Amsterdam is a fantastic and vibrant city, steeped in culture, art and history. It’s not surprising then that many people choose to move there from abroad (and if you’re reading this, that probably includes you). In fact, Amsterdam has the widest variety of nationalities of any city in the world! There are a hundred reasons to move to this beautiful city, but there are also a few things you have to remember to do before you make the big step.
1. Save Some Money
This probably goes without saying, but you will need a good backlog of cash to afford the moving process. Transporting your belongings, paying for legal documents and putting a deposit on your new living space are all going to cost you (hey, no one said living the dream was cheap). If you don’t have a job in the city before you arrive, things like food, bills and new furniture are all going to put a dent in your bank account, so be prepared beforehand for any eventuality that might crop up.
2. Do Your Paperwork
They won’t let you in without it! If you’re a European national then this won’t be too much of a problem as your passport will pretty much get you through the whole process. If you’re from outside the EU however, along with your passport you’ll also need a visa, a work permit and a residency permit. You’ll also need to take your birth certificate and a marriage certificate if applicable. Once you get to Amsterdam and get yourself settled in, you’ll need to go to the city office and apply for a burgerservicenummer (BSN) or “civilian service number” in order to register yourself as a resident of the city.
3. Find A Job
If you’re moving to Amsterdam then it’s more than likely that you’ll already have a job to go to. If you’re moving for a different reason however, then it’s a good idea to check out the job market before you move. Look to see what kinds of jobs are being offered and what companies are looking for immigrant workers. If you’re specialized in a certain area then you should have a good start.
4. Sort Your Healthcare
Obviously you’ll want to get this sorted as soon as possible after you arrive. As of 2006 it is actually illegal to reside in the Netherlands without health insurance, so you will want to look up insurance companies and compare the packages they offer. Having a BSN during this process will make it a lot simpler. Health insurance usually comes to around €100 a month.
5. Learn the Language
This is probably the most difficult of the above steps. It might be a good idea to take a basic course in Dutch shortly before you plan to move to give you a head start in understanding the language. Even if you don’t remember all of what you learn, basic things like the names of food items and how to ask for directions will be very valuable in the early days. Ultimately, learning the language is something that just takes time. Being surrounded by Dutch every day means it’ll eventually seep into your consciousness by itself!
6. Prepare for the Culture Shock
A well documented occurrence among people who move abroad, culture shock is the last thing you should prepare for before you move. Unless you already have a group of friends waiting for you in Amsterdam, you will most likely feel isolated and lonely at some point in the first few months after moving. Don’t worry! This is very normal and comes from suddenly being surrounded by entirely unfamiliar things and faces. Remember to stay positive, it gets better with time. Pretty soon there’ll be Dutch things you’ll feel lost without (like stroopwafels).
This all sounds a bit serious I’m afraid, but don’t be put off! Amsterdam is a great city and if you’re worried about fitting in, just remember that the Netherlands has the highest non-native English literacy in the world. Once you’ve made your move, remember to check back to AmsterDo for all your local events and restaurant, bar and club reviews!