Moving to a different country can feel overwhelming: there’s always so much you need to know, learn and get adjusted to. As if moving away from your home, friends & family and integrating yourself in a new country wasn’t enough of a challenge, you will also need to research and plan everything ahead.
Thankfully, I can assure you that things are quite simple and straightforward in The Netherlands. Bureaucracy gets taken care of pretty seamlessly and, if you’re moving to Amsterdam, you can find all documents and necessary information in English – this is great for non-Dutch speakers, like me.
In this post, I want to tell you everything you need to know about moving to Amsterdam – from finding a job and a house, getting registered, to getting a bike and learning Dutch. Let’s start!
Come prepared with your documents and savings
If you’re a EU citizen, it will be very easy for you to move here. You can come whenever you want, and make sure that you’re bringing:
- A valid passport
- Your birth certificate and the translation to English or Dutch. The translation needs to be done by a certified translator and authenticated, and the document cannot have been issued longer than 3 months ago
If you’re not from the EU, then you will also need to bring your visa or residence permit. These documents will be necessary for you to get registered at the city hall.
I would also advise you to come prepared with a good amount of savings. It is not impossible to move here without much savings, but it will be harder – you will need them to:
- Pay a deposit for your rental, when you find it: this one is usually 1 to 3 months of rent. So, if your rent costs 1200€, the landlord will probably ask you for a 2400€ deposit. And don’t forget that you will also need to pay for the first month of rent in advance – I know, it’s a lot of money!
- Buy furniture: most houses come unfurnished (if they come furnished, the rent is probably more expensive). So you will need to spare some money to buy furniture for your new rental apartment. Thankfully, there are many places where you can find second-hand furniture, at very friendly prices. You can look at Marktplaats or Facebook.
- Buy Winter clothes: if you come from a warm country (like I did), you will probably need to purchase some Winter gear, like a good winter jacket, a raincoat for the shoulder season, and some warm sweaters to dress up in layers.
- Get a bike: this will most likely be your lowest expense, but you will also need to budget some money to get a bike. If you’re getting a second hand bike, it’s quite easy to find one that costs 80-100€. If you’re opting for first hand (not recommended in Amsterdam, since bikes get stolen quite often), you can expect to pay at least 300€.
Finding a job and benefiting from the 30% Ruling
If you’re looking for a corporate job, I would advise you to start looking before you move here. Not only will your life be easier, but you might also be able to benefit from the 30% Ruling tax benefit!
You can enjoy this tax benefit if you’re hired from abroad to come and live in The Netherlands, if you haven’t lived here in the past 2 years, and if you have a bachelor or master degree. There’s also a minimum threshold that you must be earning in order to benefit from the 30% ruling, which changes every year. You can find more information on the official website.
LinkedIn is a great website to start looking for a job. Thankfully, The Netherlands is home to many international companies’ headquarters, making it easier to secure a job. Also, there are many companies here looking to hire multi-lingual professionals!
If you enjoy working with people, you can look out for sales jobs that require you to speak your native language (other than English). Try searching for your native language on the LinkedIn job search bar and see which results come up! This was actually how I got my job. And if you’re an IT professional, I can assure you it will be extremely easy to find a job here.
If you’re looking for any other type of job, you can easily find it in any shop, restaurant or café. Because Amsterdam is a very international city, you won’t need to speak Dutch (although it would help, of course).
Finding a house
Finding a house can be a dreadful task, especially in Amsterdam. There is not much supply, while there is a lot of demand – this means that prices go up and landlords can be really picky in selecting their tenants.
As you can imagine, it will be much easier to find your new home after you secure a job. This is because most landlords ask for proof of your salary and some of them even require you to earn 3 times more than the house rent.
To search for houses, I would advise you to join one of the many Facebook groups and search in Funda or Kamernet. These are the most popular websites to do house hunting, and Kamernet is even better if you’re looking to rent just one bedroom.
City hall registration
In order to be a legal Amsterdammer, you will need to register at the Gemeente (city hall). Take into account that, in order to do this, you will need to bring your rental contract. If you haven’t found a permanent home yet, ask your company if they can provide you with a temporary address – most companies that hire expats are used to doing this!
For the appointment, make sure you’re bringing your passport, birth certificate, rental contract and visa or residence permit (if you’re not an EU citizen). If you’re a non EU-citizen, I would also advise you to look out for more information in the official iAmsterdam website.
After getting registered, you will receive your BSN, your personal public service number. You will need your BSN for all your administrative tasks in The Netherlands, like opening a bank account, receiving your salary, visiting a doctor, getting health insurance and applying for benefits.
Getting a bike
Now, the fun part! If you’re moving to Amsterdam, you need to get a bike. This will be your most efficient means of transportation – you will literally use it to get anywhere in the city!
Amsterdam (and the whole country, to be fair) has an impressive system of bike lanes, making it very easy to bike around. Of course traffic can be a bit chaotic in Amsterdam, but after a few weeks you will have gained experience and become part of the jungle.
You have three options to get a bike:
- Buy it first hand: this is the simplest way to get a bike and you can just order it online! However, if you’re living in Amsterdam, it is not recommended to have a really good and expensive bike, since these get stolen all the time.
- Buy it second hand: as I mentioned before, you can get a second-hand bike by searching on Facebook or Marktplaats.
- Get a Swapfiets: this is a bike leasing service – basically, you pay a monthly fee for your leased bike. If something happens, they always give you a new bike, which is really cool! It starts at 17€ per month for regular bikes, or 75€ for e-bikes.
If you’re living in Amsterdam, then learning Dutch won’t be necessary; however, of course it is nice to learn the language of the country you’re living in! If you’d like to adventure yourself and learn this intricate language, you can do so by joining the Gemeente free Dutch classes.
Please take into account that you can only join the classes if you’re not benefiting from the 30% ruling.
Another fun way of learning basic Dutch is using the Duolingo free app. I’ve been using it and, thanks to the app, I’m able to say basic phrases in Dutch, as well as understanding a few things!
Now that you’ve got everything set up, it’s time to enjoy the Amsterdam life! There are so many nice things you can do, so I’m going to list my favorite ones:
- Get a museum pass for unlimited access to all museums – yes, you read it right! For 65€ per year, you can have unlimited access to all Dutch museums. Get your museumkaart here.
- Rent a boat in the Spring/Summer and have a picnic! This is a very popular activity among Dutchies and expats. There are many boat rental companies in Amsterdam, and it is quite easy to ride a boat. Make sure to bring a few drinks, tapas and a speaker and have a great time sailing around the Amsterdam canals.
- Go on daily trips to other Dutch cities: The Netherlands is a really small country, but with really good train connections. In one hour (sometimes even less), you can be in a completely different city. It is very easy to get to know the country, so make sure you do! Life never gets boring here (at least during non-covid times).
- Hop on your bike and go and see the tulips in the Spring: tulips usually bloom around April, and one of the best things you can do is get on your bike and explore all those beautiful tulip fields. It’s an amazing and beautiful experience!
I hope this guide to moving to Amsterdam was helpful for you! Maybe you will also enjoy reading these two blog posts:
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