Monday, March 14, 2011

Easy move to the Netherlands: start a business

I keep hearing about the Dutch-American friendship treaty and decided to take a closer look at it. Basically, create a business plan for something you can do in the Netherlands, have at least €4,500 invested (roughly $6,250 US), and move!

OK, it's a bit more complicated than that, but not overly so. You have to have your business plan certified by an accountant, you have to have health insurance, oh ... and you have to be a US citizen because this treaty was designed to stimulate trade between the two countries. Also, you can't practice a "free profession" such as law or medicine; it must be an honest-to-goodness business.

Spaarne River, Haarlem
Spaarne River, Haarlem, Netherlands
Photo by Bogdan Migulski
Interestingly, this might actually be a good financial decision for any American with health issues. You can switch to Dutch health insurance once you're a resident. Dutch insurance companies are not allowed to deny anyone coverage and they must charge a flat rate. In the US this year, the average employer health plan costs for family coverage is $819 a month¹. My wife and I pay only €220 a month and the only reason we pay that much is we opted for better coverage (our daughter is covered for free). However, the US number is misleading. My wife and I will pay the same amount regardless of whether or not we're part of an employer health plan. In the US, if you try to buy individual health insurance, your premiums will be far higher. On top of that, many US companies are no longer offering family plans to employees due to the cost (see previous link). Heck, the deductibles in the US are often more than we pay in premiums.

So if you have a solid business plan, particularly for any business which allows you to work from anywhere, pick up and move the Netherlands. Life is pretty good here!

Here's a more detailed explanation of the treaty requirements.

1. I'm rather suspicious of this number though. This article states that annual US family insurance premiums were over $13,000 back in 2009 and I know costs have risen since then.