The guide to moving abroad: Should you move to the Netherlands?

The guide to moving abroad: Should you move to the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is a great country: great lifestyle, great people, and great football. This is supported by our own data: since the Brexit vote, we’ve seen it go from the eighth most common destination for our customers moving abroad, to the fourth. And sometimes it can seem like everyone is moving to Amsterdam: it falls behind only to Sydney and London.

But just because it’s an awesome place doesn’t necessarily mean you should move to the Netherlands. After all, living abroad isn’t for everyone. So, if you’re thinking about making the leap, think these questions through first: 

How will you cope with leaving behind your friends and family?

Moving to a place without a support system is challenging for even the most optimistic and driven amongst us. I’ve known very capable people who cut short their stints abroad because they missed their family too much (and, let it be said, there’s nothing wrong with that). You’ll likely miss birthdays, weddings, and funerals.

On the flip side, you’ll easily find your tribe in the Netherlands, particularly in the big cities.

How do you handle new experiences?

Assuming you’re moving from the United States or other parts of Europe you won’t encounter an entirely foreign culture here. And just about everyone you’ll meet speaks English. That definitely helps ease the transition. Still, you will find yourself in a new culture; you’ll need to find a job or learn the ropes of a new one; you may need to learn Dutch depending on where you live and work.

This is a lot to handle for anyone, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like change or trying new things, it may be a recipe for heartbreak.

What impact will moving have on your career?

Personally, I think living abroad is an amazing life experience. I’ve cherished my time in London and Sydney regardless of any benefit or disadvantage that resulted.

Nonetheless, it’s important to consider the impacts of working abroad. For some multinational banks or energy companies with headquarters in the Netherlands, it may be a required step up the ladder to work in one of the home offices for a period of time. For other companies, the Dutch office may be considered a minor outpost and you won’t get much credit for the experience earned there.

Can you afford it?

It’s easy to have a romantic view of what life will be like, but that dream can get ruined quickly if you discover you can’t afford the life you wanted. Whilst Amsterdam is great, the housing prices there aren’t so great. You should do plenty of research in advance so you know whether you can afford things.

Are you allowed to work?

If you plan on working, make sure you’ll be able to work legally - this means getting the appropriate permit. IamExpat already elaborates on the main types of work permits, but countries do update the options when they want to attract specific skill sets.

For example, the Netherlands is offering one-year permit to entrepreneurs and scientists, and you can extend this permit if you want to stay longer.

Will you be accepted in the country you want to move to?

Many places around the world have restrictive laws - for example, over 70 countries still criminalise homosexuality. The good news is that the Netherlands is one of the most open and liberal countries in the world. Very few places have such a relaxed attitude towards drugs and sexuality.

Have you figured out logistics for a move abroad?

You’ll need to figure out how you’ll transport yourself to your new country and how you’ll transport your stuff. Will you sell your things, put them in storage, or move them? Do you speak the language of the country you want to move to? Do you know how you’ll support yourself? These are important things to figure out before you arrive in your new country.

Why are you going?

If your intent is to travel all over Europe, but you’re going to be working very long hours, you need to think about whether you’ll be able to achieve your goals. On the other hand, if you’re moving for a great new job, the ability to experience a new culture, and memories to last a lifetime, then it’s “all systems go.”

Adam Vagley


Adam Vagley

Adam Vagley is co-founder of GoodMigrations (, which makes it easy to move anywhere in the world with free city guides and other resources for relocating abroad. He’s lived and...

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