Why I move to Amsterdam? My story.
Now, the Netherlands is under soft lock down. I spend most of my time at home, which is a good news? Yes, it means I can spend a lot more time on blogging (yeah!).
Recently, I got some messages about my experience working and living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, especially 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 how it is like to live/work in Amsterdam and the pros and cons of living and working in the Netherlands as an Expat.
My name is Amanda, 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.
From the magazines, I knew there was a country, which was very similar to Taiwan, relatively small in Europe, around the same size as of Taiwan and also famous for flowers, named The Netherlands. When I had the chance to have an exchange program in Europe, Netherlands was definitely on my list. This is 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 went back to Taiwan and worked for 3 years at one of the big four accounting firms. In the end, I came back to Amsterdam for Msc Program with a full scholarship and continue my journey in the Netherlands!
Why I move to Amsterdam
Through my exchange program in the Netherlands, I knew The Netherlands would be a good place if I plan to work oversea, especially for non-EU passport holders. You will know 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 Dutch population can have conversations in English, which is a very good 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 speaker when they move to the Netherlands.
However, if you plan to stay in the Netherlands for a longer period, it is best to learn Dutch. I will talk about this part later.
People are friendly
In general, Dutch are very helpful and easy to talk to. You can easily have a conversation with them. 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 depends on where you are from and the job you have.
I am from Taiwan, and I do believe Taiwan is a free country. However, there is still some social expectation from you, like to have a good job, family and 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 about what other people think of me.
Another thing is about your after work life.
With my experience in Taiwan, company expects you to work hard (overtime work) but pay is usually not that good. I would like to have a stable job and life, where I can work normally and fully use my time after work.
Here, it is possible in the Netherlands. They respect your time after work and your weekend. Company events for employees are usually on the workday. If they are on the weekend, but you cannot join, they respect that.
20+ paid holiday and can travel far
Every employees in the Netherlands are entitled to have at least 20 paid holiday if you work 40 hours per week, even some companies have around 30 days. However, National Holiday is very 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 fully use 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 in to the local network
Dutch people have a good command of English, but if you would like to stay more than 5 years for example, best to learn Dutch. Then, you can adapt to the local network, like workshops, events and etc.
Now, I would like to join Dutch online entrepreneurs or coaching network, but most of them are in Dutch. There are quite some events in English, too, but then my options are quite limited.
Limited growth in salary and high tax rate
Netherlands Income Tax Rate is high, around 37% if you earns more than EUR 34,000 per year. At some point, it does demotivate people working hard for higher raise or salary.
Away from home & limited true friends
I guess this happens to every expat. When you move to a new country, everything starts over and no family or friends around. You need to find the community from your own country.
Of course, there are many people from different countries in Amsterdam, but to me, it’s always nice to have people from the same background, especially things go bad as 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.
About job searching
Job searching for non-Dutch speaker
Where to find jobs
If you are in Business related areas, like Marketing, Business Development, visit LinkedIn for English speaking roles. Most of English speaking roles are there!
Also, you can visit some companies like Robert Walters, Page Personnel and etc for long term and short term jobs.
What is the salary indication in the Netherlands? Please google “job function” Salaries Indeed, then 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, Dutch labor market really needs people from IT, Medical and Engineering field. If you have the expertise from theses areas, you have a better shot in terms of looking for jobs.
Special tips if you are from outside of EU.
Work permit requirement
Every companies in the Netherlands needs to apply for work permit if they would like to hire non EU&EEA passport holders!
The good news is Dutch companies apply work permit is easier if you compare with other countries like UK, France and Germany, but the bad news is, most companies still prefer to hire people from EU&EEA countries or who doesn’t need work permit.
No worries, still quite some companies open their arms to welcome people from all nationalities, especially for talents from IT, engineering and etc. More information can be found here!
Note: Companies in the Netherlands first need to get the “work permit sponsorship” from the Dutch government, afterwards, they are qualified to apply for work permit for you.
Highly recommend to find jobs from companies who already got the 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 top 200 university, you can consider to apply for Search Year Visa (Dutch: Zoekjaar).
The purpose of 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 Search Year Visa after their graduation, so they have one extra year to look for the job in the Netherlands.
30% ruling is the tax benefit for expats. In order to attract all the talents around the world, the Dutch government offers 30% ruling, less tax for the expat.
If you have quite some years of working experience but would like to have working experience aboard, Netherlands might be a good choice for you!
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 more easier if you have internship experience. Afterwards, 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 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.
If you have legally stayed in the Netherlands for more than 5 years (no breaks in between) and you passed the integration exam, you can apply for the permanent Residence, then you do not need work permit or visa anymore! More information, please refer to the immigration 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!