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27 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

According to research carried out by NU, cinemas in the Netherlands are raising their ticket prices in order to make up for the high cost of energy unless the Dutch government steps in to offer financial support. 

Cinemas backed into a corner by higher energy prices

Back in September, the Dutch cultural sector announced that it hoped to spare customers and visitors from higher prices by passing on the rising energy costs to the government. At the time, the director of the Dutch Association of Cinemas and Film Theatres, Gulian Nolthenius, told NU that “a visit to the cinema should remain one of the cheapest outings.” 

Over the past two months, however, the industry’s outlook appears to have changed. While it still hopes that the government will take “all conceivable measures” to provide financial support to businesses, cinemas across the country have already taken steps to raise ticket prices after struggling to keep up with rising energy bills. 

Cultural sector calls on Dutch government to provide financial support

NU reports that cinemas such as the Rialto in Amsterdam have had to raise ticket prices, along with the KINO in Rotterdam and Lumière Cinema in Maastricht: “The main concern is, of course, that energy prices will continue to rise and thus become an unmanageable and unaffordable cost item,” director Nico Haenen told the website.

While the Rialto and other institutions, such as Forum Groningen, are also taking steps to improve the insulation of their building and reduce their energy consumption by lowering the thermostat, turning off projectors and closing doors, this won’t necessarily be enough. 

“We do what we can, but we don’t have that many options,” Forum Groningen’s CEO Dirk Nijdam explains to NU. “For a solution to the high energy costs, we look to the government. They must step in.”

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26 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Considering making the switch from a real tree to a fake one this Christmas? You might want to reconsider: according to one major garden centre in the Netherlands, the price of artificial trees has risen by 10 percent this year, while the cost of buying a real tree has remained about the same. 

Price of artificial trees rising due to higher transport costs

Recently, artificial Christmas trees have become an increasingly popular option amongst families and households looking for a more sustainable alternative to the traditional fir. While a high-quality artificial tree has always come with a rather hefty price tag, NU reports that this year prices have risen by a whopping 10 percent. 

Talking to NU, Intratuin’s Peter Paul Kleinbussink explained that the cost of transporting the fake trees from Asia has risen considerably since last Christmas. Meanwhile, Gerard Krol from the Dutch Association of Christmas Tree Growers (VNK), says that higher fuel and transport costs will have a limited impact on the price of real trees. 

Real Christmas trees still a popular option in the Netherlands

Do the higher prices mean the Netherlands is set to experience a slightly less festive holiday season in 2022? Kleinbussink doesn’t think so: “People are not going to cut back on socialising, especially not in crisis years.” Although, he does expect that people will spend a little less on outdoor lighting because of the high cost of energy

Krol, on the other hand, has noticed that families are returning to the more traditional ways, and are now more likely to opt for a real tree over a fake one. He advises anyone who is planning on going for a real fir to be sure to water their tree regularly and generously to ensure it lasts all the way through the holidays to Epiphany on January 6.

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25 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

In an ongoing effort to reduce the number of smokers in the Netherlands, the Dutch government intends to ban the sale of cigarettes in all shops and supermarkets that aren’t specialist tobacco stores from 2032, sources from The Hague have told De Telegraaf

Dutch government working towards a smoke-free generation by 2040

Over the past several years, the Dutch government has implemented a variety of measures to restrict the sale of cigarettes and make the idea of smoking less appealing to youngsters. Through the National Prevention Agreement, the government is working towards a smoke-free generation by 2040 – meaning that no young person will smoke. 

So far, all packaging has been changed so that cigarettes and rolling tobacco are sold in neutral brown packaging, and in 2024 a ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in supermarkets will come into effect. The latter measure is the first step towards the government’s plan to phase out tobacco sales in stores to the point where only specialist retailers will be allowed to stock and sell cigarettes and tobacco products after 2030. 

Sale of cigarettes to be banned at all shops except tobacconists

While an exact timeline for this plan remains unclear, De Telegraaf reports that from 2030 petrol stations and convenience stores will be banned from selling cigarettes and rolling tobacco and that, from 2032, the only stores licenced to sell tobacco products will be tobacconists. 

Outside of The Hague, some businesses have already taken it upon themselves to reduce cigarette stock and sales. Last year, Lidl announced it had stopped selling tobacco products in the Netherlands, and earlier this month Albert Heijn launched a trial for its first cigarette-free supermarket. 

Cost of cigarettes in 2022 the same as in 2012, Maastricht study reveals

In addition to this, the state secretary of public health, welfare and sport, Maarten van Ooijen, said he hopes to ban smoking in playgrounds and sports parks from 2025. The government also intends to increase cigarette prices in April 2023 and in 2024, with a pack expected to become an average of 1,20 euros more expensive as a result of higher taxes

In spite of plans to further increase cigarette prices – potentially up to as much as 47 euros a pack by 2040 – a recent study conducted by Maastricht University found that while the price of a pack of cigarettes has increased over the last decade, the affordability of tobacco products has remained unchanged as a result of rising salaries

“The fact that the affordability of tobacco has remained virtually the same over a 10-year period makes it clear that the excise duty increases in the Netherlands have been insufficient,” the researchers in Maastricht wrote.

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25 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Groningen has once again been named the healthiest city in the Netherlands, while The Hague, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam occupy three of the bottom five spots in a recent ranking published by Arcadis. 

The Healthy City Index 2022

Published every two years by engineering company Arcadis, the Gezonde Stad Index, or Healthy City Index is based on research conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM), and examines 20 Dutch cities, scoring and ranking them all across five categories: 

  • Mobility
  • Outdoor spaces
  • (Natural) Environment
  • Built environment
  • Community  

2022 marks only the second edition of the index, but Arcadis notes that the overall health of each city included has improved since 2020, regardless of their standing in the ranking. This year’s index notes how society has changed as a result of and in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the whole, Dutch cities have evolved after jobs in the Netherlands became more remote-friendly, with many areas pushing to include more green and public spaces for those who now work part-time or full-time from home. Cars are also given less space in most cities, with councils and municipalities instead prioritising the experience of pedestrians and cyclists instead of motorists

Groningen once again ranked healthiest city in the Netherlands

For the second time, Groningen has nabbed the top spot in the ranking, coming in the top 10 in all five of the assessed categories. The city’s best and worst performances were in the built environment and outdoor spaces categories, where it came in first and 10th place respectively. 

While the top spots in the ranking are occupied by some of the Netherlands’ smaller cities, the four major cities – Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, and The Hague – all claim spaces in the bottom half of the ranking, Utrecht achieved the best overall score, coming in 14th place behind Leeuwarden, while Rotterdam claimed the bottom spot after performing especially poorly in the community, natural environment, and outdoor spaces categories. 

Which Dutch cities are the healthiest?

Interested to find out how your city performed? Check out the full ranking below: 

  1. Groningen
  2. Emmen
  3. Apeldoorn
  4. Nijmegen
  5. Maastricht
  6. Almere
  7. Amersfoort
  8. Haarlem
  9. Enschede
  10. Breda
  11. Arnhem
  12. Eindhoven
  13. Leeuwarden
  14. Utrecht
  15. Terneuzen
  16. The Hague
  17. Tilburg
  18. Amsterdam
  19. Zaanstad
  20. Rotterdam

For more information, visit the Arcadis website.

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Light is one of the most important – yet often overlooked – elements of interior design, both on aesthetic and functionality levels. It is even one of the key criteria in determining the value of a property. Before you redesign your lighting, it is worthwhile to understand the different types of lighting, their strengths and their effects, so you can best decide how to illuminate your space in the greatest and brightest way.

General lightingNatural light is a major player in ensuring our well-being day in and day out. If natural lighting is scarce in your house, consider increasing it by using large mirrors – strategically placed across windows and by selecting furniture with reflective surfaces – metal, glass and light colours on shiny surfaces can all work. To complement natural lighting, we turn to artificial lighting.

While we need artificial lighting to simply see and function around the house, the potential of artificial lighting to transform our home experience is tremendous, and often a missed opportunity in most interiors. While there are numerous things to consider with interior lighting design, here’s one key piece of advice: never rely on just one lighting source.

Task lightingTask lighting is essential for illuminating a certain area, or even a restricted corner, in order to complete a specific activity – or a task. Usually, task lighting can be found in offices where desk lamps are used to help you work, but also around living room sofas and couches where floor and desk lamps help you read, and of course on bedside tables for the evening wind down.

Moreover, task lighting also applies to the lighting on the mirror in the bathroom, the sink, the oven and the hot-plates in the kitchen, as its purpose is just to illuminate the space where practical daily activities like cooking take place.

Accent lightingOn the other hand, accent lighting is a form of decorative lighting, focusing on a particular area or object in order to highlight its aesthetic, give the feeling of depth and create a pleasant atmosphere in the interior design.

Accent lighting can be created with hidden led lighting in staircases, or in ceiling corners. It is also very common to use accent lighting on shelves to illuminate books and other artefacts, and of course paintings on walls or beautiful plants around the space.

Having said all that, accent lighting is not only to shine light on beautiful objects. When done correctly, accent lighting can transform even a boring corridor into an exciting space by creating contrast between light and dark, and structure throughout the space.

Ambience lightingAmbience lighting is a form of general lighting that provides a comfortable level of illumination without too much glare. Aside from the basic lighting functionality, ambience lighting improves the sense of warmth and depth of a room or space. Although with ambience lighting you do not have to illuminate a certain restricted area, you will need to think twice about where to instal the light, the dimming and the luminaire you will choose.

Final adviceSince we said don’t rely on just one source, always consider every room and every space in terms of primary light, secondary lights and even tertiary lights. Make sure you include a dimmable optionality, and make sure your switch connections allow you to control these lights separately so you can create different lighting scenarios.

When your living room is hosting a cosy movie night, a romantic evening or your kids’ playtime on a winter Sunday afternoon, it will need very different lighting schemes for each of those scenarios. To sum it up, avoid having one light source in any given space; not only can it be tiring to the eye, but it also lacks depth and style, and in many cases, it won’t even be practical.

As light is a major interior design factor, it is best to analyse which areas of the house you wish to illuminate and for what reason. Smart task lighting, strategic accent lighting, and elegant ambience lighting should all work together to upgrade your interior and facilitate your daily activities and interactions in the most natural yet luxurious way.

24 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Significantly higher health insurance premiums for 2023 are forcing an increasing number of people in the Netherlands to increase their deductible in order to save money, Independer reports.

Dutch health insurance costs rising considerably in 2023

With December right around the corner, people across the Netherlands are looking into options for saving money on their health insurance, perhaps by switching to another company or by significantly increasing their eigen risico, or deductible, in order to reduce their monthly costs. 

While DSW – the first insurer to announce their premiums for the new year – raised their rates by “just” 9,75 euros a month, some people have seen their monthly costs rise by over 10 euros. On Prinsjesdag, the Dutch government announced that the healthcare allowance will increase in 2023, but for many, this won’t be enough to help them cover their rising outgoing costs. 

People in the Netherlands take a higher eigen risico to save money

According to figures from the price comparison site Independer, since the final insurance announced their new rates for 2023, the number of people in the Netherlands who have opted for the maximum eigen risico rate of 885 euros has increased from 25,7 percent in 2020 to 38,7 percent. In doing so, some could save up to 300 euros a year. 

While perhaps a good idea in theory, the reality is that 64 percent of people who opt for a deductible of 885 euros don’t have that money to hand. This means that they run the risk of not being able to afford the healthcare they need if they run into any health issues in 2023. In a survey carried out by Q&A Insight, 44 percent of respondents also said they sometimes avoided going to a doctor, hospital, or dentist to not have to pay for the care they would receive. 

“Healthcare premiums are going up considerably and people are looking for ways to save on that,” Bas Knopperts, a healthcare expert at Independer, told the AD. “Please note that with an increased deductible, you do need a buffer for any higher healthcare costs,” he warned.

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Most of my clients with whom I work just want one thing: to get paid to do the job they love. For many of them, that means a promotion. When I ask, “What is your plan to get a promotion?”, it becomes silent.

Expat professionals have an additional challenge which they wouldn’t face if they stayed in their own country and that is a network to support them and a deep understanding of how the local culture works.

Below I made a list of some of the main mistakes expat professionals make and how you can avoid these mistakes, so you can get that promotion. So, let’s dive in!

1. No clarityMany people believe that if they will continue to work hard, a promotion will be a natural given. But it is not. Your career is your responsibility, not your boss’s or CEO’s. Everything begins with clarity. What is your vision for your professional future? Without this clarity, you will be drifting like a bottle in the ocean, going to wherever the waves will take you.

So, take a pen and paper and map out the next five years. What would give you the most joy and fulfilment, professionally? With whom do you see yourself working, on what projects, and using which of your strengths?

2. No clear planHaving clarity when it comes to your next steps is definitely a necessary first step, but the step-by-step plan that counts as well. Most professionals are great at doing their job really well, but often forget to spend time on their own development. And in order to develop yourself, you need to have a plan for what you want to develop and how to get there. Once you have a clear vision of where you want to be in the next years, you will need a clear step-by-step plan on how to get there.

Try to answer the following questions: Do you need to do any additional studies? Which skills do you need to develop? Which people can help you to get there? Write it all down and break it into small steps.

3. No idea who can help youThis point is crucial. No matter how hard you work and how crystal clear your vision is, you need people who will help you. Often the problem expat professionals have is that they left their support network back in their home country and need to start all over again. I know it is tough, because I have been there myself. Relationships take time to build. Especially in the Netherlands, where people tend to be more distant, than in, for example, southern countries.

Therefore, you need to start building your support network TODAY. In order to make sure you will get that promotion soon; you will need to tap into two types of networks: the internal and external one. Both are equally important.

Internal networkThe internal one involves your boss, a mentor from your company, a promoter (someone who can actually pull the strings in your organisation) and other senior professionals.

External networkThe external one involves a career coach, for instance, someone who helps you get clarity on your desired next role(s), helps you with making a step-by-step plan and keeps you accountable for executing it. Or a recruiter, for example, who knows what’s going on in your industry, other professionals from outside of your company, or a mentor, should you choose someone outside of your organisation.

Make a list of all the people who can help you and start building genuine relationships with them.

Invest your timeIf you are truly serious about playing your A-game, the smartest thing you can do is invest your time and energy into building the above. Remember, focusing 100 percent on making sure your responsibilities are done and 0 percent on yourself and your development may sound like a noble thing to do, but in reality, it is naive. You need to believe in yourself and show up for yourself. You are your own highest priority, not your tasks.

4. Not knowing the local culture and the local job marketObviously, when you arrive in a new country, you might not know how things work very well. The quicker you will find out how the local (Dutch) culture works, the better. Understanding the Dutch job market is equally important. What are the newest developments in your industry? What are the salary levels? Make sure you research it well.

Here are some links to the previous articles on this topic.

How to nail job interviews in the Netherlands You moved to the Netherlands jobless, now what? Ready for a promotion? What is the one thing you will implement from the aforementioned list?

23 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Doctors in the Netherlands are concerned about the increasing number of teenagers who are absent from school as a result of stress, NOS reports. 

Stress causing an increasing number of Dutch teens to miss school

The rising cases of burnout and stress after the coronavirus pandemic are not only occurring among workers in the Netherlands. According to NOS, an increasing number of young people are missing school, calling in sick as they’re unable to cope with the social and academic pressure.

Speaking to the website, one 17-year-old student explained that she called in sick one day every week: “I have complaints every day due to stress, poor sleep, headaches all day long and sometimes I have panic attacks during classes.” In a quick survey conducted on the NOS Instagram account, nearly 50 percent of the 1.200 secondary school students admitted to occasionally calling in sick because they felt stressed.

Paediatricians calling for improved awareness and better care

Doctors and paediatricians are therefore calling for more awareness and better care in order to prevent stress among teens and ensure early diagnosis and treatment. “The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the stress, anxiety, and depressive feelings will go off the rails,” Raquel Abrahams, Vice President of the Association of Youth Doctors (AJN), explained, emphasising that long wait times make it difficult for people to get help.

With both the Dutch healthcare system and the education sector facing severe staff shortages, schools and teachers don’t always notice when their students are struggling, and young people are often unable to get the support and care they need in order to feel like they can participate in class and other school and social activities.

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23 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

You might not be ready to believe that a new year is only a few short weeks away, but it remains true: 2022 has flown by, and 2023 is right around the corner. As the festive season approaches, cities and municipalities across the Netherlands are preparing for their New Year’s celebrations – although in some parts of the country, New Year’s Eve will look a little different this year, as 12 municipalities have taken the decision to introduce a ban on the sale and personal use of fireworks. 

Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Haarlem ban at-home fireworks

A study conducted by NOS found that 12 municipalities – including five key Dutch cities – have implemented a fireworks ban this New Year’s Eve. The decision comes after two years in which the Dutch government opted to ban fireworks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and to limit the pressure placed on hospitals and healthcare staff by infections and injuries related to at-home fireworks. 

While the national ban won’t be in effect this year, the municipalities of Schiedam, Bloemendaal, Heemstede, Heumen, Mook en Middelaar, Soest, Utrechtse Heuvelrug, ApeldoornAmsterdam, Rotterdam, Nijmegen, and Haarlem have all implemented their own ban. Meanwhile, Arnhem and Eindhoven have already confirmed their ban will come into effect in 2023. 

Fireworks led to 10 million euros of damage in the Netherlands last year

According to NOS, these municipalities believe the “disturbance, material damage, injury, and environmental pollution is disproportionately great.” In spite of the national ban, last year Dutch insurance companies revealed that fireworks on New Year’s Eve had led to 10 million euros worth of damage.

Instead of permitting the sale and personal use of fireworks, cities are arranging their own celebrations and fireworks shows for locals and tourists to enjoy on New Year’s Eve.

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22 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

The most recent figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) show that the average cost of buying a house in the Netherlands has fallen for the third month in a row, dropping by 0,5 percent between September and October 2022. 

CBS: Dutch house prices fell by 0,5 percent in October

Dutch house prices had been rising steadily for years before skyrocketing during the coronavirus pandemic, with prices doubling between 2013 and this summer. Over the past several months, however, there’s been a slight shift in the Dutch housing market, with both CBS and real estate association NVM recording notable drops in prices

This trend has continued into the autumn, with the latest figures published by CBS revealing that, while the cost of buying a home has risen by 7,8 percent between October 2021 and last month, prices have in fact fallen by 0,5 percent since September 2022. 

Average cost of buying a house in the Netherlands now 428.000 euros  

This marks the third month in a row that house prices have fallen, with CBS reporting an average transaction value of 428.079 euros in October, down from 446.263 euros in August 2022.

But what’s changed since the summer? As recent forecasts published by both Rabobank and ABN AMRO explain, the falling prices can be attributed to a range of factors, most notably the high rate of inflation and rising cost of living, as well as the high cost of energy, and rising interest rates on mortgages.

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