App Development in The Netherlands is booming business! So much so that HR-departmenst of app-agencies are having difficulties keeping up with the growth of the industry, resulting in lots of vacancies and not enough highly skilled, experienced app-developers to fill all these positions. App developers from outside of The Netherlands have noticed this too: not only are there plenty of interesting jobs available, the Dutch standard of living and labour circumstances are very attractive too! Employers sometimes get overwhelmed by all the attention they are receiving from applicants from all over the world. That is why it is critical to makes sure that your application stands out from the crowd and that you are up-to-date with all the possibilities and requirements of working in The Netherlands as a non-EU citizen. What is important to know about the (working) culture, which visa's are available and what is a realistic salary range? In this blog, we'll talk about these and 5 other tips to start working in The Netherlands. We hope it helps you prepare for your big move to The Lowlands. Let's dive right in!
1. First Things First: Visa Requirements for The Netherlands
Let's get the difficult stuff out of the way first. For employees from outside of the EU there are a number of options to acquire a Dutch working Visa or residence permit. Here is a short overview of the most common visa's and the requirements you need to be eligible for them, you can click on the Visa name to go to the IND page with more detailed information in English:
- This visa is meant for non-EU residents only. Applicants can not have an EU/EEA or Swiss nationality
- Employer has to be registered with the IND (Dutch immigration authorities) as a visa sponsor
- Employer has to offer an employment contract with a minimum duration of 3 months
- Salary requirements are as follows (gross, holiday alowance excluded):
- €4,752 p/m (if you are 30 years or older)
- €3,484 p/m (if you are under 30 years)
- €2,497 p/w (reduced criterion - for applicants that have an orientation visa after graduating from a Dutch university)
- Similar to the Dutch Highly Skilled Migrant Visa, but with more strict requirements and added flexibility regarding country of residence
- Only valid for non-EU/EEA, non-Swiss nationalities
- Applicant must have a master's degree
- Employer must offer an employment contract of at least 1 year
- The salary requirement is significantly higher: €5,567 gross p/m excluding holiday allowance
- Combination of a working permit and a residence permit, it is usually used for seasonal workers, students and transfers within an international company
- Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationalities only
- Easier to obtain than the previous two visa-options due to lower salary requirements
- Employer has to be registered with the IND as sponsor
- Employer has to show sufficient efforts (at least 5 weeks) to fill the vacancy within the EU
- Salary requirements: any salary that enables the employer to pay a minimum of €1,684.80 gross p/m in social premiums.
Thinking of taking the hard route? If you want to work and stay in The Netherlands as a self employed person? There is a visa for that too, although the requirements are quite steep and you need to have worked in the Netherlands for the previous 12 months at least. Let's take a look:
- The visa is valid for 2 years
- The RVO (Dutch Enterprise Agency) will determine if your endeavours will have a net positive effect on the Dutch economy via a point-based system with 3 criteria. you need at least 90 points (30 per criteria) from a possible 300 points to be eligible
- Experience: applicants are required to hand in documents showing their educational and professional qualifications. You will also need a proof of income over the past 12 months
- Business plan: You need to be registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK) and hand in a business plan containing a financial and commercial outline of the business and a thorough market analyses
- Added value: You must be able to show that your idea is original, that is different from existing businesses in the Dutch market and that your business has growth potential and employement potential within 1/1,5 years
- Freelancers will also have to rpoff they have at least one assignment commisioned assignment in The Netherlands
Ok. Now that's cleared up and out of the way, let's take a look at the next steps in the process: actually applying for jobs!
2. Be prepared!
A perfect CV
Like we said at the start: Dutch app-agencies recieve a healthy dose of applications from outside of the EU. All the more reason to make sure yours stands out from the crowd. Make sure it is accurate, factual and up-to-date in (near) perfect English. Whilst you are not required to add a photo to your cv, adding one might help to make a more personal impact on the hiring manager. also read our blog 'Hack your cv!', it contains a wealth of handy tips and tricks to write the perfect cv. In addition, tidy up your online presence: Make sure your LinkedIn, GitHub and other social accounts are either up-to-date, tidy and relevant or set to private. (Although we'd advise you to keep LinkedIn and Github public, so your future employer can take a look at your professional pedigree).
Read up on the Dutch (working) culture
Making the step to start a (working) life in a new country with a culture different from the one you grew up in can be a challenge. Believe us when we say culture shock is not fun and no amount of preparation can prevent it entirely, but by reading up on the working (culture), understanding some basic habits and social norms helps prevent the worst shock (Dutch directness is quite infamous, for example. It also helps in getting an understanding about when an employer is genuine in their interest in you and when you might be played (or underpaid).
In addition, make sure your English is up to par. Dutch people, even outside the workforce, are quite sufficient in English so there is no urgent need to learn Dutch before your arrival, but decent English is an absolute requirement in most cases.
The Netherlands is a small country, but there are some geographic differences that are good to know. Most tech jobs are located in the Western part of the country, in the area roughly between Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam, also know as 'The Randstad'. Housing prices are higher in these densely populated, and coveted areas, but due to a great road/rail network commuting is no big deal. Cities like Alkmaar, Amersfoort or Den Bosch are all within commuting distance of The Randstad.
3. Figure out your housing situation
A big part of moving to a different country is housing. It can be quite daunting. The housing marketin in The Netherlands is quite tight. This means that in general, the housing prices are quite high and that there are big differences between cities (with Utrecht and Amsterdam being among the most expensive cities to live in based on prices per square meter). It must be noted however, that because opf the Covid-19 crisis prices in the rental sector have decreased slightly due to less expats coming to The Netherlands. It would be our suggestion to check if your future employer might be able to help with finding a suitable place to live. If you prefer to search for a place by yourself, this blog from iamexpat is a great place to start. It has some great advise on what to look out for when dealing with landlords and much more.
4. Dutch salaries
It is very hard to get a feel for what a salary offer is actually worth when you don't know the cost of living in The Netherlands. Is it good, not so good, or just downright disappointing? And will it cover my costs, is it worth moving to another country for? Whilst we understand that there are many different factors to account for, let's take a look at some facts, numbers and the like to put together a frame of reference.
Dutch median gross income per age group
This gives you an idea of the median income of Dutch people, based on age (source: CBS, 2019), of course there are great differences between groups based on experience, hours worked and sector. The amounts below are yearly amounts, gross.
- 15 - 25 years: €10.600
- 25 - 45 years: €36.400
- 45 - 65 years: €42.400
- 65 years* : €24.900
In general, Dutch app-agencies and software companies overall pay quite well, even compared to the higher standard of living. In broad strokes, you can expect (based on experience, background and company size) a salary between €50.000 gross p/y and €90.000 gross p/y. Not sure how to handle salary-negotiations in The Netherlands? Read our blog on it for some handy tips and tricks.
Dutch minimum wage (based on 36 hours p/w)
This is the minimum, monthly, salary (gross) you should earn. This is a standard set by the Dutch government that all employers are obliged to follow. There is a distinction made between people under and over the age of 21, hence the different numbers.
- 20 years €1347,85
- 21 years and older €1684,80
Dutch wage tax and social premiums
The Netherlands has an elaborate social welfare system, with many different subsidies and benefits based on your income and personal situation (healthcare allowance, rent allowance, child benefits, unemployment benefits and more). In order to finance this system and protect a form of after-tax income equality, you pay wage tax and social premiums. Below are the percentages you pay over each income bracket. This system has seen an overhaul recently to simplify the system and to lower the taxes levied over income from labour:
- € 0 - 68.507: 37,10%
- € 68.508+: 49,50%
In The Netherlands, you usually negotiate your gross salary with your employer. So it is worth taking a look at your net income (use this handy calculator )to see what you pay in taxes and to check wether the net. amount you will earn is up to your expectations.
We'd also highly recommend this awesome (!) blog by expatrepublic to get an idea of the total cost of living in The Netherlands (including healthcare, housing, utilities, groceries and transportation).
5. Create a network
A big part of finding interesting jobs, getting help with housing and general professional knowledge sharing is having a good, professional network here in The Netherlands. Luck has it, that we have a thriving app-community right here under our noses. Consisting of many different user groups, meetups, events and much more. The key is helping each-other out, so don't be afraid to reach out and ask for some help or advise. It might also be a great way in if you find it difficult to get the jobs that you'd like. A recommendation from the community is worth a lot in such cases!
The community is a mix of Dutch and expats, in most cases grouped around a single theme like a coding language or platform. Ideal to get a headstart to your stay here in The Netherlands. Read our blog about the Dutch app-community for a nice overview of events, meetups and Persons of Interest.
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We hope the information gathered here helps you wrap your head around the many aspects of finding a job, working and living here in The Netherlands. Got inspired? Take a look at our vacancies and apply for one of our current, interesting jobs. Or send an open application to email@example.com, in that case we will contact you so we can figure out together with you which jobs might suit you. Want to stay up-to-date with the latest jobs The House of Appril has to offer? Subscribe to a jobalert through our website and get your preferred vacancies sent right in to your inbox on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly: you decide!)