So, you’re relocating to the land of windmills, dams, and excellent cheese? Heck yes. Moving to a new place is always a little scary though, so here are a few key things to know before you shut up and go to the Netherlands as I did.
- You will need to register with your city hall as a long-term resident if you plan on working here, and you will need a LOT of documents. (The Dutch government has helpful resources on this though, available in several languages!) You’ll likely need a work contract, a rental agreement, a valid passport, and a copy of your birth certificate. I ended up having to go to THREE appointments because of some technicalities, and they still almost didn’t give me my BSN (kind of like a social security number) because I didn’t have a scanned copy of my landlord’s ID, which isn’t listed as a requirement. Basically, if you have a document and are wondering if you even need it, BRING IT. Ya never know.
- Speaking of registering: if you, like me, were born in the U.S.A., your birth certificate will need to be apostilled (which is a long and annoying process and you should definitely do it before you leave the country.) If it’s not apostilled, you get three months to have it done, but doing it across the ocean is HARD. Take it from ya girl, still struggling with dat paperwork.
- Once you arrive and get settled, there are several things you should obtain as soon as you can:
- Health insurance! They will fine you if you don’t get it within a few months. Also if you’re broke, there is a sweet government assistance program to help reimburse you. It’s dope.
- A museumkaart to let you into most of the main museums and a bunch of lesser known ones for free! It’s around 65 euro for adults and valid for a full year. Museums are expensive here, so it pays for itself within three or four visits.
- A Dutch bank account! You’ll need your BSN first, but then you should definitely get one if you plan on sticking around. Lots of places, including the major grocery store chain Albert Heijn and some bars, don’t take credit cards like Mastercard and Visa. They will literally only take Dutch cards or cash. Don’t be That Guy I saw at the bar who had to have this explained to him by a busy and rightfully irritated bartender, who also had to give him directions to the nearest ATM while shouting over the music.
- If there are any over-the-counter medications you are used to (hello Nyquil!) consider bringing some with you. I got sick right when I got here and it’s apparently not a Dutch thing to knock yourself out with cold meds when you’re ailing. They mostly take a very natural approach to healing unless it’s quite serious, so come prepared.
- If sending or receiving a package, you should know that they are flexible with package delivery. By this, I mean that if you’re not home to receive your package, they might just give it to your neighbor with a little slip in your mailbox letting you know. This is Not A Thing where I grew up and so was very odd to me, but now at least you will be prepared for it.
- Be wary of very cheap bicycles. If someone sells you one late at night in front of a bar and it’s only 20 euro, there’s a fat chance that it’s a stolen Swapfiet.
- Lastly (but still important!) is that public transportation shuts down relatively early here. I live in Amsterdam and most things stop running after 12:30 am (or 00:30, ya dig) so if you’re thinking of a night out on the town, plan accordingly!
These are my main tips for moving to this lovely country and getting your Dutch ducks in a row.
Did I miss anything major? Let me know in the comments!