When bringing your partner/family along there are several issues that you might come across. Here you can read more about:
- Immigration procedures
- Family & work
- Children and medical facilities
- Childcare facilities
- School & Education
The nationality of your partner/children decide which procedures apply to them. However, when one of you has an EU nationality, different rules apply. Under entry conditions and visas you can read up on the relevant procedures.
Labourmarket position partner
Partners that come along with you generally have the same access rights to the labourmarket as you have. Sometimes the employer or host institution can help or provide suggestions on how the partner could find a job.
Among the highly educated it is very common in the Netherlands for both partners to have their own career. It is not only widely accepted that both men and women work in challenging jobs, it is in fact rather unusual for one of the partners not to work. Even for families with children, more often than not both parents pursue a career next to their family life.
The Netherlands holds a high percentage of part-time workers. In many sectors it is quite common to work a part-time job. Admittedly the majority of part-time workers are women, but also for men it is not uncommon to work less than fulltime. Where not all research allows for part-time work, as a partner of a researcher it is likely that if you want, you can find a part-time job. Many Dutch parents choose to combine the household tasks and the workload by reducing their working hours. It is not uncommon for both parents in young families to work four days. Or for one of the partners to work two or three days a week.
If you think part-time work might be something for you, don’t be afraid to ask your employer about the possibilities for part-time work.
The medical facilities related to pregnancy and maternity are organized in a typical Dutch way. Childcare facilities are rather expensive, but people with a lower and middle income can generally apply for childcare allowance. The education system provides your children with several options that you might want to read up on.
The general term for daycare in the Netherlands is kinderopvang, which covers options such as host parents, daycare facilities and nursery school. Please keep in mind that the demand for daycare facilities in the Netherlands is high and that it is therefore not unusual to encounter waiting lists of 6 months for certain facilities. Build in some time to look around and to organize your arrangements, especially when you need to rely on daycare facilities!
Ask your employer if he can help you with finding suitable facilities. Sometimes Dutch employers have their own childcare facilities. Some universities in the Netherlands, for example, have their own arrangements with childcare facilities. Furthermore your local municipality might give you an overview of the different options available to you. And another great source for information are parents with young children in your surrounding. They can generally tell you all sorts of useful information.
Types of childcare facilities
In the Netherlands there are three main types of organised childcare facilities:
- Kinderdagverblijf: This Dutch version is a cross between day care and nursery school. Children up to age 4 are eligible. Cost: Prices differ but a regular price is €750 a month for three days a week for the first child. Most daycare centres give a discount for the second child (and third...).
- Gastouder (Host Parent): Here, a host parent who has children of her own cares for a small group of children in her house. Be aware: Sending your child to a gastouder may also qualify for government contributions, if it meets certain requirements. Cost: Prices differ but €6,- per hour per child is quite common.
- Buitenschoolse / Naschoolse Opvang - BSO (After School Hours Care): These organizations take care of children in the age from 4-12 after school hours and during holidays. Your child's school can help you locate local ones. Cost: Prices differ but €650,- per month per child is normal.
For the childcare facilities above generally you can apply for a childcare allowance - a contribution of the government towards the cost of childcare facilities.
Be aware that you are not eligible for childcare allowance if you do not have an employment contract.
Other childcare facilities options are:
- Peuterspeelzalen : There are toddler groups ages 2 – 4 and are open in the mornings. Usually, they are connected to a primary school and allow an easy transition from the speelzaal to the school. They are especially useful for children who stay home with their parents during the first 4 years. Cost: Prices differ but for two half days €25,- is normal.
- Oppas (Baby-Sitter): On evenings and weekends high school or university students from your neighborhood are common candidates to baby-sit your child.
- Au Pair: Almost all au pairs are found with the help of an au pair organization, of which there are quite a few in the Netherlands. Cost: You must provide the au pair with food and shelter AND a monthly pay of approximately €325,- for which they will work 30 hours a week taking care of the children and doing simple household chores.
- A few other types of child care are: Flexibel Kindercentrum, which are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, available in large cities; Project: an arrangement where a certified kindergarten / nursery school teacher comes to your (or someone else’s) house; and arrangements with International Women’s Clubs (such as Moms and Tots groups, and others). Ask your employer's HR staff if you need help finding information about the possibility of these options in your town.
- Read more on Expatica: A guide to the Dutch childcare system
International or Dutch school?
For your school-aged children, your search for a school will start with the choice of an international or a regular Dutch school, each with its own advantages. If you are planning to stay abroad for a short period, or if you will move on to another foreign country after your stay in the Netherlands, an international school might provide your child with continuity. But if you would like your child to mix in with the local culture, you might prefer a regular school. International schools are mainly attended by foreign children or Dutch children that will soon go abroad or have returned from being abroad. Compulsory schooling in the Netherlands (leerplicht) applies to all children aged 5-16. They must attend school. Compulsory schooling ends at the end of the school year in which the child turns 16. Because of this obligation on parents and children, schools will not give permission to take children on holidays outside the official school holiday periods.
There are several websites which give an overview of international schools in the Netherlands, two of which are:
- Expatica - "Finding an international school"
- Iamexpat - “International schools in the Netherlands”
- Dutchreview - international schools in the Netherlands
Dutch education system
In the Netherlands children have the obligation to go to school when they are 5 years old. They first go to a Primary School (group 1-8) and then they will continue their education on a school for Secondary Education.
In the Netherlands, children between 4 and 12 years old go to primary schools. These schools are funded by the government and parents are only asked for contributions for extra activities.
There are basically four types of primary schools:
- Denominational schools - Most schools in this category are Roman Catholic or Protestant, but there are also Jewish, Islamic, Hindustani, Humanistic. Almost two-thirds of the children go to this category of school.
- Public schools (openbare school) - These schools are run under the authority of the municipality and are not based on any particular religious persuasion or other conviction. About one-third of school-age children attend public schools.
- Schools based on certain teaching and learning philosophies - such as Montessori, Jena Plan, Dalton, Rudolph Steiner and Freinet, are attended by a relatively small number of children.
- Special schools - For children requiring special care, there are ‘special’ schools in both the public and denominational categories.
After completing primary school, the child and the parents have to decide on the type of secondary school. The choice is mainly between three types of education: vocational education, senior general secondary education and pre-university education. The curriculum for the first three years of all three types consists of general subjects. The difference between the three types becomes more visible after the third year.
- Consists of a 4-year preparatory phase (VMBO) which can be followed by a 4-year phase of more in-depth vocational training (MBO).
- Senior general secondary education (HAVO) which lasts 5 years and is intended as a preparation for studying at a university of professional education (comparable to a polytechnic college).
- Pre-university education (VWO) which takes 6 years to complete and prepares the student to enter university education.
For more information on the Dutch education system here are a few links:
How to find a Dutch primary or secondary school?
For finding a Dutch primary or secondary school in your new region the website of the council is probably a good place to start. Often this website will come up straight away in google and carries the words 'Officiële site van de gemeente'.
Unfortunately this website is likely to be in Dutch only. Your employer might be able to help you with information on this subject. And once you are in the Netherlands, a good source to tap into are other parents with school-going children.