There are a number of things you need to know before entering the job market in the Netherlands, such as: the make-up of the Dutch employment market, finding a job here as an expatriate, Dutch labor law, the Dutch social security system etc.
The windmills of your mind are not playing tricks on you. You have (or your Dearly Beloved has) accepted that job in the Netherlands. The dust, created by the whirlwind consequences of this decision, has started to settle and you are beginning to wonder what type of country you have come to. Having read about culture shock in the preceding introduction, you now know that the best step towards familiarizing yourself with this new culture is knowing more about it. First off, relax in the knowledge that the Netherlands has one of the highest standards of living in the world. But what kind of people are the towering Dutch? What about their government and economy, religion, the climate, their customs and etiquette, particular ways of celebrating holidays and special occasions, and their oh-so-challenging language? This chapter will help you navigate through some of the canals of these riddles. In the end, the effort you put into rowing through uncharted territory will matter more than which way the wind is blowing.
A piece of land that is completely surrounded by a dike for the purpose of protecting it against high waters is called a polder in Dutch. You can find them in all shapes and sizes. The largest in the Netherlands, Flevoland (also the Netherlands’ youngest province), measures 48,000 hectares. The management of such a polder requires a tight cooperation between the users. The smallest mistake can result in disaster, as a dike is as strong as its weakest point.
Life behind the dikes has influenced the Dutch culture. It might be going too far to say that it has made the Dutch a democratic people, however, it is clear that they are partial to detailed agreements, to which they must strictly adhere. Foreigners never fail to notice the large degree of organization and planning in Dutch society.
This coming together to reach a consensus, this give and take in all the various areas, all characterize Dutch society and Dutch politics. It has resulted in, for instance, the tolerance of drugs and the legalization of prostitution. This attitude can be summarized in a new word, invented by the British press in 1997: Poldermodel. This word represents all that makes Dutch society a successful one: a society in which the people literally and figuratively try to keep their feet dry.
The Dutch Political System in Brief
The Government The Dutch government is what one calls a ‘monarchical government’, meaning that it is not only comprised of the ministers and the state secretaries, but also the monarch, Queen Beatrix. The constitution determines how the powers are divided between the Queen and the other institutions of the government. The Queen, who has no political responsibility, is not accountable to Parliament.
The Cabinet The cabinet’s responsibilities are: preparing and implementing legislation, overseeing the local government, carrying out the day-to-day business of government and maintaining international relations. The observant follower of Dutch politics will notice that the number of ministers tends to change from one cabinet to the next.
The Parliament The Netherlands has a representative democracy and its parliament (Staten Generaal) is made up of two chambers: the Upper House (Eerste Kamer), whose 75 members are elected by the members of the provincial councils; and the Lower House (Tweede Kamer), whose 150 members are elected directly by the people.
The Political Parties The Dutch Lower House of Parliament is elected by proportional representation and currently there are ten political parties in the Lower House. Traditionally, the three largest are the PvdA (Labor Party), the CDA (Christian Democrats) and the VVD (Liberals). As of the last recent election, the CDA is in fourth place, while the PVV (Party of Freedom) is the third largest.
Some statistics and facts (2011 – 2012)
The total land surface area is 33,948 km2/21,218 mi2.
This excludes all inland and territorial waters wider than 6 meters/20 feet. If all the water surface area is included, the Netherlands has an area of 41,526 km2/25,954 mi2
The Netherlands’ North Sea coastline is longer (642 km) than its border with either Belgium (407 km) or Germany (556 km)
About 60% of the population lives below sea level
The highest point in the Netherlands is the Vaalserberg in the province of Limburg. It is 321 meters/1,053 feet above sea level
The lowest point in the country is 6.76 meters/ 22.18 feet below sea level. It is in the Prince Alexander Polder northeast of Rotterdam (Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel)
Head of State: Queen Beatrix
Type of state: constitutional monarchy
Seat of government: The Hague
Population: 16.74 million
‘Non-Western’ non-natives: 1.86 million
‘Western’ non-natives: 1.5 million
Number of households: 7.39 million
Average life expectancy men born now: 78.5 years, women: 82.6 years
Average age: 40.1 (gradually increasing: in 1990, it was 36.6)
Population growth: 80,300
Number of marriages: 72,000
Number of registered partnerships: 9,500
Number of gay marriages: 1,350
Number of divorces: 31,000
Healthy to very healthy: 81.4%
Immigrants: 153,300 (up from 150,000 and largely due to an increase in the number of labor migrants from EU-countries)
Emigrants: 120,450 (up from 118,000 – mostly Dutch/EU-born emigrants)
Countries of origin of asylum-seekers: mostly Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan
Labor force: 7.86 million
Unemployment: 456,000 (5.8% of the labor force) (predicted unemployment had been 510,000)
Predicted unemployment 2012: 500,000 (though this might perhaps be too pessimistic)
Unfit for work: 825,000
No. of job openings: 7.9 million; 28,000 more than during the previous year
Inflation (CPI): 2.4%
Economic growth 2011: 1.1%
Predicted economic growth 2012: 2.8%
Gross National Product per capita: € 34,661
Religion: 6 out of 10 persons profess to being religious
Private consumption: -18%
Consumer confidence: -18% (-8 in December 2010)
Most important trade partner: Germany
Average income: € 32,500 gross (prediction 2012: € 33,000)
Average price of a house: € 241,000
Non-profit volunteer foundation which offers information, advice and support to all nationalities settling into and throughout their time in the Netherlands. Maintains a comprehensive database of information and offers a telephone and email information service, runs educational seminars and workshops on all manner of topics and has various publications designed to meet the needs of the English-speaking community. ACCESS are always looking for new volunteers.
Zeestraat 100 2nd floor, 2518 AD The Hague
Visit ACCESS Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm at The Hague International Centre, The Hague City Hall Atrium, Spui 70, The Hague
Tel: 0900 2 222 377 (local rate 20 cent per minute) www.access-nl.org
OUTPOST THE HAGUE (at Shell Headquarters)
The center of a worldwide spouse-to-spouse network providing Shell families with practical information about living conditions in expatriate locations around the world.
All Outpost locations provide career and development resources and relocation resources to Shell expatriates and repatriates.
Postal address: P.O. Box 162, 2501 AN The Hague
Visiting address: Carel van Bylandtlaan 16, HAG C30, 2596 HT The Hague
Tel.: 070 377 65 30 www.globaloutpostservices.com/thehague
EXPATRIATE ARCHIVE CENTRE
The Expatriate Archive Centre welcomes contributions from retired, repatriated or current expatriates and their children.
Paramaribostraat 20, 2585 GN The Hague
Tel.: 070 427 2014 www.xpatarchive.com
THE PROTOCOL DEPARTMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Protocol Department of the Foreign Ministry in The Hague helps serve the needs of the staff of international organisations and of representatives of other countries (and their families) who have been afforded diplomatic status.
Tel.: 070 348 6289 www.minbuza.nl/protocol
THE HAGUE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE
The Hague City Hall, Atrium, Spui 70, 2511 BT The Hague
P.O. Box 12600, 2500 DJ The Hague
Tel.: 070 353 50 43
Open Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 17.00 hours. www.thehague.com
EISC EXPAT INFORMATION SERVICES CENTER ALMERE AREA
Expat Desk World Trade Center Alnovum
P.J. Oudweg 1, 1314 CH Almere Stad
Tel.: 036 523 84 07 www.wtcaa.nl
THE HOLLAND HANDBOOK
Published yearly since 2000 by XPat Media
The indispensable guide for expats in the Netherlands.
This richly illustrated book offers 256 full-color pages of essential information on all aspects of living and working in the Netherlands www.xpat.nl
THE HOLLAND GUIDE App
Published by XPat Media
The Holland Handbook on your iPad
With extra features, almost a thousand live references and hundreds of stunning photos
Available in the App Store www.xpat.nl/hollandguide THE UNDUTCHABLES
By Colin White and Laurie Boucke
Published by White – Boucke Publishing Inc.
A tongue-in-cheek observation of the Netherlands, its culture and its inhabitants. www.undutchables.com
THE LOW SKY, UNDERSTANDING THE DUTCH
By Han van der Horst
Published by Scriptum/Nuffic
The book that makes the Netherlands familiar.
A detailed exploration of the reasons for desire of the Dutch for independence, their sense of respect and their business sense www.scriptum.nl
AT HOME IN HOLLAND
Published by The American Women’s Club of The Hague.
A practical guide for foreigners moving to the Netherlands. www.awcthehague.org
Published by Eburon Academic Publishers
By Sheila Gazaleh-Weevers
with Shirley Agudo & Connie Moser
Colorful two-in-one guide to Holland for travellers and expats alike.. www.heresholland.com
THE DUTCH AND THEIR DELTA
Living below sea level
By Jacob Vossestein
Published by XPat Media
The fascinating account of how the Dutch manage to live below sea level www.jacobvossestein.nl
To order: www.hollandbooks.nl
LIVING WITH THE DUTCH
By Norean Sharpe
Published by KIT Publishers
Nurtured in the Netherlands Norean Sharpe accounts of her experiences in this amazing little country in Europe. She gives her private thoughts and comments and makes sharp and witty observations of the Dutch way of life.
ONLY IN HOLLAND, ONLY THE DUTCH
By Marc Resch, Published by Rozenberg
An in-depth look into the culture of Holland and its people. www.rozenbergps.com
MANNERS IN THE NETHERLANDS – DUTCH DITZ
By Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen
Published by Uitgeverij Becht
Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen is known in the Netherlands as the ‘Queen of Manners’ and has published a series of ‘Ditz’ books such as the Dikke Ditz, or its summary version, the Dunne Ditz, and the children’s KinderDitz on etiquette and manners. www.rildis.nl
HOW TO SURVIVE HOLLAND
By Martijn de Rooi
The author manages with quick wit, sarcasm and slightly self-deprecating humor to more than adequately convey a rather candid assessment of the Dutch people as a whole. His ability to really explain a country and its folk in such a clear context obviously has a lot to do with the fact that he is both a sociologist and a journalist. www.hollandbooks.nl
VISIONS OF THE NETHERLANDS
Photography: Frans Lemmens
Text: Martijn de Rooi
Like a consummate Dutch old master, photographer Frans Lemmens has painted a rich and colorful portrait of this often-surprising country, the people who live in it and the places and things worth seeing. www.dutchshop.nl or www.hollandbooks.nl
A MOVEABLE MARRIAGE
Relocate your Relationship Without Breaking it
by Robin Pascoe
Published by Expatriate Press Ltd. www.expatexpert.com
A Spouse’s Guide to Repatriation
By Robin Pascoe
Published by Expatriate Press Ltd. www.expatexpert.com
XENOPHOBE’S GUIDE TO THE DUTCH
By Rodney Bolt
Published by Oval Books
A guide to understanding the Dutch that goes beyond the tulips and windmills to reveal their real personality and peculiarities. www.ovalbooks.com
A BROAD ABROAD
The Expat Wife’s Guide to Successful Living Abroad
By Robin Pascoe
Published by Expatriate Press Ltd. www.expatexpert.com
A MOVING LANDSCAPE
By Jo Parfitt
Published by Summertime Publishing
Over 20 years abroad described in moving poetry to which any traveller will relate. www.joparfitt.com
BLACK AND ABROAD
By Carolyn Vines
Published by Adelaar Books
Experiences and perspectives of a black American woman traveling and living abroad. www.blackandabroad.com
THE DUTCH TONGUE
By Ben van der Have
Written in the form of a conversation between a student of the Dutch language, Nancy, and her local linguistic expert, Thomas, Ben van der Have takes the reader on a journey of language learning which goes far beyond the rules of grammar and vocabulary teaching. www.scriptum.nl or www.hollandbooks.nl
DUTCH FOR EXPATS
By Maik Klaassen
Published by VanDorp Educatief/XPat Media
A comprehensive course book intended for adults living and working in the Netherlands who need to learn and practise the essential communication tools of the Dutch language in a limited timeframe. CD-rom included. www.nederlandsalstweedetaal.nl or www.hollandbooks.nl
DUTCH FOR DUMMIES
By Margreet Kwakernaak
Published by Pearson Education Benelux
Speak Dutch the fun and easy way. With dialogues from the book on audio CD. www.dummies.nl
A DICTIONARY OF DUTCHNESS
Published by DutchNews.nl
Do you have to visit the IND, are your children doing VWO and do you live in a Vinex area? Can you recognise bn’ers and do you know BOB? Have you got a DigiD and are you paying OZB? If this all sounds like double Dutch, then you need this book. www.DutchNews.nl
FOOD SHOPPERS’ GUIDE TO HOLLAND
By Ada Henne Koene
Published by Eburon
A comprehensive review of the finest food products in the Dutch marketplace and a very useful food dictionary.
DUTCH CULINARY ART
By Janny de Moor, Nico de Rooij and Albert Tielemans
400 years of festive cooking in the Netherlands. www.dutchculinaryart.com
DUTCH COOKING TODAY
Published by Inmerc
This book has typical Dutch dishes, honest stews, juicy one-pan dishes, the best snacks, the tastiest cakes and the yummiest desserts. It allows all – from lovers of the Hollandse Pot (Dutch Pan) to admirers of trendy cuisine – to become acquainted with old and new dishes of the Netherlands. www.zoekboeken.nl
Text by Sylvia Pessiron
Photography by Jurjen Drenth & friends
Published by Nilsson & Lamm
Learn what the Dutch eat and drink, graze through their eating habits and recipes, and when you’re done, try them. www.dutchshop.nl www.hollandbooks.nl
THE NEW DUTCH CUISINE
Text by Albert Kooy
Photography by Pieter Ouddeken
Published by KM Publishers
This basic cookbook offers possible guidelines for the contemporary cook.
You’ll find some old-fashioned Dutch dishes like hodge-podge, scrapple, head cheese, sausage rolls etc. The beautiful photo’s sometimes show a complete dish, more often they are taken while cooking so they show the method of preparation. www.newdutchcuisine.eu
For useful and fun information on what’s on in the Netherlands.
English-language news from business and politics to sport. Plus features, opinion and debate
www.expatica.com – News and community portal for expats in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Moscow, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
www.iamexpat.nl - For expats of all colours, shape and sizes.
News, life style, housing, career and education in the Netherlands
www.xpat.nl – The information platform for expatriates in the Netherlands with an event calendar, Dutch news, expat book reviews and a large archive of articles and books on the Netherlands published by XPat Media
www.outpostexpat.nl – Website of OUTPOST Expatriate Information Center with practical information about living conditions in a.o. the Netherlands.
DUTCH GOVERNMENT Access to the websites of the Dutch Government Departments and Ministries. www.overheid.nl
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.minbuza.nl/english
Comprehensive information on the Netherlands in many languages. Also: news, ethical issues, foreign policy and contact information for all ministries and diplomatic missions.
DUTCH HISTORY www.minbuza.nl/history : this website covers Dutch history from 50 BC to 2005 and is maintained by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is meant as an introduction to Dutch history for foreigners and provides a concise overview of the highlights of Dutch history. Users can search within eight themes by date. Click on the ‘read more’ buttons for more detailed information on each period. The site is beautifully illustrated and is available in five languages.
Logbook of the Low Countries
by Wout van der Toorn
Published by Seaside Publishing
A handy and Informative book to make comparisons between the history of the Low Countries and the wider world. www.seasidepublishing.com
More on these subjects can be found in The Holland Handbook 2012 - 2013