Why are they all going?

22nd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

Lesley Thomas looks at why so many Dutch people are emigrating and seeking a better future abroad.

Thousands of Dutch people are packing up and leaving every year

In 2004 almost 50,000 people born in the Netherlands decided to leave and live in a foreign country. Since 1954, the number of emigrants has never been so high. The Dutch economy, with the exception of the early 1980s, has never been so poor since 1954.

The Netherlands is undergoing the longest period of stagnation in two generations, according to the latest statistics from the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

The newest emigration wave reflects the one in the 1950s. The economies of the past five years and mid-1950s resemble each other as well. In the 1960s due to a shortage of labour, the Netherlands changed from an emigration to an immigration country, according to the report "Hoogste aantal emigranten sinds 1954" by Statistics Netherlands. As of 2004, the Netherlands became an emigration country once again.

Grant King, a founder of the Migration Bureau Consulting Group, says there has been a doubling in the last year alone in the number of inquiries from Dutch people about emigrating to New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Expat 2005, a fair for people wishing to enter or leave the Netherlands, attracted 5,000 visitors on March 11 and 12. A large percentage were Dutch people thinking of emigrating.

"There are push and pull factors at play here: people worry about the Dutch economy and job security here, while they see the economies in New Zealand, Australia and Canada are booming," says King.

The hardening of attitudes in the Netherlands is also a factor, he says, but the underlying issue is often the economic question.

King says it is striking that over 90 percent of the prospective clients who contact its European office in Amsterdam have visited the target emigration countries at least once.  Five years ago this figure was only 50 percent, showing prospective emigrants know far more these days about their destinations.

Besides the economy and better work opportunities elsewhere, another major reason for leaving the Netherlands has to do with having a loved one outside the country. A more favourable housing market as well as lower tax rates in other countries also play a role in the latest exodus.
 
Frans Buysse, Managing Director of Buysse Immigration Consultancy, sees the major reason for leaving as the social climate in the Netherlands.

Active in the field of migration since 1986, Frans explains that the social and environmental reasons for leaving Holland have to do with an overcrowding and overpopulation and too much bureaucracy. In addition, there is the perception that the country is becoming more violent and the citizens less tolerant towards others.

*quote1*Shocking incidents such as the murders of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November 2004 and populist politician Pim Fortuyn in May 2002 further intensify the uneasy feelings prospective emigrants already have about Dutch society.

Buysse Immigration Consultancy specialises in emigration to Canada, Australia, the US and New Zealand. The Dutch are attracted by the abundance of nature in these countries, as well as the open and sincere attitude of the people living in these three countries. The Dutch appreciate the courteous behaviour of New Zealanders as well.

Personal coach and trainer, Henri van Amerongen explains that the Dutch are stressed out and nourish the idea that another country will solve all their problems.

He has noticed that burnout starts at an even earlier age than years ago, thirty instead of forty years of age.

Henri compares Dutch life with rats living in a crowded space. He explains that "we are all cooped up in the Netherlands". The Dutch are nostalgic about the past, a time when Holland is perceived as a friendlier place, with tight-knit communities, in which neighbours cared about and helped one another.
 
Henri advises an emigrant to begin with his emotions. "People approach e

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