Today, I’d like to announce we’re leaving the USA, for at least a year. After much research and soul searching, we’ve settled on the Netherlands. The Netherlands and the USA have a treaty, called the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT). It allows an American to open a business in the Netherlands, provided they have sufficient capital/income from outside the USA, like remote work or contracting.

I work remotely, for Automattic. I’ve spent most of my life working remotely in one form or another. I tried the office thing, but it’s not for me. One of the perks with working for Automattic is that I can live anywhere, and they have a process in-place to allow it. Basically, it required reaching out to HR, asking some questions and saying “yep, let’s do this!”

To be clear, Automattic won’t pay to move us. They don’t “need” us in the Netherlands to do my job. I’m opting to move there, at my own cost. However, they are facilitating the move by providing a contract, etc.

From the perspective of visas, it looks like it’s pretty straight forward. Unlike Spain, which we also looked into. Spain has an actual remote work visa that’s a bit more complicated and works out better the closer you’re to one of the consulates (based on the address of your driver’s license).

Documentation

Before we leave, we’ll need to get some documents apostilled (a kind of seal verifying their authenticity internationally):

  1. Birth Certificates for the whole family (at least 3 apostilled copies)
  2. Passports (goes without saying, but putting here for completeness)
  3. Marriage Certificate (apostille)
  4. Documentation of Criminal History for the whole family (or lack thereof)

We’ll get this done before we leave.

Preparation

Before we leave, we’ll need capital, in Euros. Anyone can get a “German” bank account via TransferWise Borderless Account (affiliate link — you’ll receive a free transfer, up to ~$500). This should help when opening the bank account in the Netherlands, since we can transfer the money directly from there while paying the transaction cost now. Also, it protects us somewhat from devaluation of the dollar as we prepare to depart in less than six months. Granted, we’re taking a risk that the dollar doesn’t become more valuable, but that’s a risk worth taking with the current state of our political climate.

Arrival

Once we arrive in the Netherlands, we’ll have to find somewhere to live. We’ll need a real postal address to get the ball rolling and file our residence visa paperwork.

For our home base, my wife wants to settle on an AirBnb, but I want a hotel. A hotel will allow us to be more flexible, at a small premium. While an AirBnb may leave us trying to locate a new place to settle in a short amount of time if it gets booked and we need to extend our stay.

Once we’ve arrived at our homebase, we’ll immediately start hunting for a place to stay. When we arrive, we’ll hopefully have a few places lined up to immediately tour and decide upon.

We’ll want to register with the Gemeente as soon as possible.

The Application

We’ll be filing three applications: one for me, under the DAFT, and sponsorship for my wife and son.

Once we drop off the application with the IND, we’ll be able to more easily proceed. This should be little more than dropping off some paperwork, a bunch of cash (about €1,627 as of the time of this writing), and some documentation.

Opening The Doors

Next up, will be registering as a freelancer, about €65. This will give us an extract that we can use as proof. At this point, we can open a business bank account and provide the IND with further documentation. We can also transfer our Euros in TransferWise over to the account. We’ll need to provide the bank statement to the IND as well, showing at least €4,500 in the account.

By now, I should be able to get back to work, legally.

Taxes

I’ll need an accountant to help me file taxes and any other documentation the IND might need. I’m hoping to find someone who’ll work for less than €100 an hour, but I’ll be happy with the best person I can find, that meshes well with my situation.

Total Expected Cost

The entire cost is expected to reach close to $10k, not including getting a place to live…

FBI Background Check: $18 per person ($36 for my wife and I, total)
Fingerprints: $5 per person (at the local prison)
Copies of Birth Certificates with Apostille: $120 total
Airline Tickets: ~$650 per person (naturally, this price fluctuates, but this is the price we paid)
My Application: ~$1,646 or €1,336 (as of the current conversion rate)
Wife’s Application: ~$300 or €242 (as of the current conversion rate)
Kid’s Application: ~$60 or €51 (as of the current conversion rate)
Opening Balance: ~5,544 or €4,500 (as of the current conversion rate)
KvK Fee: ~$80 or €65 (as of the current conversion rate)

For convenience, the total amount of euros required is €6,192.


Most of this information was learned from bloggers that came before us, such as: