While the entire Europe is busy having a generally anti-immigrant stance, a political party in the Netherlands called Denk (or “Think” in Dutch) courageously stood up to oppose the rising xenophobia and racism slowly embattling much of the continent these days. This only represents the country’s position of slowly opening its gates wider for immigrants is the waves of globalization enables more people to be expatriates, travelers, and migrants.
Today we compare the Low Lands and the Land Down Under to get to the bottom of their migration potentials (pun intended).
Considering that the Netherlands has only 17 million inhabitants and is the 18th largest economy in the world, the country is undoubtedly one of the wealthiest in the world. It operates on an open economic structure (they can freely trade internationally) and relies on export. Other main industries include metal and engineering products, agriculture, petroleum, electronic machinery and equipment, chemicals, and construction. It has an unemployment rate of 6.8% and inflation rate of 0.3%.
At US$28,000 to US$30,000 annually, the wage here is average compared to most of European countries. It is deemed higher than that of Spain and Italy, but lower than that of England and Germany. However, work-life balance here is guaranteed, with Dutch Laws prohibiting anyone from working more than 45 hours a week. This policy resulted them to have one of the lowest average working time in the world at 1,425 hours annually or 27 hours a week.
One of the largest mixed market economies in the world, Australia’s economy is primarily driven by its service sector, comprising 68% of its GDP. Other sectors (and biggest employers) include mining, manufacturing, agriculture, finance, tourism, media, education, and logistics. It is the 12th largest in the world in terms of GDP. Unemployment here is higher by a small margin at 5.8% with an inflation rate of 1.3%
The country currently has the highest minimum wage in the world, making up for the considerable high income taxes. Like in the Netherlands, a law is also mandating employees to work for a maximum of 40 hours a week only (they fought for that right in the past), making the average working time here to be only at around at 1,664 working hours annually or 32 hours a week.
And if you came here unemployed (or became unemployed in the process) here’s a quick and comprehensive guide on how can you land another job.
The Dutch health care is considered as the best in Europe, taking the top rank in the list of 34 nations in the 2012 Euro Health Consumer Index. It spends a lot on its health care system at 11.9% of GDP, second only to the United States. They have a network of 160 primary care centers, with open surgeries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most of the doctors speak very good English, making them fairly accessible to expats and new immigrants.
Health insurance here is mandatory. And is covered by four statutory forms:
- Zorgverzekeringswet (Zvw) – the basic insurance and encompasses common medical care.
- Wet langdurige zorg (Wlz) – this includes long-term nursing and care.
- Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning (Wmo) – provides every day support services administered by the municipality.
- Jeugdwet – covers short and long-term medical care for youth.
Australia’s healthcare system functions on a centralized level, and is carried out by both private and government institutions. The state and territory governments supervise aspects of health care within their jurisdictions, such as the operation of hospitals.
It is two-pronged: the private health system and the Medicare. The latter is funded partly by a 2% Medicare levy (with exceptions for low-income earners), with the rest being supplied by government. An additional levy of 1% is imposed on high-income earners without private health insurance. To find out more about how Australia’s healthcare system works, check our blog here.
Food and Dining
Because of its coastal location, main ingredients of Dutch cuisine include fishes, but also centers around pork, chicken, or beef. On the traditional level, their method of cooking and preparation is simple and straightforward, focusing more on vegetables and farm produces than meat. Dutch diet is mainly rich in fat and carbohydrates and contains dairy products, reflecting the nutritional requirements of farmers, fishermen, and laborers back then.
Cafes are located everywhere in the country, all serving quick snacks. Broodjeswinkels (small shops) sell open-faced sandwiches, consumed traditionally with a glass of milk or buttermilk. Meanwhile, informal restaurants like Poffertjes offer fried dough pancakes, typically with powdered sugar. And lastly, raw, salted, smoked, or dried herring are being sold on street stalls. You will usually purchase the herring from a barrel, then hold it by the tail and eat it on the street.
Australian cuisine is a fusion of native aboriginal inventiveness and British colonial contribution, with mix of Asian and Mediterranean traditions provided by wave after wave of post-colonial migrations, thus helping transform their cuisine. They usually take advantage of meat available in the continent, such as lamb, kangaroo, and emu, as well as pork, beef, and chickens. Like the Japanese, Aussies prefer the freshest produces as much as possible.
The country is has a rich culinary atmosphere, evident by the many restaurants continuously sprouting in cities from ultra-exclusive joints to pubs to dives serving street food. Melbourne itself has become famous for gastronomical adventurers because of the many restaurants and cafes lining up its streets. Also, Australian food is diverse as they are enjoyable and sometimes challenging. Check some of them here.
Social housing is high level and well developed in the Netherlands, as 60% of the residents here own their properties. However, that doesn’t mean the renting market is underdeveloped for the other 40%. The properties for rent are up to par also, though the process can be pretty complicated. On some areas, restrictions are applied on who gets prioritized to live in the house. The odds mostly go for those who have strong connection to the area i.e. they were born there, working nearby, or has a family in the area.
As a foreigner, a migrant, or expatriate, there is no restriction for you to own a property. However, like in renting, it is restricted to low-income earners, which makes it quite challenging. It is mostly advised that you rent if you are new to an area or planning to stay there for three years only or less. If you are able to own a property, on the other hand, there are tax benefits and mortgage costs are often lower than that of renting.
Unlike in the Netherlands, owning a house is also not very common in Australia. Around 33% of residents here live in fully owned properties, 31.4% rent their home, while 35% of homes are mortgaged.
The departments of state governments provides public housing in Australia. It is divided into two categories: the inner-city medium to high-rise apartments and the low-density townhouses/fully detached houses located in the suburban fringes of cities and towns. The inner-city public housing is generally found in Melbourne and Sydney. They are usually 3-5 story walk-up flats and 11-22 story high-rise towers. Low-density suburban estates is located in almost every city and town in Australia.
Expectedly, rents are cheaper in rural than urban areas. It’s also lower the further a property is from a large city or town, public transport or other facilities. The average rents are highest in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin.
Public and Private Transport
Public transport in the Netherlands is well-developed, efficient, and relatively affordable compared to the average income. The OV-chipkaart is the country’s main smart card system in traveling, and can be used in trains, metros, and buses. Various railway systems operate in the country. They have three rapid transit systems (metros) serving various cities, a rail transport that connects almost all major towns and cities (it is the busiest in the world), three large tram networks which operate in three cities, and two light rail networks. There are also regional and city public transport bus services, but their connections are quite limited due to the extensiveness of the train networks.
A one way train ticket here costs US$3.13, while a monthly pass is at around US$84.92. Starting taxi tariff is US$4.47 with US$2.35 for the first one kilometer. A Toyota Corolla 1.6l 97kW Comfort (or any equivalent new car) will set you back US$24,255.49. Gasoline is at US$1.71 for every liter.
Australia also has very efficient public transport system. But unlike Japan where trains are more popular, driving is the most used mode of transport here, and this number continues to rise. Trains only come second, then walking (the country has a very good culture of walking), and then buses. All of Australian cities have reliable, affordable public bus networks and train lines, plus taxis operate nationwide. These train lines include commuter rail networks, trams, light rails, and rapid transits.
Commuting costs are a bit less expensive here than in the Netherlands. A one-way ticket here sets you back by US$2.96 while going for a monthly pass will increase it to US$96.96. A kilometer ride of taxi is US$1.62 with US$2.98 as starting tariff. If you want your own car, a Toyota Corolla 1.6l 97kW Comfort (or any equivalent new car) will cost you US$17,430.44 plus US$0.96 for every liter of gasoline.
Weather and Climate
The Netherlands has a moderate maritime (or oceanic) climate characterized by cool summers and mild winters, with typically high humidity. This is more evident in the Dutch coastline, where the difference in temperature is definitely smaller between summer and winter, and between day and night than it is in the southeast part of the country. Since the country is small in land area, there isn’t much else variation in temperature and climate from region to region, however, the marine influences are less felt inland. Rainfall is distributed throughout most of the year with a dryer period from April to September.
Due to the massive land area, Australia goes through differing climates. This fact is characterized by the severely hot climate in the Kimberley region in the north-west of the continent to below zero in the Snowy Mountains in the south. Also due to its size, there just can’t be one seasonal calendar for the whole continent.
Depending upon where in the continent you are each month, the seasons will vary, whether the weather is defined by the Temperate zone seasons or the tropical seasons. To find out more what is the climate and weather patterns in each of the states in the country, check our blog here.
The Netherlands and Australia have as so many similarities, their qualities and characteristics are almost mirror-like. Both have a well-structured economy, an all-encompassing health care, very low crime rate, an egalitarian culture, and efficient transport system. Also, both countries have the tendency to build traffic congestions, especially in bigger cities, and the unpredictable weather patterns.
However, The Netherlands has the upper hand when it comes to their tax system, which provides a 30 percent tax-free allowance available, as well as lower average working hours. Living the country also opens more opportunities in other European countries by the agreement in the European Union.
But this specific benefit is also a major drawback, job and career opportunities are mostly restricted towards migrants from EU countries only. Also, you need to learn Dutch to better get along with the residents.
Australia, on the other hand, prioritizes the job market according to skills, not nationality, and opportunities are available to almost everybody. And since English is the main language, it’s fairly easy to deal with people. Also, the country offers the highest minimum wage in the world, which makes up for the expensive living.
If you like traveling the world or fond of going abroad, however, Australia is isolated by ocean from the rest of Europe and Asia, and provides a major challenge. Also, the properties can get very expensive, the reason why only 30% of people here owns their home.