The Hague news


30 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

Three Dutch cities have been named among the top 50 student cities in the world. The ranking, which was put together by The Campus Advisor, named Utrecht, Amsterdam and Groningen as some of the best cities for student life.

Student cities ranking reveals best student cities in 2023

The ranking, which looked at the 50 best student cities in the world, undertook an extensive analysis of ratings left by university students on The Campus Advisor website. Rather than focus on the quality of the universities themselves, the organisation ranked each location by student friendliness, cost of living, nightlife, public transport, amenities, safety, and the opinions more generally of current students.

According to the ranking, Melbourne in Australia is the best student city in the world, followed by Berlin in Germany, and Newcastle in the UK. Groningen, Amsterdam and Utrecht all landed spots in the top 50, but other Dutch cities with large universities such as Leiden, Rotterdam, Delft and Eindhoven did not make it onto the list.

Groningen named as best student city in the Netherlands

The ranking crowned Groningen as the best student city in the Netherlands, putting it in 23rd place overall in the ranking. The city scored highly for friendliness, nightlife and amenities. “The city is small, but it feels like home to every student living there,” wrote one respondent.

Behind Groningen came Amsterdam in 28th place. A particular favourite with international students, the capital scored highly for nightlife, perhaps not a surprise given the notoriety of the Amsterdam party scene and Red Light District with university students. 

The other Dutch city praised by the ranking is Utrecht: named as the 40th best university city in the world. Utrecht was noted for student friendliness and safety. 

Top 10 best student cities in the world 2023

According to the ranking, these are the top 10 student cities in the world in 2023:

  • 1. Melbourne, Australia
  • 2. Berlin, Germany
  • 3. Newcastle, UK
  • 4. Brno, Czechia
  • 5. Seoul, South Korea
  • 6. Vienna, Austria
  • 7. Galway, Ireland
  • 8. Krakow, Poland
  • 9. Montreal, Canada
  • 10. Singapore, Singapore

For the full ranking, check out The Campus Advisor’s website

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29 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

November has already been the wettest month ever in the Netherlands, without even being over! The month has so far seen more than double the average rainfall in the Netherlands. 

Autumn 2023 likely to be one of the wettest ever in the Netherlands

November is not the only wet month the Netherlands has seen so far in 2023, in fact, the entire season looks set to be up there with the wettest Dutch autumns ever recorded. The meteorological autumn runs from September 1 to November 30 in the Netherlands, and the weather has this year been relatively mild in terms of temperature. 

Climate scientists put this down to climate change. The warm temperatures, coupled with the increased rainfall, are symptomatic of the climate change taking place due to global warming.  “The temperature rise can be clearly linked to the Netherlands warming up because of climate change,” said NOS weatherman Peter Kuipers Munneke. “Autumn has been warming up for decades and is now 1.7 degrees warmer than a century ago. This autumn has been two degrees warmer still.”

In the future, the Netherlands will see fewer frosty days

According to new climate forecasts released by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Netherlands will have warmer summers and wetter winters as the planet continues to heat up. Kuipers Munneke added that higher temperatures also lead to more rain, with the amount of precipitation increasing by around seven millimetres for every extra degree in temperature. 

The KNMI thinks there will also be less frost and fewer cold days in future winters. “It will be warmer every season, with more tropical days and fewer occasions when it freezes all day,” the agency said.

Thumb image credit: timsimages.uk / Shutterstock.com

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More and more expats are discovering Alkmaar as a sought-after destination, with its rich cultural heritage and excellent quality of life. Whether you’ve recently embraced Alkmaar as your new hometown or are contemplating it, join Daniela Stoyanova from Crown Relocations as she navigates the essential elements of what makes Alkmaar great.

Gain inspiration for your new life in Alkmaar. Nestled in the heart of North Holland, Alkmaar offers an alluring haven for expats and tourists alike. Here are six of the things that make Alkmaar stand out from other Dutch towns and cities:

1. The Waag  Taking centre stage is Alkmaar’s iconic Waag, or Weighing House, a historical edifice with origins dating back to the 14th century. It houses the local tourist office and the Dutch Cheese Museum. Symbolising the city’s vibrant market and commerce, the Waag boasts distinctive architecture and has played an integral role in Alkmaar’s rich history. The Waag is a must-see, offering a fascinating glimpse into the unique narrative of this charming city and attracting thousands of visitors, especially during the Alkmaar Cheese Market which takes place from spring until early autumn each year.

2. The Grote Kerk (Great Church)Immerse yourself in Alkmaar’s history by exploring the magnificent Grote Kerk, a soaring church that has stood as a testament since the 15th century. As you ascend its heights, panoramic views unveil the architectural grandeur and cultural significance embedded in every stone. The Grote Kerk is a historic landmark and a living tapestry of Alkmaar’s journey through the ages.  

3. Culinary delights Alkmaar’s culinary scene extends beyond its renowned cheese market. Wander through the centuries-old streets to discover charming cafes and traditional Dutch eateries to get a feel for the local food culture. Each culinary stop tells a unique story, from the artisanal craftsmanship of cheese makers to the time-honoured recipes gracing the tables. Alkmaar’s food scene is a diverse journey through flavours, textures, and a rich tapestry of gastronomic traditions.  

4. AZ Alkmaar FCIn the realm of sports, Alkmaar is proud to call AZ Alkmaar its own, a football club steeped in history and passion. The club plays in the Eredivisie, the highest professional football league in the Netherlands. Attend a match at Alkmaar’s AFAS Stadium where you’re bound to explore the club’s legacy intertwined with the community’s heart. The football fervour that permeates Alkmaar is more than a game – it’s a shared experience uniting football fans from far and wide.  

5. Stedelijk Museum AlkmaarEmbark on a cultural escapade at the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, a treasure trove unveiling the city’s artistic and historical heritage. Explore the exhibits as you gain profound insights into Alkmaar’s vibrant tapestry. From masterpieces to artefacts, the museum serves as a living testament to the city’s creative spirit and role in shaping Dutch culture.  

6. Discovering Alkmaar’s charmsTraverse Alkmaar’s historic landmarks, from cobblestone streets to enchanting hidden corners, where tales of the past echo. Embrace cultural offerings, whether an art exhibition or a live performance, as Alkmaar seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. Whether you’re a new resident settling in or a weekend explorer, Alkmaar extends a warm welcome, transcending its physical boundaries.  

Should your journey lead you to consider making Alkmaar your home, Crown Relocations is your ally. Beyond the charming facade of the city, Crown Relocations is here to provide comprehensive support, ensuring your transition is smooth and filled with the anticipation of discovering all that Alkmaar has to offer. Their detailed city guides are crafted to be your companion, unveiling the layers of Alkmaar’s charm and practicalities and making your move a seamless and informed experience. 

29 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

Concerns have been raised about the security and safety of aircraft and luggage at Schiphol Airport due to staff shortages, according to workers who spoke to Dutch public broadcaster NOS. The broadcaster interviewed a number of employees working in baggage handling at the airport, who said that poor working conditions have led to many workers quitting their jobs

Baggage handlers at Schiphol complain of poor working conditions

Baggage handlers at the airport have long been complaining about poor working conditions at Swissport, a baggage and logistics firm used by Schiphol, stressing that a shortage of staff is now leading to further problems such as safety and security risks. 

A luggage worker told NOS: “The number of flights has not decreased. You start with five people and at a certain point, you are alone on a flight. That is simply not possible.” 

The broadcaster also found that a large number of workers have switched companies, for example, one worker had quit working for Swissport at Schiphol and moved to KLM. An overview obtained by NOS shows that 14 foremen left baggage handler Swissport in 2023 out of a total of 37. These staff are responsible for the teams that load and unload baggage from planes. 

Workload has become too high for baggage handlers to work safely, say employees

As part of their interviews with employees at Swissport, NOS found that a number of workers believe the workload has become too high for them to be able to work safely. The broadcaster revealed that in October 2023 a serious incident took place where baggage handlers overloaded an aircraft, causing potential danger to pilots, passengers and freight. 

Thankfully, a pilot spotted the error and corrected the issue, but Swissport responded by suspending the team lead overseeing the events that day. Representatives of trade union FNV blame the excess workload of baggage handlers for this mistake. 

An employee who recently left Swissport said: “This colleague already had to deal with irritated passengers and crew on a flight. He arrived at the other flight with a delay and barely a break.” The trade union agreed, stating: “Under this enormous workload, there are more and more incidents and minor accidents involving equipment and people. Consider minor collisions with dollies, but also minor incidents involving physical damage or incidents to the aircraft themselves.”

Image: Imran Khan’s Photography / Shutterstock.com

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28 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

The Netherlands saw its first snowfall last night, with various parts of the country waking to a small blanket of snow for the first time this season. The weather remains chilly, though normal for this time of year, with more snow expected across the Netherlands tonight and throughout the coming days.

Frozen roads make for dangerous driving, warn authorities

A number of car accidents also took place overnight and throughout the morning, in large part due to icy conditions on roads across the country. Though many of the roads in Dutch cities have remained clear, a number of traffic jams were recorded by the ANWB, and authorities advised drivers to take care in the icy conditions. 

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) warned drivers to “be extra alert and adjust your driving behaviour to the circumstances”. The ANWB recorded a total of 61 traffic jams covering 319 kilometres of Dutch roads during the morning rush hour on Tuesday. 

Snow expected in the east of the Netherlands

While Monday night’s snow has already covered several parts of the Netherlands in white, there is even more snowfall expected on Tuesday evening. According to the KNMI, temperatures on Tuesday are expected to plummet back down during the evening, causing more ice, and some snowfall in the east of the country. 

“At the end of the afternoon, the temperature inland will drop below zero quite quickly, especially where there may still be snow,” the KNMI said. On the coast, the agency predicts a chance of hail or thunder as well. 

Image: T.W. van Urk / Shutterstock.com

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28 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

From June 2024, there will be no direct trains from the Netherlands and London as Amsterdam Centraal’s passport control undergoes renovations. Despite the disappointing news, it will still be possible to travel in the other direction from London to the Netherlands, or from the Netherlands to London with a stop in Brussels. 

Stakeholders fail to find solution for passport problem

The disruption is not only concerning for passengers but also for a number of Dutch transport organisations who spent months trying to figure out a solution. The NS, ProRail, and the Dutch government conducted research to find out if other alternative options could be successful but unfortunately, no solution was found. 

One positive comes from the fact that the disruption to public transport was initially expected to last for around 11 months, but will now only stop direct journeys for six. This is due to the extensive nature of renovations set to be carried out at Amsterdam Central Station. According to NOS, the passport control at Centraal will reopen in a new location in December 2024. 

Rotterdam alternative also not possible

As part of the research into alternatives, Rotterdam was also considered as a way to keep passengers flowing between the Netherlands and the UK while Amsterdam is out of action. However, Rotterdam station lacks the capacity to carry out such large checks. 

Rotterdam’s passport control at the train station has room for just 150 passengers at a time. This means that up to 750 passengers would miss out due to the lack of space, something that Eurostar notes is not financially viable.

Thumb image credit: www.hollandfoto.net / Shutterstock.com 

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Building resilience is one way to protect your mental and emotional health. Olivia Brouillette from Therapy with Olivia explains how you can bounce back from difficult situations.

Resilience is about how quickly you adapt, bounce back from and cope in the face of adversity, trauma, stress, and whatever else life will throw your way. We all need resilience to survive and function. However, some people are more resilient than others, but, fortunately, it is something we can all learn and build.

Understanding resilienceFor many, becoming resilient happens over time, something which was built up from the experience of stressful or traumatic events. It’s not something you’re born with or not born with, but rather a skill that you can harness and grow over time. Some may find adversity easier to deal with than others due to factors such as a strong connection with family and friends, relationships that encourage love and growth, and a supportive community.

However, even if you feel as though you do not have the social support or external factors that help facilitate the building of resilience, you can still build the characteristics that make a person resilient. A person who has a positive attitude in the face of adversity, a person who can regulate their emotions and solve any problems that come their way.

How can you build more resilience?The most common characteristics of a resilient person are things that many of us hope we already have or can have at some point in our lives.

These characteristics include:

A positive outlook and sense of purpose Adaptability and emotional regulation Problem-solving skills Self-confidence and self-compassion Strong social connection Perseverance A sense of humour The ability to learn from experiences Realistic optimism It’s not necessary to naturally have all of these characteristics to be resilient, they can all be built and created over time.

Cultivate a positive mindsetSomething that helps people recover from stressful life events is fostering a hopeful outlook and believing in your ability to overcome challenges. By cultivating a positive mindset, you actively challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with more positive (and realistic!) perspectives. This mindset is something that you can build up through practising gratitude regularly.

Developing strong social connectionsAnother contributor to resilience is strong social connections with friends, family and community. Building these connections and creating closer relationships with others makes it easier to seek social support during difficult times. Sharing and expressing your feelings can help you overcome the event – remember, talking with someone you trust helps! 

Enhance emotional regulationEmotional regulation is the ability to identify and acknowledge your emotions without judgement. Seeing your emotions through a non-judgemental eye allows you to develop healthier coping mechanisms to manage stress and negative emotions.

Set realistic goalsThis one is beneficial for building resilience when it comes to stress. Break down large goals into smaller, more manageable tasks and celebrate those small achievements! Doing this can help fight against stress as you’re looking at smaller steps, not the bigger picture.

Build problem-solving skillsDuring high-stress events or difficult situations, seeing the problem in small, specific components can help you find practical solutions and get yourself out of the situation.

Take care of physical healthIt is advised for you to find some sort of body movement that feels best for you. With body movement, enough sleep, a balanced diet and good hydration, your body becomes physically prepared for stress.

Foster a sense of purposeYou can find a sense of purpose through identifying your values and setting meaningful goals with those values. A sense of purpose provides a solid foundation to help you navigate and overcome life’s challenges.

Cultivate self-compassionAn important aspect of being resilient is self-compassion or treating yourself with kindness and understanding. This is especially important to do when experiencing challenging events. Avoiding self-criticism and practising compassion helps you heal and bounce back from these difficult events.

Learn from past experiencesChallenges are an opportunity to learn and grow. Reflect on past experiences and extract lessons that can contribute to personal development. The more we learn, the easier it is to recover from similar experiences.

Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniquesPractising mindfulness and other relaxation techniques is a great way to cope with stress, manage your negative emotions and overcome life’s struggles. Experimenting with various techniques is essential to helping you find the one (or several) that works best for you. Try integrating them into your routine to ensure you remember to fall back on them during difficult times.

Seek professional support to build resilienceBuilding resilience can be tricky and you may need help knowing where to start. Seeking help from a mental health professional can help you address issues such as low self-esteem, loneliness and isolation, lack of social support, and other issues preventing you from becoming more resilient.

Do you want to build resilience or get help for other psychological issues? Therapy with Olivia is a private clinical psychology practice created by and for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Although this community may be their specialty, they also cater to non-LGBTQ+ expats.

Doing your Dutch taxes can be a confusing process, especially if you have just started working in the Netherlands. PSM Consultancy breaks down everything you need to know about Dutch income tax.

Many expats who work in the Netherlands may be subject to Dutch income tax. Whether or not you must pay depends on a few factors. 

First, let’s define Dutch income tax:

What is the Dutch income tax return?The Dutch income tax return (inkomstenbelasting) is a formal process through which individuals in the Netherlands declare their income, deductions, and other relevant financial information to the Dutch tax authorities (Belastingdienst).

If you are a resident or non-resident of the Netherlands and receive income from the country, you are required to meet tax obligations in relation to this income. In order to pay or receive taxes back, you have to file a tax return on an annual basis.

How much income tax do you have to pay?There is no easy answer to that question because it depends on several factors, such as income, assets, deductible costs and outstanding debts (if applicable). How much income tax you will have to pay or you can expect to receive can be checked when completing the income tax return.

The income tax return is typically submitted annually and includes details about your various sources of income, such as employment / self-employment, investments, and other earnings. Deductible expenses, tax credits, and other relevant financial information are also reported in the income tax return.

When should you submit a Dutch tax return if you have received an invitation to do so?If you received an invitation to file a tax return from the Dutch Tax Authorities (Belastingdienst), you need to file by the date mentioned in the invitation, otherwise, you will receive a fine or penalty. The invitation mentions that you must send the tax return before May 1 related to the year to declare.

When should you submit a tax return as an entrepreneur?When you start a business in the Netherlands, it must be registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KVK). Subsequently, the KVK will inform the Belastingdienst of the registration. In this way, they will determine the taxes the entrepreneur will be dealing with.

Here are the tax obligations for entrepreneurs:

Income tax VAT or turnover tax Wage tax (when the entrepreneur employs staff members) National insurance contributions An invitation for a tax return will be sent in separately by Belastingdienst.

Do you need to file the income tax return if you haven’t received an invitation?If you did not receive the invitation to file a tax return, but the amount of tax payable is at least 49 euros in the income tax return (reference for the year 2022), you are obligated to file the income tax declaration. However, a tax return can be filed for up to 5 years.

Until when you can file the income tax return?You can file the income tax return until the following dates:

Tax year 2023: until December 31, 2028 Tax year 2022: until December 31, 2027 Tax year 2021: until December 31, 2026 Tax year 2020: until December 31, 2025 Tax year 2019: until December 31, 2024 Which tax return form applies to you?There are different types of tax return forms:

Tax return P: During the whole course of the tax return year, you had a resident taxpayer status or you were liable to pay social insurance contributions in the Netherlands. Tax return M: If you have only lived in the Netherlands for part of the tax year because you migrated to another country or just arrived in the Netherlands. Tax return C: If you did not live in the Netherlands during the whole year and were liable to tax and / or contributions in the country for the whole year. Tax return F: Tax return for a deceased business owner. How long does it take to get the income tax return assessment?If you file an income tax return for the year of 2023 between March and April 2024, on average you can receive a response before July 1, 2024. However, if you file the income tax return outside of those dates, the assessment may take up to 36 months.

What information is needed before filing a tax return?They are listed below, per category:

A) IndividualsThe following personal details are required for every tax return:

Citizen service number (burgerservicenummer or BSN). If applicable, also those of your partner and children. Bank account details / IBAN (Preferably from a Dutch bank account) Telephone number Home address B) Income (worldwide)You must report your income by providing the following:

Annual payslip (jaaropgaaf) Annual income statements from other countries C) Bank account detailsThis includes both your Dutch and any foreign bank accounts:

Annual statement of current accounts Annual statement of savings accounts, including those of any children under the age of 18. Annual statement from investment accounts D) PropertyDepending on your residency status, you will need to include different details on your tax return.

Non-resident taxpayerIf you are considered a non-resident taxpayer, you will need to report the following:

The home’s WOZ value on January 1 of the previous year Annual mortgage statement The final settlement from a notary (in case of purchase or sale of your house) Qualifying non-resident taxpayerIf you are considered a “qualifying non-resident taxpayer”, or if you have Dutch social insurance, you will also need your foreign property’s details:

E) OtherYou must provide the following details only if you are a “qualifying non-resident taxpayer”. This also applies if you were living in Belgium, Suriname or Aruba, or if you were covered by Dutch social insurance.

The value of your foreign property Annual mortgage statement of your foreign property Dividends Grants or loans for study costs Paid premiums for annuities An overview of paid premiums for occupational disability insurance F) Self-employment (eenmanszaak)Self-employed persons must provide the following:

VAT tax declaration reports (BTW – omzetbelasting) Bank statement of the company (jaaroverzicht) Income tax return for the previous year (inkomstenbelasting) Deductible expenses for individualsThere are different types of income. For income tax purposes, they are divided into three “boxes”, each with their own tax rates:

Box 1: Taxable income from work and property Box 2: Taxable income from substantial interest Box 3: Taxable income from savings and investments Box 1 has the following deductible items:

Transportation expenses (if your employer doesn’t cover them and you live over 10 kilometres away from your workplace) Deductible costs of owner-occupied housing Expenses for income provisions, such as annuity premiums Spousal maintenance Specific healthcare expenses (not covered by own risk) Temporary stay at home for people with severe disabilities Study costs (up to and including tax year 2021) Regular donations over 60 euros or periodic donations have no limits. 30% ruling benefitApart from obtaining a tax-free 30% of your salary, you are considered a non-resident taxpayer for your taxable income from substantial interests (Box 2) and your taxable income from savings and investments (Box 3). This could benefit you by reducing the taxable income in Box 2 and Box 3, resulting in lower tax payments.

Hopefully, you are more informed after reading this article about filing a Dutch tax return after reading this article.

Are you struggling with filing taxes or organising administrative matters in the Netherlands? PSM Consultancy has more than 10 years of experience offering a number of financial services.

27 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

Plans to increase the value of mortgages given to buy energy-efficient homes in the Netherlands are set to come into effect in 2024, but property experts say that this will have knock-on effects for homeowners of properties with lower energy ratings. Van Bruggen Adviesgroep, an independent consulting group, predicts that homes with lower energy ratings will become less attractive because of the new rules, and therefore will fall in value. 

New mortgage rules mean buyers can take out larger loans for energy-efficient homes

The new mortgage rules, which are set to come into force in 2024, mean that banks can offer buyers up to 50.000 euros more for a mortgage on a home with a good energy rating. For those buying homes with an A or B rating, buyers can get up to 10.000 euros more than those buying homes with energy ratings of C, D, E, F or G. 

In order to loan an extra 50.000 euros, buyers can also opt to buy an energy-neutral home, for which banks are willing to loan much more money than the other ratings. Home-buyers with low energy ratings can also loan up to 20.000 euros to finance improvements to their home’s sustainability, through, for example, improving insulation. 

Couples will be able to borrow less to buy property in 2024

As part of the changes for 2024, single people will be able to borrow more money to buy property, according to the research carried out by Van Bruggen Adviesgroep. They say that single people buying a house with an energy label of A or B will be able to borrow between 10.000 and 20.000 euros more on their mortgage next year than in 2023, while single people with an income of up to 70.000 euros buying a home with an energy label E, F, or G will be able to borrow approximately 12.000 euros more, as reported by the NL Times

By contrast, the consultancy says couples will not be able to borrow as much in 2024 as has been possible in 2023. This is underlined even more if they want to purchase a home with a lower energy rating.

Image: Ralf Liebhold / Shutterstock.com

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26 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

An analysis of speed cameras in the Netherlands has found that drivers are most likely to be caught speeding in the Dutch city of Haarlem, followed by Nijmegen and Amersfoort

Haarlem has the most speed cameras per 1.000 km of road 

The analysis, which was undertaken by consumer rights lawyers Goldstein, found that Haarlem has 31,25 speed cameras per 1.000 kilometres of road – the highest number in the Netherlands. The national average is just 11,6 cameras per 1.000 km of road. 

Just behind Haarlem is Nijmegen. “Nijmegen stands out,” Goldenstein project manager Jude Leinstra told the AD. “It is much smaller than Rotterdam, The Hague or Eindhoven and yet it has the equivalent of 30,12 speed cameras per 1.000 kilometres of road.”

Amsterdam has a below-average number of speed cameras

On the flip side, the Dutch capital Amsterdam actually has a below-average number of speed cameras installed across the city. The city has just 6,8 speed cameras per 1.000 kilometres of road. Of the cities with over 50.000 inhabitants, only The Hague had a more than average number of cameras at 19,18 per 1.000 kilometres of road. 

Still curious where the city you’re least likely to get caught speeding is? Zoetermeer. Here, there are just over two speed cameras per 1.000 kilometres of road!

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