Sinterklaas is the best time of the year in the Netherlands…
For most of us, Christmas is the highlight of winter celebrations and traditions. It’s the day kids look forward to and which is surrounded by magic. For grown-ups, it means slowing down and taking a moment away from work to focus on family.
Well, well, well… Dutch people do things differently. Christmas is still happening there (actually they even have a Christmas Eve, First Christmas Day and Second Christmas Day… I keep that for another story), but Sinterklaas feels like it’s so much more important.
Here is everything you should know about the mortgage types in the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands, when contracting a mortgage (if you buy a house for instance) you will be presented with a choice: do you want a linear or annuity mortgage?
Only these two types of mortgages are eligible for the interest tax deduction (renteaftrek) in the Netherlands since 2013.
Know that it’s your tax advisor who will make the mortgage simulations and present you with both options, not your real-estate agent (makelaar).
I will (try to!) precisely explain what both options are, so you can be prepared to choose the best for you!
Because this is a complex topic, let’s first dive into the world of mortgages.
Keep in mind that a mortgage is made of two things:
The loan (debt): the money you need to buy the house.
The interest: the money the bank is asking for in exchange.
A mortgage also has a lifetime: it’s called a term or a maturity date. For instance, if you buy a house, the term or maturity of your mortgage will be 30 years. You will repay your mortgage to the bank within 30 years throughout monthly repayments that include the loan and interest. The mortgage is repaid once the maturity date is reached.
If I buy a house of €300,000 at 2% interest with a term of 30 years, my mortgage will be made of a €300,000 loan for the house, plus €99,189.03 interest (money the bank is making by lending the loan).
The annuities mortgage (annuïteiten hypotheek)
With an annuity mortgage, your monthly repayment (interest + loan) stays the same throughout the entire term.
It means that the amount of money you will pay back to the bank every month will be the same over the lifetime of your mortgage.
If I agree to a mortgage of €300,000 loan for a house with a 2% interest rate over 30 years, I will pay around €1,100 every month for 30 years.
Even if you don’t see it in your monthly repayments, among the total amount paid, the part of interest and loan you are paying back evolves.
At the beginning, you will mainly pay a lot of interest.
As the mortgage progresses, more money will go towards the repayment of the loan.
The linear mortgage (lineaire hypotheek)
With a linear mortgage, your monthly payments are not the same. You pay off the same amount of loan repayment, but not of the interest.
The interest you pay is the highest at the beginning of the mortgage. This means your monthly repayment is pretty high at the beginning at the mortgage. Step by step, the amount of interest you pay is getting lower and your monthly expenses will decrease.
Overall, you will pay less interest compared to an annuities mortgage. The downside of this mortgage is that you pay a high amount in the beginning of the mortgage.
If I agree to a mortgage of €300,000 loan for a house with a 2% interest rate over 30 years with a linear mortgage, I will pay around €1,600 per month at the beginning and the repayment amount will constantly decrease the closer I get to the end of the mortgage maturity.
Which mortgage type is the best?
It’s hard to say, it mainly depends on you and if you have the ressources to start with high monthly repayments or not. As yourself some questions:
Do I want to have the same monthly repayments for 30 years?
Do I need a lot money at the beginning for renovations in the house?
– Monthly repayments are the same all the way through the mortgage duration. – Lower monthly repayments than a linear mortgage at the beginning. – The high amount of interest is tax-deductible, so the net monthly cost is low at the beginning of the mortgage.
– The amount of loan you repay the same through the mortgage. – Your repayment decreases every month which also reduces the interest, so the costs will gradually decrease. – You pay less interest compared to an annuities mortgage.
– You pay more interest compared to a linear mortgage.
– The interest is very high at the beginning of the mortgage, so the costs are high.
Everything you should know about the 30% ruling tax exemption in the Netherlands!
If you are moving to the Netherlands for work, you might be able to apply for the 30% ruling tax advantage.
Don’t miss out on this tax exemption opportunity, if you meet the criteria this will save you a lot of money!
What is the 30% ruling?
The 30% ruling is a tax benefit for expats who move to the Netherlands for work. It is meant to attract highly-skilled workers from abroad.
This tax advantage was introduced as a reimbursement for the costs incurred when relocating to the Netherlands (travel costs, visas, housing…). The main idea behind this initiative is to attract people with skills or an expertise unavailable in the Netherlands.
The 30% ruling falls under the responsibility of the Dutch tax office (Belastingdienst).
What is the benefit of the 30% ruling in the Netherlands?
The 30% ruling enables your employer to pay you 30% of your salary tax-free. It’s a tax exemption.
What does it mean? Well, if you have the 30% ruling, you will only pay tax over 70% of your Dutch salary (gross). Your employer will pay you 30% of your salary as a tax-free allowance.
If you moved to the Netherlands for a new job that pays €60,000 a year (€5,000 a month) and have the 30% ruling, you will:
– Pay taxes on 70% of your salary. You will be taxed on €42,000 a year (€3,500 a month). This will be your taxable income. – Receive a tax-free allowance from your employer of €12,000 per year (€1,500 a month). – It means that every month, instead of receiving €3,365 (income 100% taxed) net you will receive €4,101 (30% ruling).
How long does the 30% ruling last?
It lasts 5 years from the moment you start benefiting from it.
The 30% ruling used to last 8 years. Since January 1st 2019, it has been shortened to 5 years (which still isn’t bad).
The requirements for the 30% ruling
Not every foreigner coming to the Netherlands for work can apply to the 30% ruling. You need to meet certain requirements:
You were recruited outside of the Netherlands (or are sent from another country to the Netherlands);
You work for an employer registered with the Dutch tax office and pays payroll tax;
Your employer and you agree that the 30% ruling is applicable (in writing);
In the 24 months before your first working day in the Netherlands, you lived outside of the Netherlands (at a distance of more than 150 kilometres from the Dutch border) for more than 16 months;
Your salary meets the minimum requirements (yearly taxable income of €38,347 in 2020);
You have an expertise that is not or rarely available in the Netherlands.
Keep in mind that the employer is not obliged to help you get the 30% ruling. Discuss the 30% ruling with any potential employers before you take the job.
The salary requirement for the 30% ruling
You can get the 30% ruling if you have a specific expertise and are considered to possess it if your taxable salary (not including the tax-free allowance) is at least €38,347 in 2020.
If your yearly income is €60,000 and you have the 30% ruling, then your taxable income is 0.3*60,000= €42,000. This is above the minimum of €38,347.
If your yearly income is €40,000 and you have the 30% ruling, then your taxable income is 0.3*40,000= €28,000. This is below the minimum of €38,347. It means you can still benefit from the 30% ruling, but not to the full amount. Your yearly allowance would only be €40,000 – €38,347= €1,653.
You would still benefit from the 30% ruling but not to the full amount.
If you are under 30 and have a Master’s degree, the salary requirement is lower: €29,149 in 2020. Be aware that you might need to get your diploma checked by a third party to certify it is the equivalent of a Dutch Master’s degree.
If you are conducting scientific research at a research institution, you can get the 30% ruling without any salary restrictions.
How to apply to the 30% ruling?
You need permission to apply for the 30% ruling. You and your employer should submit an application that will be reviewed by the Dutch Tax Authority. You will need to provide some information:
passport or valid photo ID;
employment contract or letter from your employer;
your BSN number;
Dutch residence and work permits (if applicable);
proof of residence in another country before being hired;
company details including company tax number;
written agreement stating that both parties have consented to the application for the ruling.
Reviewing the application might take some time (2-4 months), but it is retroactive. It means that if you apply for the 30% ruling in January 2020 and only get it in April 2020, then you will receive some money back from the extra taxes you paid in the months of January, February and March 2020.
Yes. However, if you change jobs, you will have to reapply for the 30% ruling. It’s only if you still meet the conditions and if your new employment contract is signed within three months after termination of the previous that you can still benefit from it.
A list of to-does in Amsterdam. Not touristy things, just good ones!
I’ve been living in Amsterdam since 2018 and am loving this beautiful city. I have listed here all the things you should do in Amsterdam if you or your friends are visiting.
I usually share and use this list with friends or family, but I think you are a reader who deserves to get some good advice about what to do in Amsterdam outside of what touristic companies usually offer.
Again, this is my personal to-does and what I show friends when they come to do Amsterdam. You can also do whatever you feel like!
The must-do: the activities you should not skip in Amsterdam
1. Go for a boat tour on the canals
It sounds touristy and maybe is a little bit, but know that going on a boat tour in Amsterdam is an amazing experience and it will give you a totally different and relaxing view of the city.
You can go for:
A big touristy boat tour
They are totally fine to be honest:More affordable.Covered and heated in the winter.
€25 – €45 per person.
A smaller group tour
Some companies offer boat tours to smaller groups. Sometimes they have a bar on the boat as well.
Depends on the size of the group.
A private tour
You hire a local driver to only take you and your friends.
Around €350* for 2 h. *Depends on the capacity needed for the boat.
You are the driver
You can rent and sail on the canals. You can do it with the Mokumboat company.
€95 for 2 h€120 for 3h€150 for 4h
Tip: if you are visiting in December or January, you might be able to attend the Amsterdam Light Festival. Every year, artists exhibit light sculptures all across the canals in the city center. You can see them with your bike, but the best way to enjoy it is on a boat.
2. Rent bikes to ride around the city
Amsterdam is THE city where you can and should travel by bike. The bike lanes (fietspad) are everywhere and it’s super safe to bike around the whole city.
A fun place to bike towards is NDSM in the North of Amsterdam.
A few tips if you want to bike in Amsterdam:
Make sure your bike has a bell (compulsory by law).
Use bike lights at night (compulsory): a whie one at the front and a red one at the back.
Make sure you have a strong lock because bikes get stolen pretty quickly here.
Price: you can rent a bike for your whole stay with a price of around €15 per day.
3. Enjoy a picnic in a park
If you visit Amsterdam during spring or summer, you will notice something about Dutch people. They will spend all their free time outside at the park. Winters are cold and long here, so whenever the sun is shining there is not time to waste inside!
The parks in Amsterdam are super clean and beautiful. However, it is now forbidden to bbq in them. So if the weather is good, I advise you to take your bike, a blanket, bring some food and drinks, and enjoy!
My favourite parks to chill in Amsterdam are:
Vondelpark (most central and popular)
If you do go for a picnic in a park in Amsterdam, please do not forget to clean before you leave and pick up everything you brought.
4. Attend a concert in Paradiso
If you are a music fan, check out the concerts happening during your stay in Amsterdam. The best concert halls are Melkweg and Paradiso.
Tip: check out if you come during the London Calling Festival. It’s a few days and gives you access to several concerts at Paradiso for a small price.
5. Bike down the Amstel river
This is probably my favourite thing to do in Amsterdam in spring/summer!
The name Amsterdam comes from the Amstel river which waters through the whole city! It is 31 km long and takes you from the business center of Amsterdam (Zuid) down to the countryside and super cutes Dutch villages.
Bring some water and snacks, and bike down the river to enjoy some typical Dutch sceneries! It’s a pretty quiet bike road and is super safe to use.
6. Try local food
This one is pretty obvious, every time you visit a new country or region, you should indulge in its local gastronomy.
Well, for the Netherlands, I don’t know if we can call it gastronomy… but it’s still a must-do!
Here are some typical Dutch food you should try:
Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) on bread and butter for breakfast.
Stamppot (mash potatoes, kate and sausage)
Snert or erwtensoep (pea soup)
Hollandse nieuwe haring (pickled fish)
Kibbeling (fried white fish)
Stroopwafel (caramel waffle)
Poffertjes (small pancakes)
Oliebollen (fried dough ball – can be with raisins – covered in sugar; usually eaten around Christmas)
Appeltaart (apple cake)
Kruidnoten/pepernoten (biscuits; usually eaten around December)
Borrel (bar food)
Bitterballen, kroket (fried food)
Gouda (famous Dutch cheese)
7. Go for a brewery tour
Did you know that Dutchies love beer! 95% of the beers consumed are pilsner style (aka like Heineken beers, the most famous Dutch beer company).
On average a Dutch person will consume 77 litres of beer per year, ranking the Netherlands 14th in the world for beer consumption!!! Not bad :).
There are dozens of breweries in Amsterdam that make their own craft beer. If you like a good and local drink, I suggest you visit them!
Brouwerij ‘t IJ: right under a Dutch windmill, it is one of the oldest breweries in the Netherlands (1985). You can do a 20-min tour of the place for €6.5 per person.
Brouwerij Troost: with three locations in Amsterdam (De Pijp, Oud West and Westergas), you can’t miss it. Since 2011, this brewery is delighting Amsterdamians and visitors with versatile beer taste. You can do a tour for €8 – €25 per person.
Gebrouwen door vrouwen: started in 2013 by two sisters, this brewery is known for producing delicious beers. Just like the name says it, the beers are made by women! They do not offer tours, but the bar is super fun to visit!
Oedipus Brewing: this very colorful brewery is unique. They don’t do tours, but going to this location is like going to a funky art museum. It’s a lot of fun!
8. Walk in the Jordaan and De Pijp
You probably checked up some pictures about Amsterdam and are expecting very long, gorgeous, red-bricked and full of windows houses! It’s true, it looks like that, but the best spots to admire typical Dutch architecture are in Jordaan and De Pijp.
These are beautiful neighbourhoods where you can get lost and wander around with a melting ice-cream.
9. Do some funky shopping in the Negen straatjes (nine streets)
Right outside of the Jordaan area are the Negen straatjes. These are tiny shopping alleys with funky, artisanal and unique shops.
10. Play Geocache to discover unique spots in Amsterdam
Okay, now this is nerdy me talking! Do you know the app Geocaching? It’s a free app I use when I travel.
The concept is simple: Geocaching is like treasure-hunting. The app uses your location to show you hidden geocaches (treasures) closeby. The goal is to find the little treasures and log them into the app. Don’t get it wrong, you will look for actual treasures (not digital) like a little box with a paper sheet on which you can write your pseudo.
Why is it nice to geocache when visiting a new place?
Well, it’s pretty simple! The geocaches are placed by locals in areas of interest. By treasure-hunting the geocaches, you will walk (or bike) through neighbourhoods that tourists usually don’t go to but where locals live. Every geocache has a story (usually related to its location) and that story is described in the app.
It’s a super nice activity to do if you just want to get lost or walk around, or if you are with children in need of an outdoor activity!
(and yes, I placed a geocache in my neighborhood – Bluebanddorp! – go find it)
11. Smoke weed and/or have a space cake at the Bulldog coffee shop (+18)
If you are under 18 or visiting with young children, skip this!
This is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are coming to Amsterdam for the first time you should know that marijuana is legal in the Netherlands and for many people it is a must-try.
When my friends do visit, I like taking them for a smoke or a space cake just for fun.
12. Walk through the Red Light District at night (+18)
Again, if you are under 18 or visiting with young children, skip this!
You should also know that prostitution is legal in the Netherlands. However, I have never seen much of it in the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam in the Red Light District.
If you are visiting Amsterdam for the first time, it is kind of an area you will probably like to see just because it is so unique. Also, the architecture in this area is super beautiful and the streets are really cute.
When walking in this part of town, you will be surrounded by sex shops promoting the newest toys, coffee shops selling pot, lightly-dressed sex workers trying to attract customers from their window, colorful lights reflecting on the canals’ water… it’s a unique scenery!
Tips: do not bike through this part of town, it’s super crowded and the streets are tiny. You should also know that is is forbidden to take pictures of the sex workers at the windows, so please respect this.
13. Go fruit picking in Amsterdam
This one is for nature lovers! If you are spending quite some time in Amsterdam and are getting tired of the city, know that you can escape and meet ‘real’ Dutch people!
In Amsterdam, you can go fruit picking directly from the farmer’s field. The Fruit Tuin van West is a farm open from Tuesday to Sunday (10:30am-6pm) in the West of Amsterdam (you can easily go there by bike).
Go there and pick up some fruits directly from the field!!! You can check up what’s up for pick here and will pay per weight.
You can also go there to enjoy a nice coffee, relax and have a look at their organic shop on-site.
14. Bike to Lisse to see the tulip fields (April-May)
This tip is time-sensitive! Unfortunately, the famous Dutch tulips are not blooming all year long (Daaaa!). You can only admire them in April-May.
Instead of going to Keukenhof (which is super expensive), know that you can go there by bike. It’s quite a ride from Amsterdam to Lisse (33 km), but if you are a rider and brought your race bike with you it’s the place to go.
You can freely bike by the tulip fields and it’s just gorgeous.
If you are not much of a biker, you can easily take the train from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Lisse.
15. Take the train to Haarlem
If you are staying a full week in Amsterdam and are a bit tired of the city vibe (and weed smell depending on where you are staying), I advise you to go visit another cute Dutch city!
The closest one is Haarlem. It’s only a 15 min train ride from Amsterdam Centraal station. The city has a very cute Dutch vibe and the historic center is gorgeous.
A must-do is to go to Jopenkerk, a bar in a church. It’s a bit touristy, but the beer is really good and the vibe is unique.
The Museums worth visiting in Amsterdam
Know that the main museums in Amsterdam are located at Museumplein (make sense right?). Even if you are not a huge museum fan, go there! The architecture is beautiful and there is a big park where you can chill.
Van Gogh Museum: do I need to explain this?!
Rijksmuseum: this is probably one of the most famous museums in Amsterdam. You can not miss the building. It is about art, crafts and Dutch history – mainly about paintings!
Stedelijk Museum: this one has a funny look. It’s in the shape of a bathtub (yes!) and is about modern art.
Other cool ones:
Hermitage museum: this one is about Russian history.
Scheepvaart museum: it’s a museum about maritime history.
DO NOT MISS MUSEUMNACHT
A little extra for you: every year there is Museumnacht (museum night).
To me, it’s one of the best nights of the year and usually happens the first week of November (Nov 7th 2020).
You just need to buy a ticket and that night you will be able to visit all the museums in Amsterdam (from 7pm to 2am).
Wait, the best part is this: it’s not just about visiting a quiet museum at night, NO! It’s having a PARTY in a museum at night!!! All the museums will have activities, special decorations, live music, DJs … and they will offer food and drinks to consume on-site!!! If you are in Amsterdam at that time, get a ticket (and do it early because every year it’s sold out).
Markets to visit in Amsterdam
If you like local food and activities, go to a market! It’s much cheaper than going to a restaurant for lunch in the city.
Here are some I highly recommend:
Sunday market: every first sunday of the month from 12pm to 6pm. Check the location on their website.
Pure markt: every sunday from 11am to 5pm at different locations.
Ten katemarkt: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm at Ten Katestraat, Stadsdeel Oud – West in Amsterdam.
IJ-Hallen: This Flea market in the North of Amsterdam is a must-see. Check out their calendar for more info.
Albert Cuypmarkt: from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm (always at the same location – Albert Cuypstraat, 1073BD Amsterdam).
Delicious takeaways in Amsterdam
Here are some personal tips for takeaways:
Toko sinar mas (indo, good to bring to Vondelpark)
My go-to restaurants in Amsterdam
A nice place to try out first is Foodhalen, it’s located in an old train station and features many food booths!
Tonton (Bar food)
Puri mas (Indonesian)
De Kas (fancy)
Madam (Fancy, with a nice view of the city)
Febo (Fast food)
Fou fow (Ramen)
Ramen ya (Ramen)
Restaurant De Waaghals (high end vege in (De Pijp)
Madam in the Amsterdam Tower (cocktails with a view)
Best patisserie place in Amsterdam
The best patisserie place in Amsterdam is definitely Linnik!!! I am French and can tell you they offer THE BEST patisserie, chocolates and macaron here. The place is located close to the West entrance of Vondelpark and the owners are super nice.
Being French, I was used to having access to a super nice healthcare system my whole life. When I moved to the Netherlands, I was a bit surprised to find out that the Dutch healthcare system (zorgverzekering) is soooo unique.
You might have a very different experience of healthcare based on where you are from, so I am going to give you a whole tour on how the Dutch healthcare system works.
How does the Dutch healthcare system work?
You have to know that it is compulsory to have a Dutch health insurance when you move to the Netherlands. You need to have at least basic insurance (basisverzekering).
The state offers mandatory health insurance that it funds but which is managed by private insurance companies. There are many different health insurance providers.
You will pay a monthly fee (or you can choose to pay everything at once for the year) for the health insurance. The cost depends on your provider, as well as the coverage options you choose.
For example, you can choose an insurer that provides you with the ability to attend any hospital or a cheaper insurer which stipulates which hospitals you can go to if you want to be covered.
Every insurance will have the ‘own risk’ (eigen risico) feature. It is the maximum amount you will be charged if you incur healthcare costs. It is annually determined by the Dutch government. In 2020, the minimum own risk is €385 but it can go up to €885 if you want to lower your monthly insurance fee. The own risk is valid for the entire year.
When you incur medical costs, you will have to pay your ‘own risk’ amount yourself. The insurer pays only the costs above this amount. If you have paid your own risk in full for the year and are still incurring other healthcare costs, your insurer will pay for the additional costs.
For instance, if your own risk for 2020 is €385 (also without additional coverage options) and you get a hospital bill of €500, you will have to pay €385 from your pocket and your insurance will pay the rest. If later the same year you receive another hospital bill of €200, your insurance will pay for the full €200 because you already reached your maximum own risk with the previous bill. If later that year you need to go to the dentist, you will have to pay the costs yourself.
When do you have to pay your own risk?
You have to pay your own risk for:
Ambulance transportation costs
You do not have to pay your own risk for (these are free):
Visits to your GP
Obstetrics and maternity care
Children under 18
Home care aids
Additional insurance (aanvullende verzekeringen)
However, know that the basic insurance does not cover all types of costs. You can choose additional insurance (aanvullende verzekeringen) options if you want a broader coverage: dental treatment, glasses or contact lenses, …
If you choose additional insurances (dentistry, vaccines, contraception…), then your insurance will cover the full costs without you having to pay your own risk.
When can I change my insurance provider?
Once a year, around December, you have the possibility to change your health insurance provider. This enables you to change your own risk and options, thus your coverage according to your medical needs or forecast for the next year.
For instance, you can pick an insurance that covers contraception or dentistry if you know that next year you will need these services.
What to do if you get ill in the Netherlands?
If you need medical assistance, you first need to visit your general practitioner (huisarts). He/she then decides to send you to a specialist or the hospital if needed.
For medicines, you need a prescription from your GP. Then, you can collect what you need from your local pharmacy (apotheek).
How can I register for healthcare in the netherlands?
First, you will need to register with your local council (gemeente) to get a citizen service number (it’s called a BSN – Burgerservicenummer). You need this number for most things in the Netherlands, so it’s usually the first thing to get when you move there.
Then you have to choose a health insurance provider. You can easily do this online.
Finally, you will need to register with a local general practitioner (huisarts).
Tip: I advise you to Google the GPs around your neighbourhood, look at their reviews (no one wants a badly-rated doctor!) and then call them to see if they still accept new registrations. If yes, you will be able to register online or directly at the doctor’s practice.
If you stop working or if you leave the Netherlands, do not forget to change/cancel your health insurance.
Do I need health insurance in the Netherlands?
Yes. If you are working or living in the Netherlands, a Dutch health insurance is compulsory.
If you do not get health insurance within 3-month of your arrival and registration, you might get a warning letter from the CAK about your insurance obligation and could get a fine of €400 if you still do not get one.
What about students?
For students, it’s different and depends on different situations.
If you are just studying in the Netherlands, you do not legally need a Dutch health insurance. However, be sure to have health insurance from your home country that can cover medical costs if needed.
For students from the EU, you can get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to cover for your necessary medical costs during your stay.
If you are a student doing an internship and are paid at least the Dutch minimum wage, you have to get health insurance.
If you are a student with a part-time job (or just working), you also have to get health insurance.
If you are an international student and want/need to work on the side, you have to get health insurance. No worries, you can also apply for a health care subsidy (zorgtoeslag) via the Dutch Tax Office (Belastingdienst).
How much does healthcare cost in the Netherlands ?
Visits to your local doctor (huisarts) are free. For everything else, it depends on the health insurance you picked and your situation (working or studying).
When you choose your health insurance, you have the choice between a LOT of options. What you choose will determine the monthly cost of your insurance and what you have to pay for medical costs later on.
Know that sometimes, the company you are working for could have discounts with one of the health insurance providers available (KLM does).
Consider that your monthly fee can vary from €100 to way more!
What is the cheapest option?
At first sight, the cheapest option is around €100 in 2020, but it’s not always the cheapest in the end. I can tell you this because that’s what I chose for my first two years of living in the Netherlands, and I will not do it again.
I am young, sporty and have a healthy diet. In France, as an adult, I never had to go to the hospital and never had any health issues except for a seasonal cold here and there. So naturally, I was expecting not to need much health coverage.
So I chose the health insurance with the lowest monthly cost (it was around €90 in 2018) and thus the highest own risk amount I could have: €885.
This meant that if in that year I had to go to the hospital and received a bill (they are HUGE by the way), then I would have to pay for the first €885 and the rest would be paid for by my insurance. It also meant that for my next hospital visits of that year, the insurance would pay because I would have reached my own risk for the year anyway.
Well, you guessed it. Two years in a row this happened to me. I was sent to the hospital by my doctor and ended up paying my full own risk. From year three, I decided to go with a more expensive insurance (€110 a month) with a lower ‘own risk’ (€385) and it was worth it because I ended up at the hospital (again!), but at least I only had to pay €385 this time.
So in the end, the cheapest monthly fee might not lead to the overall cheapest option. Make sure to be aware of this.
How to choose a health insurance provider in the Netherlands ?
Well, this depends on:
Your situation (employee, student…)
Your affinity with risk
Your healthcare needs
What I (and probably most people living in the Netherlands) do, is use Independenter to compare all the options and make a decision.
First, you need to choose your own risk (eigen risico). You have several options (these are for 2020):
The higher the own risk, the cheaper the monthly insurance cost is but the riskiest it is if you get sick. So the €885 own risk option will lead to a cheap monthly fee, but you will have to pay that own risk if you go to the hospital.
Then you need to select options you want your insurance to cover as well (fysiotherapy, pregnancy, contraception, dentistry…). At the end, you will be offered with different providers and their monthly costs so you can choose.
I advise you to keep track of your medical needs and forecast them, so you know which options to choose from.
I am going to explain to you why we didn’t and what they actually do (and not).
Disclaimer: I don’t have much information about the role of a makelaar in the selling process of a property (verkoopmakelaar). This article is mainly about aankoopmakelaar for expats looking to buy a place and wondering if they need such help.
What is a makelaar?
A makelaar is the term used in the Netherlands for a real-estate agent. He/she is there to guide you in the buying process.
In the Netherlands, know that there is no certification or diploma needed if you want to become a makelaar. It’s a bit of an unregulated profession.
What does a makelaar do?
An aankoopmakelaar is an advisor and guide when it comes to buying property.
He can help you find your dream property or can help you in the buying process after you have already found it.
He is there to conduct the negotiations on your behalf with the makelaar of the seller: he will advise you on your bid and be your point of contact with the seller.
His job is mainly informative: to advise you and answer all your questions.
How much does it cost to hire a makelaar?
Well, that’s the thing with a makelaar… it’s expensive!!!
Most makelaars will take a commission that amounts to 2% of the price you will pay for the property. That’s a lot of money!!!! It is as much as the cost of the transfer tax you have to pay and you have to pay it at the same time.
If you are paying €200,000 for a house, you will have to pay €4,000 to your makelaar.
It is usually debited from the 10% deposit you sent to the notary.
Sometimes, the cost can be decided in advance and be a fixed price. It is generally around €3,000-€5,000.
Do you need the help of a makelaar when buying a place?
You have to ask yourself a few questions to decide if you do need the help of a makelaar to buy property or not.
How much do you know about the buying process of property in the Netherlands?
How good is your Dutch?
How much time can you spare with getting informed?
How well do you deal with stress?
Where do you plan on buying property?
How much money can you spend on extra costs?
In my case, I was lucky enough to have a Ducth boyfriend who could deal with Dutch documents and go through information online. If your Dutch is B1-B2, this should not be much of an issue. If you struggle with Dutch, you can always ask a friend or read my article about the buying process.
After discussing with friends who used a makelaar, the main advantage of hiring one was this: makelaars have your back and a network.
This means that your makelaar will aggressively negotiate and defend your bid.
They can let each other know about the bids on a property to help some buyers do an overbid and get the property in the end.
They can also match buyers and sellers before the property even goes on the market.
Example: Makelaar 1 knows Makelaar 2. Makelaar 1 is selling a house that would be perfect for the buyer A of Makelaar 2. Instead of publishing the house on Funda.nl, the makelaars will offer to buyer A to visit the house in advance and advise him on the bid to make (the money the seller wants). Voila! Done deal.
With our research and after talking to A LOT of people about hiring a makelaar, we decided it was not worth it and in the end I really stand behind this statement. It took us a lot of time to do the research, but we learnt a lot and it made us smarter in our buying process.
Here is a clear guide about buying a house or an apartment in the Netherlands.
Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to become a property owner in the Netherlands (and I can understand why!!!).
Renting is only good on the short term, like if you are in the Netherlands for 1 or 2 years maximum. If you know you will be there for +5 years, do NOT waste your money on rent and invest in real-estate.
That’s what happened to my boyfriend and I in 2019. The article below is based on our personal experience and the challenges we faced. We (🇫🇷 and 🇳🇱) bought a tiny house in Amsterdam without a makelaar and went through the whole process ourselves.
I also made a ‘vocabulary cheat sheet‘ for you. It contains the main key words that will be used in the article (and probably your research), as well as their English translation.
If you have additional questions that are not answered in this article, please drop them in the comment section and I will try to answer them.
What are the steps to follow to buy property in the Netherlands?
1. Know your budget
The first thing to do is to know how much you can borrow from the bank. This is based on your income (and your partner’s if you are buying together).
Also look at your savings! How much extra could you go over the mortgage if needed? Do you have enough money to pay for the costs of buying a house or an apartment (I will explain below)?
2. Know what you want (location, type of property…)
Before you start looking for properties, going for viewings and so on… WAIT! No need to waste your time. Sit down, think and write down what are your must and desired features for the property.
Decide on an area you would like to live in:
5 min. bike ride from work
Within the ring
Close to a park
Close to your favourite gym
Close to a school…
Then you can to make a list of things you want your place to be like or have:
House or apartment
Between X and Y sqm
1 or more bedrooms
New or to be renovated…
Put all these in an Excel spreadsheet and colour-code it or label it with “Must have”, “Would be nice”…
Would be nice
Within the ring
Extra guest room/office
3. Start looking for places on Funda.nl
Download the Funda app and use the info above as a filter. I advise you to only tick the option « published in the last 24h » and check the results everyday. If you find an interesting property, directly call for a viewing.
Know that a lot of places are listed on Saturdays and that most places that have been on Funda for 1-2 weeks are probably already sold or might have something wrong.
4. THE viewing
Awesome, you found a place you like on paper, called the agency and made an appointment for a viewing. Sooo exciting!!!
Be aware: manage your expectations! I know sometimes it feels like THIS ONE is THE ONE, but you have go to the viewing with the mind of a harsh critique. Remember that you will be in debt for a long, LOOOONG time (30 years!), so do not make concessions. Also, be aware of the “bidding war” going on in certain cities of the Netherlands like Amsterdam. Even if you make a very good bid, your dream property might be sold to a wealthier person who made a better offer. I know it sucks and I cried when my first bid was not accepted for our dream apartment, but it’s what it is and in the end we ended up buying a place we love 100 times better. So no regrets!
Tips the viewing:
Do your homework: research the cost of a similar place in the same area. You can use Funda Verkocht for that. It will give you a feel of the value of the property in the neighbourhood, also if it is going up or down.
Expect to be with a lot of potential buyers at the same time during the viewing (some even bring their makelaar). It can be overwhelming, but it’s also a strategy to put pressure on the bidders (you will place a higher bid to beat the other offers if there are many people interested and you REALLY want the place).
Stay close to the makelaar of the seller and ask many questions!!!!!! Like:
When is the place available for move in?
Are there bids/offers already? What are they (approximately)?
When is the deadline for the bid?
Can you send me additional docs via email?
Did you do a taxatie report (valuation) for the house? How much was it?
How much money do the seller want exactly (very important)?
If you are not speaking Dutch, bring a friend who does. Sometimes it’s super helpful as other people ask also interesting questions or some makelaars are not so willing to translate everything.
5. Making a bid (bod)
You like the place and want it? Here is how to make a bid.
There are two options: 1. If there is a deadline for the bid: The makelaar of the seller will probably email you a link you need to use to make your bid.
2. If there is no deadline for the bid: You can just send an email to the makelaar of the seller with your offer.
Sometimes you can just pick a form during the viewing. You can fill it in with your bid and then give it (or email it) to the makelaar of the seller.
What to put in your bid:
The price you are offering for the property (what you are willing to pay for it).
Always put the following some dissolving clauses (ontbindende voorwaarden) to protect yourself when you bid.
Reservation of sale of own home (voorbehoud verkoop eigen woning)
This states your offer if valid if you are able to sale your own home.
Subject to constructional inspection (voorbehoud bouwkundige keuring)
If you buy an old house, you can conduct an inspection to make sure everything is fine.
Under the condition of financing (voorbehoud van financiering)
In English: “I bid €200,000under the condition I get the mortgage for €190,000 within 8 weeks after the signature of the buying agreement”.
In Dutch: “onder voorbehoud van de financiering van €190,000 binnen 8 weken na ter hand stellen van de koopovereenkomst”.
If you do not have this clause and end up not getting the mortgage you can get a fine (10% of the price).
Know that some people can and will place a bid without this clause to be more attractive to the seller. Still, I find it very risky and advise you not to do so.
The date at which you would like to move in.
I advise you to just say: move in date in accordance with the seller.
That you will have the choice of notary (if possible).
In Dutch write: “Keuze notaris: aan de koper.”
Example of a written bid in Dutch:
Amsterdam, 15 maart 2019 Betreft: Bod Prikkerstraat 115, Amsterdam
Op 14 maart 2019 hebben wij voor de eerste keer uw woning bezichtigd. Het gaat om de woning aan de Prikkerstraat 115, Amsterdam. Wij hebben besloten om een bod uit te brengen van €200,000 (zegge tweehonderdduizend euro) kosten koper.
Dit bod geldt onder de volgende ontbindende voorwaarden: – Onder voorbehoud van de financiering van €190,000 binnen 8 weken na ter hand stellen van de koopovereenkomst. – Oplevering: voor 1 augustus 2019. – Keuze notaris: aan de koper.
Wij horen graag van u. Met vriendelijke groet, SIGNATURE
My tips for you:
Know the asking price is never what you can bid. Be aware of how much extra you can put (your savings).
If there is a deadline, put your bid 5 min before it expires. Otherwise, some makelaars share the amount of the highest bid with others so they can overbid.
You can add more details: that you want to move in at a certain date, that there is some furniture you want to keep… but know the more you add the less easy you get the place because other people bid with less restrictions.
If it’s accepted you get a buying agreement (koopovereenkomst) to sign with the seller. You have 3 days to pull out.
6. Get financial advice
The hardest was done!!! Now, what’s next? In the Netherlands, you need to have financial advice to buy property.
You can use an independent advisor or an advisor from a big bank directly.
The one at the big bank (ING, Rabo, ABN AMRO) will help you get a mortgage at this bank.
If you choose an independent advisor, he will look at different (smaller) banks and the different interest rates so you can choose.
Your financial advisor will be the one asking you all the documents you need and dealing with the bank for you. He will also advise you on the different types of insurance you might want to get.
7. The valuation report (taxatie)
This is a document the financial advisor will ask you because it determines the value of the property you are buying and thus the amount you can borrow from the bank. It is done by a third (independent) party.
IMPORTANT: in the Netherlands, you can only borrow up to 100% of the value of the property which is determined by the taxatie report.
This value is calculated based on the neighborhood and similar properties sold. It’s the taxatie report which will tell you how much you can borrow from the bank. If it’s less than the money you bid, you will have to pay the difference yourself (from your savings).
You bid €200,000 under the condition €190,000 gets financed by a bank through a mortgage. You already know you will have to pay the extra €10,000 from your pocket.
However, if the taxatie report shows the value of the property is only €180,000 then you can only borrow that amount and have to pay the extra €20,000 yourself. If you do not have that money, you can pull out from the agreement thanks to the financiering condition you put in your bid and the buying agreement.
It could also be that the taxatie report is €200,000, which means you will be able to borrow more than you thought (if you can in accordance to your income of course).
There are exceptions for how much you can borrow:
+2% if you want to make your house more eco-friendly.
You can have a bigger mortgage if you plan to renovate the place.
The report takes 1-2 weeks to be produced and then you need to send it to your financial advisor for him to build your file for the bank.
8. Find a notary and pay the deposit
This step is pretty easy: you can look online for notaries and their rates.
Be aware that if you are not a Dutch citizen (or your partner is not) you will need to pay a translator to come to the notary with you and translate the act of property.
Once you have found a notary with a good price, you have to transfer a deposit to their office. It amounts to 10% of the price you are paying for the property.
My bid is €200,000, so the deposit I need to send to the notary is €20,000.
All the extra costs (costs not included in the mortgage from the bank) will be deducted from this deposit.
If you do not have that money, you can ask your bank to edit a document for you that you can send to the notary instead. It’s called a bank guarantee and will add some fees.
9. Get the mortgage from the bank
This is basically done by your financial advisor. You only need to send him/her some documents he/she needs and choose the type of mortgage you want.
Make sure you get the mortgage within the time you indicated in your bid and the buying agreement (always put minimum 8 weeks).
10. Get the place!!!
This is IT! After months of looking and weeks of stressing out about every single step, this is the moment you get the keys: D-DAY.
So what exactly happens now?
Well, first you will go to your future home and do a last inspection.
If everything is in order, you will go to the notary with the seller and sign some paperwork.
The deed of transfer (akte van levering).
The mortgage agreement (hypotheekakte).
That’s it! You get the keys and the house is yours. It will be registered in the Kadaster (Dutch Cadastre, Land Registry and national mapping agency in the Netherlands) under your name.
What are all the costs of buying a property in the Netherlands?
With costs, I mean the costs outside of the money you borrow from the bank (your mortgage).
Know that a lot of the extra costs are tax deductible, so keep the receipt!!!
The money bid over the valuation
Depends on your bid.
Ex: If asking price is €200,000 and you bid €220,000, but the valuation is €210,000, the you have to pay the €10,000 difference yourself.
The taxatie report (valuation of the property)
It’s around 400€.
A professional house inspection (facultative)
It’s around 800€.
The transfer tax
It is 2% of purchasing price of the property
To be paid via the notary
From April 1st 2021, first-time buyers between 18 and 35 will not have to pay this transfer tax.
Ex: I bid €220,000, my transfer tax will be €4,400
The makelaar (if you have one)
Around 2% of the price of the property
It’s around €1,000-2,000
The financial advisor
The bank guarantee for the deposit (facultative)
It’s either money from your savings (no administration costs) or you can pay your bank to give you an official document for it called a bank guarantee.
It costs around €300.
A translator at the notary if you are not Dutch
Sometimes your notary can arrange it for you.
These costs do vary a lot depending on what you bid, if you hired a makelaar or not and the price of the property.
I would say plan on spending between €10,000 – €14,000 for these costs.
What documents do I need through the process?
You will need to send a bunch of documents to the different parties involved with the process.
Simulation from financial advisor
Werkgeversverklaring if you do not have a permanent contract
If you have a temporary contract you have to ask your employer to give you this document. It is valid 3 months and declares that if your performance stays the same your employer has no reason not to renew your contract.
Your bank statements
From other parties:
The buying agreement (koopovereenkomst).
The valuation report (taxatie report).
Is a makelaar worth it?
A makelaar is a like a real-estate agent. He/she is there to guide you in the buying process.