Contemplating a move to Amsterdam

(51 Posts)
Flumflumtree Mon 23-Sep-13 14:12:33

Hi
Job dependant we are thinking of a more to Amsterdam or the surrounding area. DH is going for a second interview soon. My DS is nearly 5 and DD 2.5 so will need to find pre schools and schools for them both. We can't afford the international schools but we are exploring the idea of the subsidised ones. We have contacted the one in Hilversum, Almere and Amsterdam but was hoping for some feedback on them from and mumsnetters and if there is any others I should be considering.
What are the areas of Almere and Hilversum like to live in? Not sure what our budget will be yet but what areas of Amsterdam are nice to live in with kids.
Also how do you find living in the Netherlands with kids? We have lived abroad before so kind of used to that side of things but its always unsettling a big move like this.
TIA

CairngormsClydesdale Tue 24-Sep-13 19:13:16

I'm in NL (nowhere near AMS) and we are leaving in the New Year after too many years to mention. Things are very expensive here and it's been in the papers here that the tax rate is to rise to 59% on salaries over 65% from 2014. This is income tax + council tax + compulsory health insurance + compulsory "coast guard" etc., etc.

I have two children in local creche so they're bilingual - that's not been an issue, for us it's been the gradual erosion of spending power. We can't afford to do anything "fun" anymore.

LoveSewingBee Tue 24-Sep-13 20:29:53

I agree with Cairn. The Netherlands is eyewateringly expensive. There are lots of obligatory things, which are basically hidden taxes on top of what is already a very high tax rate.

For children it is a nice place as there are lots of things to do and they can cycle safely at a young age. Schools can be very hit and miss quality wise. The Violen school has a good reputation. There are also international schools in The Hague, Voorschoten and Leiden.

I would say that compared with the UK, you will need at least 150% and possibly even double the salary to live a similar sort of life in the Netherlands.

CairngormsClydesdale Wed 25-Sep-13 05:29:05

Oh I forgot, 165 a quarter road tax on a pretty basic family car. A friend of mine with a 4x4 (for a horse trailer) was paying 600/quarter. Otoh car insurance is cheap and it's per household rather than named driver.

LoveSewing It's funny you should say that, I read on here (and my m&d) bitching about how expensive Tesco is and we go skipping up the aisles shrieking with delight at how cheap stuff is!

I've applied for a couple of jobs back in the UK which are a similar salary to what I earn here - but as you say - I think it's going to go waaaaaaay further!

CairngormsClydesdale Wed 25-Sep-13 05:29:40

Water is cheap, I think our water bill is around 20 euros a month - so that makes up for the eye-watering gas/leccy then.

Flumflumtree Wed 25-Sep-13 05:44:03

Ok thanks Cairn and lovesewingbee we are actually currently living in Singapore were cost of living is high too. What about the 30 tax ruling for expats do you get this? I don't know for sure we would but if we did would it make a difference.

CairngormsClydesdale Wed 25-Sep-13 05:57:50

Yes, it makes a massive difference. I had it for 10 years but mine ran out a few years ago (that's how long I've been here!) and my company were totally unwilling to even discuss any form of financial compensation so that hurt us financially - a LOT!

Also, wages are totally stagnant here - to get the 10% ruling you need to earn a certain amount, when I came here I was way over it - now I don't earn enough to qualify. <world's smallest violin> wink

CairngormsClydesdale Wed 25-Sep-13 05:58:07

(30% ruling, not 10%!)

Flumflumtree Wed 25-Sep-13 07:08:10

Oh I see that sucks. Are u sad to leave?

Flumflumtree Wed 25-Sep-13 07:08:46

Do u have any friends who live in amsterdam area?

Bonsoir Wed 25-Sep-13 07:15:36

My sister and her family have lived in The Netherlands for 5 years and we have other friends there. I echo other posters who say that the cost of living is extortionate and has risen sharply in the past few years. Health care is not up to the standards my English sister and French husband are used to - for example, my sister has a hard time getting medication for her DC with allergies.

CairngormsClydesdale Wed 25-Sep-13 11:05:00

hi flumflum I am a bit sad, I mean it's a great place - seriously - and it's a wonderful place for the children to grow up. But, I've been abroad 20 years now and it's time for me to "go home".

I know I'm moaning about wages, but I came across an old payslip a few months ago - it's only a few hundred a month out of what I get now (due to losing the tax break, stagnation, etc.) - difference is - back then I had a detached house, 2 horses, a BMW and 5 week holidays in Canada. These days I price-check everything and all those luxuries are long gone.

Cry me a river etc. wink

Just thought of another really expensive thing. Second hand cars. A 10 year old car will still cost you a few thousand. We cannot get our heads around what we'll get in the UK for the same money!

CairngormsClydesdale Wed 25-Sep-13 11:06:57

(sorry, payslip from 10 years ago)

Also, wrt health care - maybe because I'm in the provinces where there's less pressure on the health service I've been lucky. Care here has been exceptional - e.g., for both my babies I had the same midwives for ante-natal, post-natal and the same surgeon do my c-section both times.

Flumflumtree Thu 26-Sep-13 07:33:38

Ok thanks so much for your honesty ladies. My DH is gonna go for his 2nd interview & based on what they offer & with this info from you guys in mind we can make a decision. Will report back.

gerrit Thu 26-Sep-13 17:19:10

We lived in Amsterdam for ten years and left last year, in part for the reasons mentioned above.

Our DC went to the subsidised international school in Amsterdam but it is not a particularly good school - worse than many UK state schools, with teachers varying a great deal depending where they come from. About 1/4 of the children in my older DC's class were removed to go to other schools in Holland but imo the other subsidised international schools were not particularly better and the local Dutch schools offer a very different style of education, particularly in primary, to that in the UK or Singapore. It might suit some kids very well but wouldn't suit our DC.

Yes, taxes are going up while services are going down. In most of the central region of Holland (Utrecht-Leiden-Amsterdam) housing is expensive and is likely to become more so with the reduction of mortgage tax relief (property prices will fall but not enough to compensate the gradual loss of tax relief). Rents are high for what you get and relative to net salaries - in Amsterdam 2000 Euros/month for 100 sqm and nearer 3000 Euros/month for 150 sqm. Medical care is often quite minimal with a reluctance to prescribe medications or treatments but this is cultural as well as financial - Dutch doctors believe in intervening as little as possible.

Supermarkets are expensive as is most shopping. Back in the UK one can pick up decent quality childrens clothes from chain stores like M&S, John Lewis for a reasonable price; the same quality in Amsterdam was costing me twice as much. Nappies are at least 20% more expensive than in the UK. And so on.

These are the negatives but of course there are many positives as well.

LoveSewingBee Fri 27-Sep-13 00:20:17

I find it cheaper to buy clothes, toys, etc in the UK. Massive drawback is that aboutv1 in 3 parcels never arrive. ... They can track them until they enter the Netherlands. I strongly suspect that lots of stuff gets nicked. Don't have the problems with books, so clearly Dutch posties are not keen on English books. It is EXTREMELY annoying as not all UK companies will ship with a courier with door to door tracking and those whobare willing to do so clearly have to charge a lot for shipping.

Also, although there are many nice things for kids (sports, clubs), they are way more expensive than in the UK and usually not as well run. My experience here is that the Dutch are haphazard organisers and that customer service and customer satisfaction don't receive high priority. Basically you should be pleased if they are willing to provide a service on their terms, which they may vary if it is convenient for them to do soband without telling you. Very verybdifferent way of doing business compared with the UK.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 27-Sep-13 03:28:01

We lived in Amsterdam 8 years ago (before Singapore coincidentally!) and have great memories overall.
At the time, it was a relief to leave the rate race in London and still be in a vibrant cosmopolitan city.

Al the above is true to our experience although it did not come as a shock as I'd already lived in The Hague with my parents.
Coming from singapore, you might find the bluntness (and harsh weather) a little shocking.
With regards to health & schools, you will definitely be at the other spectrum from Singapore. All very progressive and non-interventionist & quite frustrating.
Moneywise, its definitely more expensive than the UK, but being in Singapore you have long stopped comparing prices with the UK I suppose?
The upside is that you will have frequent more trips back home. Berlin, Antwerp, Brussels, Paris etc, etc are a short drive/train ride away.
We regularly did a big deli/grocery shop in Lille. Local markets are really good for fresh/ethnic produce.
Eating a decent meal out is expensive and the casual herring out of a bucket of brine & straight to the mouth is a whole new world if you compare with your current foodcourt options!

That said, if we were to go back to Europe with a choice, we'd seriously consider going back. A pretty well balanced family life.

MariaLuna Fri 27-Sep-13 04:39:16

I live in Amsterdam and have done for years...

Best to get a bike - cars are about 5 euros parking per hour. And there's about a 10-year waiting list for a parking space. Like subsidised housing...

International or British school is basically crap and costs 10 - 12 K a year.

Much better to put your kids into the local school. There are 173 nationalities here so they won't feel left out. There are lots of different style schools, including Montesorri and Steiner. It means they will make local friends and not have everybody leaving all the time like at International ones.

You will only get the 30% tax rule if you can prove no-one else can do your job. Bit hard with the EU in place (Believe me, I worked in HRM for an internet co.).

Holland is great for bringing up kids, trouble is, too many people in too small a space. But we all get along great grin

Actually, I don't find living here more expensive than when I go to UK - horrendous prices! - but I'm lucky that I have a rent-controlled place. Which you won't get at all as an expat now.. waiting lists are over 10 years.

As an expat you can expect to pay 1000 - 1500,-- at least for an apartment.

Everyone speaks English which is a bonus cos trying to learn Dutch as a foreigner is a biatch...

Really, I hear more English spoken than Dutch on my daily rounds....

Here's a start for you

www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/living

MariaLuna Fri 27-Sep-13 04:44:02

oh, and this one...

www.expatica.com/nl/main.html

gerrit Fri 27-Sep-13 09:14:21

International or British schools start at 14k per year, more for secondary. The students don't turn over as much at the subsidised international schools (which are much cheaper) as it is mostly those who are in NL for the long-term who use them - very few people can afford the non-subsidized schools unless employers pay the fees. Local schools are an option if you plan to stay but less so if there's a chance you won't stay longterm and your children may have to transfer into an English speaking school at late primary/secondary age. Academic standards are very different in the Dutch primary schools than in the UK.

And, yes, we had problems with parcels going missing and high prices for poor service (the worst being our day care and after school care.)

Flumflumtree Sun 29-Sep-13 15:16:18

Sorry I haven't checked the thread since before the weekend. We would definitely be looking at the subsidised international schools as we can't afford the high fees of the international ones. Not so sure about local schools just because not sure how long we will stay for. All the stuff you have told me has definitely made me stop and think about if a move to NL a right for is. I think it will all depend on what salary my DH will get. He has however been told that he would get the 30% tax rule so fingers crossed this is the case. Masteroftheyoniverse as you say when you live in Singapore you have to stop comparing prices otherwise you would never buy or do anything. Does anybody know about the school in Almere?

LoveSewingBee Sun 29-Sep-13 17:12:55

Not sure if this is still the case as I do not know anybody living in Almere, but for a long time Almere was not exactly considered to be very desirable.

Most people I know prefer living in Amsterdam itself or het Gooi (area around Hilversum, Bussum etc.) or area around Leiden/The Hague. Utrecht is also lovely but more difficult for expats re work.

Flumflumtree Mon 30-Sep-13 05:41:39

There is a school there called letterland. Just wondering if anyone knows anything about it? I don't know think we would live there. What's distance like for travelling from Amsterdam?

Katiepoes Mon 30-Sep-13 13:09:38

Almere is not desirable. Cheap (well relatively) yes, but if massive urban sprawl is not your thing then avoid it. It's fine for commuting to Amsterdam, that's why it was built - bear in mind it has only existed since the late 70s.

Amsterdam is expensive but a joy to live in. You will have to compromise on space but the city itself is a great liberal place and is very child friendly. Hilversum is boring (well I think so), Leiden and The Hague are good but not as good as Amsterdam. (I moved north some years ago but would move back in a heartbeat).

Utrecht - if the right area - also great, and well within commuting distance of Amsterdam.

Do you really have your heart set on an International School with such small kids? They are expensive and can be hard to get into - and by no means are any better. You'd also probably be constantly picking up and dropping off, and they would be far from their friends.

runningmad Mon 30-Sep-13 15:48:05

Why don't you just choose to live and go to school somewhere close and easily commutable to work? Your children are very young, even 2 or 3 years in a local school and then going to a UK school is not going to have most children at a disadvantage, in fact think of the advantages of having a second language whilst living in Netherlands and the positive effect on the brain 2 or 3 years later if you go back to the UK. There are so many more positives to choosing a local Dutch medium school and living near to school and home than living potentially far from work just so you can use one of the English subsidised Dutch funded schools, unless work happens to be in Almere or Hilversum etc.

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