January 27, 2009 3:15:11 PM CET
kisu (Jan 23 2009, 11:53 AM) said: > original post
My name is Leena and I originally come from Finland although for the past 30 years I have lived in the UK. Due to the severe recession, my British husband and I had no choice but to let out our beautiful, large, gorgeous house back home with a massive garden and come over when he was offered a job - something that had eluded us since March last year.
I am terribly home sick. This is a massive culture shock. I feel things here are the same as they were in Finland in the 80's and can't get my head round how bureaucratic everything is. I thought that since most Europeans are in the EU, there was no need for all this paperwork nonsense. Not a bit of it, I even had to list the place and country of birth of my parents. This is doing my head in! Also, we have encountered ruthless estate agents and landlords, are being exploited rentwise. At home we get more or less the same rent for our 180 sqm house as we pay here for a 40sqm shovel of an apartment. No oven provided, no white goods. Toilet so small only a tiny person can fit in. Cannot cook anything as no work surface area. I know, we had a choice but cannot afford anything bigger. I am really close to tears here, please offer some confort!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As to the 30% ruling, I thought it meant that the first 30% of your salary was tax free. Oh no, you get 30% off your tax! Also getting a SOFI number seems to take a month or so. If it wasn't for my husband's company's understanding attitude we would have left. The tax man is quick to take your money even without a SOFI number - I mean, how can they charge you social security payments without a SOFI but still tax you 52%??????????????
Another thing I hate is people spitting everywhere, even girls? Maybe I come from a very polite country but this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable in the UK. How long does it take to get used to all this? Shops closing early even on Saturdays, closed on Sundays? What kind of service is this? Did anyone else have these feelings of disappointment when they first came here? i am at the end of my tether so please offer advice. Finding a job seems impossible. I am a qualified TEFL teacher but because I wasn't born in the UK I got turned down by this obnoxious British agency. I am stuck in this hellhole day in day out and slowly going stir crazy.
Sorry to hear you are finding it so tough in Holland - I am Dutch myself but have a foreign partner and am currently living abroad so can imagine to some degree the issues involved.
I won't pretend to have any answers for you, but maybe some tips that can come in handy:
Opening hours: opening hours are indeed quite restrictive, though some supermarkets are open till 10pm every weekday and Saturday. Shops are usually open first Sunday of the month but in the big cities and tourist centres shops are often open every Sunday afternoon.
Housing: this is indeed quite expensive, though it gets a lot cheaper out of the cities or in the east of the country (though depending on job location this is not always helpful advice of course). Renting is generally a bad deal compared to buying as the mortgage payment to a house is deductible from income tax - so at 52% if you are in the top tax bracket (bearing in mind that the effective tax is usually a lot lower than that). Of course, if you already own a house in the UK then buying another property may not be on the cards.
The paperwork cannot be helped unfortunately - this comes with moving country I have found. Some municipalities are better set up than others with e-services but this is very hit and miss.
Finally, I think most expats will feel at least some disappointment at some stage. I find there is at least a 6 months dip and a 3 year dip, but everyone and every country is different. My only advice would be to try not to let bad initial experiences colour your mindset but to stay open for the positive aspects. I hope you find those as well.
All the best!