Author Topic: Moving to Europe - Expat tips  (Read 3730 times)

helloandgoodbye

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Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« on: July 19, 2018, 08:34:37 AM »
Hello! I'm a US citizen moving to Netherlands (maybe forever)
I have a 401K + Roth in the US, some equity but no other assets (I rent), but will be buying a house in NL.

How can I make sure I have a financially secure future? Do I have to pay taxes in the US as well?

Bucksandreds

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2018, 08:55:03 AM »
Hello! I'm a US citizen moving to Netherlands (maybe forever)
I have a 401K + Roth in the US, some equity but no other assets (I rent), but will be buying a house in NL.

How can I make sure I have a financially secure future? Do I have to pay taxes in the US as well?

If you maintain U.S. citizenship then you will have to file taxes in the U.S. every year. You would only owe money to the U.S. if you pay less to the Netherlands than you would owe to the U.S. ( you would owe the difference.)

Paul der Krake

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 09:03:29 AM »
The Netherlands have some of the highest taxes in the world. Even with the special 30% rule for the first couple of years, it's very unlikely that you will owe any money to the US government, but you will still need to file every year.

There is a huge expat community in Amsterdam, including many Americans. Find where they hang out online and read about their tax situations there.

And for the love of God, tip no more than a couple euros at restaurants.

plainjane

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2018, 09:04:32 AM »
Hello! I'm a US citizen moving to Netherlands (maybe forever)
I have a 401K + Roth in the US, some equity but no other assets (I rent), but will be buying a house in NL.
How can I make sure I have a financially secure future? Do I have to pay taxes in the US as well?
If you maintain U.S. citizenship then you will have to file taxes in the U.S. every year. You would only owe money to the U.S. if you pay less to the Netherlands than you would owe to the U.S. ( you would owe the difference.)

You may also owe money to the US if you later sell your property in NL at a profit beyond what the US generally allows to be written off.

jim555

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2018, 09:21:50 AM »
And don't forget the wealth tax.

honeybbq

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 12:20:20 PM »


And for the love of God, tip no more than a couple euros at restaurants.

LOL!! Americans, ruining the world one meal at a time!

sokoloff

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2018, 12:38:56 PM »
And don't forget the wealth tax.
For which you do not get credit against your US tax obligations (because it's not an income tax).

Imma

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2018, 01:40:07 PM »
The Netherlands have some of the highest taxes in the world. Even with the special 30% rule for the first couple of years, it's very unlikely that you will owe any money to the US government, but you will still need to file every year.

There is a huge expat community in Amsterdam, including many Americans. Find where they hang out online and read about their tax situations there.

And for the love of God, tip no more than a couple euros at restaurants.

Most major cities have a large expat community these days. If you're moving to the south, I might be able to point you in the right direction. I've been told that tax advice is a common part of the relocation package.

As for me, a native Dutchie, I don't really feel that taxes are sky-high. I feel like I'm getting value for money. I think there are few places in the world that offer a better lifestyle in terms of value for money. The biggest downsize is that housing costs are very high, but I've heard a subsidy for housing costs is also a common part of a relocation package, so hopefully you won't have to worry about that.  Also: many expats want to live in the best parts of town, because in their home country, the bad parts of town are unsafe. NL is not like that. You can absolute live in the worst part of town and you'll still be living in one of the safest places on earth. I have not been to a single place in my country where I would feel unsafe to walk home on my own in the middle of the night.

helloandgoodbye

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2018, 07:18:24 PM »
PM'd

The Netherlands have some of the highest taxes in the world. Even with the special 30% rule for the first couple of years, it's very unlikely that you will owe any money to the US government, but you will still need to file every year.

There is a huge expat community in Amsterdam, including many Americans. Find where they hang out online and read about their tax situations there.

And for the love of God, tip no more than a couple euros at restaurants.

Most major cities have a large expat community these days. If you're moving to the south, I might be able to point you in the right direction. I've been told that tax advice is a common part of the relocation package.

As for me, a native Dutchie, I don't really feel that taxes are sky-high. I feel like I'm getting value for money. I think there are few places in the world that offer a better lifestyle in terms of value for money. The biggest downsize is that housing costs are very high, but I've heard a subsidy for housing costs is also a common part of a relocation package, so hopefully you won't have to worry about that.  Also: many expats want to live in the best parts of town, because in their home country, the bad parts of town are unsafe. NL is not like that. You can absolute live in the worst part of town and you'll still be living in one of the safest places on earth. I have not been to a single place in my country where I would feel unsafe to walk home on my own in the middle of the night.

Spruit

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2018, 05:33:00 AM »
Welcome to the NL! I too am a native, so don't know anything about expat tax rules etc, I second what Imma said about personal safety. I'll advise you to get a bike asap once you're here, you can ride it everywhere. Public transport is NOT cheap here, nor is gasoline or car ownership in general. Quality bikes are easily available, but be sure to lock them well (I think there's few Dutch people that haven't had their bike stolen at least once in their lives, especially in the cities).

Are you sure you want to buy right away? We're kind of in the middle of a bubble at the moment, which might be tricky especiallly if you don't end up staying for 30 years. It is not that easy in this country to rent out your property as it is in the US due to renter's protection. I'd say it would be wise to start renting and use those rent laws to your advantage, while you get to know the local real estate market a little better.

Also, if you want to find more Dutch mustachians here's how: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/meetups-and-social-events/any-dutch-mustachians-here/1000/ Written in Dutch, but feel free to ask any questions in English, you'll get answers in English too.


Hirondelle

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2018, 06:13:40 AM »
Another Dutchie here. I've lived all over the country so I'm quite familiar with most areas except the southern provinces. As I work at a university I have many, many international/expat friends so I'm semi-familiar with regulations you'd be eligible for (not specifically for Americans though). If you have any questions, feel free to PM.

I agree with Imma and Spruit that it's safe everywhere, public transport is excellent (actually quite affordable compared to the US IMO) and there's currently quite a steep increase in housing prices and everyone's wondering how long it will last before the bubble bursts.

To react on Paul der Krake and his tipping advice; as a former 15-year old restaurant waitress Americans were one of my favorite customer groups as their tips were always sky high. With minimum wage for 15 year olds being around $3/hour I'd highly recommend you to decently tip (not 20%, but 5-10% is totally normal).

oblivo

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2018, 10:14:27 AM »
You have to pay US federal income and possibly state income taxes even though you'll be living abroad. BUT there are some tax breaks and rules against double taxation that can help avoiding any payment. I.e.: you can write off dutch taxes on your US return.

Don't travel back to the US for more than 35 nights in a single year to get all the tax benefit (make sure you also qualify for your US state's expat tax breaks). This includes any type of travel work, vacation, through-transit, etc. Do some research on that, I'm sure I'm over simplifying, and it can vary state to state.

Take any cold/flu medication you like with you. they don't have OTC drugs there
Start learning the language right away! Even though you can get by with just English. At least get to the B1 level. It's a great language and it will make life much more enjoyable.
Watching local TV, particularly news shows, in Dutch with subtitles turned on is a great way to improve language skills

Enjoy!

Spruit

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2018, 12:59:58 PM »
You have to pay US federal income and possibly state income taxes even though you'll be living abroad. BUT there are some tax breaks and rules against double taxation that can help avoiding any payment. I.e.: you can write off dutch taxes on your US return.

Don't travel back to the US for more than 35 nights in a single year to get all the tax benefit (make sure you also qualify for your US state's expat tax breaks). This includes any type of travel work, vacation, through-transit, etc. Do some research on that, I'm sure I'm over simplifying, and it can vary state to state.

Take any cold/flu medication you like with you. they don't have OTC drugs there
Start learning the language right away! Even though you can get by with just English. At least get to the B1 level. It's a great language and it will make life much more enjoyable.
Watching local TV, particularly news shows, in Dutch with subtitles turned on is a great way to improve language skills

Enjoy!

Minor point, but I'm not sure what you mean with the bolded part. Drugstores here sell Tylenol (called paracetamol here, same substance), aspirin as well as ibuprofen and such. Heck, drugstores even sell morning after pills over the counter in this country (15 euros, for who's interested). It's the sedatives and sleeping pills that might be more restricted here.
But of course, I don't know what wonderpills are available in the US for colds?

Moonwaves

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2018, 03:01:32 AM »
I think codeine is one example. I'm not sure about NL but in Germany codeine is only available on prescription (and not prescribed very often). In Ireland, you can get some tablets containing codeine but you have to answer a rake of questions from an actual pharmacist (to prove you're not an addict, basically) first. Solpadeine and Nurofen Plus are the two main ones I can think of, both are ibuprofen/codeine combinations.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2018, 04:11:56 AM »
I don't live in the NL but I'm an American expat/immigrant in Europe.  Check the US-Netherlands tax treaty for all the regulations but generally even though you have to file a 1040 and FATCA forms every year in the US you generally will only have to pay Netherlands income tax unless you have a high income (over $100K).  Opening a bank account in some European countries can also be difficult due to FATCA regulations for banks.

You didn't mention if you're going to NL on an expat package or if you're an immigrant who plans to live in NL long term.  Those things are very different.

grantmeaname

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2018, 06:14:48 AM »
I think codeine is one example. I'm not sure about NL but in Germany codeine is only available on prescription (and not prescribed very often).
This is true in the US too.

I don't live in the NL but I'm an American expat/immigrant in Europe.  Check the US-Netherlands tax treaty for all the regulations but generally even though you have to file a 1040 and FATCA forms every year in the US you generally will only have to pay Netherlands income tax unless you have a high income (over $100K).  Opening a bank account in some European countries can also be difficult due to FATCA regulations for banks.
You're conflating two things here I think. If you make under ~$100k and all your income is earned, you can exclude the earned income from your taxable income under the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE). If you are not using the FEIE, you pay your taxes to the foreign country as normal, and then you get to credit those taxes against your US liability so in the end you're paying the higher of US or local country rates. In the Cayman Islands you'll pay US graduated rates; in Western Europe you'll pay a higher rate to the local country, then file a return with the US with no tax due on it.

Little Aussie Battler

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2018, 06:27:25 AM »
I was planning to start this thread but you beat me to it!

Calling @bigchrisb

bigchrisb

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2018, 06:46:22 AM »
And for the love of God, tip no more than a couple euros at restaurants.

Ditto.  Tipping is very very un-Dutch.  In my attempts to learn Dutch, I asked at three restaurants what the Dutch word for tip was.  There was agreement from the waiters that there isn't really a dutch word that directly translates.   We occasionally round up change, but don't generally tip, and certainly don't build it into prices like the crazy US system!

bigchrisb

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2018, 07:00:54 AM »
You have to pay US federal income and possibly state income taxes even though you'll be living abroad. BUT there are some tax breaks and rules against double taxation that can help avoiding any payment. I.e.: you can write off dutch taxes on your US return.

Don't travel back to the US for more than 35 nights in a single year to get all the tax benefit (make sure you also qualify for your US state's expat tax breaks). This includes any type of travel work, vacation, through-transit, etc. Do some research on that, I'm sure I'm over simplifying, and it can vary state to state.

Take any cold/flu medication you like with you. they don't have OTC drugs there
Start learning the language right away! Even though you can get by with just English. At least get to the B1 level. It's a great language and it will make life much more enjoyable.
Watching local TV, particularly news shows, in Dutch with subtitles turned on is a great way to improve language skills

Enjoy!

Minor point, but I'm not sure what you mean with the bolded part. Drugstores here sell Tylenol (called paracetamol here, same substance), aspirin as well as ibuprofen and such. Heck, drugstores even sell morning after pills over the counter in this country (15 euros, for who's interested). It's the sedatives and sleeping pills that might be more restricted here.
But of course, I don't know what wonderpills are available in the US for colds?

We stocked up on cold and flu tablets before arrival (you can't get pseudoephedrine here, but you can buy it over the counter in Belgium next door - go figure).

If you have specialist medication, check into how to source it.  I take a specialized drug for a stupid auto-immune disease. Costs me $40 a month back in Australia on our health system.  I kinda fall through the cracks of the health systems here, and buying it on the open market would be about $2k a year - hence I'm getting scripts filled back in Aus and shipping it across - I'm also still a resident Australian taxpayer. 

The other one that took a bit of getting used to for us was Dutch banking.  Outside of museums its rare to find places that will take international credit or debit cards.  No Pinnen (Dutch debit card)? Tough luck.  Try to get your local bank account sorted out on the day you land.

I second the view to getting a bike asap.  Cities here are pretty compact - we can get to most things we need by foot or bike.  We bought second hand bikes and a decent bike lock - plenty or stolen bike stories.  Also got a kiddy seat for out 11 month old kid - he loves it.  We are debating about getting a car at the moment - cars are expensive here.  If we didn't have the little one, we certainly wouldn't get a car.  With the little one, its line-ball for us.

The Dutch wealth tax is difficult if you are in two tax systems.  Ignoring a whole lot of fine print, they basically look at your net worth, assume a 4% income from it, and tax it at 30%.  They don't tax dividends or capital gains.  If you are only exposed to the wealth tax, it works out about the same (compared to Australia at least), expect paid more smoothly.  Unfortunately, I don't get any discount on the dividend taxation or the capital gains tax I'd pay back in Aus, so with a ~3m net worth, its basically tax prohibitive to get a job and become a Dutch tax payer.  Luckily, my wife is here with the Aus embassy, and we can elect to stay as Aus tax payers (provided we don't get NL jobs).  I've been doing a bit of contracting remotely through my AUS business for AUS clients for some pocket money.

Hirondelle

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2018, 07:48:39 AM »
And for the love of God, tip no more than a couple euros at restaurants.

Ditto.  Tipping is very very un-Dutch.  In my attempts to learn Dutch, I asked at three restaurants what the Dutch word for tip was.  There was agreement from the waiters that there isn't really a dutch word that directly translates.   We occasionally round up change, but don't generally tip, and certainly don't build it into prices like the crazy US system!

Sorry, but this is just flat out bullshit (not your experience, but the fact that there's no word for tipping). You must've ran into some very mediocre English speaking Dutch waiters, because we do certainly have a word for that. It's called "fooi". We indeed do not build it into prices like the crazy US system and it's certainly not common to tip in take-away places, but in decent sit-down restaurant you're expected to round up change and for higher bills give a little more (usually around 5%, if people are generous/very happy about service closer to 10%). It's not a by-default thing like in the US though, it's something you only do when you're actually happy with the service.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2018, 08:13:03 AM »
The other one that took a bit of getting used to for us was Dutch banking.  Outside of museums its rare to find places that will take international credit or debit cards.  No Pinnen (Dutch debit card)? Tough luck.  Try to get your local bank account sorted out on the day you land.
How long ago was this? I was in Amsterdam last fall and my US cards (with chip) everywhere, including non-touristy areas. The only place where it didn't work was the automated train ticket kiosks at Schiphol, so I had to buy a ticket from a human clerk instead.

bigchrisb

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2018, 08:31:43 AM »
The other one that took a bit of getting used to for us was Dutch banking.  Outside of museums its rare to find places that will take international credit or debit cards.  No Pinnen (Dutch debit card)? Tough luck.  Try to get your local bank account sorted out on the day you land.
How long ago was this?
At the moment, in the Hague. Want an ov chipkaart? Can only top up at train station if no debit card. Groceries at the local supermarket (Albert heijn)? No credit cards.  Last two restraunts? Same story.  We got a local account quickly, so aren't very impacted,  except when people from overseas visit. 

sokoloff

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2018, 06:31:45 AM »
I buy groceries at Albert Heijn pretty regularly with my US credit cards (both my company card that's chip/PIN and my personal card that's swipe or chip/no-PIN). I can't recall either of them being declined, but I know I buy groceries on the cards without issue.

In any case, this won't be a major hurdle in the grand scheme of things.

Imma

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Re: Moving to Europe - Expat tips
« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2018, 12:17:37 PM »
I'm also surprised to hear about cards being refused. Credit card payments are uncommon in NL and in non-tourist locations, small businesses might refuse them, but I've never heard someone complain about debit cards being refused before and I've been visited by lots of international friends. My own cards work everywhere in Europe as well. If you're going to live here, getting a Dutch bank account is probably one of the things you should do regardless: it would cost a fortune in fees if you were going to pay all your bills from a foreign USD account.

Tip / fooi is definitely something that exists, but it doesn't work like it does in the US. You only tip as a reward for very good service and the tip is generally low. It's a small bonus for staff, not a part of their regular income. I grew up near a US military base and we were super happy with American customers in the dry cleaning business where I had a Saturday job as a teenager. Dry cleaning a suit was 12.95, a Dutchie would say "here's 13 euro, keep the change" while Americans would give you 15 and let you keep the change. I used to earn like 3 an hour so that was a fortune to me.