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Moving to the Netherlands and starting a new SQL Server job there

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Since I have shared parts of this story a few times now I thought I would talk about moving to the Netherlands and starting a new job there.

For those of you who don’t know I’m originally from the South West of the UK. In fact, I’m from a county there called Somerset. Before moving I had a cosy technical team lead job there with a UK health insurance company

My wife is Dutch and therefore I decided to give my job up and move to the Netherlands. Fortunately, my employer at the time wanted to retain my services for longer. So they organized for me to work for them while I was living in the Netherlands.

However, over time I realised it’s better to work and life in the same country. Therefore, I accepted a job offer to work for Sogeti Nederland.

Sogeti is a part of the Capgemini group. For those of you that don’t speak Dutch, Nederland is the Dutch translation of the Netherlands. Basically, I work for the Dutch branch of Sogeti.

Administration

Having lived in the UK all my life there are a few things I had to get use to over here in the Netherlands. At the beginning there was administration to deal with. After been spoilt with the NHS back in the UK I suddenly had to get used to having mandatory health insurance.

And rather amusingly I had to change to a Dutch driving license to hire a car out in the UK. The UK driving license comes with an address. If you move you must change your driving license to be valid. To renew an English license, you must have an address in England.

Something very useful for expats here in the Netherlands is what they call the thirty percent ruling. It’s basically where expats can potentially get tax relief. If you’re a skilled worker and looking to move the Netherlands I highly recommend you investigate it.

Dutch traffic

For those of you who aren’t aware back in the UK we drive on the left side of the road. Rumour is that left side driving comes from the past when we use to duel with horses. So I had to get use to right side driving.

I come from a part of the UK where there are a lot of hills. Next to the dikes and speedbumps there is no elevation in the Dutch landscape. Therefore, I had to get use to somewhere completely flat. Suddenly my cycling became a lot easier. Which makes up for all the annoying traffic on the cycling paths.

Socializing in the Netherlands

Overall, people in the Netherlands are very friendly. Plus, most of them speak good English. I suspect this is due to a good education and the Media. English-speaking programs have Dutch subtitles instead of other non-English speaking countries where they are dubbed.

So yes, as an English man you can socialize without speaking Dutch. But what is socializing without a good snack. The typical Dutch snacks are really good in fact I love them. Those of you who have experienced stroopwafels and bitterballen will know what I am talking about.

Annual celebrations

Another thing I had to get use to was some of their annual celebrations. For starters, there’s ‘Koningsdag’. Which translates in English as ‘Kings day’. It’s where the Dutch celebrate the birth of the current king.

In most cities the centers are packed as everybody celebrates. To demonstrate how busy it gets, one year I went to Amsterdam to celebrate it and it took me twenty minutes to get from one side of the street to the other.

Another thing that took me by surprise was New years celebrations. Back in the UK people tend to celebrate in the evening and then call it a day shortly after midnight. However, in the more populated parts of the Netherlands it’s very different.

In the evening people start bonfires in various places. Then around midnight lots of people let off fireworks lighting the sky full of different colours. You can celebrate at a bar or in the comfort of your home. But wherever you decided to celebrate it, it goes on until the crack of dawn.

To start the New Year fresh the Dutch dip in the sea (or any water) on the first of January. This dip is broadcasted all over television and is called Nieuwjaarsduik (New Years Dive).

Work culture

When I first went for an interview one thing that suprised me was the dress code. On average the dress code for interviews and the work place are a lot more relaxed then most businesses in the UK.

I had to get use to going from wearing a suit every day to wearing jeans and a shirt. As well as brown shoes, which apparently is very popular over here.

Another thing that took me by surprise was my Christmas box last year. Which is basically where your employer sends you a large box of goods for the holiday period. I must admit it was a big improvement on the gifts I previously received back in the UK.

Technologically advanced

One thing I love about the Netherlands is how technologically advanced they are over here. You can do more of your core administration electronically. For instance, all your administration relating to taxes can be managed in one central place.

A lot of the businesses seem to be way ahead of the curve over here as well. For example, one Dutch company even has their own forked version of a cloud solution which is proving to be very popular.

Another example is that another Dutch company boasts an impressively large number of Azure SQL Databases without one single DBA managing them.

In fact, it’s not just companies that highlight this either. Those of you who read the T-SQL Tuesday blog contributions in January 2019 may have noticed that four of the first five contributions came from people who live in the Netherlands.

Azure account

Now I must discuss this. Basically, after my Visual Studio subscription from my previous employer expired I went to change my plan.

I decided to convert to a Pay-As-You-Go subscription, which I discussed briefly in a previous post here.

To my surprise I could not enter my card details. So, I went to change my billing country to the Netherlands. However, even though my address everywhere was the Netherlands it was still not being accepted.

Finally, I found the billing section in the Azure Portal. However, the details were greyed out and I could not change them

So, I went to talk to somebody from Microsoft about it. After all, if you go to the grayed-out billing section in the Azure Portal it looks like a simple case of changing it behind the scenes.

Response

I had a few discussions and finally got informed that it could not be done. And I had it explained to me in detail by a Microsoft employee. Basically, they stated the below.

·         I understand that you are trying to update Netherlands credit card details in azure account which is created in UK region and receiving error.
·         However due to limitations once the account is created initially under one country and currency it cannot be changed or transferred to different country. Also cannot add different country payment instrument to current account.
·         We suggest you to create a new azure account in Netherlands and update the same region credit card details to sign up for pay-as-you-go subscription.

Response from Azure Subscription Management Support

So, as you can see I had no choice but to create a new Azure account.

Final word

Well I hope you enjoyed todays post. If you’ve had similar experiences, feel free to share below so other people know what to expect if they want to move to that country.

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