Sometimes, when you move to a new country it’s difficult to know what to do first. When you arrive in Amsterdam there are so many things that you need to do that it can get a little overwhelming and stressful. Figuring it all out can be a nightmare and after getting involved with the HiFx expat campaign, it really got me thinking about how hard it is when you move to another country. Because of that, I wanted to come up with 5 tips for you to make your transition into Amsterdam life that little bit easier.
Register with the local municipalty: This is the first, and most crucial step. Registering with the municipality means you get a BSN number. This number enables you to work, open a bank account and get insured (among many other things), so it’s absolutely key that you do this as soon as possible. If you can, book the appointment before you leave for Amsterdam, because the sooner you have it sorted out, the better.
Start socialising: Getting a new group of friends is really important, especially when you first arrive in a new city. They become your support group, and help you navigate the ins and outs of your new life. There are loads of organisations and social meets where you can meet a whole bunch of people who are in exactly the same boat, especially in Amsterdam.
Sort out your finances and insurance: Yes, it’s boring, but it needs to be done. Open a bank account, transfer your money still in your old accounts across if you need to, and sort out your health insurance. Having health insurance is a legal requirement here, and you don’t want to be without it. Trips to the doctors without it are expensive (I know from experience) and trips to hospital cost even more. If you don’t get it straight away, you will still need to backdate it to your arrival date. It helps if you have a Dutch person to help, because then you can find the best deal, and have some help translating the small print.
Start job hunting: Many recruitment agencies require you to have a BSN number to register (see point one), and it’s difficult to start applying for jobs when you’re not in Amsterdam. All of the recruitment agencies I tried with told me to wait until I was in the Netherlands, which was very frustrating, but that’s just how it was. Note that there are so many different recruitment agencies catering for expats, but I found with media-related jobs, it’s better to apply speculatively, or use linkedin. However, it is different for everyone.
Start learning Dutch: Many people will probably disagree with me on this one, but I really think learning Dutch is one of the best things that you can do, particularly if you want to live here in the long-term. While most people do speak English, you get a much better reception if you try Dutch first. It’s not an easy language to learn, but if you have pereseverance and motivation, you’ll find yourself miles ahead of your expat counterparts.
What do you think? Is there anything else you really need to do when you first arrive in Amsterdam? I would love to hear about them. For more expat tips you can check out the HiFx expat page, which has some really great tips for moving abroad.