Moving to the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a land of expatriates, with 20% of all residents citizens of another country. Moving to the Netherlands means settling down in an open minded country, ready to welcome expats from around the world. Begin your preparations early on as some aspects might make the relocation more challenging than it can seem at first. Some language barrier as well as cutltural adjustment makes this assignment destination still challenging. But the great expat community as well as the supportinve services (often targeting the english speaking assignees) have been growing over the years and are here to support your arrival.
The Netherlands has always enjoyed a prime spot as a base for European explorations; located at the mouth of three major European rivers: the Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Schelde. It lies in Western Europe, bordering the North Sea between Belgium and Germany.
The Netherlands' geographic location has boosted the country's economic position. The Port of Rotterdam and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport are among the most important transport centres in the world, helping to make the Netherlands number six in the world rankings of export and investment nations. Although its economy relies heavily on foreign trade, it has remained stable at moderate levels of unemployment and inflation.
"I thought the cyclists were mad at first! My first month in Groningen I was terrified of joining the throng of cyclists. One gets used to it quickly, though. Cycling is a way of life and it is ingrained in the culture here."- Kate Vowles, Expat in The Netherlands
The Netherlands, also known as Holland, ranks fifth, behind Denmark, Finland, Canada and Singapore, in the Global Business Environment Rankings 2006-2010 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The Netherlands holds a strong presence of top companies and research institutes in the fields of chemicals, high-tech and innovative materials, food and flowers, life sciences and health, water management and maritime engineering, the creative industry and most importantly, financial services. Industrial activity is restricted to food processing, electrical machinery, chemicals and petroleum refining.
"Dutch culture is great - they don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re a nation of people that value hard work and contribution, but also work-life balance. There is a very well-known fact that Dutchies tend to be incredibly direct which some take as rude."- Francesca Catanuso, Expat in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Furthermore, the Dutch are business-minded people and highly educated. Most are multilingual - proving to be an attractive cultural climate that has drawn both foreign companies and expats.
"There is not really a food culture associated with Holland. They tend to eat bread, cheese and cold cuts for both breakfast and lunch, and dinner is a variation of meat, potatoes, and vegetables."- Teresa Hulst, Expat in Amsterdam, Netherlands
The vibrant capital city, Amsterdam, is one of Europe's great destinations, and a center for business and tourism. The Hague is the seat of government and the monarch.
One popular way to get to know Amsterdam is a canal tour. There are special canal boats called ‘museum boats' that link 20 of the city's major museums. Artistic luminaries make Holland a spellbinding art escapade - from the Dutch master Rembrandt to Van Gogh. The city is steeped in history, with notable sites such as Anne Frank's house. In total, it boasts 53 museums, 61 art galleries, 12 concert halls and 20 theaters.
"I think Dutch people are generally more open and honest (though sometimes too honest) than British people. I love that I can cycle every day and that there’s fantastic artworks, architecture, and great places to eat."- Ashley Howe, Expat in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Dutch United Provinces declared independence from Spain in 1579. In the 17th century, Holland became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. The Kingdom of the Netherlands formed in 1815 after a 20-year French occupation. In 1830, Belgium formed a separate kingdom. Today the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, and the head of state is Queen Beatrix.
"The Dutch are usually seen as very rude but are in fact extremely friendly and nice. They always help me out, smile at me when I’m out with the children. They are also not afraid to say what they mean, and it makes living here very refreshing."- Olga Mecking, Expat in The Netherlands
The Dutch population is just over 16.5 million. Expats can easily blend in with the locals, particularly those enamored with biking, the easiest form of transportation to the city and the suburbs.
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, and its currency is the euro. It's the home of world-renowned Heineken Brewery and an illustrious diamond cutting industry. And lest we forget the windmills, cheese, clogs (wooden shoes), Delftware and Gouda pottery, dikes, tulips, and social tolerance. The Netherlands is a small yet modern country, proud of its old heritage and not afraid to progress with its identity intact, which proves that even small countries can make a big impression.
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