First published in AMS business magazine. Author: Lauren Comiteau
Management and IT consultant Tapabrata Roy (40, not in the picture) first moved to the Netherlands from Calcutta in 2007 for a six-month project with Dutch electronics company Philips. His wife Satarupa Bose Roy (37), an editor, writer and teacher, and their daughter Tanushka (8) followed shortly after. In the picture you see them, with Satarupa’s parents, Subhash and Chitrita. But like so many internationals who came to the Netherlands for short-term assignments, they stayed. After living in Utrecht and Eindhoven, they settled in the Amsterdam suburb of Almere six years ago.
‘For the international community, this is the best place to live,’ says Satarupa. ‘Fifty per cent of the people are native-English speakers, it’s a new, well-built city, and both Amsterdam and Schiphol airport are close by. I feel comfortable here.’
The country’s youngest city, a so-called ‘New Town’, Almere sits on land that was reclaimed from the Ijsselmeer lake, and its first house was built in 1976. Now home to 200,000 people and 13,000 businesses, Almere has proved especially popular with internationals.
As so-called knowledge migrants, Tapabrata says the support they receive – such as the 30 per cent tax ruling and mortgage relief – make the Netherlands an attractive home-away-from-home. ‘The Dutch know how to create business,’ he says.
Although Tapabrata mostly drives to his Amersfoort office for his nine-hour shifts, and Satarupa takes her car to Den Helder to teach English to the Royal Navy a few days a week, they sometimes make use of the good public transport Almere offers and enjoy the city’s connectivity to the rest of Europe.
As an editor of Indian expat magazine Indyana, Satarupa is tuned into Amsterdam’s 8,000-strong Indian community and its many happenings, including the annual Diwali Festival in Amstelveen. Her advice to other nationals thinking of joining Amsterdam’s community? Learn Dutch and the local culture. ‘It helps,’ she says. ‘You don’t have to eat boterham (sandwiches) everyday, but you need to integrate because that’s where you find the balance.’