Relocating from the US to Amsterdam - an interview with Michelle Kane
In November 2017 Michelle Kane relocated from the US to Amsterdam. She had been working as a Senior Associate with PwC in Atlanta, focussing on M&A tax. She is now an International Tax Consultant with Deloitte Amsterdam, primarily looking after US clients.
In the interview below Dean Dugas, Head of International Tax at Pro Tax Recruitment, talks to Michelle about how she has found her first few months in Amsterdam.
What’s the salary to cost of living ratio like ?
The cost of living is higher in the Netherlands when it comes to housing and eating out. However, transportation is a lot cheaper (since I bike everywhere - and a free workout!). Groceries are also a lot cheaper and fresher than they are in the US and healthcare is more affordable here.
How's the quality of life?
My quality of life has exponentially increased. Though the weather can be a downer in the Netherlands, there is never a dull night. My co-workers are constantly planning team events (water polo matches, happy hours, and dinner plans), and the expat community in Amsterdam is huge. I also leave my laptop at the office most nights, which is a huge change from my previous role in the US.
How easy is it to make friends?
Really easy to make a volume of friends, but it takes a while to find the right connection. I am currently involved with two wine nights, each with approximately 25 females. My office also has a large expat community where we get together for dinner once every few weeks. There is also a range of friends here, from couples who like to go to expensive wine bars, to friends who like to stay up until 4 am at Karaoke bars. There is really a mixed bag of expats, which I was not expecting.
Are the local amenities of a good quality?
There are gyms all over the city, although I bike a lot so the gym is not necessary. The gym I go to usually costs 100 euro, but I got a discount at work for 50 Euro a month and it includes a spa. There are gyms that are only 20 euro a month as well.
I have a love/hate relationship with the transportation. There are horses, trams, buses, trains, biking, walking, scooters, motorcycles, and other crazy devices used to get around the city, which makes biking scary at times. If I’m not feeling like biking, I can easily take a tram to get anywhere. All public transportation is extremely clean.
Whats the quality and cost of housing like?
Rent costs from 700 Euro to 1,000 Euro for a decent apartment. The Quality varies depending on your location. Expect small kitchens and Ikea furniture.
How's the weather and overall climate?
Climate is bad (I’m from Florida originally) – but you buy rain gear and bond over how bad the weather is. In the summer I hear it is great in Amsterdam, as it doesn’t get dark until 11pm.
How easy is it fitting in ?
I have not met one person who does not speak English. Not one. There is a greater sense of work/ life balance and taking vacations. The Dutch are also very direct, but they are this way with everyone.
Are there any challenges in setting up a bank account, phone, renting a place etc?
I had a third party help with all of the above. Setting up a bank account seemed easy and renting a phone is also easy (same as in the US). Finding a place is difficult if you are picky on the specific area you would like to live.
What are the most difficult things to get used to coming from the United States?
The hardest thing has been to adjust to so many changes at once. A new job, making friends, no car, learning new restaurants. It can be overwhelming but you also learn something new every day. It is very exciting and challenging at the same time.