~ By Asia Cantoni
Have you ever wondered what it is like to live in the Netherlands? You question yourself where to even start looking? Whether your purpose is to study, work or simply starting a new life: moving abroad is an adventure awaiting ahead of you. The fun travel guides are available on the web, but what you really need to know is the practical things and bureaucracy that entails to be allowed living in the Netherlands. It might sound boring, but you will have to do it sooner or later so brace yourself. Here you will find 6 things to sort out when settling a new life in the Netherlands.
1) Housing in The Netherlands?
First if you are going to move to the Netherlands, you want to start early looking into which city, what is your budget, and what kind of accommodation you want: be it a room, studio, apartment or a house. It is crucial to do your research thoroughly. Bigger cities and student cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Breda for instant have a very high level of demand, and shortage of places to be rented out.
It’s best to start looking 6 months prior. Facebook has many groups that lists rented places in various cities. Just type in ‘Zoekt kamer’ followed with the city name you are going to live in like ‘Zoekt Kamer in Breda’ for instance. You can also use paid housing website like Kamernet which will give you filters for more precise searching.
2) Get a cheap bicycle
Secondly, you will immediately notice how many bicycles there are in the Netherlands even said outnumbering the population. It’s a common way to travel for the Dutch, and it will be the most efficient way to move around the city. However, you don’t want to spend over €100 for a new bicycle to only find out later that it has been stolen (yeah, it happens).
Second-hand bicycle is always a safe and cheaper way to ensure that your bicycle will be in your possession for as long as possible. Prices can range from €15 – €75 for a used bicycle depending on the condition and don’t forget a good chain and lock for it. Places like Vindingrijk (thrift store) sells used bicycles and there are many other bicycle stores in every city. Just ask your neighbour and they will gladly tell you the nearest place to get one.
3) What is a BSN or Citizen Service Number?
BSN (burgenservicenummer) is a unique number that is required for everyone living in the Netherlands. You can get it at your Gemeente (town hall) by making an online appointment beforehand. You will need BSN for any interaction with Dutch authorities: the municipality, housing, the hospital, schools, employer, bank and benefit agencies. You can find addresses and websites for each Gemeente HERE.
The Dutch are very efficient, thus most things in the Netherlands are arranged online. Upon receiving your BSN, you will need to register for DigiD that will allow you to identify yourself when arranging things online. Similar to BSN, you will use DigiD when arranging a health insurance, education institution, Dutch government and or your pension funds.
Your DigiD works like a passport. It is something you DO NOT want to share with anyone ever. Since the website is only available in Dutch, it would be handy to have a Dutch speaking person to help you through this, otherwise make use of Google Chrome which has a built-in translation service. If you click HERE you will reach the application site.
5) Do I need Dutch health insurance?
Unless you are German any EU card is not enough, and a standard health insurance is compulsory when living in the Netherlands. There is a minimum of €110 euro a month for basic insurance coverage. Make sure to organize this within the 4 months of living otherwise you will receive a fine (approximately €385). This website shows you the price range and coverage each insurance offers.
6) Subsidies in The Netherlands
Don’t worry if all these things seem expensive, as the Dutch system provide subsidy after 6 months living in the Netherlands. It varies like Zorgtoeslag – health insurance support, Huurtoeslag – House rent support, and other kinds of toeslag depending on your needs with all information available at your town hall. With that being said, I hope you find these information helpful and good luck with starting your new adventure J.