Capital City: Amsterdam
Population: 17 million
Official Language(s): Dutch (official), English, French and German (widely spoken)
Time: GMT +1
Internet domain: .nl
International dialing code: +31
We are pleased to provide you with our guide on moving to the Netherlands from Dubai, UAE. Please make note of the special links at the foot of this page.
The Netherlands meaning “Low Countries”, informally known as Holland, is a Western European country of which only 50% of its land lies more than 1 meter above sea level.
The Dutch golden age, spanning most of the 17th century, saw the country become a major world power of the day, becoming the first modern capitalist country, establish the world’s first stock exchange, expanding the Dutch Empire with colonies and trading posts as far west as the Americas and the Caribbean and as far east as Sumatra (now Indonesia) and Taiwan. As it developed, the country became a parliamentary democracy in 1848 and then underwent a huge population rise during the 20th century, increasing the population from 5 million to around 15 million people by the late 20th century.
Today the Netherlands is a free-thinking, liberal and prosperous country which is very densely populated – 412 people per square km. The country is a leading exporter especially in agricultural industry where the Netherlands export revenues rank second only to the USA.
The country has a forward thinking, vibrant, society. Most people are very tolerant and embrace other cultures and religions. The country has a rich culture of arts, music and history.
Expats in the Netherlands
Most expats will find the locals very welcoming and tolerant, however it should be pointed out that the Dutch tend to say it like it is, and whilst this might seem a little abrasive at first to new comers, it is fairly easy to adjust without it becoming too much of a culture shock.
Whilst being open-minded and fairly laid back, the red tape in the Netherlands can be quite frustrating. Dealing with even with the most mundane issue can involve dealings with the country’s bureaucracy and it is wise to adopt a patient attitude and approach.
Although English, French and German are all widely spoken, the Dutch are very proud of their language and it is advisable to learn ahead of or upon your arrival. There is no doubt local people will warm a little more towards people who have taken time to learn at least the basics.
Housing tends to be expensive in most major cities, (although lower than some other surrounding European countries), however, the competition to find the ideal place in which to live is fierce with such a high population density.
Public transport around the country is very good with an extensive road and rail network. In major cities there are metro or tram services. Most public transport can be paid for via a smart card called OV-Chipkaart.
There are many positive aspects to living the Dutch Lifestyle, especially music festivals, cultural events, museums and several galleries. Sport also plays an important part in life, with cycling a national obsession in such a flat country.
Cost of living
A meal at a standard restaurant can range between Euro 15-18 per person with a beer priced around Euro 4 and soft drinks around Euro 2.10 per can. A reasonable bottle of wine costs approximately Euro 7-8 and a coffee typically sets you back around Euro 2.75
At the local supermarkets a loaf of bread is priced around Euro 1.40, a liter of milk approximately Euro 1 and a dozen eggs roughly Euro 2.20
Public transport is very good with monthly passes at around Euro 80. Taxis start around is Euro 6 and then around Euro 2.00 per kilometer thereafter. Petrol is around Euro 1.60 per liter.
Accommodation is generally quite expensive. A typical 1 bedroom apartment would be approximately Euro 700-900 per month. A 3 bedroom apartment would start around Euro 1600. The choice is fairly limited and the properties do not stay on the market for long due to the high demand.
Basic utilities for an average two-bedroom apartment will be around Euro 180 per month. Prepaid mobile phone charges are approximately Euro 0.15 per minute and broadband Internet us roughly Euro 30 per month.
Public education is provided free for all children in the Netherlands. The general standard of education is high. Primary school is compulsory at 5 years old, but can start a year earlier if preferred. Schools in most major cities accept students based on their home address/location and so this can greatly encourage parents to move within catchment areas of better schools.
The school schedule is likely to be more relaxed than most people are used to, with Wednesday afternoons generally a free time. Primary education is up to the age of 12. At the age of 12 most children are given a Cito test.
The curriculum is in Dutch but this provides an ideal opportunity for your child to learn the language quickly helping then to settle in faster and more fully.
Public secondary school in the Netherlands cater for students up to 18 years old. Often there is a transitional first year since the Netherlands does not have a middle school or junior high. Students tend to follow one of 3 routes. Firstly VMBO – a general education level which serves around 50 per cent of students and lasts until 16 years old. The second option is HAVO – a higher education which lasts until 17, and finally VWO – the highest level which takes students through to 18 and is generally the route to take if the student intends to move on to university.
Whilst some secondary schools do operate a dual-language system, Dutch/English, for older children, or children in families staying in the Netherlands for only a year or two, an international/private school may be more suitable. These institutions are plentiful, but they are expensive and oversubscribed, so planning and coping with a potentially long waiting list is a must. Most schools will teach their home based curriculum, however as an alternative there are some International Baccalaureate (IB) schools.
Expats who work on a permanent basis in the Netherlands should be covered by a medical scheme – this is compulsory. This needs to be set up within four months of arrival. The basic Dutch health insurance is called Basis Verzekering and costs around Euro 100 per month. This covers visiting a GP, a hospital stay and dental care basics.
It is important to register with your local GP as soon as you are settled, and it is important to note you may find it difficult to be treated by a specialist without a referral from the GP.
Anything over and beyond basic healthcare is unlikely to be covered in the above mentioned medical cover and so it is wise to look at private medical insurance which your employer is likely to cover all, if not part of the cost.
When moving to the Netherlands from Dubai, importation of Household Goods and Personal Effects
- Passport copy
- Completed customs form
- Work permit
- Letter of employment
- Detailed Packing list (two copies)
- Lease or purchase contract
- Bill of lading / AWB
- Bewijs can aanmelding (certificate from the population register of the municipality)
Note: This document is provided as a guide for people moving to the Netherlands from Dubai, UAE and for information purposes only. Customs regulations can and do change at any time, usually without notice. Your mover will provide you with more information.