It was spring of 2015. We were volunteering in Canary Islands, Spain. And we were looking for a job. What we wanted at that moment, was to find a job as soon as possible, where we each could save (not just earn) at least 3-4 thousand euro in a maximum of 6 months.
In two weeks’ time we were in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. At that time only thinking about the possibility to work there. We didn’t know anyone working in the Netherlands, nor we had any job offered to us. But from what we read online it looked like the best country in our situation, and we decided to give it a try.
Less than a week later we signed a contract with employment agency and became temporary workers.
At the end we worked in the Netherlands for exactly 6 months. For the whole period we worked at one place – in a meat factory. While reaching our financial goals, we learned quite a lot of new things along the way. About ourselves, about work in the Netherlands and about struggles you are going through when saving more than 60% of your wage.
At this point you must have got it – it’s not about well-paying office job with cool perks in the Netherlands, that I’m going to talk. It’s about manual (and often hard) work and money saving. Like the title suggests – it’s about how everyone, working in the Netherlands, can save 10 000 euro in one year. Everyone with at least basic knowledge of English or Dutch and determination to do it!
Some of the tips that you will find in this article can be helpful in any other country. Some are specific for the Netherlands and situation with employment there and now.
This kind of work in the Netherlands is for you
It is for you, if you are citizen of European Union and you can work legally in the Netherlands. Or if you can get a working permit to work in the Netherlands.
It is for you, if you are 18 – 50 (50+ can be a problem) and fit.
It is for you, if you see 1000 – 1500 EUR/month as a good net wage.
It is for you, if you are looking for any kind of job.
It is for you, if you are ready for manual work.
Basic knowledge of English or Dutch will make things easier for you. Because of high number of Polish workers in some places it’s enough if you know only Polish language.
Why to work in the Netherlands?
We chose to go to the Netherlands without any particular reason. We didn’t know much about the Netherlands back then. And we didn’t know anyone working there. But knowing what we know now, after having worked there for half a year, we would choose to work in the Netherlands again. Belgium being our second choice.
Because of few reasons:
- Most of people speak English in the Netherlands. And Dutch people overall are really nice and easy going. According to a lot of researches, the Netherlands is one of the happiest countries in the world after all.
- Minimum wage in the Netherlands is among the highest in Europe. In Belgium it’s even higher, but all in all everything there is about the same as in the Netherlands.
- Finding a job – when you are ready for everything – is super easy.
Finding a job in the Netherlands
Finding a good job, one that you would really like, might take some longer time. Like in any other country of the world.
But in a situation, when you are ready for more or less everything, things got a lot easier. As then only thing you need to do is to contact one, or better few, of many Dutch employment agencies and choose from what they can offer.
If you can find, you can contact an agency working mostly (or only) with people from your country. It’s not obligatory of course, but it will save your time. For example, we Latvians have few options. It makes the choice of available positions smaller, but these people from agency do EVERYTHING for you. And it doesn’t cost you a single cent.
And with everything I mean really everything. They do all the paperwork. They help you to open a bank account, if you want to have a Dutch bank account. They help you to get a social security number (BSN number, formerly known as Sofi number). In our situation, they provided us also with a place where to live, free transport to and from work, and we bought work boots from them.
We don’t have any experience with it, but a lot of people say, that it’s easy to find a job in hospitality sector. Especially during the tourism season. They say, you just print your CV and walk to all the bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels that you find interesting for yourself.
How much money can you earn in the Netherlands?
At first, let’s assume that you are 23 or older, working 36 – 40 hours a week for a minimum wage. If you are younger in the Netherlands your wage will be lower. If you will be working less than 36 – 40 hours a week, you will be earning less, too.
The minimum wage is lower if you are under 23. The government adjusts the amount of the minimum wage twice a year – on 1 January and 1 July – in line with changes in average collectively agreed wages in the Netherlands. / government.nl
If you are 23 or older, gross minimum wage in the Netherlands as of 1 January 2016 is 1.524,60 EUR (351,85 EUR/week). If you are younger, here you can check, how big it will be for you.
Now let me explain you step by step, how you can save 10 000 euro in one year. As an example, I will take salary of Una. I was working on average 45 – 50 hours per week, and thus I was earning more.
- Every week, after paying for health insurance (€ 19,66), accommodation (€ 85 ) and taxes, she received about € 200 in her bank account.
- One year has approximately 52 weeks. 52 x € 200 = € 10 400.
- Vacation money for a year is 8% of your annual gross salary. What you actually receive in your bank account is about € 1200.
- Working for a minimum wage you can apply for healthcare allowance. In 2015 you could get back € 78,50 per month. In a year it makes 12 x € 78,50 = € 942. We applied for healthcare allowance through EUtaxBack, and it cost each of us € 50. Apply for it while you are still working and you will receive it in your bank account monthly!
- All of it together makes € 12 492 (10 400 + 1200 + 942 – 50).
- In order to save € 10 000, you will have € 2492 for a year for your spending (on average € 207 per month). If you ask me, if it’s possible to live on that in the Netherlands? It is possible. Actually we spent even less. It is enough for food, internet and some other things.
You can apply for a tax refund and get some more money back from the government of the Netherlands. We have applied through the same company – EUtaxBack – and now we are still waiting.
Few more tips and lessons learned
Set a goal of how much you want to save right at the beginning. This kind of work, especially if it’s your first time doing something like that, can be really hard. Sometimes psychically, sometimes mentally, sometimes in both ways. Having a goal will make things way easier. Simply because you will know, that you are not here forever. You will always know – X more days or X more euro and then I’m leaving.
Set your wellness as your top priority. Always get a good sleep. Eat as healthy as you can. Do more things that make you feel good. Find something to keep yourself busy in your free time. Working for more than 6 months, I would think about taking some time off from work. At least for few days now and then. I finished these 6 months without taking anything extra. Weekends were my only days off.
Go together with someone. Preferably with someone with similar goals. Or make friends with like minded people. Or keep in touch online with someone who shares the same views. No matter how dedicated you are, keeping up for such an extended period alone can be too tough for many.
Think about living somewhere apart. For the whole 6 months we lived in a camping together with 100+ of our colleagues always around. You work with these people. You go to and from work with the same people. You spend your free time with the same people. You go shopping (we had free bus to a town twice a week) with the same people. Trust me, this can drive one mad.
Renting a house or apartment together with some other people may even help you to save money at the end. Only at the end did we think about possibility to do some house sitting in one of nearby towns. It wouldn’t be too bad to have an apartment or house only for yourself and save money at the same time, right? Save more money = work shorter period to reach your goal. Think about it!
Set yourself spending limits. Like in any other situation having a goal set makes things easier. You splurged and spent more last week, this week you will need to tighten your belt. Try to keep on this. But don’t forget also about your wellness, which in long term is even more important.
Get a local bank card. Unless you have Maestro card already, then use it in the Netherlands. As our MasterCard’s weren’t accepted almost anywhere, where we went, we had to deal with cash for most of the time. But taking out cash abroad means paying extra in bank fees.
You can do it!
Trust in yourself and don’t give up! When you have a goal, you can achieve big things.
It took about 3 months of daily reminding to myself – I can do it – until I actually started to believe, that I will eventually finish this. For all these months other part of me was constantly questioning, why are you doing this? You can find a better job.
It will feel like never-ending process at some time or many times, but just keep going! Time will pass. You will achieve your goal. And all of this will be past.
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.