Living in Holland

Finding a Place to live in Holland

It is not easy to find a place to live in the Netherlands, especially if you have your sights set on the big cities like Amsterdam, The Hague or Utrecht. Housing demand is high therefore prices are up and you will face stiff competition, if not a long wait for good properties. If you are just looking to rent, be prepared to pay at least Euro800 ($1,050) per month for a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Amsterdam. The advantage of renting an apartment is that there is rent protection laws in Holland, as well as rent subsidies from the government (for apartments costing from Euro163 – Euro542 per month).

If you are already in Holland and just about to start your search for a place to live in, it would help to look through the classified ads in the local newspapers. Also visit supermarkets, universities and libraries and check out the notice boards – they would usually have properties being offered for sale or for rent in the local areas. It would also be good to make friends with the locals and ask for their help in finding a place for you. 

Finding a Job and Working in Holland

Recession, increasing unemployment rate and restrictive regulations on employing non-EU/EEA citizens might impact negatively on your chances of finding a job in Holland. It would be better if you have already secured a residence and working permit and contract from your Dutch employer. Also note that if you are a foreigner working for a Dutch employer, your work permit is only valid for the specific company. Should you want to change jobs or move to another employer, then you will need a new work permit. 

The salaries in Holland are on the average compared to other countries in Europe. They are paid out usually at the end of the month. For most Dutch companies, bonuses are given out twice a year: at Christmas (or the 13th month pay), and in the summer (June or July). Working hours have a cap – the Dutch laws provide for a maximum of 9 hours a day and 45 hours a week. Normal business hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.

If you are just starting to look for work in Holland, or have been laid off from your employment, you must be aggressive in your hunt – the market is very competitive in Holland. Go to private employment agencies (uitzendbureaus) or “headhunters” so they can be able to find you a suitable job. There is also a public employment service in Holland, Centre for Work and Income (CWI) which can give you information and advice on your job hunt. All you need is a SOFI-nummer, or a personal registration number. The internet and newspaper classifieds are also good sources of job ads.

Money and Cost of Living

Since 2002, the monetary unit in the Netherlands is Euro. If you are bringing in dollars or any other currency, you can have it changed at banks or exchange bureaus which can be found in most railway stations and tourist areas. There is no black market in Holland – the exchange rate is the same wherever you are changing your money. 

The Dutch generally use cash and debit cards to pay goods and services. Credit cards are not frequently used, except for online purchases or some large purchases. Even then, the Dutch would prefer to pay in cash, especially if the large item is delivered to their house.

Groceries and food items are not as expensive in the Netherlands as some people might think. A grocery budget of Euro 100 can probably feed a family of four for two weeks. Consider the following average prices for some of the basic expenses while living in Holland:

Main Course Meal in a Restaurant : Euro7-18

Tram Ride (disposable OV Chipkaart): Euro2.60

Monthly Travel Pass (Single zone): Euro 42.25

Taxi Fare (per 4 km): Euro12

Electricity, Gas, Water (Monthly) : Euro100 – 250 (depending on time of year)

Landline Telephone Monthly Service Charge: Euro15

Internet Service (Broadband or Cable): Euro 20-30

Entertainment monthly (Theatre, Museums, etc): Euro 20 – 50

Health Insurance (Monthly): Euro 95-110

Healthcare and Medical Services

The Dutch government requires all citizens (and those paying income tax in the country) to purchase a health insurance from a private insurance company. If you are just staying in the Netherlands on a temporary basis or just for a short period, then you are not mandated to buy a health insurance package. However, if you intend to stay for a long-time then it is a must to get this – otherwise you will be penalized. The basic package as provided by law should cover an individual for the following: medical care and physicians’ services; hospital stay; dental care; various medicines and medical appliances; prenatal care; patient transport and paramedical care.