Help! I have to move to Haarlem, Netherlands from the UK in 4 weeks.
October 1, 2009 4:02 AM   Subscribe

Sudden move from the UK to Haarlem, Nederlands in 5 weeks. I have a couple of questions... (more inside)

Hello. Mrs Gonzo_ID has jot a job in Amsterdam and so the family need to move over ASAP. We've decided on Haarlem as it should be cheaper than Amsterdam. I have some questions:

1. Can anybody Recommend a good housing rental agency for expats in Haarlem?

2. We have a kid (<12m) and so where do I start looking for Nursery / Nanny / Au Pair? Any recommendations?

2. Anybody been to Haarlem and can give recommendations for Dutch language classes, tai chi classes, rowing club, gym ikea, etc...

3. I'm a freelance designer and so will have to adjust to Dutch clients. Whats my status according to UK National Insurance and Dutch tax? Where do I initially search to find out about expat tax, running business in Holland, banking, etc... sorry it is vague but I'm not sure where to begin.

4. General advice on how an english person can survive in the Netherlands. I'm going to learn Dutch, buy a bicycle, and wet weather gear to walk the dog. Is there anything REALLY OBVIOUS that I am missing.

Many thanks. Apologies if it is a bit vague, but we only found out yesterday and so we're right in the beginning stages.
posted by gonzo_ID to Travel & Transportation around Haarlem, The Netherlands (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Congratulations, Haarlem is a wonderful place. When I lived in Den Haag there was an expat office attached to the Town Hall, perhaps there is also one in Haarlem (or Amsterdam) and they can answer many of your questions about tax and expat life.

1. is the main real estate site for the Netherlands. All the agencies here are licensed. They have a weird system where you are supposed to only register with one or two agencies as almost everything is cross-listed at multiple agencies. So just pick one that has lots of listings in your price range, don't let them talk you into paying over your budget (though they will try).

3. Banks charge annual fees and you can't join until you have your BSN (see below).

4. One of the first thing on your agenda will be to register with the Gemeente (GBA) as new residents. After three months you are supposed to then go through a formal residence procedure (supposed to - EU law says there is no recourse if you don't, so I didn't). The GBA generates your burgerservicenummer (BSN social security).

Get a discount pass for the railways if you will be travelling a lot.

Otherwise, have a great adventure! I loved living in the Netherlands and happily I still get to visit often. :)
posted by wingless_angel at 4:12 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

You need Access, they will help you with everything. Everything!
posted by different at 4:16 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

3. [...] Where do I initially search to find out about expat tax, running business in Holland, banking, etc... sorry it is vague but I'm not sure where to begin.

The Dutch chambers of commerce, called Kamer van Koophandel, have an English site with information about this. You'd need to register there anyway, for a small yearly fee.
posted by ijsbrand at 4:48 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've heard nothing but good things about Haarlem.

The Dutch tax authority is called Belastingdienst. There's quite a bit of English information on their Web site, but they are quite restrictive about how much they will help English speakers over the phone (not sure about in-person).

The IND site is also helpful. That's the immigration service, but of course they're much happier dealing with foreigners. :)

There are quite a few ex-pat-oriented firms in and around Amsterdam to help with taxes and other legal issues. Expatax is one.

To get a bank account, you must have a burgerservicenummer (BSN, formerly called a sofi number). You can't do much without a BSN. The tax authority used to issue them, apparently, but now they are issued when you register with your gemeente (uh, city hall, sort of). You have to register with the gemeente as soon as you have a lease for a house or apartment. So be prepared to use a non-Dutch bank account for a while.

ABN Amro has online banking in English. The other big banks, like Rabobank and ING, might, also -- I'm not sure.

You can survive without speaking Dutch, especially living in someplace urban like Haarlem. Don't expect much signage or information to be readily available in English, though. But you can manage buying groceries, going to the doctor, etc. Just get used to uncomfortable social interactions. Protip: you can ask "spreekt u engels?" to ask if someone speaks English, if you feel weird or rude just starting out speaking English to a stranger (personally, I do).

Get the gTranslate Firefox add-on. Very helpful.

I don't know if you've been to the NL before, but check out the NS Web site to learn about the trains. Haarlem apparently uses Connexxion buses, so you'll be able to find information about them, too.

Also, check your MeFiMail. :)
posted by transporter accident amy at 6:19 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ikea ... there is a big one in Haarlem.
posted by jannw at 6:45 AM on October 1, 2009

I would give my eye teeth to be in your situation! If Mutant does not drop into this thread, send him an email -- he lives in the UK, but his wife is Dutch and I believe he has a residence there as well.
posted by Houstonian at 6:46 AM on October 1, 2009

If Mrs Gonzo_ID moves here for the job, make sure to check if the 30% ruling applies. That's 30% of her income tax free for x years, which is tons of money, and it's hard to do if you try to push for it later. This can be worth ten thousands of euro. Pressure her employer (doesn't cost them, they just need to shuffle some papers) and do whatever it takes to get it.
posted by dhoe at 6:52 AM on October 1, 2009

When you're walking down the street and you hear "ring ring" behind you, move out of the way as you're about to be run down by a bicycle. That was the first thing I learned.
posted by Area Control at 9:47 AM on October 1, 2009

I'm afraid Mr Mutant and I may not be of much help here as our main residence is in the UK and our NL residence is in Almere.

As mentioned before it is important to be registered in the GBA database. Try to get collective health insurance with Mrs Gonzo_ID employer (mandatory if you plan to stay > 3 years).

You are likely to face a waiting list for a nursery although this website is suggesting there may be room on Wednesdays and Fridays in certain centers Child care Haarlem. Only Dutch I'm afraid but they have a phone number: 00-31-23-5123920. The employer may be able to help.

Check out IND

You may still have to report to the Vreemdelingendienst (Aliens police unit) after your registration in GBA. They are stricter and more bureaucratic in the Netherlands compared to the UK. Bring birth and marriage certificates.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 12:32 PM on October 1, 2009

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