Amsterdam top 10 Ipsos Top Cities 2017

This year sees Abu Dhabi leapfrogging London and Paris into second position, with Tokyo, Sydney and Zurich on the same score in equal fifth.

People in 26 countries worldwide were asked which, from a list of 60 global cities, they felt were best to live in, do business in, and visit. The scores from the three questions were then added together to create the Ipsos Cities Index.

The cities in the global top five have unique strengths; New York and Abu Dhabi are unparalleled as centres for business but they score less strongly as a place to live or visit, whilst Paris tops the global list of tourism destinations but rates comparatively poorly as a business hub, failing to reach the top 10 on this measure. London and Tokyo have rounded profiles, scoring more evenly across the three dimensions, while Zurich and Sydney’s strength is derived from their high scores as top cities to live in.

The remaining top ten positions this year are occupied by Rome, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. The cities at the bottom of this year’s ranking are Nairobi and Tehran. 

What to expect when you are moving to the Netherlands as an expat

Moving to the Netherlands - Independent Expat Finance

You’ve decided to take the plunge and are moving to the Netherlands to work here as an expat. You’re excited about this new adventure and you might be wondering what the Dutch are like, what the unwritten rules are and just generally what you can expect from your soon- to-be home. Whether you come from another European country, the Americas or Asia, you’re bound to notice some differences about the Dutch culture. We made a list of the five most noticeable things you will find out about the Dutch when you’re moving to the Netherlands.

1. Bikes Everywhere

If you’re moving to the Netherlands and you don’t know how to ride a bike, you better learn quickly. The Dutch ride their bikes pretty much everywhere. If you can reach your destination in biking in under half an hour, the Dutch will go by bike. And it’s not like they don’t have cars. They do, as the traffic jams will prove. They simply have the habit of riding their bikes.

Children learn two things from a very young age: swimming (because there’s water everywhere) and riding a bike. Also, given the parking fees in some cities, the bike is your best option to save money (and boy, the Dutch do not like to spend money on things they find wasteful).

So, start practicing now or take a biking class once you arrive in the Netherlands. And when you do go biking in the Netherlands, please don’t wear a helmet. At least, not if you don’t want to be the laughing stock of your company or neighborhood or frankly, anywhere you go.

Hey, where are you going with that helmet?

Bikes in the Netherlands - Independent Expat Finance

The Dutch are very open people. There aren’t many taboos left in our society and we talk about almost anything. The Dutch lack of privacy is very clear at night when you walk past their houses. You will see families sitting in their living room, watching tv, or having dinner. That’s right, the houses in the Netherlands have big windows that aren’t decorated with drapes or anything to keep glaring eyes out. The Dutch can be very unapologetic: I do whatever I want in my house and I don’t care who sees it or what their opinion is. By the way, it’s totally cool if you look inside. Just nod if someone sees you do it.

2. No privacy

Another thing that the Dutch are known for is their directness. You may find yourself being ‘interviewed’ by your colleagues or neighbors. And you might think that the questions are a little too personal, but your Dutch colleague will find his questions perfectly normal. Feel free to interview your colleague back by the way. Go ahead, ask him anything, except don’t ask him how much he earns — that’s a total no-no.

3. Bad customer service

Customer Service in the Netherlands - Independent Expat Finance

I don’t want to discourage you from moving to the Netherlands, but the one thing expats in the Netherlands complain about is bad customer service. If you’re used to being treated like royalty by customer service in your country, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Expats often feel as if they are treated like a number. You just have to realize that in the Netherlands, everybody has the same rights and duties. Expats are not an exception. Equality in the Netherlands is very important so whether you’re a cleaner or a CEO does not matter in how you are treated at places like city hall, the bank, the supermarket, or your phone provider. Also, showing up somewhere doesn’t mean you will be helped. Because when it’s time to go for the customer service agent, it’s time to go. People can come across as uninterested and unwilling to look further than your question and going the extra mile.

4. Liberalism

The Netherlands is a very liberal place. Besides marijuana and prostitution being (semi)legalized, abortion is legal until 24 weeks and euthanasia is also legal under very strict law. Also, same-sex marriage is legal and being open about one’s sexuality is something normal in general.

But don’t think that the Dutch are lawless. Although they complain a lot about the many rules in society, they do make sure to follow the rules to a T. There’s also a weird schizophrenia in the general culture where they feel like everybody should be themselves and anything should be possible but at the same time believe that you should just act normal. What’s normal? Not standing out too much and living by the (unwritten) rules.

5. Happiest place on earth

Tulips in the Netherlands - Independent Expat Finance

And you thought Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. Turns out, the Netherlands is one of the happiest places on earth. What better reason for moving to the Netherlands do you need? Surveys have consistently shown that the Dutch rate their lives in the top 10 of most happiest people on earth (we’re currently at number 6).

It might have something to do with the working hours. Dutch people value their spare time a lot. We generally don’t do overtime, especially not unpaid overtime. We love hanging with our family and friends. Although the Dutch, in general, don’t have really close knit ties with their extended family, they do value their close family a lot. Parents play a big role in their kids’ lives with moms often working part-time to be with their kids and dad’s having a ‘papa-dag’ (daddy-day) once a week.

The Dutch men and women are emancipated. The sexes are perceived as being equal although the traditional roles haven’t been rearranged in most families yet. Men value taking care of their kids just as much as women do though.

Wait, there’s more!

There are so many more things that can be said about the Dutch but in a list of five, we can’t include everything. These are things that didn’t make the list but might be interesting to know as well:

  • Almost everyone speaks English. In fact, the Dutch are the best non-English speakers in the world according to this study.
  • Guns are forbidden.
  • Despite their openness, it’s hard to make Dutch friends.
  • Credit cards aren’t widely used.
  • You can drink the tap water.
  • The houses are tiny.
  • There’s universal healthcare insurance.
  • The Dutch are very straight forward almost to the point they’re being perceived as rude. If they have an opinion, they will tell you about it.
  • The Dutch don’t like drama. They are a very down to earth people.
  • Dutch don’t like ‘fakeness’– they might consider you being overly nice.
  • The Netherlands houses some magnificent art work from their great Dutch painters.

Still planning on moving to the Netherlands?

If you’re moving to the Netherlands, you’re probably going to have a great time! Sure, you will need some time to adjust to the customs and ways of the Dutch, but that’s normal for every country. Don’t be afraid to offend people because we aren’t easily offended.

Welcome to the happiest place on earth!

What expats need to know about personal finances when moving to the Netherlands

So, you’re moving to the Netherlands to work as an expat and you need to take care of a million things before you go. If you have a relocator, things will probably go smoothly. If you’re taking care of everything yourself, or if you want to keep a little bit of control about where and with what you end up, you need to find out as much as you can.

One extremely important thing you need to take care of when you’re moving to the Netherlands is your personal finances. Personal finances is a very broad term. It usually includes insurances, mortgages, banking, investments, and loans. Every part of your personal finances is subject to different rules and regulations. Those rules can be very confusing even if you aren’t also dealing with a different language.

Do you find your personal finances to be confusing in your own language? If you do, then you’ll definitely feel lost taking care of it in a foreign language. Have you ever tried to Google translate Dutch websites? It’s horrible! But don’t worry, we’re here to help. So, today, we’re going to teach you the basics about personal finances for expats in the Netherlands.

Your basic personal finance needs when you’re moving to the Netherlands

1.Housing

Most expats, when they’re moving to the Netherlands, will rent an apartment or a house to begin with. When you rent, it means you can be flexible. If you decide not to stay in the Netherlands, you can move out of the house or apartment with a month’s notice. Also, not having to take care of house maintenance is a big plus – at least in our book!

Renting is expensive in cities like Amsterdam, Amstelveen, The Hague, Utrecht, and Groningen. Expats can’t rent social housing as the maximum yearly income for social housing in 2017 is €36.165,00. So, expats have to rent in the ‘vrije sector’. Vrije sector housing starts at €710,68 per month but rents exceeding €2000,00 isn’t at all uncommon in the bigger cities where expats usually end up living.

Many expats start to consider buying a house at some point. With the current interest rates, buying a house can indeed be a better option than renting. Not only are the interest rates very low right now, the Dutch tax system also gives homeowners a big advantage by allowing you to deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage from your taxable income. That means your final taxes will be calculated on a lower income than your actual income.

If you want to buy a house in the Netherlands, it’s a good idea to explore your mortgage possibilities up front. Given the speed at which houses are sold currently, you have to know exactly what you can spend. You don’t want to fall in love with a home, only to find out you won’t be able to finance it, right? Or, maybe worse, lose your chance because another buyer has figured out his mortgage already while you haven’t even started the process of getting yours.

2. Bank Account

The first thing you’ll need if you want to be able to receive your salary is a bank account. Some banks require a social security number to open an account. Your Dutch social security number is sent to you once you’ve registered as an expat in the Netherlands.

The biggest banks in the Netherlands are ABN AMRO, ING Bank, and Rabobank. In recent years, a lot of smaller banks have also entered the Dutch banking scene. Bank licenses aren’t handed out easily. Aspiring banks need to prove to The Dutch Bank (DNB) that they have sufficient funds and that their board of directors is capable of leading the bank. The DNB recommends checking to make sure the bank you’re planning to do business with has a license in their register. In the register, you can see the licenses each of the banks have for specific products.

It can be hard to make a choice between banks, especially since most of these Dutch banks don’t have English websites and they don’t offer English support. Yet, when you want to open a bank account, you do need to do it online because local bank offices are becoming close to extinct in the Netherlands.

3. Health Insurance

By law, the Netherlands requires anyone residing here to have health insurance. The government decides what’s in your basic coverage. Additional coverage, however, is different with every healthcare provider. Common things included are dental care, alternative medicine, and physiotherapy.

Some things in your basic coverage are automatically covered by your insurer. Other things will only be covered when you exceed a certain amount that you have to pay for yourself first. The amount you have to pay for first is called ‘eigen bijdrage’. You can choose the amount you want your ‘eigen bijdrage’ to be. The higher your ‘eigen bijdrage’, the lower your monthly fee is. And, the lower your ‘eigen bijdrage’, the higher your monthly fee will be.

Some very large companies have a collectivity discount with a health insurer and they offer this as a benefit to their employees. This means they agree with a particular health insurer that everyone who signs up for insurance with them gets up to 10% discount on their basic health insurance coverage.

Independent Expat Finance can help you find financial peace of mind

So, these are the basic financial things you need to know and take care of first when you’re moving to the Netherlands. If all of this information is making you dizzy and you’re still confused, we get it. It’s totally normal to feel that way. If you want to find out more about the ins and outs of Dutch finances, you can always send us an email or leave a comment below.

We work as a financial intermediary for expats in the Netherlands. We are independent and can help you by giving unbiased advice about the financial options available to you in the Netherlands. If you’d like to explore your options even before you move, we can set up a Skype call. Or, if you’ve already moved to the Netherlands, we can set up a meeting in our office. Give us a call at +31 (0)23-3030110 or send us an email at info@inexpatfin.nl and we’ll set up a free, non-binding appointment.

My company is moving to Europe after Brexit, should I come along?

So, Brexit happened. How about that, right? As the March 2019 deadline approaches, we see companies planning their move out of the United Kingdom to the European Union. Different companies have different reasons to move. A few of those reasons are:

1.Gaming companies (and tech companies in general) need a big talent pool to find programmers to develop their games. Before Brexit, people could freely  move from all over the EU to work in the UK. That might become harder after Brexit.

2.Banks are anticipating a move because they need the regulatory framework  the European Union provides.

3.Companies that have manufacturing factories prefer to be in the EU where  the borders are open and they can freely ship their products.

4.It’s important for companies to have a European presence since the European market is much bigger than the UK market.

You might be thinking: how bad is it really with all of those companies that are supposedly moving to Europe? Well, we’re not sure. But it might be bad.

“It’s very hard to tell how many people will actually move. However, it’s clear that EU operations will need to be proper functioning entities and not just letterboxes.”

If your company is one of those companies moving, you might have a hard time competing with the other 99.999 people that will be looking for a new job in Britain soon.

Luckily, you still have a choice. It makes sense for companies to take their employees with them when they move since it takes a lot of effort to train new people for the jobs that are moving. If your company is moving, they might ask you to come along. So, what is your answer? Will you move across the pond?

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Benefits of moving to Europe after Brexit

We can imagine that you wouldn’t want to make such a life-altering decision without thinking it through. And, we can also imagine that you feel a bit taken back by the entire situation. After all, you’ve worked so hard to get to where you are right now career-wise. Still, it’s not easy to choose between your career and your home.

Or, are you excited about this opportunity for adventure? Maybe, you think that moving to Europe with your company will even further advance your career. It will definitely show your employer how much you’re invested in the company. It might even create a situation where your company owes you one. Isn’t that a great position to be in?

Actually, there are plenty of good reasons to move with your company. Granted, you won’t be able to see your family as much. That’s a bummer. Also, there will possibly be some language barriers to overcome. Even worse… you’d have to learn to drive on the other side of the road. But think about how much richer it will make you in life experience. Meeting new people. Getting to explore a new cuisine. Learning about a different country and culture. Getting to know yourself really well. Who wouldn’t want that?

Don’t care about getting richer in life experience? Moving to Europe might also bring you financial benefits. Since we can only speak for the Netherlands, that’s what we’ll do.

In the Netherlands, expats are eligible for the 30% tax ruling. That means that you’re not paying any taxes on the first 30% of your annual salary. If you buy a house in the Netherlands, you get even more tax benefits. The interest you pay on your mortgage is deducted from your taxes. Even when you rent a house, you still save money since the cost of living in Amsterdam is 18% cheaper than in London.

Think about what you could do with all that extra money you’re saving because of the 30% ruling and the cheaper living costs in the Netherlands… Do you buy that Tesla model S you’ve been dreaming about? Or, do you go on that once in a lifetime luxurious holiday to the Maldives – every year?

What will you need to do to move to Europe after Brexit?

Under the European Union’s right of free movement, it was very easy for Brits to work anywhere in the European Union. EU citizens don’t need a work permit or a residence permit to be able to work and live anywhere in the EU. After Brexit, these rules will most probably change.

Now, there are also 3 million EU nationals living in the UK. If you’re one of them, you’ll still fall under the same EU rule of free movement. You can move back to Europe with your company without needing a permit.

We can’t say anything for sure at this point about what the requirements will be to move to Europe after Brexit. That will depend on the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. What we can say is that, if you move to Europe before the 2019 Brexit deadline, you’ll probably be allowed to stay after. That’s because there are agreements within the European Union that dictate that withdrawal of a treaty affects the future only.

Don’t let it bring you down

tulipslove

As if kind of being forced to move to another country by forces that are greater than you isn’t enough, you also have to take care of so many things for your move to go well. Most companies that hire expats, help with their relocation. Hopefully, your company will too so that you’ll have one thing less to stress about. There are so many other things however that you need to take care of when you move to another country. You need a bank account, you need housing, you need health insurance and other insurances. And while we can’t help you find a school for your kids or help you adjust to driving on the wrong – kidding, the right – side of the road. We can help you by relieving you from taking care of your personal finances. We’re just saying, don’t write off moving with your company because the thought of everything you need to arrange makes you anxious. We’ve got your back. Because, unlike with ex-spouses of many failed marriages, we still love you…

 

Is your company moving to the Netherlands after Brexit and you already know you’re going with them? Check out our blog posts on What to expect when you’re moving to the Netherlands and What expats need to know about personal finances in the Netherlands.

What insurances do expats in the Netherlands need?

The point of covering risks with insurance is to not fall into a situation where you need to pay extensive bills if something unexpected happens. Most people don’t have a gigantic savings account which they can use when – God forbid – they had a fire in their house or to pay for the funeral of a loved one.

The hardest thing about getting insured in the Netherlands is to find out which insurance you need. To actually get insured is easy, it’s all done online and there are a gazillion insurers that can help you. A quick Google search can get you a long way but we can imagine that choosing the insurer that’s right for you can seem like a daunting task. How do you find out which insurer is reliable and which exact insurances you need?

There are plenty of intermediary websites where you can fill in your details and get a list of insurances that are best suited for you. These websites only tell you about the particular insurance you specified but don’t help you find out which insurances you need for your particular situation.

Mandatory insurances

There are two types of insurance that are mandatory and one type of insurance that’s semi-mandatory in the Netherlands. These are the healthcare insurance, the car insurance, and the home insurance.

Healthcare insurance

Everyone residing in the Netherlands is obligated by law to take out healthcare insurance. You have to get your healthcare insurance within 4 months of receiving your residence permit. If you’re a resident of the EU, EEA or Switzerland you need to be insured 4 months after registering at your city hall. If you have kids, they will also need to get healthcare insurance. You can add them to your own healthcare insurance, free of charge, until their 18th birthday. If you have a baby while living in the Netherlands, it needs healthcare insurance within 4 months after birth. If you fail to insure for healthcare within 4 months, you’ll be fined and registered with a random insurer by the authorities. They will have your monthly insurance fee deducted from your salary.

Healthcare insurance in the Netherlands is divided into a mandatory basic coverage insurance and an optional additional coverage insurance. Insurers aren’t allowed to ever reject you for basic coverage insurance.

You pay for healthcare insurance through a monthly fee and the ‘eigen bijdrage’. The ‘eigen bijdrage’ is a set annual amount. Some medical expenses in your basic coverage are automatically covered by your insurer. Other medical expenses are only covered by your insurer once you exceed the ‘eigen bijdrage’.

You can change your healthcare insurance once a year for the following year until the 31st of December.

Car Insurance

If you own a car, you must at least take out third party liability insurance for it. This will ensure that the expenses that you’re legally accountable for are covered. This level of car insurance will only cover the damage that you make to the other involved parties.

The second level of car insurance is the third party liability plus limited hull insurance. This insurance gives you basic coverage and in certain cases also covers damage made to your own car.

With the all risk coverage, you are insured for almost anything that happens to your car.

So, if you get into a car accident and you aren’t legally accountable, the insurer of the accountable party pays. Your insurer pays for the other party if you’re the accountable party. Your own expenses are covered only if you have all risk coverage and in some cases also with the limited hull coverage.

Home Insurance

This insurance isn’t compulsory by law, it’s an insurance that’s required by most mortgage providers. It will cover you when for example a fire or storm damages your home.

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Popular Insurances

Liability insurance

If you accidentally bump into a parked car while riding your bike, the damage to that car can be covered by a liability insurance. This insurance is the reason that a falling out over damaged things won’t happen often between the Dutch.

Legal insurance

Suing in the Netherlands isn’t a common thing at all so you don’t have to get legal insurance for that reason – We see you, American readers, sighing in relief… – Don’t forgo on the legal insurance however as there are other cases in which you could need legal insurance. One of our clients bought a house which he could move into two months after the deed on his rental house expired. He asked his landlord if he could stay two more months in his rental place. The landlord refused because he couldn’t wait for our client to move out. In the current housing market, the landlord can easily ask for a much higher rent than our client was paying. In such cases, it’s nice to have legal insurance to help you.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance can help you when your luggage gets stolen while traveling abroad. It can also help you in case you have an accident or are sick to get you back to the Netherlands. You can choose to include cancellation insurance in your travel insurance. This ensures you that you can cancel or reschedule your trip when something unexpected happens. Without losing your money.

Repatriation insurance

Nobody wants to think about it but if you were to die while living in the Netherlands, where would you want to have your memorial service? With this insurance, your body is repatriated to your home country.

travel insurance

Need help to decide which insurance you need?

The Dutch sure love their insurances. A problem Dutch people have is that they are over-insured as opposed to under-insured. In reality, these are two similar problems with very real consequences. Either way, you’re losing money. Your goal should be to have just the right amount of insurances.

We know that you most likely don’t want to think about all the horrible stuff that can happen in life. So depressing, right? But sometimes, you need to take charge now to be safe in the future. We can help you get the right insurances in one appointment of an hour. That beats surfing the internet for days, trying to find out what you need and how to get it, right?

Contact us at +31 (0)23-3030110 or send us an email at info@inexpatfin.nl and we’ll set up a free, non-binding appointment. We can also help you switch to another health insurer.

Why you CAN buy a house in the Netherlands (Even if you’re an expat and aren’t planning on staying forever)

Has it ever crossed your mind to buy a house in the Netherlands? Has the Netherlands become your home more than you consider your native country to be your home? So much so that you don’t ever see yourself leaving the Netherlands again. Or, are you just thinking about making a good investment by buying a house? Well, we’ve got great news for you in both cases!

Expats are allowed to buy property in the Netherlands. You don’t necessarily have to sell your house when you leave the Netherlands again because even if you’re not a resident you can own a home here. Renting out that home could make you a lot of money.*

But, if you feel that’s too much trouble, you can also just sell your house because the bank doesn’t restrict you from doing that. There are plenty of possibilities to repay your mortgage early, even when you’re not selling your house.

Mortgages in the Netherlands

So, what mortgage options do you have if you’re interested in buying a house in the Netherlands? There are many types of mortgages being sold in the Netherlands but only two of those types (as of now), have the added benefit of making you eligible for the ‘hypotheekrenteaftrek’.

The hypotheekrenteaftrek or mortgage interest deduction is a deductible that makes it possible to deduct the interest you’re paying for your mortgage from your annual tax filing. The hypotheekrenteaftrek lowers your annual gross salary which means you have to pay fewer taxes. You can even deduct your mortgage interest when you’re using the 30% ruling.

To be able to use the hypotheekrenteaftrek, your mortgage needs to be set up so that it’s completely repaid within 360 months. Currently, there are two types of mortgages that comply with that rule. Those are the annuity mortgage (annuïteitenhypotheek) and the linear mortgage (lineaire hypotheek).

Annuity mortgage

  • You’re paying a set amount per month
  • The amount is partly interest and partly repayment
  • At first, you’re paying more interest than you’re repaying. Later, the interest will become less than the repayment. After the mortgage period is over, you’ve completely repaid it
  • With the hypotheekrenteaftrek, your tax-deductible is high at first and becomes lower over time
  • Therefore, your mortgage becomes more expensive towards the end of the lending period

Linear mortgage

  • Your repayment is the same amount every month.
  • The interest is added up to the repayment.
  • By repaying the mortgage every month, the total mortgage amount becomes smaller and thus the interest that you have to pay decreases.
  • Therefore, the total amount you’re paying every month for your mortgage decrease
  • At the end of the mortgage period, you’ve completely repaid the mortgage.

Next to the annuity and linear mortgages, there are a lot of other types of mortgages. Those types of mortgages are mostly interest based mortgages where you don’t have to repay until the end of the mortgage period.

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Fixed interest rate period

It’s common in the Netherlands to agree on a fixed rate period for your mortgage. Common periods to agree upon are 5, 10 and 20 years. The biggest advantage of a fixed rate period is knowing the interest you have to pay every month is the same. A disadvantage could be agreeing on a rate and the rates decrease so you’re paying more than you would have when you’d have a variable rate.

If you do agree on a fixed rate period, the interest rate you agree on is a bit higher for a 20 year period than for a 5 year period. But since the current interest rates in the Netherlands have never been this low we think it’s smart to agree on a fixed rate period.

Mortgage rules

  • As of now, your mortgage can’t be higher than your house’s value
  • Costs like advisory costs, notary costs and taxation costs can’t be financed by your mortgage
  • If you earn more than €33.000 a year, you can get a mortgage increase of a maximum of €9.000 when you buy an energy-efficient house. You can also finance things such as solar panels to make your house more energy-efficient with your mortgage.
  • If your house uses as much energy as it creates, you can get an extra €25.000 on your mortgage.
  • If a couple has two incomes, the second income is accounted for 70% of the mortgage.

To protect home buyers, mortgage brokers are required by law to give their clients 14 days to think about an offer they made. Within those 14 days, the offer can only be changed in favor of the client. The mortgage broker also needs to disclose the fine they will give their client when the client wants to repay their mortgage sooner than has been agreed upon. The fine can’t be higher than the costs the mortgage broker has of the early repayment.

That was a lot of information. Hopefully, it will help you on your journey to buy a house. If you need help with your mortgage, we’re happy to help you. Just contact us at info@inexpatfin.nl or give us a call at +31 (0)23-3030110. Since we’re licensed in the Netherlands to set up your mortgage, you won’t have to pay any other fee than the fee we’ll charge if you decide to take out your mortgage with us.

We can even help you set up your utilities, home insurance, and your home’s contents insurance after you’ve closed your mortgage. That way you can move into your new home and be safe, sound, warm and secure right away.

 

*Note that you need your bank’s permission to rent out your house

The BEST way for expats to buy a house in the Netherlands

Are you thinking about buying a house in the Netherlands? Lots of expats do at some point during their stay. Especially when they learn that you can sell your house again at any time. With the sky-high rental prices in most of the bigger Dutch cities, who can blame them?

The process to buy a house in the Netherlands can be confusing though. Trust us, it’s confusing for everyone, not just for expats. It’s not like this is something you’ll do often. How many houses have you bought in your life?

So, what if we told you that there was an easy way to get the financing for your new home done? Wouldn’t you just drop everything you’re doing to get that inside scoop? We know that you know what’s coming next but please hear us out – this is going to be good.

Hiring a financial advisor is the easiest way to buy a house. And if you hire us, don’t worry about the fees. We’re licensed in the Netherlands to set up your mortgage so you won’t have to pay any other fee than the fee we charge if you decide to take out your mortgage with us. And that fee is even tax deductible. And we can set you up with a tax advisor to help you file those taxes. It’s a win-win situation.

We know that you’re probably thinking: what’s the catch? But seriously, you can’t lose here. You get all the advice you need, all the help you need via just one financial consultant: either Liaget or Serge.

So, if you’re still with us knowing this kind of is a total self-promoting blog, here’s how the process of buying a house works in the Netherlands – that is if you let us help you.

Step 1: Find out how much money you can borrow

Before you start hunting for a house, it’s good to know how much you can spend on your house. So, make an appointment for an orientation meeting (it’s free and non-binding with us) to calculate what you can borrow. The amount you can borrow is based on your income. Your income is made up of your gross salary including your holiday allowance and your 13th month. Some banks even include your bonuses, expatriation allowance and the advantage you have if you’re eligible for the 30% ruling.

We give you mortgage advice that is tailored to your personal situation and wishes. We explain what the perfect mortgage structure is in your situation, what the interest rates are, and what will happen to your mortgage in special situations. Such as in case of retirement, death, disability or extra repayments.

Step 2: House hunting

Once your mortgage is calculated, you can start house hunting for houses in the price range of your mortgage. Starting 2018, you can only use your mortgage to finance your house. You can’t use your mortgage to buy furniture or even to pay for advisory, notary, or taxation costs. Those costs, however, are tax deductible.

For house hunting, you either have the choice to hire a realtor, or you can search for a house yourself. In the current hot as fire housing market, you do have an advantage when you have a realtor because they usually know about new houses going to the market before they’re actually on the market. Don’t worry about finding a good realtor yourself, we have plenty of contacts with good realtors that we can set you up with.

If you do decide to search for a house on your own however that’s totally fine as well. The website with the biggest choice in houses in the Netherlands is www.funda.nl. From that website, you can just call the selling realtor and make an appointment to see the house. Lots of houses have specified visiting times so you can just go to those visiting hours, see the house and place a bid.

Step 3: Sign a provisional purchase contract

Once you found a house and were able to agree with the current homeowners about the price of the house, you can go on and sign a provisional purchase contract. Don’t let the word provisional confuse you, this is actually a binding contract. After receiving the contract, you have 3 days to change your mind. If you change your mind after those 3 days, you’ll have to pay a fine that’s 10% of the price you’ve agreed to pay for the house.

You can, however, put limiting conditions in the contract. Those conditions help dissolve the contract without having to pay the fine. One of the conditions often mentioned in such contracts is the condition that your mortgage comes through. It’s also a good idea to include the condition of an approval of an architectural inspection. If you let an architectural engineer (we can set you up with one as well) inspect the home you want to buy, you can make sure that the house doesn’t have any defects that can cost you a lot of money. And if a defect is found, the condition in your contract allows you to renegotiate the price so you have money left to fix the defect. The best time to get the inspection done is in the 3 days after you’ve received the provisional purchase contract.

Next stop: back to your financial advisor to complete your mortgage filing.

Step 4: Financing your new home

We help you to collect and check all documents needed to complete your mortgage filing. We also check the complete file for correctness and send it to the bank to get the approval for your mortgage. Throughout the entire process, you won’t ever have to get in touch with the bank. We do that for you. Once your mortgage is approved, we’ll send all the documents to the notary.

Step 5: Get the keys to your new home

The last step in the process is to go to the notary to sign the deed of delivery. The notary is usually chosen by the buying party. We can connect you to one of the certified notaries in our network if needed. At this appointment you meet with the current homeowners and the notary will explain what’s written in the deed. Once the deed is signed by you, the sellers of the house and the notary, you’re the new homeowner and receive the keys to your new home. The bank will transfer the mortgage to the notary and the notary pays all involved parties.

We couldn’t make this any easier if we tried

See how easy that was? Either Liaget or Serge will guide you through every step of buying your new home. We’re all about making your life in the Netherlands as easy and comfortable as possible. That’s why we don’t stop at helping you to finance your new home. To really take the burden off for you, we even set up your utilities such as water, electricity, gas, and internet. Just like with every other advice we give, we’re unbiased and give you options to choose from.

Imagine yourself sitting in your new living room that first night after you’ve moved in. You’re relaxed and your house is fully functional. You think to yourself: “I’ve never moved houses this fast and easy. Heck, I’m not even tired!”

Are you ready to get serious about buying a house? Contact us at info@inexpatfin.nl to set up a free non-binding orientation meeting.

Or, read more about mortgages here.

What you need to know about moving to the Netherlands as an expat (even if you already have a relocator)

Getting settled into a new country can be a stressful experience. Luckily there are relocators who can help you make the experience less of a confusing process. Most expats who are moving to the Netherlands will work for a large company. Those companies usually set you up with a relocator who helps all expats of that company with moving to the Netherlands.

Some expats, however, will work for a smaller company and will have to find a relocator on their own. The same goes for all the expat entrepreneurs out there.

Whatever your situation, it’s good to know what to expect of your move to the Netherlands. That way you’ll feel more in control. Which can help you reduce your stress even more.

So, without further ado, these are the steps you need to take to become an expat in the Netherlands:

VISA and Residence Permit

If you’re not a citizen of the European Union, your very first step to moving to the Netherlands is to apply for a VISA. When your VISA request is accepted, you can apply for a residence permit. To apply for a residence permit, the company you’re going to work for needs to be registered as a recognized sponsor at the IND. For your application to be accepted, your salary needs to be sufficient, independent and long-term. The cost to apply for a residence permit is currently €938 and is usually paid for by your employer. To find more information and to apply for the permit, visit the website of the IND.

Get Registered

After getting your residence permit, you’re good to go! As soon as you arrive in the Netherlands, you’ll need to register yourself as a resident. Every city has a different process so you should find out how to register in the city where you’re going to live. Some cities require you to register at city hall, others require you to register at a special expat center. You do need a Dutch address to be able to register in the Netherlands. If you don’t have an address yet, you need to register as soon as you sign a rental lease. Or, if the city where you’re going to live allows it, you can register at the business address of your employer.

sign

The Social Security Number (BSN)

Once you’re registered as a resident, a social security number (BSN) will automatically be assigned to you. Without your BSN, you won’t be able to work in the Netherlands.  Plus you need your BSN to do a number of other things such as to open a Dutch bank account, to apply for health insurance and to apply for the 30% ruling.

Without registering in the Netherlands and without your BSN, you won’t be able to start your life as an expat in the Netherlands. You’ll kind of remain a tourist. If you’re still not registered after 4 months, you become an illegal alien in the Netherlands. If you’ve been working all this time, your employer is in violation of the law and will have to pay a large fine to the Dutch government.

Keep in mind that, if your family is coming to the Netherlands with you, they each need their own BSN. Even the littlest one. Kids, for example, need a BSN to be able to go to school.

Health Insurance

You’re required to take out health insurance within 4 months after your arrival in the Netherlands. There are plenty of health insurance providers in the Netherlands. To find out more about health insurance, read our blogs http://www.inexpatfin.nl/news/31/what-expats-need-to-know-about-personal-finances-when-moving-to-the-netherlands”>here and here.

Driver’s License

Upon arriving in the Netherlands, find out how long you’re allowed to drive with the driver’s license from your country of origin. Driver’s licenses issued in some countries are only valid for 6 months after your arrival in the Netherlands. It’s probably a good idea to find out if and when you need to convert your foreign driver’s license to a Dutch driver’s license. You can find more information here.

The role of your relocator

Now that the most important things you need to do once you arrive in the Netherlands are clear, you might wonder what role your relocator has in all of this.

Well, the relocator guides you through every step of the way. He’s also there to translate anything for you. Your relocator can help you to apply for your residence permit. He can help with shipping your stuff from your current country of residence to the Netherlands. He can find houses for you and make appointments so you can go see those houses as soon as you arrive in the Netherlands. Once you arrive to the Netherlands, your relocator can pick you up from the airport and go to the previously arranged house viewings with you. After you’ve signed your rental lease, your relocator will go with you to city hall to register you. He will help you open a bank account, apply for the 30% ruling, and direct you in how to convert your driver’s license. The relocator can also help you find a general practitioner and a dentist. Furthermore, he can help you find a good school for your kids and just, in general, provide you with all the information that you need about the Netherlands.

Some relocators have preferred companies they work with to take care of certain things for you. However, you’re still the boss of your own relocation. So should you want to use another vendor, perhaps a certain financial intermediary to help you open your bank account or to take out your health insurance with, you’re free to do so! You just have to tell your relocator to contact us at +31 (0)23-3030110 or info@inexpatfin.nl, or you can contact us yourself. Good luck with moving and see you soon in the land of the tulips!

tulipslove

How do taxes for expatriate homeowners work in the Netherlands?

When you buy a home in the Netherlands, you’ll soon be confronted with taxes concerning that new house. Aside from the taxes involved with buying a house, which are usually one-off taxes, there are also a bunch of recurring taxes. Most of the taxes that concern your home are collected by the municipality you live in. A few other taxes are collected by the tax authorities, and a government body called the Waterschap collects one particular kind of tax.

WOZ-Waarde

Almost all of the taxes you have to pay for your home are calculated based on the WOZ-Waarde of your house. The WOZ value is calculated every year by your municipality and doesn’t necessarily have to be the same value an appraiser would give your home.

Tax authorities

belastingdienst

You might have already heard about the possibility to deduct your mortgage interest with the hypotheekrenteaftrek. But unfortunately, when it comes to owning a home, you don’t just get money back from the tax authorities. There are also some taxes that you need to pay. These are the overdrachtsbelasting and the eigenwoningforfait.

Overdrachtsbelasting

When you buy an existing house as opposed to a newly build house, you need to pay overdrachtsbelasting. This is a one-off fee and is 2% of the price of your house. When you buy your home, the notary that also passes the contract handles the declaration of the overdrachtsbelasting. The notary will also pay for the overdrachtsbelasting in your name.

The eigenwoningforfait is a recurring tax collected by the tax authorities from homeowners. Your house is seen as income in kind by the tax authorities. Instead of paying a certain amount of tax for your home, the eigenwoningforfait is added up to your income and you pay for it through your regular income tax filing. It’s calculated based on a percentage of the WOZ-Waarde of your house, and the higher the value of your home, the higher the rate you have to pay.

The eigenwoningforfait is paid through your income taxes every year. Say your house’s WOZ value is €500.000 that means that the eigenwoningforfait is 0,75% of €500.000 is €3750. That amount is added up to the rest of your income. On the other side, however, your hypotheekrenteaftrek is deducted from your income. So, the amount of income tax you’re paying is calculated like this:

yearly salary – hypotheekrenteaftrek + eigenwoningforfait = taxable income

Municipality

Besides the taxes you’re paying to the tax authorities, there are also other taxes that are paid directly to your district. There are the onroerendezaakbelasting, rioolheffing, reinigings- and afvalstoffenheffing.

Onroerendezaakbelasting (OZB)

Your municipality uses this tax for miscellaneous things. The person that owns a house on the 1st of January is paying for the OZB. Even if you’re moving on the 2nd of January, you’re paying the tax for the entire year. The amount of tax you need to pay is a percentage of the WOZ-Waarde. Every municipality, however, decides what the percentage is that you’re paying. To give you an idea of the percentages of the OZB, the lowest rate in 2018 is 0,04139% of the WOZ-Waarde. Surprisingly, it’s the city of Amsterdam that has the lowest OZB percentage in the Netherlands. The highest rate is collected in Nijmegen, and that rate is 0,2612%.

Rioolheffing

You pay this tax for the right to use the sewer. With the charge, your municipality makes sure that the water you use in your home is drained. The city also uses the charge to drain and save rainwater, to keep groundwater in check, and to maintain the sewer system. Again, every municipality decides on the tax amount, but they aren’t allowed to tax their citizens more than what they need to finance the tasks as mentioned earlier..

Reinigings- en afvalstoffenheffing

By paying this tax, your municipality can collect and clean up your garbage disposal. Again, the city decides on the amount you’re paying for this tax, but they’re not allowed to ask for more than they need to perform their task.

tax

Waterschap

The Dutch are known to be masters of water. That’s why they are asked to give their expertise on water all over the world. Historically, the Dutch had to learn to manage the water surrounding the Netherlands. To handle that water an individual government body called the Waterschap was created.

The Waterschap is responsible for managing the water in a designated area. It’s their duty to make sure you receive clean water in your home and to protect you from the water surrounding the Netherlands. To fund the responsibilities of the Waterschap, everyone has to pay waterschapsbelasting.

Taxes for the waterschap responsible for your municipality are paid directly to them. They send you an invoice for the charge once a year, or you can agree with them to pay in installments. The amount of the tax depends on where you live and can be anywhere between €150 and €300 a year. The waterschap is a non-profit organization, so they too won’t ask for more tax than they need.

So, those are all the taxes involved in owning a house. Some of which by the way, are also imposed on renters.

If you’re thinking about buying a house in the Netherlands, why not find out how much you can take out in a mortgage? That way, you can start looking at homes that you know are a right fit for you financially speaking. Contact us at +31 (0)23-3030110 or info@inexpatfin.nl to set up a free and non-binding appointment where we can discuss your options.

Expats: Protect yourself from the costs of conflict and liability in the Netherlands

To live in a society means you have to coexist with different people who have their own opinions and perspectives on life. All those differing opinions and views can cause conflicts. Of course, you don’t mean to get into disagreements or to do anyone harm, but these things can happen to anyone. And when it does, you could be hit with huge legal bills or claims.

Luckily, legal conflicts and liability for damages or harm caused to others can be covered by legal insurance and liability insurance. In this blog, we explain the advantages of taking out those specific insurances

Legal Insurance

Hiring a lawyer can be very expensive. With legal insurance, you can make sure that you’re always represented when problems arise. The disputes that people most often get into are traffic related cases, consumer disputes, and conflicts with employers. But those aren’t the only cases covered by legal insurance. You can get legal assistance in many different situations such as:

  • when you get into a conflict at work, for example, to dispute your dismissal
  • when you buy a house, and it turns out it has hidden defects
  • when a contractor doesn’t perform as expected
  • when your holiday reservations aren’t executed as agreed upon
  • when you get into a conflict with your neighbors over the borders of your property
  • when you get into a car accident

The premium you’re paying for legal insurance is around €150 a year, depending on your exact coverage and the insurance company. Most lawyers charge between €225 and €300 an hour, according to the website advocaatkostenvergelijken.nl. As you can see the yearly premium for legal insurance is cheaper than a single hour of legal counsel. So, taking out legal insurance can really save you a lot of money in case you get into a legal conflict, especially since solving most conflicts takes more than one hour.

Waiting period

Most insurers have a waiting period to prevent that people quickly take out legal insurance the moment they get into a legal conflict. The waiting period is usually six weeks to three months and specifically prevents you from using your insurance for disputes you already had, or disputes that you knew were coming. However, when you get into a totally unexpected conflict such as a traffic accident, you’ll still be covered by your legal insurance.

Added benefits of taking out legal insurance

To be fair, you’re probably not getting into legal conflicts left and right. Nevertheless, there are a few added benefits of taking out legal insurance for those few times you do get into a conflict. These are:

  • It gives you immediate and easy access to legal advice and assistance of specialists
  • Even if you don’t get into a conflict for many years and keep your legal insurance all that time, you’re still saving money on legal costs because lawyers are expensive
  • Your insurer can save you a lot of work when a conflict takes you to court

When you harm someone or cause damage to someone’s property, you’re probably not covered by legal insurance. In those cases you usually need liability insurance.

Liability insurance

Offcourse you will never harm or cause damage to anyone else on purpose. But you could do just that by accident. Even if your actions don’t cause any accidents, you might still be liable for damages to someone else’s property. For example, when you install a new faucet in your bathroom and it causes a leak that seeps through to your neighbors home. You’re liable for the water damage that your neighbor suffers from that leak. And as you probably know, water damage can be costly. The same goes for something that’s entirely out of your control such as a broken water pipe that causes damage in your neighbors home.

Liability insurance covers these types of risks. Even though the liability insurance isn’t mandatory in the Netherlands, the consumers union strongly recommends everyone to take out liability insurance. They advise you to:

  • Make sure your own risk is €0
  • Thoroughly check what’s covered by each liability insurance before you take one out
  • Cover yourself for €1,25 million or more
  • Consider including a sports clause if you play a sport that can cause harm to others

Most liability insurances cover every family member living with you as well as visitors staying in your home and employees working in your home. If your pet causes damage to someone, your liability insurance covers it as well. Lastly, when you borrow someone else’s things and accidentally break it, liability insurance also includes the costs of repairing or replacing it.     

Taking out the most suitable legal and liability insurance

There are a lot of different options and possibilities within the legal and liability insurances. Some insurers work with modules where you can only take coverage for modules that apply to your specific situation. Being as precise as possible in what to cover and what not to cover can make sure that you’re not over-insured and will save you a lot of money.

At Independent Expat Finance we help you to find the best insurance for you. We aren’t related to any insurer but work solely for you to get you what you need. If you’re interested in taking out legal or liability insurance, contact us at +31 (0)23-3030110 or info@inexpatfin.nl for a free and non-binding appointment.