Holland was an immediate high front runner when considering potential countries to gain residency. It ticked off the boxes of embracing family life, cosmopolitan when necessary (i.e. paying the bills), and holistic approach to balancing lifestyle. We, of course, fell in love with the culture and community, and the moderately low barrier to entry for American entrepreneurs to gain entry as a potential resident was the deciding factor.
Once you have decided that the Netherlands is right for you, the application process is quite straightforward. It is possible to complete everything on your own; although we chose to hire a fantastic Dutch law firm to handle it for us. They came highly recommended to us by friends that had used them a year prior. Their extensive list of contacts helped to ease all aspects of applying for residency, as well as settling in to Dutch life.
Ultimately, we opted not to continue on the path to permanent residence and citizenship for the time being. Our challenge was education. Homeschooling is strongly discouraged (or illegal!) in much of Europe, and heavily restricted in the Netherlands. We were, however, open to traditional schooling as the Dutch system is very open to various methodologies. We toured many, many, many schools, searching for one that had space for all of our kids and that would accept a non-Dutch speaking six year old. While we were confident that all three kids would pick up Dutch with ease, the schools were reticent to enroll our eldest. At the age of eleven, students take the Central End Test for Primary Education. This exam essentially determines if you will go on to either a university or a vocational track for secondary school. There was concern that there would not be enough time to grasp Dutch to the necessary point of proficiency for the test. Frankly, it was too much pressure on a child to determine if a university education would even be a possibility open to her. In the end, we chose to maintain our world and unschooling philosophy and keep traveling; though we left a piece of our hearts in Amsterdam.
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