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Moving to, living in and starting a business in Amsterdam?

mazzystrokes's picture
By mazzystrokes - Posted on
11 October 2011
To whom this may concern, I am a Canadian citizen (born and raised) and I am very interested in moving to Amsterdam to live and to potentially start a new business there. I have travelled to Amsterdam on many occasions and would definitely like to consider moving there permanently. I would really like to know how I would go about doing the following things: 1 - What is involved in moving to Amsterdam? Must I become a citizen? Do I need a certain type of VISA? 2 - Living in Amsterdam: What should I expect for the cost of living? 3 - Starting a Business: I am very interested in helping to support the ecomony in the Netherlands. How do I go about starting my own business? What taxes are involved? I am prepared to do a lot of research as this would be a big move in my life and I would like to be certain that it is going to be successful. What length of time would this take on average? I would prefer to have this process done within one year's time. I realize that I am asking a lot of questions, however I am very interested and would truly appreciate your help. Thank You very much, Mark
Stephanie's picture
Last seen: 5 years 45 weeks ago
Joined: 19/04/2010

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

Charlotte, North Carolina (the USA)

Stephanie's Website
Hi Mark-

Amsterdam is a fantastic city to visit, as I'm sure you realise if you've been there numerous times, but moving to the Netherlands can be a completely different story. It's notoriously difficult to get a work permit/residence permit for the nation. These are the types of visa you'll need to successfully live and work in the Netherlands, you don't need to get citizenship (which is actually nearly impossible to get unless you marry a Dutchman or woman).

Before you start a business in the Netherlands, without a Dutch or EU partner, you'll need to make sure you have the right residency status. Check with the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) to get a green light. You will have to prove the following: You are qualified to run the business in question, you have a business plot, your business serves an essential Dutch interest, i.e. “extra value” for the Netherlands.

I would recommend consulting with a visa service provider, and asking about self-employed/investor residency permits.

Regarding the cost of living in Amsterdam, it is high. Accommodation will be your greatest expense, and prices are lofty (even for small, poor quality flats). There is not enough supply and too much demand for housing in the city. Expect to pay at least 2000 Euro per month for a small, low-quality place in the city centre, 1000 Euro for a place on the outskirts of town, and as much as 7000 Euro for a luxury place in the centre.

Otherwise though, you'll only need to worry about healthcare, food costs and transportation (all of which you can minimise quite efficiently). Amsterdam is a cyclist's city, and biking is free.

Consult the Expat Arrivals Amsterdam guide for more info.
Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (5 votes)
AmySasso's picture
Last seen: 6 years 18 weeks ago
Joined: 25/02/2011

Living in:
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Costa Rica

Amy's Website
Hi Mark,

Congratulations on your decision to move to Amsterdam and start a business :) I think it's great to take initiative like this and flip your life upside down and inside out, it's always a good experience and you'll learn a lot from it I'm sure! I'll try and answer your questions as best I can. For
1) Moving to Amsterdam yes you will probably need some kind of visa. I am a UK citizen so I'm not familiar with the visa process, I'm sure you can google more about this to find out. Once you're here you will have to register for a SOFI (social security) number, which basically everyone who works must have.
2) Living in Amsterdam as the previous person commented, is going to cost quite a bit. The rent prices though I think can be a bit lower, you can find a nice place in the center for something around 1400 or 1500 (and I consider this steep), or if you look in the outskirts it can be around 700. Of course it depends on if you want a studio apartment, or something with 1 or 2 bedrooms, furnished or not, etc. You can search on or for private rent offers, or you can go to places like or or (or many others) which are rental agencies and they will probably ask you 1 months commission upon rental. Public transport isn't super cheap, it costs about 1.20 euro for a 15 minute tram ride, but of course you have the biking which is free! You just have to set yourself up with a bike when you get here which should cost around 150 euros for something good.
3) Starting a business is going to take a bit of paper work but I don't think it's too hard. You need to contact the Chamber of Commerce, and they will help you. There's some good information here: You will also have to sign up for a VAT number, they will point you in the right direction. Not sure about time spans here, shouldn't be too long though. Things move quite fast over here usually. One year would most definitely cover it, and you would have customers by then also :) What kind of business are you setting up if I may ask?

Alright I hope I helped, if you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask

all the best
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Anonymous's picture

i currently own a hvac company employ 8 full time men with a gross of around 1,000,000 a yr i started this in my garage 7 yrs ago and want to move to the netherlands cuz although i love my country and the regular people ive come to believe our elected reps are nothing more then criminals so if i could get some info on if it would be possible to migrate and start a new hvac company there im really ready to sell everything i own and start somewhere where greed and lies is not the norm or the way to get to ahead any info on if this is possible or just a fantisy for me would be greatly appriaciated, mark

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)
Anonymous's picture

Hi Mark,

I just ran into this post and was planning to move to the Netherlands. I would like to know if it worked out for you?

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