When Australians think of moving to Europe they primarily think of living and working in the UK. However, there are other options, and so after living in The Netherlands for four years, I will explain why other Australians should consider being an expat in The Netherlands.
1. Everyone Speaks English
In the Netherlands you get the best of both worlds. Learning to live in a foreign country where they speak a different language, but at the same time, where (almost) everyone speaks English.
Adjusting to life in a foreign country where few people speak your language can be very challenging. At the same time it can be very rewarding. If you want to experience the joys of living in a new country but without the constant strain of struggling to communicate with the locals, then you can’t go wrong with an expat assignment in the Netherlands.
However, don’t get me wrong, just because most people speak English in the Netherlands, that doesn’t mean you won’t have difficulties. All communications from government departments will be in Dutch, most utility and service companies will still only have phone recordings in dutch. However, there will invariably always be someone that you can deal with in English.
2. Generous Annual Leave Entitlements
The primary reason Australians go to live in the UK or Europe is to travel around Europe. The Netherlands has very flexible working arrangements, and most companies offer extensive holiday each year.
The statutory minimum amount of annual leave an employer must offer is four weeks (for a full time employee). However, it is not uncommon for more annual leave to be the standard in some companies with 24 and 32 days per year annual leave being offered. The additional annual leave is usually a result of union agreements, or compensation for having additional working hours in a standard week.
3. Great Base to Explore Continental Europe
And with your extra time off, The Netherlands is a great base to allow you to explore continental Europe or the UK. The Netherlands is part of the 26 country Shengen Zone, where the participating countries have a common visa policy and no internal border controls. And given the size of The Netherlands, it only takes a few hours by car and you can be in a completely different country and culture.
The UK is still close by (although you will need to go through immigration). For around 100 euro (and in one hour), you can easily fly from Amsterdam or Rotterdam airport to London. And Amsterdam Schipol airport is no Heathrow – it is one of my favourite airports in the world – spacious, great shops, efficient, and easy to get to by car or train.
4. Lots of Dutch – Australian History
Most Australians think the UK is where all the Australian history lies in Europe. In fact, there is a significant amount of Dutch – Australian history for you to discover during your time in The Netherlands.
Unbeknown to many Australians, the dutch were the first explorers of Australia four hundred years ago. In 2016, Western Australia commemorated the 400th anniversary of Dutch sailor Dirk Hartog making landfall in Shark Bay, Western Australia. A plaque that he left at Shark Bay in 1616 can now be viewed in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
The Western Australian coast is littered with dutch shipwrecks, and a replica of the famous ship Batavia is found in the docks of Lelystad (just outside Amsterdam). Batavia is famous for its amazing story of mutiny and survival, after being shipwrecked at what is now known as the Abrohlos Islands off Western Australia. The wreckage of the original Batavia is now on display at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle, Western Australia.
5. You can cycle everywhere
And of course (other than Vincent van Gogh, cheese, windmills, canals, drugs, Amsterdam red light district and tulips) the Dutch are famous for cycling. Everyone cycles, and unless you need to travel a far distance it is usually the fastest and most convenient way from A to B around the city. With a network of over 35,000km of dedicated bike paths, cycling in The Netherlands is also fun and safe.
Other Aussies in The Netherlands, please share what you like most about living in The Netherlands in the comments below.