Expat Experience - Mike's story
Published on : 10-01-2013, 13:03 by Mike Russell
I left the UK twenty years ago to work on a 12-month contract in Amsterdam. It was a cool job – Apple Macintosh programmer – everyone spoke my language, the money was good and so were the tax breaks. Two decades later, I am still here and still enjoy the life although I realize I’ll never be considered a true local by the true locals. When asked about interacting with the Dutch and making friends, I usually point out that learning Dutch is an investment worth making. While Dutch colleagues can and will talk to you in English (sometimes German, French or Spanish) it is always a compromise communicating in your second language. If you are sure you’ll only be in The Netherlands for a short period, then perhaps learn a few phrases and keep it at that. However, if you are unclear when you’ll move on – take the plunge and take some Dutch classes.
Housing remains a challenge: a place you like for the budget you have in mind, in a happening part of town. Twenty years back, professional housing agencies were few and far between and could be described as cowboys. These days, there are many first rate agencies who can help you find a your ideal apartment. My advice is to select one (or two) larger agencies, with good portfolios, and be specific about what you’re looking for. Be prepared to move quickly as the best properties tend to rent immediately and will not wait for you to consider alternatives for a couple of days.