the Netherlands would be a good place for my next step.
After the exchange program, I returned to Taiwan and worked for 3 years at one of the big four accounting firms. Ultimately, I returned to Amsterdam for Msc Program with a full scholarship and continued my journey in the Netherlands!
Amsterdam is my favorite city in the Netherlands!
Why I moved to Amsterdam
Through my exchange program in the Netherlands, I knew The Netherlands would be a good place if I planned to work oversea, especially for non-EU passport holders. You will understand why soon in this post : )
Here are the pros and cons, based on my background and personal experience:
Pros of working and living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dutch is not required
More than 90% of the Dutch population can have conversations in English, which is excellent news. In addition, many companies in the big cities, like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, also look for Non-Dutch Speakers.
This is a good start for Non-Dutch speakers moving to the Netherlands.
However, if you plan to stay in the Netherlands for longer, it is best to learn Dutch. I will talk about this part later.
People are friendly
In general, the Dutch are very helpful and easy to talk to. You can easily chat with them, and they are very social.
However, if you want to build a long-term friendship, it will take much more time.
Freedom and respect your personal time
This may depend on where you are from and the job you have.
I am from Taiwan and believe Taiwan is a free country. However, you still have some social expectations, like having a good job, family, etc.
In the Netherlands, I do not feel that way. I can do whatever I want as long as it is legal and it does not bother others. Moreover, I do not need to care what other people think of me.
Another thing is about your after-work life.
From my experience in Taiwan, the company expects you to work hard (overtime work), but the pay is usually not that good. I would like a stable job and life where I can work 9-5 and use my time after work.
Here, it is possible in the Netherlands. They respect your private time after work and your weekend. Company events for employees are usually during the workday. If they are on the weekend, but you cannot join, they respect that.
20+ paid holiday and can travel far
In 2018, I was in Asia for 3 weeks and had a great time in Japan!
Every Netherlands employee is entitled to at least 20 paid holidays if they work 40 hours per week, even though some companies have around 30 days. However, National Holiday is limited in the Netherlands, less than UK, Germany, and France.
For travel addicts like me, I always plan my holiday ahead and use every opportunity to visit other European countries. After 2 years, I entirely used my paid holiday to other Asian countries, like Japan, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan. It is normal to have a 3-week holiday. This allows me to travel far and have a long break.
Cons of working and living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Need to learn Dutch if you want to fully adapt to the local network
Dutch people have a good command of English, but if you’re going to stay more than 5 years, for example, best to learn Dutch. Then, you can adapt to the local network, like workshops, events, etc.
I want to join Dutch online entrepreneurs or coaching networks, but most are in Dutch. There are some events in English, too, but my options are limited.
Limited growth in salary and high tax rate
Netherlands Income Tax Rate is high, around 37% if you earn more than EUR 34,000 per year. At some point, it does demotivate people working hard for a higher raise or salary.
Away from home & limited true friends
When you are abroad, it’s important to have true friends around.
I guess this happens to every ex-pat. When you move to a new country, everything starts over, and no family or friends around. You need to find a community in your own country.
Of course, there are many people from different countries in Amsterdam, but it’s always nice to have people from the same background, especially things that go bad unexpectedly.
I have lived in the Netherlands for more than 5 years and truly believe that friendship is very important but still not like your family, who will always be there for you! Having some true friends is very important when you are abroad.
Job hunting in the Netherlands for Non-Dutch speakers
Where to find jobs
If you are in Business related areas, like Marketing, Business Development, visit LinkedIn for English-speaking roles. Most English-speaking roles are there!
Also, you can visit some companies like Robert Walters, Page Personnel, etc., for long-term and short-term jobs.
What is the salary indication in the Netherlands? Please google “job function” + ”
Salaries Indeed”; you will get it easily. Of course, salary indication is very rough, it also depends on your work experience and company size, but it is good to start from there!
I am with Finance and Business background. If you would like to know more, welcome to leave a comment!
Popular job categories
Currently, the Dutch labor market needs people from the IT, Medical, and Engineering fields. If you have the expertise in these areas, you have a better shot in terms of looking for jobs.
Special tips if you are from outside of the EU.
Work permit requirement
Every company in the Netherlands needs to apply for a work permit if they would like to hire non-EU&EEA passport holders!
The excellent news is Dutch companies applying for a work permit is easier if you compare them with other countries like the UK, France, and Germany. However, the bad news is that most companies still prefer to hire people from EU&EEA countries who don’t need work permits.
No worries, some companies still open their arms to welcome people from all nationalities, especially talents from IT, engineering, etc. Click here for more information on the highly-skilled migrant scheme!
Note: Companies in the Netherlands first need to get the “work permit sponsorship” from the Dutch government. Afterward, they are qualified to apply for a work permit for you. Highly recommend finding jobs from companies that already got approval from the government to avoid any uncertainties.
Search year Visa
If you have a Dutch diploma or a diploma from one of the world’s top 200 universities, you can consider applying for Search Year Visa (Dutch: Zoekjaar).
The purpose of the Search Year Visa is to look for jobs in the Netherlands when you don’t have a job yet. Once you have it, you can stay in the Netherlands for up to 1 year.
Many international students apply for a search year visa after graduation, so they have one extra year to look for a job in the Netherlands.
30% ruling is the tax benefit for ex-pats. The Dutch government offers a 30% ruling and less tax for the ex-pat to attract all the talents worldwide.
The Netherlands might be a good choice if you have some years of working experience but would like to have working experience abroad.
My personal recommendation
If you are young, I highly recommend you to first have a Master’s Degree in the Netherlands, then try to look for internships while you are still a student.
It is much easier if you have internship experience. Afterward, you apply for Search Year Visa, then you have one more year to look for jobs and build your network.
The only drawback is that you do not have a 30% ruling if you do it because you are already in the Netherlands. 30% ruling only applies to people who move to the Netherlands for their job.
You can apply for Permanent Residence if you have legally stayed in the Netherlands for more than 5 years (no breaks in between) and passed the integration exam. Then, you do not need a work permit or visa anymore! For more information, please refer to the Dutch immigration office website.
This is a very long post sharing my experience and information about working in the Netherlands! Hope you know what to do next if you plan to work abroad!