Are you considering moving to the Netherlands? Then this is the ultimate guide for you.

The Netherlands is an attractive option for South Africans looking to relocate due to its excellent quality of life, great healthcare and education system. In addition to a highly developed economy. There are plenty of job opportunities in the country, too – whether you are looking for a new career in the Netherlands or want to continue your existing one.

Whether you are looking for a fresh start or just want a change of scenery, this ultimate guide is designed to help you know what its like, moving, living and working in the Netherlands – so you know what to expect.

Acquiring a VISA

Your first step to the big move to the Netherlands will be acquiring a VISA in the form of an MVV (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf), which is a type of long-term entry visa, and a residence permit

In order to acquire an MVV, you’ll need to qualify as one of the following:

  • A highly skilled migrant seeking employment after graduating from a Dutch program
  • An independent entrepreneur
  • A foreign investor
  • A startup

To apply, there are two methods to follow. You can either apply directly with the Dutch embassy in South Africa or with a host in the Netherlands such as an employer who can apply on your behalf.

Registering in the Netherlands

Once you arrive in the Netherlands, you will need to  register with your local municipality within four days. Once this has been completed, you will be issued your Burgerservicenummer (BSN), which is like a Citizen Service Number.
It’s integral to register for your BSN as it is a requirement for paying taxes, healthcare, banking and more. 

Settling Into the Dutch Lifestyle

Moving anywhere, even to the Netherlands can be an intimidating experience, especially at first. After all, it’s not just about changing houses and jobs. It’s about adapting to a new culture! Don’t fret though — you’ll soon find that Dutch culture is extremely welcoming and laid-back.

Let’s start getting to know key aspects of Dutch culture for a better idea of what your life in the Netherlands might look like:

Language: Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands, however English is widely spoken as well. Many people speak both languages fluently and are able to switch between them.

Food: Most Dutch people enjoy traditional meals such as stamppot (a dish made with potatoes, vegetables, and sausage), poffertjes (small pancakes usually served with butter) and raw herring (served with chopped onions). If you are vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry! Dutch culture has become very open to these cuisines in recent years.

Leisure: As leisure activities go, cycling is king when it comes to the Netherlands. Grab yourself a bike and join in on the fun of exploring Netherland’s world renowned bike paths! In addition to cycling, you can also enjoy fishing, music festivals and ice skating.

Finding a Place to Live in the Netherlands

Finding a place to live in the Netherlands can be daunting. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help you find a home.

Be proactive and get started ass soon as you can, the Dutch housing market is competitive. It’s also important to keep in mind that rental prices in the Netherlands can vary wildly depending on location and room size.

When visiting properties in-person, it’s wise to ask the current tenant about the cost of heating and electricity. These may add on additional costs to your rental rate. Most importantly, make sure you’re aware of any extra costs associated with the rental contracts before signing on the dotted line.

Cost of Living in the Netherlands

When it comes to the cost of living, Netherlands is quite reasonable compared to other European countries. For South Africans moving to the Netherlands, it can be a substantial expense. In most big cities, you can expect to pay between 500 and 5000 Euros per month for housing, depending on your needs and lifestyle. 

While renting can be a large expense, there is benefit in purchasing a home in the Netherlands where banks offer 103% mortgages and an average interest rate of 3%, making it more affordable to purchase a home compared to renting. 

Utilities like gas, water and electricity are likely to cost around 120 – 150 Euros per month. Transportation around the country is efficient and affordable, with public transportation tickets costing between 2 and 5 Euros depending on distance travelled. You’ll also be able to pick up groceries for much cheaper than in other countries – a full cart of food for a single person costs about 50 Euros per week!

Knowing Your Rights as an Expat

As an expat in the Netherlands, it’s important to familiarise yourself with your rights and the laws. Generally speaking, non-EU citizens will be subject to a different set of regulations than EU citizens. Here’s an overview of some of the rights you’ll have as an expat in the Netherlands:

Working hours: Dutch law states that the maximum working hours per week are limited to 48 hours. You can exceed this if there is an agreement in place between employees and employers, or if an exemption applies.

Vacation days: Employees are entitled to four times their normal working hours of paid vacation days each year (or more if stated in their contract). There is also an additional flex budget that can be used towards vacation days (or other benefits) as specified in an employee’s contract.

Parental leave: Employees are entitled to up to 26 times the length of the working week. Employees will be entitled to 40 x 26 hours or 1040 hours parental leave. This applies when an employee works 40 hours .  Parental leave is unpaid, unless agreed otherwise in the employees’ employment contract.

Exploring Dutch Culture and Traditions

Moving to a new country can be daunting but how about exploring Dutch culture and traditions? Luckily you’ll find that many of the customs are easy to join in with and also easy to learn as the Dutch are very welcoming and open.

You will find it easy to make friends with your Dutch colleagues, neighbours or even just random people in various everyday places. You’ll quickly realise that the Dutch are relatively laid back and informal. In fact, if you don’t tell people that you’re not from the Netherlands, they may not even realise it until they hear your accent.

To better understand their culture and traditions there are several things which you can try:

  • Visit one of the numerous museums located across the country. Here, you can find out more about Dutch history and culture.
  • Attend festivals – The Dutch love their festivals! From tulip festivals in spring to chocolate festivals during winter months. there’s something for everyone!
  • Try out traditional Dutch dishes such as ‘Stamppot’ (mashed potatoes with vegetables) or stroopwafels (syrup wafers).
  • Take a stroll around Amsterdam’s most famous canals and take pictures of windmills – There are plenty of historic sites across the Netherlands worth exploring for a day trip.

Take advantage of the great outdoors or attend cultural events like music concerts or film festivals.  Get yourself immersed in the local culture. it will help you settle into life in the Netherlands quickly and easily.

Are you ready to live and work in the Netherlands?

Moving to the Netherlands has never been easier! If you’re looking for an adventure, the Netherlands offers a wealth of job opportunities, high quality of life, and a truly unique culture. This ultimate guide to moving and living in the Netherlands has provided you with comprehensive information on visas, accommodation, finding a job, and the Dutch way of life.

It’s not as daunting to get settled in the Netherlands as you might think. With the right resources and research, you can have a smooth transition into the country.  Taking the leap of faith and moving to the Netherlands can be a life changing experience. An experience that you won’t forget. So don’t hesitate, take the plunge and start your journey today!