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Moving to amsterdam

(27 Posts)
moley77 Wed 09-Oct-13 09:31:32

Hello ladies, we are looking to move to Amsterdam in 6 mths and I'd like to know if anyone out there has any experience of relocating out there with children. I must say I a little scared ..... But excited. We are starting from basics so schools and location are most important. ANY advice would be great...thank you xx

Twunk Wed 09-Oct-13 12:26:52

Hi Moley!

I'm not in Amsterdam - nearer Utrecht. Don't be scared - I've loved living in the Netherlands and it's a wonderful place for children.

I am a member of the IWCU (international Women's Contact Utrecht) and there's the IWCA too - these societies can be invaluable when moving as everyone has been through the same.

I can help with general stuff like health insurance, registering at the council etc.

Also DON'T panic - there's an M&S food shop on the Klaverstraat gringrin

Expat2 Thu 10-Oct-13 06:22:08

There is a group of Amsterdam mums with a webpage and Facebook page who are a fab resource. Google Amsterdam mamas. (We left Amsterdam two years ago but we loved living there)

moley77 Fri 11-Oct-13 10:32:39

Thx ladies. Glad to hear your both happy.

We are thinking of relocating to hilversum? Any thoughts? Hubby will be working in Westpoort.

I'm also thinking of placing m littl one into local dutch Montessori or Steiner school. Again, any advice?

Th xx

Twunk Fri 11-Oct-13 11:14:04

Oh yes you should definitely move to Hilversum as you'll be nearer me! wink

I have lots of advice but I will give it all when I'm back from hospital as typing into my phone. My sons attend a Dalton school - there is a lot of choice generally though there's also the international school in Hilversum (I know some teachers there, and parents of children there too).

moley77 Fri 11-Oct-13 14:03:15

Thx twunk, hope all okay?

Spk soon x

Twunk Fri 11-Oct-13 15:45:04

Yes all fine - he had an infection and his temp suddenly went up and his bloods were all over the place. But we're going home tomorrow so I'm pleased about that smile

Twunk Fri 11-Oct-13 15:46:59

I have to say the hospital is brilliant and his care is second to none.

moley77 Fri 11-Oct-13 16:35:46

Oh fantastic. That was another worry if mine! Is it similar to private care here in uk? Are you seen pretty much straight away? Are the doctors good. Mine here are local but quite rubbish. Much like the dr on the Simpsons.

Anyway, glad to here he is ok and have a nice journey home... X

Twunk Fri 11-Oct-13 18:26:54

Like the UK experiences vary, but I have never had to wait for my children to be seen, and only waited until the next day for me.

When he was ill before diagnosis every effort was made to find out what was wrong.

He is in a specialist haematology ward in a children's hospital (so not even children's oncology but children's blood cancers).

Any problems at all I call here and he is seen if I am worried.

His doctor is amazing. All the nurses are amazing and they speak to me in English.

When I had gallstones I was offered an operation the next week (and it wasn't an urgently needed one).

I have no complaints. I do hear some complaints, generally more from Americans and other Europeans rather than English people! My experiences have been great though.

moley77 Sun 13-Oct-13 09:25:20

I'm so glad you are happy with your hospital, it's half the battle!

So where are you located? We are looking at Hilversum, or near by. Seems leafy and I'm hoping lots to do. Hubby will be working in Westpoort.

I'm looking at the rental there and all seems quite pricey? We are moving for a lifestyle change and hubby's job given us the opportunity to explore and meet new people. We currently live in a lovely village in essex but it's just "comfortable" nothing to do or see. I'd like to jump out of my comfort zone and live a little.. I just hope this is a good idea :0)

What have you enjoyed about living in Netherlands?, as I know the weather is not great ( she says, as it is hammering outside my window)


runningmad Sun 13-Oct-13 10:29:33

I think you should start by looking at how your husband is going to get to work. Hilversum to Westpoort might be quite a commute by train/metro/bus. Harlem or Amsterdam itself - a metro line goes from south Amsterdam for example? Find out the travel times. I really wouldn't choose Hilversum because you've heard there is a big international community there and 2 subsidised English medium schools.There are more choices than Steiner and Montessori, loads of choices of teaching methods.

Look at the public transport map.

moley77 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:31:43

Thanks running mad. We looked at Haarlem and liked it but I'd like a bigger garden as I've two little ones, and they really enjoy a garden. I've been looking at hilvesum because of the gardens and leafy burb. We are from a village and not really townies.

I've read lots of people from Zuid ost enjoy it there... So may look.

I'll have a loo kata the site you've sent . X

runningmad Sun 13-Oct-13 17:50:36

The Dutch don't tend to go in for big gardens as the children play out on their own. It's hard to avoid towns in one of the densest countries in the world too. Then you have to get used to tiny kitchens, steep stairs. It might be a good idea to not have a "wish list" and think in practical terms first 1) how long do I want to spend getting to work 2) how much do I have to spend on housing 3) how available is rental housing... just trying to give you another perspective, as the Netherlands is NOT the UK and you cannot easily transfer what you're used to in one country to another one. Of course there are going to be more views from Brits living in Hilversum area because of the English medium schools. Expat bubble.

goodiegoodieyumyum Tue 15-Oct-13 09:57:41

Hi Moley I lived in Hilversum for 4 years it is a lovely town, but if you want a big house and garden you will be quite far out of the town centre, it is also a very expensive place to live moving further out of town will not make it cheaper. You would have to travel to Bussum for a swimming pool where children can play and also either Bussum or Loosedrecht for soft play although I here someone has opened something in the shopping centre.

There is a lot that goes on in Hilversum in the summer months lot's of live music, and other activities, free bouncy castles etc. The media park where most of the Dutch tv stations are based is in Hilversum and they have an open weekend once a year. It does seem like your husband would have a long journey.

The library is also very good we would spend hours in there, lots of toys to play with, books in English, computers for the children to play on. Some parks to play in in the summer that you pay to enter but they are very good, in the forest there is a lovely playground, it is actually part of a convent, plus Hilversum is surrounded by forest so you can go for nice walks and bike rides.

If I think of anything else i will send another message

pippy2013 Wed 08-Jan-14 20:20:24

Hi Moley,

I moved out here from the UK with my DH and 2 DD's (3 & 7) earlier this year. My DH works in Amsterdam and my kids go to the local Dutch public school (openbare). It's taken my eldest about 6 months to become fluent and my youngest still learning as she only started school in October. We decided to live in the Gooi region of holland as Amsterdam seemed too expensive and difficult to find school places. We are close to some very nice villages and towns here (Bussum, Naarden, Laren, and Hilversum). We've decided to move to somewhere with a train line and closer to Amsterdam for my husbands sanity! It takes him 1 hr 15 mins each way on a good day. You could try Amsterdam (though you may have difficulty getting into a good school), or as alternatives looking at Amstelveen, Haarlem, Weesp, Hilversum or Bussum. Bussum I think has some of the best schools in the country. Hilversum or Almere if you're thinking of International school. Utrecht has a newly opened Int' school too. We wanted to choose the Dutch route so the kids could have another language and be more integrated should we end up staying longer term. Happy to help more if you have questions, please pm me if you do. Good luck!

janew53 Thu 20-Mar-14 15:31:57

I live in the Gooi area (Hilversum, Baarn, Bussum) area and have been here 8 years now, have a 19 year old son who came here from France at age 11. Westpoort is on the north west side of A'dam and the Gooi is to the east. It is a lovely area (think Surrey with prices to match) but the commute for your husband will be hellish. Train journey won't be direct and will require at least 2 changes and will take minimum of an hour each way, probably longer and the A1 is hideous at rush hour, both ways, as is the A10 which is the A'dam ring. There are some A'dam suburbs which are not as expensive as A'dam itself such Amsterdam Zuid or Amstelveen - perhaps not as pretty as the Gooi but they have good facilities and lots of parks. My son went to the International School of Amsterdam and his education was very good, but perhaps he is older than your kids. Having learnt French we decided on an English language education because he was forgetting how to speak English. Also at 11+ it is much more stressful going to a new school in a language you don't understand than it is if you are in primary school. Also, if you are not going to be in NL for a long period of time you have to consider if there is a benefit to your kids learning dutch as in all honesty there is little application for it outside of the Netherlands. The quality of life in the Netherlands is fab though, people extremely friendly for the most part and the Dutch are very family orientated. We are really happy here.

janew53 Thu 20-Mar-14 15:38:39

Hi Moley,

I forgot to mention that the International School of Amsterdam is in Amstelveen, they take kids from 4 to 18, have good facilities and excellent teaching staff. Very international, kids from about 28 different countries there, and a good support network for families - you are actively encouraged to sit in the cafeteria for morning coffee so plenty of opportunity to meet other mums and create a social life for yourself.

livingzuid Fri 21-Mar-14 09:56:39

I can let you know about the Dutch education system. It can get a bit complicated. Hilversum has one of the best international schools in the country but there are also some very good ones in Amsterdam. It depends as well if you go state, state subsidised or private and whether you want them to continue with the British system or IB which is the main alternative programme in English for sixth form. I assume your kids won't have enough Dutch for the state system? Depends on age? If they are primary then most international schools follow the International Primary Curriculum (IPC).

Dutch International Schools are state subsidised so parents pay a termly fee. It varies from school to school but one I know is around 500 euro a term per child.

I'm very pro ib so am biased smile but the British schools are also very good here. Happy to pm you if you like.

livingzuid Fri 21-Mar-14 10:10:23

Dh is Dutch and we are down in Rotterdam so it is different. I really like it here though it is hard to adjust sometimes. The health care is superb and education on the whole a good standard.

I love the beaches smile summer is so civilised they have these lovely cafes they put up and you can sit and have a beer whilst watching children etc.

I like how direct they are - you always know where you stand! It can be a shock but it is refreshing. People are friendly as well.

Public transport is very good. It isn't uptight culturallty and there is a more sensible attitude generally towards drink and drugs. It's less hysterical.

Because it's so densely populated there are more green spaces. We have a beautiful part 2 minutes from us complete with petting zoo and it's huge right in the heart of the city.

Won't talk about the downsides but yes, be prepared for quite a different housing situation. Renting is filled with red tape. There is much more bureaucracy in general. There are forms for everything. And don't expect the same level of customer service you are used to. And my one other bug bear is the lack of choice shops wise (patiently waiting for an M&S although we do have a Primark. I'll swap!)

It is also very expensive.

But worth it smile

livingzuid Fri 21-Mar-14 14:15:32

I was thinking about this a little more today. It's a more simple culture in that it is more straightforward. I mean that in a very positive way. There is less materialism and more emphasis on family. Dh reckons people are becoming more materialistic but he doesn't think it is to the same level as the UK.

Approach to health is very simple too. Paracetamol is prescribed for just about every ill. But the Dutch have one of the lowest rates of antibiotic resistance because they don't ever pescribe if they don't feel it 100% necessary. MRSA is virtually unknown in hospitals. They take a very no nonsense approach to treatment. It's a surprise for expats but actually a good one. They big on self treatment.

But when you need the care it is available and it is fantastic on the whole. I have had very positive experiences and a friend who has ovarian cancer is given a drug they won't even contemplate on the NHS as it is too expensive.

It's not the most inclusive culture and there are serious problems with integration (which the UK is much better at) but there are wonderfully diverse communities here as well.

My only other gripe is the driving here (I won't start!) but aside from that it is nice to live somewhere that has minimal bs.

livingzuid Fri 21-Mar-14 14:25:30

Oh and I don't know if you are a footballing family but it is not surprisingly huge here. And Amsterdamers and Rotterdamers hate each other. Hate. Won't even go to the other city unless they have to for work. I thought my dh was exaggerating then I realised my error grin but just seems to be the menfolk not the women. Amsterdam has good shopping smile

City rivalry is very marked here. Not just between those two, just in general.

gerrit Fri 21-Mar-14 16:32:59

I lived in Amsterdam for ten years and have very different views on healthcare in Holland. They missed my skin cancer - dismissed it as nothing. I asked several doctors but it was not even tested. UK doctors say it was obvious it was a malignant cancer and I should sue them. I had contractions from 26 weeks with my 2nd child and these were dismissed by the midwives as nothing - she was born at 35 weeks and the night she was born the midwives refused to come out to me. I suffered severe hyperemesis and got horrific treatment. Our GP didn't prescribe antibiotics for my older child so she ended up in hospital, seriously ill with pneumonia. Another time the GP (different one) failed to prescribe antibiotics for a nail infection in time so my daughter lost her nail. And so on. Both our family and many friends of ours had major issues with healthcare.

I agree with most of the rest though.

I wouldn't recommend English speaking schools in Amsterdam unless you can afford ISA or the British school. The state subsidised international school in Amsterdam costs about 5000 per year and is not particularly good, with quite low academic standards.

livingzuid Fri 21-Mar-14 17:25:17

Gerrit I know the school you are referring to very well. It is rated very highly indeed and know many parents who are very pleased with the education their children have received so I don't think your comment is fair. And no, I don't work for them or have anything to do with them grin But the academic standard is very high - it has to be for students to do the DP successfully, for example, and their scores are consistently high.

Sorry you had such a nightmare with cancer. There is an international cancer clinic in Amsterdam specifically for expats. I know several people who have sadly had to avail themselves of the service and had nothing but good to say (not sure if that is where you went?). People can self refer. There are also international GP surgeries you can go to rather than the Dutch system which are still part of the health insurance you pay. I know the one in the Hague is very good but not sure about Amsterdam.

It must be the part of the country you are in that things vary so much. No different to the NHS I guess. I am 30 weeks pregnant with hyperemesis, bioplar and hypothyroid and have had so much care and treatment I wish I was left to my own devices sometimes. For the last two conditions in particular prior to pregnancy it was wonderful as well. The Dutch are very hot on mental health. But it has been excellent apart from one nightmare at a local hospital. Once I got referred to the big university hospital it was great. I know someone at the other end of the country who had an opposite experience. It depends on the quality of hospital. The big teaching hospitals, Erasmus and Leiden, for example, I've heard nothing but good about. The local ones are a bit more varied.

Good luck OP smile the one thing I completely forgot to say is that I feel safer here than anywhere else. I feel so secure and unthreatened. Maybe that was 10 years in London that made me edgy but there's very little random casual violence or drunkard behaviour. If there is they get squashed pretty quickly (loads of police around!). Even in Rotterdam which today I found out was the worst place in the Netherlands to bring up children in terms of poverty, youth education and disenfranchised attitudes, educational outcomes etc shock Amsterdam was right at the bottom of the list and had improved significantly from previous years.

gerrit Sat 22-Mar-14 09:50:53

My child was in that school, in the primary section. In 2012 25% of her class were moved to other schools in Holland because of concerns about low standards. Children who moved back to the UK were told that the NC scores they had been given were over-estimates by at least a year. ISA's scores in DP are quite high but those of AICS are not and the teachers consistently over-estimate when predicting scores.

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