An Expat Guide to the Netherlands

The Netherlands is becoming one of the most popular destinations for expats in Europe, bringing in a record number of professionals and students each year. It offers a rich history, beautiful countryside and delicious stroopwafels.

As the 8th biggest economy in Europe, it also offers a significant amount of job opportunities. In fact, more than a fifth of Dutch employers reported difficulties in finding personnel, particularly in technical professions, including Engineering and Construction.

For those that are considering a move, our Leap29 team, who have operated and recruited into the Netherlands since 2013, are sharing some key considerations they have learnt along the way… 


Visa and Work Permits

If you are from anywhere apart from the EU, EEA or Switzerland generally it is not possible to work and live permanently in the Netherlands without a valid visa, work permit and residence permit. These permits should all be prearranged before you travel to the Netherlands, as you will not be granted access without certain paperwork.

The types of permits can differ from country to country and depending on your profession, so it’s important to find out your specific requirements beforehand. If you are working with an experienced international company or recruitment agency, they should be able to help with any questions or concerns you may have.

You can also check out Work permit in the Netherlands a useful article by I Am Expat, which provides a breakdown on work permits in the Netherlands.


30% ruling for Expats

One great benefit for expats in The Netherlands, is the 30% tax exemption. For expats, in the current climate, the Netherlands offer certain tax incentives for those looking to bring their skillset to Holland. The 30% ruling allows highly skilled migrants to pay tax on only 70% of their gross salary, which is certainly an attractive factor, as for many, finance plays a large role when it comes to relocating. Relocation allowances may also come into play with up to €7,750 receipted expenses processed tax free in addition to actual relocation costs up to €7,750.

To find out if you are eligible check out I Amsterdam in-depth look at the Netherlands’ 30% ruling.


Housing in the Netherlands 

Finding a property in the Netherlands can sometimes be overwhelming, especially for expats. The Dutch Association of Estate Agents (NVM) reported the average price for a house has increased to a record 292,000 euros, 10% more than last year. This means that the housing market for both renting and buying can be expensive. On top of this, there is also a shortage of housing, so property availability moves extremely fast in comparison to other countries.  

To help you find suitable housing, we would recommend looking around 15 minutes outside of the city centre. The Netherlands offers fantastic public transport links and cycling is extremely popular, so you shouldn’t have any issues traveling to and from work.


Transport in the Netherlands

As a nation at the forefront of development, their progressive attitude is apparent when looking at their methods of navigating the cities. As of 2017, the Netherlands had over 120,000 registered fully electric vehicles and they have one of the most advanced public transport links connecting the major hubs across the country.   

Cycling is also heavily encouraged by both locals and employers alike with many multinational corporations offering bike schemes. Several of these global giants have even demolished sections of their car parking facilities to allow for new cycle ways to be constructed across the Netherlands, with a further €345 million being invested into cycling infrastructure. In fact, there are 23 million bikes in the Netherlands to date, which outnumbers the population quite substantially.

Aside from this, under major private employment contracts, employees are reimbursed €0.19 per KM from their home to their work base, which certainly is something to factor in when considering the move to the Netherlands.


Dutch People

One thing the Netherlands is famous for, is their friendly and welcoming people. They are typically known for being straightforward and honest, for example if they have something to say, they won’t hesitate to say it.

The majority of people also speak English and will often switch to English if they see you are struggling. However, many job roles are Dutch speaking, so it is important to check this before you go.

Here are some helpful Dutch phrases (Source: tripsavvy)

  • Hallo ("HAH low")—Hello
  • Hoi ("hoy")—Hi
  • Dank je wel ("dahnk yuh vel")—Thank you very much
  • Bedankt ("buh DAHNKT")—Thanks
  • Goedemorgen ("KHOO duh MORE khen")—Good morning
  • Goedemiddag ("KHOO duh midakh")—Good afternoon
  • Goedenavond ("KHOO dun AH fohnt")—Good evening
  • Dag ("dakh")—Bye


If you are interested in moving to the Netherlands, you can view all our current roles at