This post was first published in iamgreek.nl
During the last years that I live in the Netherlands many Greeks that are currently located in Greece but are thinking to come here for a “better life” contact me to ask for information. They start – most of the times even without knowing me – to ask from general to very special questions. Sometimes it is just difficult to “advise” people that I don’t know about important things but in the end I do my best to help as many as I can in the most efficient way. As a result of this frequent communication with various guys I found myself giving again and again the same answer to the same questions. So I think it is time to write a post about the most frequent questions I and many other Greeks receive to save time and energy either for those who ask or/and for those who try to find time and be in the mood to answer (and trust me, sometimes it’s just unbelievably exhausting to say again and again the same things for years). I hope this post will be helpful with discussions between wannabe immigrants and Greeks that already live in Netherlands.
Usual question: How is life in the Netherlands?
Possible answer: How is life regarding what? The weather? Jobs? Dutch people? Housing? Dutch culture? Life in the Netherlands is not one thing as life in Greece is not one thing too. If you want specific answers, make specific questions!
Usual question: What do I need in order to come and live in the Netherlands?
Possible answer: A job for sure! Nowadays it seems kind of irrational to come in the Netherlands without having a contract or interviews for positions that you could be possibly hired. However, there will always be someone who will tell you that you could come and then look for a job. If you are going with this plan you should definitely have some savings to spend here for a bed and some food while you are looking for a job. You must know that during the last years many Greeks in the Greek communities here receive dozens of calls every month by Greeks that came without money in the Netherlands and they ended up homeless and with two suitcases in their hands. These people usually don’t know which are exactly the difficulties of immigrating here and as a result they would be begging for a place to sleep for free or for a ticket to go back to Greece. In order to avoid sleeping on benches or asking from Greeks that you don’t know to help you (trust me, the fact that you have both Greek nationality doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is obliged to help someone else) start organizing better your trip and your first moved here.
Moreover, keep in mind that as soon as you find a job you should move fast to find a house, to get registered in the local municipality and to have a health insurance. You should take care of all these things in 1-2 months at most, so actually you don’t have time to lose. Again, be as much organized and prepared as you can in advance!
Usual questions: Where I will search for a job? Where I will look for a house?
Possible answer: There is not one place, there are millions of websites you could use for your search.
I will mention some of them:
In addition, don’t forget to check posts in Facebook groups that are related to offering/searching for jobs and housing. If you get lucky maybe you will save a lot of time and money!
Usual question: How much money could someone earn in the Netherlands?
Possible answer: From zero to a lot of thousands of euros, but seriously is there anyone that could give a specific answer to this question? Salaries vary due to someone’s profession, skills, willingness to work hard and the kind of business that will hire him/her etc. In general you should know that in order to rent a room or a house and pay your bills and other responsibilities you necessarily need to earn more than 1000 Euros (for less maybe consider remaining where you live). In the end I repeat that according to your professional progress you will have the analogous salary increase.
Extra tip: Try not to ask people how much they earn. It is better if you ask how much they spend. In this way you will learn more about the costs of living in a specific country.
Usual question: Is Dutch language necessary in order to find a job in Netherlands? Are English enough? Are there any jobs that Greek language will be useful?
Possible answer: Except some specific occasions, in other words professions, it will be really difficult to find a good job without speaking any Dutch. You will find most of the times pocket money jobs that ask from you to speak English or Greek but I guess you don’t want to immigrate just to work permanently to non-contract jobs that cannot guarantee your basic work rights.
Make a good job search before you come here. You probably have some diplomas, certificates and some work experience, so use them to check if you could find a job without speaking Dutch. If you cannot then start Dutch lessons immediately! By knowing Dutch you could have many more chances to find a good job position and to evolve professionally. As a Dutch speaker you don’t compete only with English speakers expatiates but also with Dutch native people.
Usual question: Are there any places in the Netherlands that I could find/meet other Greeks?
Possible answer: Check through the Internet for any Greek communities. Try to stay informed about activities that Greeks organize, celebrations and meetings in bars and restaurants. Get registered in Facebook groups to contact Greeks that also live in the Netherlands and try to follow the new posts.
Usual question: How can I find a cheap bike in the Netherlands and what I should do if my bike is stolen?
Possible answer: In order to buy a cheap bike in the Netherlands you should search for second-hand bicycles that could be found in various places: In shops that repair bikes and sell them in good prices, through friends or familiar people who sell their bikes maybe because they bought new ones or they will leave the country soon. Another option is of course searching through the Internet (check http://maarktplaatz.nl/ and other various Facebook groups).
Regarding bicycles’ stealing you should know that it is a serious, really usual phenomenon here. Police tries to control it in many ways but frankly nobody could stop bicycles’ stealing in a country that bikes are more than the citizens! A piece of advice that an old expatiate could give to a new expatiate is to use double locks and learning which are the most or less possible places to have your bike stolen. Additionally, try to remember that as soon as you get used to the idea that sooner or later your bike will be stolen the better you will manage to control your shock when stealing actually takes place. Trust me, it happened at least once to the majority of people, so just accept it as a negative factor of living in this country. Deal with it and be very careful in safekeeping your bike.
Usual question: What was the most difficult thing in my new life in the Netherlands?
Possible answer: A lot of things that cannot be all written here. Moreover, there are so many posts written by Greeks that live abroad about how is leaving Greece and moving to another place that it is kind of unnecessary to repeat again and again the same things, right?
But if it is that important to mention some things, here it is some information that a future expatiate should keep in mind: Immigration is a hard, wild thing. You should have determination, patience, flexibility. You don’t go on vacation, you move to another country. Even if you have a job, a place to stay and some friends, you still don’t live in Greece. You will never be in Greece unless if you go back to Greece. Adjust your ideas, your lifestyle and your attitudes. Evolve. You are in a foreign country, you cannot change the system in the way you like and need, on the contrary you have to be a part of the system if you want to live here. Learn the language. Try to understand people, their culture, their rules. Keep in mind that nowhere is Paradise. Paradise is not Greece. You just think it may be because you left it. If we should be objective, Greece is the Paradise during summer vacation. I think most of the people I know – Greeks or not – have an agreement to that.
Usual question: What do I miss from Greece?
Possible answer: All the nice Greek things. On the other hand I don’t miss at all bad Greek things, so I remain in the Netherlands and I don’t go back. All the people that feel nostalgic about Greece and they really miss good and also bad things of Greek life, they should probably try to find a way to go back.
Greeks of Holland, you are more than welcome to add some information or leave a comment below. I am looking forward to reading your precious comments.
The photo was taken from Thrasos Panou.