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omar albeik, employee, backbase

Moving from Istanbul to Amsterdam

[email protected]

About Omar

I'm Omar Albeik and I'm a Senior iOS Engineer at Backbase. I recently migrated to Amsterdam with my family, making life-changing decision. In this post, I’ll try to share my experience from the moment we decided to leave Turkey up until now and some tips and resources to bring you some insights if you are considering relocating.

A life-changing decision

It was January 2019 when my wife and I decided to say goodbye to Istanbul; it was time for our next adventure. We wanted to move to a place with a higher quality of life and a better education system since our kids are growing up quickly.
Before setting our mind on Amsterdam, we had other options on our list, including London, Berlin, Dublin, Stockholm, and Helsinki. While each of these destinations is beautiful and unique in a different way, we favorited Amsterdam for the following reasons:

Why we chose Amsterdam


Very international. The Netherlands has the second-highest overall average of English language proficiency in the world, nine out of ten Dutch people speak English fluently! Amsterdam itself is formed of a wonderful multicultural mix of more than 180 nationalities. No matter where are you coming from, what is your ethnicity or religion, it is easy to find communities and cultural events for you. So far it was super easy for me and my family to fit in.


Family and child-friendly. Although many people think of it as the sin city of Europe, Amsterdam is a wonderful place to raise kids and have a family, from activities for kids, to one of the best education systems in the world. It is also because work-life balance here is very good, I get to spend more time with my family.


Size and getting around. Amsterdam is just the perfect size, it is not a huge city, but not a small one. Its impressive network of public transportation including ferries, trains, buses, trams, and metros is very reliable and accurate. Amsterdam is also well known for its bike-friendly streets.


Easy immigration process. The Netherlands has a relatively easy and fast immigration process for highly skilled migrants, the process takes 1~2 months.

A happy place

The country has been in the top 10 worlds happiest countries report for a few years now. In comparison with Istanbul, where there is a lot of stress everywhere; people here are happier, more open-minded, and relaxed. It is mainly because Amsterdam has an excellent quality of life. It’s clean and safe. It has a lovely environment, with little traffic or pollution and beautiful canals that give the city a special ambiance.

Not to mention that Amsterdam is rapidly developing into one of the most significant technology hubs of Europe and the world. Inventions like Python, Vim, Blender, Compact Cassette, Compact Disc, and more have been invented here. It is simply, one of the best places on Earth if you are working in tech!

How to move?

The easiest way to move to Amsterdam is to find a job, your employer will then initiate the immigration process for you. To make the relocation process faster make sure the employer is a registered IND sponsor.

There are some websites to search for jobs in the Netherlands, however, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Stack Overflow, and relocate.me are familiar and have thousands of open positions in tech 😉

The immigration as a highly-skilled migrant in the Netherlands has a simple 3 steps, described below.

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3 steps to officially settle in

1. TEV applications (2~3 weeks)

Your company will file your and your family’s entry and residence applications as a highly-skilled migrant with the Dutch immigration authorities in the Netherlands (IND).

2. MVV consular process (~1 week)

Once your TEV application has been approved, you will need to apply for a long term Dutch entry visa (MVV visa) at the Dutch embassy/consulate in your home country or the country where you have legal residence.

3. Visiting the Expat Center (~1 day)

Once you and your family have arrived in the Netherlands with the MVVs, you will be allowed to start working for your employer directly. Several days later your employer will arrange a visit to the expat center where you will receive your residence permit card, BSN (social security) number, and finalize your migration process.

It is not an easy decision to move to a new country, especially if you have a family. I hope I tried to make things a little bit clearer in this post 😃

For more resources, feel free to visit my blog.

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