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Brexit means booming business for companies serving expats

Brexit means booming business for companies serving expats

Brexit means business for expat companies.

Brexit is a real downer for the Dutch private sector, but some entrepreneurs also see opportunities in the gloom. Last year, dozens of companies relocated from the United Kingdom to the Netherlands. Staff at these companies all need somewhere to live and companies that are helping these employees manage the challenge are mushrooming.

So what exactly is the deal with those gray and green trash bins, and how does a household trash pass work? What about finding the right school? These are the types of questions that inevitably come up in the process of brokering accommodation for expats. Any broker worth their salt will want to help these foreign employees adjust to Dutch society, says Roz Fremder, owner of the Expat Help company.

If it’s your birthday, bring a cake

She explains common Dutch traditions to expats, for example. You might be used to receiving a treat on your birthday, but in the Netherlands it’s the other way around, she clarifies: The person whose birthday it is, is expected to bring a cake for their colleagues.
Nothing wrong with that, but you need to be aware of it. Fremder and other entrepreneurs are eager to explain these local customs to foreign employees whose jobs bring them to the Netherlands. In recent times, most of the work these companies do is for British firms.

Number of companies serving expats has almost doubled

Number of companies that provide services to expats.

Figures based on company descriptions from the Chamber of Commerce.
Chart: RTL Z Source: Chamber of Commerce

70-hour work weeks

The number of companies providing services for expats has increased significantly in recent years. There were 301 in 2014 but by now the number has grown to 590 according to the Chamber of Commerce. Entrepreneurs are noticing an increase in activity in the market, especially due to Brexit.

“Whenever someone leaves a message to call back, it’s almost always a 0044 number”, says Patrick Daas of, for example, referring to the UK country code. Daas finds housing in and around the capital for employees arriving from abroad.

Sandra Koot, owner of NL Relocation, is also inundated. “It’s no exception for me to work 60, 70 hours a week these days “, she says.

EMA staff

US-born entrepreneur Fremder and her company Expat Help hit a home run when they were awarded a major assignment by the Amsterdam municipality. Fremder is organizing the relocation to our country of the entire EMA staff.

“We thought we would only be able to expand internationally over the long term. But Brexit has made that kind of development possible sooner. For example, we now have a full-time agent working for us in London,” she tells RTL Z.

57,000 expats

Besides this assignment, Brexit is boosting business in other ways too. “Some 80 percent of requests we receive are from individuals wishing to relocate, the rest are from companies. We’re noticing a serious increase among the Brits,” she says.

It’s unclear just how many expats are coming to the Netherlands. The most recent tally by the Dutch National Bureau for Statistics (CBS) put the number at roughly 57,000. But that was in 2011.

Germans and Brits the most numerous expats
German 7,350
British 6,860
Polish 3,400
French 3,090
Belgian 2,970
Italian 2,770
American 2,750
Indian 2,640
Turkish 2,010
Chinese 1,990
Spanish 1,720
Japanese 1,230
Portuguese 1,130
Irish 950
Romanian 910
Russian 900
Greek 770
Swedish 670
Canadian 630
Hungarian 580
South-African 580
Australian 530
Austrian 510
Iranian 500
Other nationalities 9.760
Total 57,170
Chart: RTL Z
Source: CBS (2015)

Schools filling up sooner

According to expat agencies, the number is much higher now. The increase sometimes causes problems. Eline Hausel, founder and owner of Young Expat Services, helps expats find appropriate schools for their children.

“It’s much busier across the board. Schools fill up quicker, I have to deal with waiting lists more often. The increased activity has a cause. I’m pretty sure it has to do with Brexit,” says Hausel, who adds that she herself doesn’t have more British clients per se that usual.
“We need to keep the pipeline filled, we’re aware of that.”
In terms of housing, the companies serving expats are also noticing a tightening of the market. “We start looking for accommodation at least sixty days before a client arrives in the Netherlands. We also recommend looking outside Amsterdam,” according to Fremder.

Petering out

The question is how long these types of enterprises can continue profiting from Brexit. Once the British dust has settled and all the relocated companies have found their feet, the glut of expats will probably also dry up. “For small companies like ours that’s going to be a challenge. We need to keep the pipeline filled, we’re aware of that,” says Fremder.

Source • RTL Z / Sam Trompert