My One Year Check In: My DAFT Freelance Visa

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I'm going to do a little who, what, when, where, why with my one year update.

I've had a couple of questions asking me how long it took for me to get my approval letter and how long it took me to get "real employment with paying clients' so I thought I'd answer it all in one go.

How long did it take to recieve my visa?

Okay so I sent away my paperwork on 24 March, 2016 BUT I had not finished my application fully when I sent away the application.
The day I submitted it, I received a three month temporary visa that allowed me to stay in the country while I was finishing up my application.

So I got my BSN, opened up a Dutch bank account, put in 4,500 Euros as the required opening balance for my company, had an opening balance sheet drawn up by a Dutch tax lawyer (270 Euros!) and signed and dated by him, and registered my company with the KVK (which took 20 minutes). Everything listed here took me another two months due to beauracracy and laziness.

I received my visa August 25th 2016 and now that it's been a year, I can officially do a year update.

What have I been doing this year? 
I now work for a great American company in technology sales in the best area of Amsterdam. I started out as a freelancer and now I work there full time as an employee.

Do you ever get letters from the government? 
I did get a letter about 6 months ago asking to audit my company; they wanted to make sure I had maintained the minimum balance in my business account (I did!), my profit loss statement from my company activities and they wanted to see that I was making money.

What's been the hardest thing about being a freelancer? 
Staying on top of my taxes and books! Seriously, someone should offer a class on Dutch freelance taxes and bookkeeping. I'd take it.

If you could do it again, what would make it easier to get your visa? 
I thought it was pretty straight forward from the beginning, I guess I would have all of my required capital in order before submitting my application. I ended up making and keeping the 4500.00 in my account within being in the country for two months and submitted that part of my application after submitting the first part.

What would your first advice be to people who are thinking about moving to Amsterdam? 
Don't let your fears hold you back. There will be obstacles in your way when you move, but nothing is too big not to overcome if it's something that you really want.

Can we talk?!? 
Of course! I offer 15 minute consultation calls for free and if you'd just like to ask a question or two you can always email me. Please request a call through the blog comments. I am in the process of launching a hand holding service to help people through the application process myself with my own checklists, all of my recommended lawyers, tax advisors, what to avoid and helpful hints. It's an all inclusive package to get you moved from the US to the Netherlands. Look for that to come at the top of my blog :)

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Everyone loves the idea of a vacation- am I right?

But theres a minority of us, that hate to plan that vacation. I mean, I get a little itchy thinking about how much research it would take me to plan a 4-6 day vacation, from the flights to the accomodation to the activities while I'm there.... I'm actually exhausted typing about it.

In comes my new favourite way to travel: The concept is simple. You pay for a complete surprise trip. I didn't want to spend over 250 euros, so picked the number of days I wanted to go away and choose the "Broke Mediterranean Trip" option, and left the rest up to them.

So the back story is that I was sitting at my desk on Facebook one day thinking about how much I just needed to be sitting on a beach somewhere.
I was so exasperated, I said any beach would do.

As my little fingers kept scrolling, I came across a nicely placed ad for (great job Facebook algorithms). Four clicks and a credit card entry and I had booked a four day vacation to some unknown Mediterranean location in 3 weeks.
The initial adrenaline rush was enough to sustain me for two weeks and just as I was about to get antsy, sent me the weather report from my mystery location.

The day came and I was on my way to the airport with my bags packed and no idea where I was going. I sat down in the lobby and pulled out my key to scratch my scratchcard I received in the mail one week prior.
I was headed to......

Nice, France!

Almost everything was already planned for me, including check in at the airport and my hostel accomodations. I stayed in Hotel Ozz in Nice which was a wonderful surprise in itself that included free breakfast and was within walking distance of the Nice train station. While there, I was able to see one of my favorite football legends play, Mario Baotelli for OGC Nice in their home stadium. I'll never forget the joy I felt just being there seeing my favorite players playing in their home stadium and how it made me want to get back on the pitch myself.

On my 4 day excursion, I explored the beaches of Nice, the casinos of Monaco, and the delicacies of the French Riviera but most importantly spent a lot of alone time enjoying my own company and not stressing about a planned vacation where I had things I was supposed to be doing and places I had planned to explore. Everything I did on my trip was a happy unplanned accident.

Would I do it again?

Heck yeah I would.
The French Riviera was a wonderful destination for to send me to with lots to do, 29 degrees and sun everyday. I would almost dare say my trip was perfect.

My trip was a rejuvenating and stress free time that really brought back some life into my everyday routine. The adrenaline jolt of jumping into the unknown is something everyone should do at least once in their life.

If anyone is looking to do a trip in the near future, I'm happy to share tips! I love the company motto, "You'll go where you're meant to go" and that couldn't be more true in my case.

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When is it okay to cry? The overwhelming feeling of a big move

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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I don't know about my readers, but for me, I find that it can be really overwhelming to stand in the doorway of my bedroom and see my clothes (neatly) tossed over the chair in the corner and my stacks of books askew and wonder how in the heck am I going to get everything packed neatly so I can unpack it and know where everything is?

That was just one of my worries for my recent move, and yes, that worry was pretty surface level and turned out to be pretty silly because a) I'm not really that organized so I didn't end up minding that I couldn't find a few things (that's normal for me!) and b) I had other things to think about.

When I first moved to the Netherlands I was pretty overwhelmed about not having friends, not having a job lined up, not having a visa yet, not having accomodation and moving in with my partner who's lease was up on his apartment in 2 weeks.

I had a few stresses at that time.

I remember calling my mom and crying saying that I had no idea what I was doing with my life and she gave me simple advice that I think anyone who feels overwhelmed could benefit from:

1. You can't look at the big picture, you need to chop it up into little pieces.
My mom made a karate joke which only made me cry more, but she was right. I sat down and wrote out all of the things I needed to do to get my freelance visa and put them in a binder with a checklist. That same checklist is available for download here.

2. Write out your fears.
Once I wrote everything down and saw my fears on paper, I was able to tackle them one by one. So one of my biggest fears was not having friends. Seeing it written down on paper made it feel so silly to me! I have played soccer my entire life, if one of my fears was not having friends, I could join a soccer team. Problem solved.

3. IT'S OKAY TO CRY. Crying is just emotion leaving the body. Sometimes we all have too much emotion pent up and it spills over. I know I am not the only one who feels worlds better after a good cry.

4. Reach out for help. 
That one has always been tricky for me, but moms are always right. As soon as I realized that finding an apartment in 2 weeks was a herculean task that I couldn't take on on my own, I hired a dutch housing agent to help me find a room. In one week and 300 euros later, we had housing.

What are some of your greatest fears about a big move? Are you moving to The Netherlands and want someone to talk to? Reach out to me and let's chat! I'll give you a good mother's talkin' and we can talk through your fears together. :)


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A day in the life of an American abroad

Sunday, March 12, 2017

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Good Sunday morning vibes everyone!

I wrote a peek into my expat life for my college's alumni magazine and I thought I would share it here too. I talk about how I found my current position, what my day to day routine looks like and what I enjoy doing on the weekends in Amsterdam!
Check it out, and if you have any other questions you'd like me to answer, drop them in the comments and I will get back to you.

A Day in the Life....

What do you do?

I am a business development rep for a Silicon Valley startup hospitality tech company. Our company works with over 35,000 hotels worldwide, helping them generate more direct bookings and lessening their reliance on OTA websites like, etc. We find that most hotels have about 50-60% of their bookings coming from OTA websites. For each of these bookings, they must pay a 15-20% commission fee!
We have created a solution to fight these OTA websites which are taking over the hospitality industry.
I am based in Amsterdam in their EMEA office.

How did you get into this line of business? 

I always thought that I could be good in sales, but it was a jump into the unknown for me. I have a marketing and public relations background, working in the hospitality industry for The Ritz-Carlton before my Mountbatten year. While working at The Ritz-Carlton, I worked closely with the sales teams there and always thought to myself how interesting the entire sales cycle was from start to finish but put it in the back of my mind because I was on a digital marketing track and was excelerating my career by taking an internship in marketing for one of the best investment banks in the world. (UBS!) After my Mountbatten year, I moved to Amsterdam to pursue starting my own digital marketing company, which I did. I learned quickly that the biggest skills that are lacking for most entreprenuers is the ability to sell and the ability to pick up the phone and ask for what you want.
I decided to take a stop back and look for a position in sales to do just that. I went to a start-up tech fair in the city and met my current boss Pedro who I instantly clicked with on a business level. He has taken me under his wing as a sales rep for the Middle East and Africa region. The hiring process was incredibly quick, I went from meeting Pedro to my first day of work in just under 2 weeks.

What made you decide to live abroad again? How did you make this happen? 

I fell in love! I don’t like to say that that’s the reason for me staying in Europe, but it was a big factor. I met my current partner while I was on a bank holiday trip to Amsterdam. Another factor for me staying abroad was that The Netherlands has a treaty with The United States called the DAFT Treaty that allows Americans to pursue entrepreneurship visas so it was the perfect opportunity for me to start my own freelance company. The visa process was relatively painless and easy, the only sticky thing for me was how much capital I had to invest and have available for proof of viability. I wrote a blog about my visa process and my continual adjustment to living abroad, check it out! (

Have you experienced any culture shock as an American living and working in Amsterdam?

Um yes, definitely. It is the first time I have lived in a country where I do not speak the language! Living in Haarlem (right outside of Amsterdam) there is a stronger Dutch culture with less expats and less tourists. I learned rather quickly to stop being embarrassed anytime someone spoke to me in Dutch not realising I had no idea what they were saying. All Dutch people (or 90%) can speak English, but there is an inherent guilt that expats have for not being able to speak the mother tongue of the country that they are now living in and having to force people to speak English around them. There are a lot of times when my friends or co-workers just forget that I am around and that I don’t understand and just have conversations in Dutch. I either need to snap them out of it or wait politely to be included in the conversation at hand.
I ride my bike everywhere in all weather conditions and so does everyone else. It was such a shock to see a mom riding with 3 kids on one bike and seeing old grandmothers 80 years of age hop on and off of bikes with ease. There are bike lanes everywhere!
Also, Dutch people do not refrigerate eggs or milk but I think that that may be a European thing.

What's your home environment like? 

I currently live in Haarlem, a 20 minute train ride just outside of Amsterdam. It’s a beautiful family city also known as “Little Amsterdam”. It’s a well known Dutch saying that when you live in Amsterdam and you’re ready to have kids and a family, you move to Haarlem. That’s not why I’m there though! The rent is not as high as Amsterdam but I can still get to work in under an hour. It’s just me and my boyfriend living in a one bedroom so it’s perfectly cozy. I try to come home from work and decompress at home with lots of candles around and we have a big terrace where we like to sit outside on days when the sun is out. My home life is not very crazy, we’re simple people.

Describe a "typical" albeit interesting work day. What's the breakfast and lunch culture etc? 

I work with Middle Eastern and Africa hoteliers so I am calling Lebanon one minute and South Africa the next. So in the morning I come in to work and line up my day with where my sales leads are coming from and how I want to attack them. Usually in the morning I am focusing on the Middle East because their time zone is 2-3 hours ahead. Right now, Qatar is building like crazy for the upcoming World Cup so I am focusing on building relationships with those hoteliers. All the while I’m picking up little bits and phrases of Arabic.
I’m sitting in on meetings for maybe two hours a day- one at the end of the day with the America’s team. My office is in the middle of the city on the Herengracht, one of the main three Amsterdam ring canals, so there is plenty to eat around here! I am lucky to be best friends with my boss so we try to get out of the office at least once a day for a walk because sales can be stressful! We get food delivered to the office from Albert Heijn twice a week to make food there, but if I don’t feel like a sandwich/soup combo I go out for pizza. I get in to work around 8 so that I can capitalize on the time zone difference in the Middle East and that way, I will leave the office around 4:30-5PM.

How would you describe the culture of your place of work? 

We like to describe ourselves as a start up company even though the company is 7 years old and has had two rounds of fundraising raising over 45M. It’s an American company so there are 4 of us Americans and the rest are from around the world. Cyprus, Turkey, Italy, Brazil, Germany just to name a few. There’s so much diversity in my office that at any given time, if I take my headphones off, I can hear German, Spanish, English, Dutch and French being spoken all at the same time! It can be too much sometimes.

We are such a laid back office that sometimes it doesn’t feel like we work in sales! We have 25 days of PTO per year and I’m pretty sure everyone takes every single day. Because it is so rare for the sun to come out in Amsterdam (it’s rainier than London) Dutch people freak out and it’s like an unofficial day off where you can find people sitting outside at cafes, no matter the temperature during work hours.

We all like to have a couple beers together and go out on Friday nights. We are a tight knit office of 15 people from ages 25 to 45 and everyone is really social.

What's your experience of the social scene in Amsterdam?

I would have to admit that I don’t go out much! When I first moved to Amsterdam I worked as a bartender in the Red Light District, so although I didn’t go out much I saw the craziness that can be Amsterdam on a Saturday night. During the summer, the bar that I worked at would have all of the windows and doors open to the outside and was directly in the middle of the Red Light District with red window ladies surrounding us on all sides. It was a great people watching location!

I was also a bachelor party tour guide…I think I could write a book about what I saw during some of those tours.

On another note, the Dutch love to make appointments for everything- so it’s not uncommon for me to make an appointment to meet with my friends for a night out three weeks in advance! There are great restaurants with lots of diversity in the city, with Surinamese food being really popular.

Electronic music is really big here so there’s always some kind of good party to go to at Radion or in Westergasfabriek. The Dutch are the masters of festivals so during the summer there was at least 3 different festivals going on every week. My favourite this year was AppleSap which was headlined by FatJoe.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m planning on extending my visa at the end of this year with a partnership visa that will allow me to stay another 5 years and at that point, if I want to, I can take a permanent residence test. If anyone from America has a question about how I got my freelance visa, I’m an open book. :) Also! Check out my blog,

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