The Netherlands is often one of the top-ranked places for expats with children to relocate to. The country is known for its excellent education system, healthcare system, public safety and overall life quality. All of these make the Netherlands an ideal destination for families. Although this relocation brings many benefits, there are things to consider and prepare for. In order to provide your children with the best relocation experience, here is a list of things you should anticipate and know on how to relocate with children.
Including the children
Relocating and starting a new life in a foreign environment can be hard to navigate for children. It is a dramatic change and they may need a lot of support from you. In order to handle this sensitive process as best as possible, it is advisable to include your children in the conversations and decisions. The aim is always to make sure that children feel included and heard, no matter how young they are. Feeling heard and seen will often better their attitude towards the relocation decision. Being included will often decrease any anger or unhappiness with the move.
Besides having open communication, encouraging children to get involved with the move is also important. You can encourage them to do research about your destination online. Reading and seeing your new home will help them get accustomed before your move and get them excited. You can also discuss and plan what your children will want to do once you arrive at your destination. Your children looking forward to the relocation will always ease the process.
Plan a trip
You may consider visiting your destination prior to the move. It may be overwhelming for the children to move somewhere they have never seen or experienced before. Here, online research may not be sufficient. If possible, planning a trip pre-move to discover your new environment is a good idea. You may even go on this trip before talking to them about the relocation idea. This will help make them feel even more included in the decision.
A smooth transition
Once the decision to relocate is final, your children may fear that they will lose their close relationships, like family or friends. It is crucial to reassure them that they will be able to continue these relationships through technology. An advantage of today’s technology is that you can offer your children all the tools to keep in touch with their family and friends back home.
Tip To ensure the smoothest relocation for your children, if possible, you may benefit from planning around the school schedule. This way, your children do not have to start a new school and enter a new environment in the middle of the school year as the only new kid.
Schooling and housing
Choosing the right school
Schooling is compulsory in the Netherlands for children between the ages of 5 to 18. As an expat relocating to the Netherlands, you can enrol your children in a local or international school (both with private and public options). The Netherlands has many international schooling options offering the British National Curriculum or the International Baccalaureate.
Especially for shorter-term relocations, choosing an international school with an English curriculum has many advantages. Firstly, the English language is often the easier choice to continue their education. Secondly, going to an international school will give your children the opportunity to socialise with other expat children. Thirdly, as everyone around them will be coming from different countries, they will not feel excluded.
On the other hand, many families will prefer to enrol their children at a local public school with a Dutch curriculum. Especially if the children are younger and the relocation is more permanent, children can receive extra Dutch lessons to catch up with the other students. This, in the long run, may be more beneficial for your children’s integration.
Tip Even if you choose an international school for your children, it is still advisable to provide your children with Dutch classes. Gaining some fluency in the language will help them have a better and smoother integration process into the country. Even better is to turn this into a family activity and take Dutch lessons together!
It is always wise to decide on your children’s schooling before finding housing. Once you know what school they will attend, it is easier to choose the area of your new home, according to the school’s location.
Finding housing may take some time, especially in the bigger cities of the Netherlands. In order to settle in as soon as possible, every resident needs to register at their local municipality and get their BSN number. You will need this number for most formal arrangements. During the house search, you may consider temporary/corporate housing. This will ensure a smoother process and you often can register with the address. In comparison, a hotel may be more costly during this process and you cannot register with the address.
Motivating your children about the relocation often continues after your arrival as well. In order for your children to adapt well, you can consider encouraging them to take part in the festivities in your area. It is also helpful to take part in Dutch traditions and try Dutch cuisine as a family activity.
As a foreigner in the Netherlands, especially if they go to a Dutch public school, it can take a while for your children to make new friends. You can encourage them to make the first move, invite classmates home and meet new peers. Younger children tend to hang out at local parks, so you can encourage your children to visit these places to create a new social circle.
The Dutch healthcare system takes great care of the children. In order to benefit from this system fully, it is important to arrange your insurance as soon as possible. Your children will often be included in your program, and dental care is mostly free till 18 years old.
In the Netherlands, you will often need to see your local general practitioner (GP) before any other appointment (except for emergencies). For any specific health issue, your GP will direct you to a specialist. To book appointments with your GP, you will need to register beforehand. Booking appointments and registering can take some time, so it is wise to take care of this as soon as you arrive, especially with children.
Although the Dutch public transportation system is very easy to navigate and accessible, many expat families with children will prefer a car to get around. If your driver’s license is not from an EU or Swiss area, often it will only be valid in the Netherlands for only 6 months. If you do not apply for a Dutch driver’s license during this period, you will need to pass a driving test to get one.
Tip Supervised children between the ages of 4 and 11 can ride for free with their own OV-chipkaart.
Last but not least, do not forget to take advantage of the Dutch biking culture! Besides being a fun and healthy activity, children in the Netherlands often get around with bikes. So this might be the perfect time to give your children some biking lessons.
Are you relocating to the Netherlands with your children and need assistance? Here at Jimble Destination Services Provider, we provide support at every step of your relocation journey. Let us help your family have the best relocation experience by taking care of everything, from finding housing and schooling to a new dentist. Contact us to talk to one of our specialists, or visit our website to find out how we can help you have the best relocation experience.