The Netherlands is a popular destination for expats. It offers a high quality of life, a strong economy and a welcoming culture. For South Africans it is a particularly interesting opportunity to experience a different way of life and still speak their home language. Here’s a closer look at what it’s like working and living as a South African in the Netherlands

Working in the Netherlands

One of the first things that South Africans will notice when working in the Netherlands is the work-life balance. Unlike in many other countries, the Dutch prioritise leisure time. They ensure that work does not take over their lives. Working hours are generally from 9 am to 5 pm, and employees are encouraged to take regular breaks throughout the day.

Another aspect of working in the Netherlands that South Africans may appreciate is the Dutch directness. Dutch people are known for being straightforward and honest. This can be a refreshing change from the sometimes indirect communication style found in South Africa. This directness can sometimes come across as blunt or even rude, but it is simply a cultural difference that takes some getting used to.

The Dutch also place a strong emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. This can be beneficial for South Africans who are used to working in more hierarchical organisations. Dutch companies tend to have flatter structures and encourage employees to contribute ideas and feedback.

Living in the Netherlands

The Sites

The Netherlands is a beautiful country with plenty to offer, from picturesque canals to world-class museums and galleries. South Africans will likely enjoy the relaxed pace of life and the ease of getting around. The country is small enough to explore in a relatively short amount of time. The public transport system is also efficient and affordable.

The Culture

The Dutch enjoy having a good time and throwing a party. They even have a word for it: gezellig. Although it has no direct translation to English, it basically means to have a fun time with good friends. It is at the heart of Dutch culture. The Dutch have an enjoyment of life and express that enjoyment through coming together in celebration.

The Healthcare

The Dutch healthcare system is regarded as one of the best in the world. Dutch residents are required to have basic health insurance with a minimum co-payment of 385 Euros. While healthcare is exceptional, don’t expect doctors to just hand out medication. Dutch doctors are the go-to for all healthcare requirements except for emergencies and will be your main point of referral to all other healthcare services including specialists, hospitals, physiotherapists and more.

The Education

In the Netherlands, children must go to school by the age of five by law. Expats have the option of sending their children to International schools or to their local Dutch school. Free primary and secondary education is available to all and are highly rated for their quality standards.

The Weather

One of the biggest adjustments for South African in the Netherlands, is likely to be the climate. The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate, which means that it can be quite chilly and wet for much of the year. However, this is also what makes the country so green and lush, with plenty of parks and open spaces to explore.

The Housing

Rental options for expats can go from anywhere between 2000 and 5000 Euros for a 3 to 4 bedroom home in some regions and can increase to double that, depending on location and the type of home you rent. With their 103% mortgages and low interest rates averaging 3%, the option to purchase a home in the Netherlands may be more affordable for expats.

The Food

Another adjustment for South Africans living in the Netherlands, may be the food. Dutch cuisine is not particularly well-known or celebrated outside of the country, but there are plenty of international options available in the larger cities. South Africans may also enjoy trying some local delicacies, such as stroopwafels (thin waffle cookies with syrup) and bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs).

Final Thoughts On Working And Living In The Netherlands

Working and living in the Netherlands as a South African can be an enriching and rewarding experience. While there will inevitably be some cultural differences and adjustments to make, the Netherlands is a welcoming and open-minded country that values diversity and multiculturalism. With a strong economy, excellent quality of life, and plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure, it’s easy to see why the Netherlands is such a popular destination for expats from all over the world.