The Leiden region is a great place to raise a family in, with many excellent schools (both Dutch and international), safe neighbourhoods, and fun activities for the whole family throughout the year. If you've been thinking about making the move to the Netherlands, but have been curious to know more about what you will need to take care of both before and after the move, then this article provides some helpful guidance and resources for just that! After all, making sure that you are well-prepared can make a big difference to adjusting to your new life in the Leiden region, for both you and your family.
Before arriving in the Netherlands, for those with children under the age of 4, it's important to check that your child has been vaccinated according to the Dutch healthcare vaccination plans. Although this also applies to children over the age of 4, for those younger than 4, you will need to make sure that you organise a visit to your GP and/or your local Centrum voor Jeugd en Gezin (Centre for Youth and Family). The CJG offers regular developmental check-ups for young children, and works together with your family doctor to ensure that your child is up to date on vaccinations and other necessary healthcare checks.
If you have children of a school age (in the Netherlands it is mandatory for children to attend school from the age of 5, but many already start school at the age of 4) it's important to do some research in to the Dutch education system. Consider what your own plans are in the near future - for instance, if you plan on only staying in the Netherlands for a year or two, then sending your child to an international school may be the best option. However, if you plan on staying for a longer period of time, then a Dutch school may be more cost-efficient and help your child integrate more quickly into the Dutch culture - and they will be able to learn the Dutch language faster.
The age of your child also makes a big difference in the feasibility of sending them to a Dutch vs. international school. Younger children, under the age of 6, usually have very few difficulties with picking up Dutch and can often start school without any significant preparation. However, older children may need to take a Dutch immersion class if they wish to attend a Dutch school - otherwise, an international school may be an easier route. This is especially the case for children over the age of 12, as from the ages of 12-18, the Dutch education system has several different pathways for schooling. These different pathways determine what type of higher education your child has the choice to attend, so many international families who move to the Netherlands with teenage children will choose to send their children to international schools as a simpler alternative.
You can learn more about the Dutch education system and schooling in the Netherlands below.
After the Move
Once you've made the move to the Leiden region, then it's time to start settling into your new home. This can mean a number of things, from making sure that your child (if needed) is enrolled in an immersion class for their Dutch school, or ensuring that you are all registered with a local family doctor/general practitioner. It may also mean, of course, getting used to new foods, new supermarkets (check out our Daily Shopping page for more information), and different ways of getting around.
It won't take you long to notice that a vast majority of people living in the Netherlands use bikes frequently - whether to commute to and from work, or to run daily errands and to meet up with friends and family. Even younger children in the Netherlands can be seen biking back and forth from school (with or without their family) or just biking through town with friends. Ensuring that your children know how to bike, if they don't already know how to, will therefore make a huge difference in their new home. For family outings, it is also possible to buy something called a 'bakfiets', which is essentially a bike that has a large compartment in front of it that is big enough to fit in children, shopping, or even dogs! During school runs, you will see a number of parents transporting their younger children to school in one of these bakfiets. Learn more about biking on our Cycling page!
For those rainy days when you may not feel like biking, it's good to know that children have a number of discounts on public transport. For example, kids from the ages of 4 to 11 can travel with you for free on trains throughout the Netherlands - you just need to make sure that you buy them their own personal public transport card (OV-chipkaart in Dutch) for these journeys. They can also travel with a discount on trams, metros, and buses.
There are a number of different types of child-related benefits that you can apply for in the Netherlands. These include childcare allowance, child benefit, and child budget (which is specifically for low-income families). Child benefit, for example, is a contribution towards the costs of raising your child, and you receive it quarterly until your child is 18. The amount of child benefit you receive will depend on the age of your child, and how many children you have. Once your child has been registered and has received a BSN in the Leiden region, then, within approximately 3 - 6 weeks, you can expect to receive a letter from the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SvB), which will let you know how to apply for child benefit.
You can learn more about this particular benefit on the SvB's page on Child Benefit. For an overview of the different types of child-related benefits you may be eligible for in the Netherlands, take a look at our Benefits for Children page below!