Preparing for an international move involves packing but more importantly you start ‘closing’ down life in the US and planning for life abroad. For example, we will keep a US bank account to access our funds through credit cards, ATM’s, etc. But…transferring US dollars or charging on credit incurs foreign transaction fees with each swipe. We will continue to have bills in the US so we need a US bank account but will switch to only paying US bills with US dollars. On the flip side, once we arrive in Amsterdam and start looking for an apartment we won’t have any credit…or previous address…or previous NL (Netherlands) bills to prove we are good tenants…or a bank account to pay rent. We’ll be able to pay in cash but we may need to prove a source of NL income if we don’t have a bank account or credit. And European companies pay by the month (not every 2 weeks) which means we won’t have a pay stub to prove income for a while. So you see where this gets convoluted?? But to be honest I’m not that worried. We have a hotel for the first month, we have work visas, and we’re not the first Americans to rent in Amsterdam:)
Other important items to consider…
We will have private health insurance while we’re in The Netherlands. We pay premiums, have deductibles, mail order prescriptions, specialist referrals, and other similarities to US health insurance. But I’m not 100% sure how to find a physician, dentist, eye doctor, transfer prescriptions, etc. And we won’t be true ‘expats’ meaning we will be localized in NL without US benefits. If we come back to the US for doctor visits we would be without US insurance and would pay out of pocket. So I have to find a doctor in Amsterdam. I did make sure and get a year of contacts and schedule a doctor’s appointment in the US before we leave but I’ll still need to figure it out quick. In my research I did find some interesting facts.
- Women only have exams every 5 years…(I guess we just hope everything is fine?)
- In the case of pregnancy it is not common that a doctor checks a Dutch woman after the age of 30, even if she’s pregnant with her first child. As an international resident, you can expect occasional check-ups during pregnancy, until the day of delivery, unless you request otherwise. (I’m not planning on getting pregnant but I think I’m gonna want a check-up!)
This one was easy. We sold our car last week and won’t be getting a new one in Amsterdam. Public transportation is very efficient and bicycles are the preferred mode of getting around (even in the rain). I don’t believe ‘not having a car’ will be a big adjustment for me. I have taken public transportation in Denver for the last 5 years and I love it. It will be a transition to bike…I grew up in a small town where bikes were given more than half the road. I’m a bit terrified to share a small European road with trams, buses, cars, other bikes, pedestrians, skittish pigeons…
We have rented our condo in Denver fully furnished and will be renting an apartment in Amsterdam fully furnished! We will most likely use a leasing agent to find an apartment. There are different laws in NL regarding public and private housing. Something around property owners trying to rent their apartment illegally and as an ‘illegal’ renter we could be evicted and fined.
We’ll have to file taxes in the US and NL. I know next to nothing about this.
Provide a forwarding address to my parents house and then Amsterdam when we’re settled.
Luckily we were able to ‘unlock’ our iPhones under our AT&T contract. We can use our phones in Amsterdam by switching out the sim card and will either get a new contract or a pay as you go plan. We have a contract in the US that we’ll need to cancel and we’ll pay a buyout fee for ending our contract early. Or so Sam tells me…
Cancel everything in the US and once we have an address in Amsterdam we’ll be able to install wifi (which could be more expensive and more restrictive on data usage), cable, and maybe a land line.
While this list might seem a little daunting it’s really not that bad. We’ve been able to think through each item and feel like we have a first round plan. This is all part of the adventure! If we don’t have internet or know where the post office is I think we’ll survive! And to truly experience a culture we must learn how to navigate everyday Dutch life. I’m sure I’ll get frustrated when I can’t figure out my international calling plan or the misery of hauling my groceries through the rain on a bicycle…but it will add a colorful chapter to the story!