• Deborah A Allen

28 years and counting

28 years ago, today on 2 July 1990 my family and I turned the key in the door of our house in the seaside town of Harlingen and officially moved in.

We took the plunge, made the decision to leave the Uk, moved to the Netherlands and we have never really looked back.

Of course, it isn’t all sunshine and roses. Everyone knows this country is notoriously wet!

But on the whole our move was a very positive one although, if I had believed or taken the advice of the British I would never have left my comfy semi in suburbia. Well meaning but uneducated neighbours and friends told us horror stories of ex-pats being left destitute and the government offices I telephoned did much the same.They informed me that The Netherlands had no state schools or social welfare system and that I would not be entitled to any kind of benefit if anything happened to me , nor did NL have a health care system to the standard of the NHS.

On that point I have to agree, the Dutch health system was not then nor is it now anything like the NHS, to say it is would be a dreadful insult to the Dutch healthcare system. True, it has become more expensive over the years, but it still offers a first-class service with very reasonable waiting lists and some great facilities and before anyone screams about the NHS being free, its not. Its free at the point of service but is paid for through taxes let’s get that straight. In NL we pay via an insurance company, but we are not paying any more than the British taxpayer does toward the NHS in fact in most cases we pay less.

As for the lack of state schools that was just a big fat lie, all my children attended state schools in NL and they had a very good education and lots of opportunity to go on to further education if they wanted to. I have even had the chance to further my own education in NL and although I did that privately the cost was very reasonable and the standards were high.

Social welfare and benefits are also very good and are available to anyone who works or lives here, yet more misleading information given out by Uk officials to scare anyone considering making the move.

Something else we were told, this time by the British Embassy staff was that if we took Dutch nationality we would have absolutely no right to any British pension or benefit ever again. Again, this isn’t true, being an ex-pat simply means there are no pension increases. So the pension you have contributed to will be paid out in ratio to the number of years you paid in.

And while the Dutch were mildly amused by us asking for Dutch nationality, our interview consisted of drinking coffee and casually chatting to the official (who we thought was a clerk) him asking children about school and Tv. The English were very ‘not amused’ about our request. In fact they were downright hostile.

We were made to travel to Amsterdam to the embassy and stand for nearly two hours in a filthy reception area while drunken teenagers who staggered in and claimed to have lost boat tickets were promptly given free voucher to get them home. Then we were barked at by a man who had clearly missed his calling as a drill sergeant. Why did we want a Dutch passport? Had we thought about it? Did we know what we were leaving behind? How dare we drag our children away from their heritage/families /education and so it went on…. He finally snatched our paperwork away from us, stomped off and left us there for another hour while he copied everything, then he came back and very ceremoniously snipped the corners off our British passports slamming them down on the desk and declaring them void.

We were treated like criminals and left the embassy feeling dirty but at the same time with a sense of relief that it was over.

I have to wonder how they are dealing with the huge increase of people wanting Dutch nationality since the Brexit vote? I bet that man is having a stroke!

Of course, if we thought we had left the country during a recession its nothing compared to what is forecast for the UK post Brexit, the economy is already 2.1% down compared to pre-Brexit vote standards which is about £450 million per week, so that knocks the £ 350 million saving that they were going to give the now failing NHS on the head doesn’t it...

Still..if that’s what people want, then that’s what they want. Although if people had been told the truth about the situation and the real costs many might have voted differently. But the vote has been taken and now people must live with it, although far from uniting the UK Brexit has caused a huge rift with the pro and anti-Brexit supporters still divided over how things should proceed.

It’s often a real eye opener to watch Dutch or German news and then UK news reporting the same story because of the spin that’s placed on it and the subtle way the UK media has turned the UK face toward the USA instead of Europe. For instance when the British Queen mum died there was a news flash on Dutch tv and the funeral was followed live on TV. When the Dutch Queen mum died there was a 5-minute report about the US presidents new dog! A very sneaky way of ensuring people feel more part of the US than Europe.

When I see the English news and hear that gun and knife crime is at an all time high , social housing and benefits are being cut to the bone and the economic forecasts predicting doom and gloom I can only say , in hindsight my single regret is that we didn’t leave sooner but when you are being fed so much media hogwash and day to day lies about the world around you its hard to see the truth about any other way of life.

So today I will raise my glass and say ‘Here’s to growing old in the land of windmills and tulips’.

  • * Please note these are my opinions and experiences based on what has happened to my family and myself. I do not need anyone, pro or against Brexit to quote facts and figures or statistics at me. *

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