With the Netherlands enforcing requests for remote work as a legal right for employees, it’s no wonder software engineers are interested to move there. However, it’s essential for developers to consider all the factors involved in relocating to the Netherlands before embarking on their job search.
Here we look at everything you need to know about relocating to the Netherlands and preparing to evaluate a relocation offer.
OfferZen works with hundreds of software engineers relocating to the Netherlands for work. We’ve found that developers underestimate the admin and costs involved in relocating, and often end up wasting time in interview processes. Any delays in acquiring the necessary documentation or making the decision with your family could mean you lose out on an exciting opportunity.
Important considerations for setting salary benchmarks
Doing thorough research to set benchmarks on important elements will give you a good idea of what it’ll mean to uproot your life and plant it in another country. Nastajia Rawjee works with developers wanting to relocate on a daily basis as an OfferZen Talent Advisor, and encourages developers to set their job search benchmarks prior to connecting with companies:
“If you haven’t thought about your benchmarks for relocating, evaluating a relocation offer becomes even harder.”
Being aware of what you are looking for will make it easier to evaluate whether an employment offer will be suitable for you. It’ll help reveal what company support you’ll need to happily accept an offer.
Your monthly cost of living
Understanding your monthly expenses in a city you’ve never been to can be tricky, but it’s the first step in setting a salary benchmark that will set you up for success in your relocation.
First, try narrowing down your search to specific cities in the Netherlands. Use a tool like Numbeo to determine your cost of living in different cities and compare them to your current city of residence.
Amsterdam is the main city for developer opportunities, but it’s also expensive to live there. The cost of living in smaller cities will be cheaper:
Cheaper cities like Den Haag and Groningen may be worth exploring if you can secure a hybrid or remote opportunity in the core hubs, such as Amsterdam, Utrecht or Rotterdam.
The Netherlands also has a great transport system making it easy to commute to and from an office.
Dutch market-related salaries
You’ll need to consider the market-related salaries for your skillset and years of experience in the Netherlands.
It’s unlikely employers will be able to afford an out-of-market salary on top of the other costs involved in relocating a developer. To account for the other costs and if you can afford to, you may even want to consider setting an expectation that falls slightly below the market values. This will make you a competitive option for Netherlands-based companies.
The income tax you’re liable for
To accurately estimate what your monthly income will need to be, you need to know how much of it will go towards income tax. This calculator will give you an idea of how much you’ll need to pay.
If you’re unsure of what your tax expenses will be, speak to someone you know working in the Netherlands, such as a hiring manager. Ask them what tools they use to calculate their own income tax.
Employment contract things that work differently in the Netherlands
Before you can begin setting your benchmarks, you’ll need to understand a few employment contract elements unique to the Netherlands:
- The 30% tax ruling benefit: Check if you’re eligible on the Netherlands’ tax administration website.
- Your holiday allowance (vakantiegeld): The Dutch government explains more here.
- The first offer from a company is usually a full-time contract: See this government website for more information on contracts in the Netherlands.
The 30% tax ruling benefit
If you relocate to the Netherlands for a job, from a city that is situated more than 150km from the Dutch border, you qualify for the 30% tax ruling benefit. It means that 30% of your total yearly salary is void of tax for the first five years of living and working in the Netherlands. Basically, you get a larger net income in that time period.
Check out the Dutch Tax Administration website to determine if you qualify for the benefit. If you do, ask the companies you interview with if they will support you in securing this tax break, as your future employer will need to apply on your behalf.
The tax ruling will assist you in setting a more competitive salary for the Dutch market.
The core hubs of the Netherlands, such as Amsterdam, are expensive to live in and you may find replicating your lifestyle means you need to set an out-of-market salary expectation. However, this tax benefit helps you save 30% of your monthly salary, meaning you could opt for a lower gross salary expectation that is more in-line with market values.
It’ll also help you in building your life in the Netherlands. After five years, you’ll still be well set up to set competitive salary expectations in your job searches.
Your 8% holiday allowance
Vakantiegeld is 8% of your gross yearly income paid out to you as a holiday bonus every year. Most receive this bonus in May since it is the start of Summer, but some employers prefer to pay it in monthly increments included in your salary.
Employers usually include your 8% holiday allowance in the salary amount they offer you, but you should clarify this with every potential employer.
Remember to account for this when you determine what salary you’ll need to live in the Netherlands so you avoid confusion at offer stages.
The length of your contract
The first contract most employers will offer you will usually last between six and twelve months. These full-time contracts are not the same as fixed-term contracts, which specify an end date. It’s an offer for the employer and employee to work together first before deciding to make the relationship indefinite.
You may be concerned about receiving a full-time contract offer since your work permit is dependent on your employer, meaning if you lose your job, you’ll need to leave the Netherlands after three months if you have no other job offer. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive an indefinite job offer right from the get-go.
Things you can do:
- Add a clause to the contract: To ensure your job security, check if the contract includes something along the lines of; “This contract has the intention of becoming indefinite.” If not, ask the hiring manager if they’ll consider adding a similar clause.
- Manage expectations: If you know you can meet their expectations of the role and the contract specifies there is the intention of an indefinite relationship, then you won’t have to worry about this making your job less secure.
Things to consider when relocating to a foreign country
There are multiple things to consider when relocating to a foreign country. Here are some useful immigration resources to begin with:
- Information on the process to secure a Highly Skilled Migrant Visa
- Information about the EU Blue Card for the Netherlands
Below we discuss some of the most important elements:
Consider your visa options
It’s best to confirm with your potential employer on your particular case.
The Highly Skilled Migrant (HSM) Visa for the Netherlands
There are salary thresholds to meet to qualify for the HSM Visa. If you’re under 30 years old, you’ll need to earn above €3,672 gross per month to qualify for the HSM Visa. If you’re over 30, the threshold is €5,008. Vakantiegeld is not included in these amounts, but other bonuses and reimbursements are.
In order to sponsor your HSM Visa, your future employer will need to be registered with the IND, the Dutch government institution for immigration and naturalisation. See this list for registered employers.
The EU Blue Card for the Netherlands
If the EU Blue Card seems like the best option for you, here are requirements you’ll need to meet to qualify:
- You hold a qualification related to your sector of work and you studied towards it for at least three years.
- You have a confirmed employment contract that is valid for at least twelve months.
- You meet the salary threshold of €5,867 per month, not including vakantiegeld.
With this higher salary threshold, applying for an EU Blue Card as a developer with less than ten years of experience may not be the best option. You will be pricing yourself too high against developers that are already based in the Netherlands and won’t require extra support to relocate. In this case, an HSM Visa will help you remain a competitive option for Dutch employers.
The EU Blue Card may have a higher salary threshold than the HSM Visa, but you don’t need to be hired by an employer recognised by the IND. Another benefit is that you can relocate to a different EU member state after working in the Netherlands for 18 months.
Know what you are legally entitled to in an employment contract
To effectively evaluate an offer, you want to understand what you are entitled to in an employment contract by law. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Employees are entitled to 20 working days every year, plus 9 public holidays.
- Probation periods depend on the duration of the contract, but they cannot exceed two months. If the contract is 6 months or less, there’ll be no probation period.
- Notice periods are usually one full calendar month.
- A standard working week is 36-40 hours with a 30-minute lunch break. It may not exceed 60 hours per week.
- Working overtime is not common in the Netherlands, so there are no specific legal regulations. The specifics will depend on the employment contract.
Look into what social events you could join
In this detailed account of a Brazilian national relocating to the Netherlands for a developer job, the author emphasises why it’s important to establish a social network when you relocate:
“Company events and meeting people with common interests weren’t just important for socialising; my new friends helped me with important decisions like finding a good neighbourhood to live in and getting to know the country.”
Here are a few OfferZen articles that will help you find interesting tech events and meetups:
- Amsterdam Meetups with a Global Network
- Amsterdam Meetups with Annual Conferences
- Netherlands Meetups for Women in Tech
- AI and IoT Meetups in the Netherlands
- Top DevOps Meetups in the Netherlands
Find more opportunities to connect with like-minded people on online platforms like Meetup.
What you need to know about relocation costs
Using your research and the benchmarks you’ve set, you will be able to effectively evaluate an employment offer from a Dutch company. However, before you can fully evaluate an offer, you must determine the support you need from the employer to physically relocate.
Relocating to the Netherlands will be a costly process
Booking your flights is just the beginning of the expenses you’ll need to address. Besides finding accommodation in the Netherlands, it may also cost you to leave your current accommodation. It’ll cost you to set up bank, tax and phone accounts when you land, as well as to sign up for medical insurance. Essentially, relocating to the Netherlands will be costly.
Don’t feel shy to be explicit with a hiring manager about what support you’ll need from the employer to relocate.
If a hiring manager confirms they cannot support you, the opportunity won’t be the best fit for your next career move and it’s best to conclude the interviews now. You’ll save yourself time to focus on employers that will be able to support you.
Don’t forget to include your dependents in benchmarking your relocation priorities
If you have dependents, you’ll need to account for the mentioned costs for them too, sometimes alongside other expenses. Nastajia reminds developers to think about what support their dependents will require to relocate:
“Moving a family across the world isn’t easy, and thinking about things such as schools for your kids or a potential job for your partner beforehand is key.”
You need to be upfront about what help you’ll need from your potential employer to relocate and settle in time to begin your new role. Prepare questions to fully understand a company’s relocation support.
Questions you could ask in an interview:
- Do you offer relocation support? If yes, what kind of packages do you offer?
- I will require support with [speak to what you’ll specifically need support with, such as securing visas for, physically relocating your family and securing initial accommodation]. Is this something you could assist me with?
- Do you have more insights on the kind of visa and work permit I’ll need to apply for to relocate for this position?
- Does [company name] employ any external service providers to assist with relocating employees?
- What kind of healthcare coverage will I have in the Netherlands? Will the company provide health insurance or assist me in obtaining coverage?
- What kind of support will I have once I arrive in the Netherlands? Will the company provide a contact person or mentor to help me (and my family) [if relevant] settle in?
- Will I be required to learn Dutch? If yes, will the company provide language training or assistance?
- What would be your preferred timeline for me to relocate and starting date for this position?
If the hiring manager gives you a short timeline for the above question, you can follow up with:
“While I believe that the start date is achievable for me to commence my roles and responsibilities within the company, I do not believe that it will be enough time for me (and my family) [if relevant] to pack up here, relocate and settle in the Netherlands. Could we discuss a remote opportunity in the interim, I estimate that I will be able to relocate to the Netherlands by [give a specific date].”
If you’ve developed a solid connection with a company through the interview process, you’ll likely find they’re willing to negotiate terms to make sure you feel fully supported in relocating to the Netherlands.
A great relocation package helps companies attract and retain talent. If you’re a great fit for the role and the company is able to assist, it’s in their best interest to help you.
Determine what you’ll require to relocate to the Netherlands through research, and then speak specifically to these elements in interview processes with companies to find the best fit for the next step in your career.
If you’d like a compact version of everything you’ll need to prepare when relocating to the Netherlands, download this guide.
- Important Factors to Consider when Relocating to the Netherlands as a Developer
- What It Takes To Be a Senior Developer in the Netherlands
- Top Companies Currently Hiring Developers in the Netherlands
- Top companies currently hiring React developers in the Netherlands
- Top Python Communities in Amsterdam
- How to Benchmark Your Salary Expectations as a Developer in 2023
- How to Approach Your Developer Job Search in 2023’s Hiring Climate in the Netherlands & Germany
- 2023 Netherlands Report: State of the Software Developer Nation