Discover the vibrant and dynamic Netherlands, a country renowned for its exceptional quality of life, outstanding infrastructure, and welcoming culture. From picturesque canals to cutting-edge technology, the Netherlands offers a diverse and cosmopolitan atmosphere that attracts professionals from around the globe.
In this article, we delve into the unique aspects of life in the Netherlands, exploring its thriving job market, particularly for SAP consultants, and offering insights into living and working in this innovative and exciting country. Join us as we unveil the secrets to unlocking the best of the Dutch lifestyle and how you can make the most of your experience in this remarkable European gem.
Trust plays an important role in Dutch culture and the workplace. Dutch people are direct, expect initiative and independent work, and are laid-back and do not get offended easily. During business meetings, Dutch people usually wear suits, introduce themselves by their first and last names, exchange business cards, and shake hands with eye contact, which is considered a sign of honesty.
In the workplace, however, the working culture is informal, there is no dress code, and colleagues can be referred to by their first names. Networking is an important part of business, and personal recommendations are taken very seriously when looking for a job.
Work Permits and Visas
Foreign nationals from outside the EU/EEA, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand require residence and work permits when working in the Netherlands for more than three months. The hiring company or employee must apply for these through the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). However, there are exceptions to this rule, including education history. See the IND website for full details.
It is hard for Dutch companies to obtain work permits for contractors from outside the EU, as they must prove that there were no better candidates locally or in the European Union before they can apply. Therefore, most companies in the Netherlands prefer candidates from the EU/EEA or Swiss nationals as they do not require a work permit.
Salaries and Day Rates
The hourly rates for SAP consultants in the Netherlands are usually higher than in most countries, with the average being 70-100 Euros per hour. Rates of pay might increase depending on the length and type of project, particularly for niche skills. A contract as an SAP consultant is usually for a period of three to six months, although some contracts can be extended when there is a requirement from the client. Many contractors enjoy extensions and stay for up to two years and, in some cases, even longer. There are also permanent positions available in companies with great reputation.
Taxes and Getting Paid
Upon arrival in the country, an SAP consultant will need to obtain a BSN number (Citizen Service Number), as the employer will need to make mandatory contributions on their behalf. The usual tax rate is around 36-52%. However, as an SAP consultant, one can often opt for the 30% ruling, which is a tax advantage for highly skilled migrants moving to the country for a specific role. It is considered compensation for expenses that a foreign employee would have when working outside their home country. The rule depends on the salary and length of stay. The maximum effective tax rate would be 36%. Due to the 30% ruling, most employers from the Netherlands do not tend to pay for flights and accommodation when dealing with a new contractor.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in the Netherlands is roughly 15% higher than in the United Kingdom. However, as salaries are some of the highest in Europe, SAP consultants can afford a comfortable lifestyle. Renting is 10-15% higher on average. Housing in major cities like Amsterdam can be expensive, so many prefer to look for options in the surrounding towns. The east side of the country is usually cheaper than the west and greener and more relaxed, ideal for those who prefer not to be in the buzz of a big city.
The healthcare system in the Netherlands is considered one of the best in the world. Health insurance is mandatory and is deducted from the salary. There are different levels of insurance, with the basic level covering medical appointments and treatments, medicine, and maternity. If an SAP consultant holds the European Union Health Insurance Card (EHIC), they will be covered if their stay is temporary. If the stay is not temporary, they must take out a Dutch healthcare insurance policy as soon as they have a residence permit.
Amsterdam is known as the world’s cycling capital, with more bicycles than humans, connected with dedicated bicycle lanes. Amsterdam is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, with 63% of residents cycling on their daily commute. The transport network in the Netherlands is comprehensive, with trains connecting the cities and the countryside. Big cities also have undergrounds and trams, making buying a car not often necessary.
Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands, but German, French, Spanish, and English are also widely spoken. The language barrier for English speakers is low, as the Dutch language has many similar words, making it easy to pick up.
The Netherlands is a democratic country, well-known for its tolerance and liberal ideas. Although cosmopolitan, the cities have managed to keep their Dutch charm, creating a feeling of being in a small town where everyone seems to know everyone. It is an international country, with people from different nationalities living together in the same areas. Each neighbourhood usually has its own market, the best place to get fresh seasonal produce and flowers. The most popular sport in the Netherlands is football, followed by field hockey and volleyball. Due to being a flat country, cycling is also popular as a leisure activity.
The Dutch are known for Gouda and Emmental cheeses, delicious filled cakes, and great coffee. In addition to their traditional food, there is also a wide range of worldwide cuisine and Michelin-starred restaurants. Craft beer is very popular, with new breweries popping up across the country. Two of the biggest beer companies, Amstel and Heineken, are also based here.
Location: Which city is best for me?
The big hubs for SAP contracts in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, and The Hague. These are all midsize cities with less than a million inhabitants, but there is lots of buzz, and the atmosphere is very international.
Amsterdam is a city known for its great infrastructure, with one of the most charming town centres in Europe, protected by the UNESCO World Heritage. It has a huge variety of leisure and entertainment activities from museums and scenery walks to a vibrant nightlife with plenty of restaurants and bars.
Eindhoven has become a hub for technology and design and is also popular for start-ups. The city has earned the nickname of “Lichtstad” or City of Light due to the presence of the electronics giant, Philips. It is also a university city with a relaxed atmosphere and a great social scene.
Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and is a contemporary city with unique experimental architecture. It is located 30 minutes away from the Hook of Holland, where locals enjoy going to the beach and where one can also take a ferry to England. The city is vibrant and modern and famous for its art and food festivals.
The Hague is the seat of the national government and home to many EU institutions, multinational companies, and more than 150 international organisations. It is a wealthy conservative city with a very distinct international atmosphere. It is also very picturesque, with a beautiful coastline, plenty of green areas, and a few national parks nearby.
Whether an SAP consultant prefers one city or another, working and living in the Netherlands means working in an international hub, and it is a worthwhile experience. As mentioned earlier, there has been an increase in companies moving their headquarters to the Netherlands due to its favourable tax climate and multilingual population. This means that there are plenty of job opportunities for SAP consultants and other professionals.
It is important to note that foreign nationals from outside of the EU/EEA, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand require a residence and work permit when intending to work in the Netherlands for more than three months. The hiring company or the employee must apply for these through the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). However, there are some exceptions to this rule, including education history. Therefore, it is recommended to check the IND website for full details.
Furthermore, the cost of living in the Netherlands is roughly 15% higher than in the United Kingdom, but as salaries are one of the highest in Europe, SAP consultants can afford a comfortable lifestyle. Renting is 10-15% higher on average, and housing in the main cities like Amsterdam can be expensive. Therefore, many prefer to look for options in the surrounding towns. The east side of the country is usually cheaper than the west and is also greener and more relaxed, ideal for those who prefer not to be in the buzz of a big city.
In terms of taxes, the usual tax rate is around 36-52%. However, as an SAP consultant, one can often opt for the 30% ruling. This is a tax advantage for highly skilled migrants moving to the country for a specific role and is considered compensation for expenses that a foreign employee would have when working outside their home country. This rule will depend on the salary and length of stay, and the maximum effective tax rate would be 36%.
In conclusion, the Netherlands is a highly-organised country with great infrastructure, a low crime rate, an excellent education system, and a very cosmopolitan culture known for its good lifestyle, cleanliness, open culture, and equal rights. As an SAP consultant, one can find plenty of job opportunities in the Netherlands, and with the favourable tax climate, multilingual population, and great quality of life, it is definitely worth considering working and living in this beautiful country.