Housing & Education
Finding a home and schools.
Hilversum is a great place to live and has several international schools.
The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, with almost 400 people per square kilometre. With little available space, houses at the lower and middle end of the market tend to be fairly compact out of necessity. It’s always advisable to seek expert advice on the financial and legal aspects of buying or renting a home.
If you’re planning a short-term stay in Hilversum (less than five years), renting may be your best option.
The housing market in the Netherlands is pressurised which unfortunately sometimes results in illegal practices. Internationals are an easy target, since they may not know their rights or speak any Dutch. So please be sure to learn more about tenancy rights and contract details before signing your first rental contract.
Major points to look for in a rental contract include
- The correct rental price, and whether it includes service charges, energy bills, and local taxes such as property, trash disposal and sewage taxes.
- Deposit: 1-2 month’s rent is normal.
- Duration of the contract: Most are fixed for one year with a one month notice period for each party.
- Who’s responsible for maintenance and repairs.
Also make sure to ask the rental agency if they charge a mediation fee. Here is a quick, accurate overview of the Dutch rental housing market.
If you are planning on staying in the Hilversum region for three years or more, it may be an option to buy a property. There are many ways to go about house hunting in the city: Real estate agents (who charge you an additional fee), advertisements, an online property search (www.funda.nl ) and new building developments. The Dutch tax authorities provide an annual tax benefit for home owners which makes buying an attractive option. A financial advisor can work out which mortgage is best for you and what it will cost. Additionally, there are the so-called buyer’s costs (kosten koper). These are costs you incur for the services of a real estate agent and real estate transfer costs.
You should read the water, gas and electricity meters and notify your suppliers when you move into your new home. Your real estate agent will usually be able to help you with the transferal of the water, gas and electricity contracts of your new home into your name.
A note about internet: keep in mind that this may take a bit of time, largely depending on the provider. There are numerous providers such as UPC, Ziggo, KPN and many more. Prijsvergelijken.nl/compare is a fast way of discerning the option that suits you best.
The Dutch school system is entirely operated on the basis of free choice and there are no ‘standard’ state-run schools. They all operate according to their own educational philosophies (some have religious affiliations as well) within state-established parameters and are inspected regularly by the state. Quality is high and choice is ample. There are also a number of excellent Dutch schools in Hilversum. For more information about the Dutch education system visit nuffic.nl.
While the options for childcare are diverse and numerous, demand is high and waiting lists may be up to six months, so it pays to be proactive. Please note that some Dutch (and international) employers have their own childcare facilities.
Your options for childcare in the Netherlands are:
- Daycare centre (kinderdagverblijf) for children 0-4. Privately run. Opening hours typically range from early morning until 18.00/18.30.
- Toddlers centre/Playgroups (peuterspeelzaal) for children 2-4, usually for a few hours per day. Peuterspeelzalen are usually connected to a primary school.
- BSO, afterschool care (Buitenschoolse opvang). This is often offered in collaboration with a primary school and/or a daycare centre.
- Babysitter, au-pair, live-in nanny, host parent
Daycare costs for children may be subsidised by the Dutch tax authorities when both parents are working. You can apply for childcare benefit (kinderopvangtoeslag) with the Dutch Tax authorities (www.belastingdienst.nl - select English; search childcare).
In the Netherlands, most children start primary school (basisschool) the day after their fourth birthday, with many children progressing on from Dutch childcare centres. Children are required to attend full-time after they turn 5. The school year begins in August/September and is broken up by numerous holidays (listed below). In the final year of Dutch primary school, parents, children and teachers decide together, with the help of a standardised national test (CITO), which level of secondary school is most suitable.
Children usually attend a secondary school (middelbare school) from 12 to 18 years. There are three types of schools:
- VMBO: Pre-vocational secondary education.
- HAVO: Senior general secondary education. A completed HAVO degree gives access to a University of Applied Sciences.
- VWO: Pre-university education.
Dutch schools are government funded and require only a small parental contribution.
There are two types of international schools: independent international schools (private schools) and those partially funded by the government or municipality (public/private schools). The latter place a lot of emphasis on connecting with Dutch society. There are two international schools in Hilversum.
International Primary School Hilversum
The IPS Hilversum is an established, partially subsidised Dutch International School and an authorised IB World School. It offers the IB Primary Years programme to international students and Dutch students returning from, or planning to pursue, an international education. Graduates are best suited to go on to do the International Baccalaureate, but students with different aspirations can graduate into an English-language vocational training programme via a partner school.
For more information: ipshilversum.nl/
International School Hilversum Alberdingk Thijm
The International School Hilversum, Alberdingk Thijm, (ages 4 to 18) is an IB World school and a member of the Dutch International Schools. It offers the IB Primary, Middle Years and full Diploma programs and is one of only a handful of schools in the region to provide all three. In its mission statement the school emphasises the importance of diversity, and its student body includes over 40 nationalities. The ISH also has a noteworthy library and an extensive activity program.
For more information: ishilversum.nl
Young Expat Services (YES) are educational specialists, helping families relocate to the Netherlands. YES can help you with finding the right school for your child(ren), whether it’s a local school or an international school. For more information, visit the website at: https://youngexpatservices.com/
Hilversum is located near three of the best Dutch universities in Utrecht (The University of Utrecht) and Amsterdam (The University of Amsterdam and The VU Amsterdam), as well as multiple Universities of Applied Sciences (HBO).
Media training courses
Being the epicentre of Dutch media, Hilversum has many media training institutes. The largest of which is Media Perspectives. Their range of courses fits in perfectly with the requirements of media companies in Hilversum for their existing and prospective employees. Businesses and potential employees can thus quickly find each other through their talent development programme. A list of Media training courses can be found here. mediaperspectives.nl/academy/
The regional training centre ROC offers a wide range of senior secondary vocational education courses. Courses at a higher professional education level are on the increase and include ‘The Dutch Filmers Academy’.