Welcome to Rotterdam!

Your expat buddy in Rotterdam for tailor-made relocation services

Kick-start your expat journey

Making the decision to move abroad is a big step. It’s a great opportunity for a fresh start but it can also be daunting at the same time. Especially when you’re moving to the Netherlands all by yourself. It’s a whole different level of overwhelming. With me as your expat buddy, your transition will be streamlined, seamlessly managed and worry-free.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve helped solo expats navigate the intensive relocation process and integrate faster into Dutch life. Having firsthand experience, I know how hard it can be for a newly-arrived expat to cope with the challenges of moving to another country. Therefore, I’m here to help you sidestep any pitfalls, minimise stress and maximise the fun of living in the Netherlands.

Rest assured that with me in your corner, you’ll find your footing and feel at home quickly in the bustling city on the Maas.

Moving to Rotterdam? SparkLing One is your buddy and guide

Settling into Dutch life

Are you relocating to Rotterdam on your own? You’ve already got one friend in your new hometown! I’ll be your personal guide and buddy.

Uprooting your life and landing in a whole new country and culture can be exciting but also challenging. In particular, the actual move and all the underlying practical issues, which have to be arranged in quick succession after entering the country. On top of filling in a bunch of mandatory paperwork, you’ve to find a place to live, get accustomed to your new job and acclimatise to a different culture. Simple, easy or familiar would not be the words to describe most international relocations, but this is precisely how it’ll be for you when I’m on the job.

I tackle the initial issues you face as an expat and arrange the essentials. What a relief! And that saves you time and energy. 

  • (semi-) furnished rental home
  • rental property viewing
  • utilities (electricity, gas water)
  • internet, TV, Dutch mobile provider
  • social security number (Burger Service Nummer)
  • DigiD
  • Dutch bank account
  • insurances
  • public transport travel card (OV-chipkaart)
  • orientation tour of Rotterdam
  • cultural briefing
  • introduction to my personal hidden gems in Rotterdam
  • just about anything else to help you kick-start your life in Rotterdam

 

From experience, I know that having an expat buddy by your side from the beginning can give you a head start in your new environment. Together, we can get you to the point where you’re hitting the ground running.

Culture clashes, language barriers and other challenges

Finding your way around

As a newcomer to the Netherlands you’ll encounter new norms of cultural conduct and business ethics. There could be unexpected – and emotionally straining – hurdles.

Your employer may have already taken care of bare necessities, but you need more support setting up your new home base. Navigating your way through a housing market in an unfamiliar city or figuring out the Dutch healthcare system can be daunting. Not to mention that you have to adapt to a hectic business life that doesn’t give you time to take a breather.

You could experience language barriers that turn simple errands into a scavenger hunt. Or you might be caught off guard by the infamous Dutch directness. Moving to a new country is a guarantee that you’ll be confronted with new ways of thinking and doing things, which might result in culture shock or even clashes.

When we work together, I ensure you’ll have an enjoyable and a relaxing experience. Apart from taking care of the necessary arrangements, I’ll show you how to transition from visitor to full-time resident, avoiding cultural blunders and awkward situations. You can rely on me for social support in the absence of your family and friends at home.

Proud Rotterdammer

 

As a proud Rotterdammert (how we refer to ourselves), I love showing people around the real Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a city you need to get to know first before you fall in love with it.

This city offers you a unique combination of old and new architecture, broad cultural offerings, hip and varied restaurants, colourful street art, renowned museums, awesome festivals, the constant urge for rejuvenation and no-nonsense mentality. These things make Rotterdam an attractive place to live. It’s a mishmash of cultures; a place that has something for everyone and where countless expats feel at home quickly. There is always something to do and experience here.

While exploring the various neighbourhoods together, I’ll share my favourite locations and Rotterdam’s best-kept secrets with you; the most exciting places, the closest convenience stores and the best hangouts where you can go to make new friends with the local residents. This will not only help you practice Dutch but also fast-track your integration process, allowing you to understand the Dutch culture better. 

Personal attention and support

The personal touch

Growing up in multiple cultures and working with various nationalities helped me to relate easier to people from different backgrounds.

I was born in Singapore, a country that’s home to a wide range of cultures, ethnicities and religions. My parents were expats in China and Japan, which is how I came to experience expat life first hand. Often dependent on themselves to find their own way around, it took my parents a long time to get used to living in a new city and adapt to a new culture.

When I moved in with my mother, who had already immigrated to the Netherlands, I regularly went out with her and her Korean expat colleagues. I still remember how much her colleagues appreciated our hospitality and loved being invited to celebrate Queen’s Day (now King’s Day) or to come over for homemade pea soup or Dutch pancakes. These are the kinds of moments I strive to create for you when we work together.

        I can’t promise to solve all your problems,
but I can promise you won’t have to face them alone.

Here’s how I improve your expat experience

You’ll never walk alone

In recent years, I’ve created a home away from home for many solo expatriates, mostly highly skilled migrants, engineers working for the maritime and energy sector. Expat life can be like an emotional roller coaster. Leaving a familiar environment and building a new network from scratch in Rotterdam is a challenge. It’s easy to feel isolated and lonely. Making friends can be hard and living far away from your family can contribute to loneliness and feeling homesick. I understand how it feels to be a newcomer, and what you need to feel at home in Rotterdam.

Arrival

When you arrive at Schiphol airport, a chauffeur waits to pick you up at the arrival hall and brings you to your new place. I’ve already found a perfect furnished rental apartment in an expat-friendly neighbourhood. For an extra warm welcome, I stock your kitchen cupboard with Dutch treats and Rotterdam craft beer. You can kick back, relax and enjoy your first night in your new home.

Your first outings

We explore your new neighbourhood together. I tell you more about the Dutch customs, habits and working culture. After all, the faster you feel at home in your new environment, the quicker you’ll integrate into local community. In the beginning, things can take an unexpected turn. You seldom realise how strongly tied you are to the culture of your home country until you move abroad and are confronted with a culture and a different language. This is why we speak regularly to discuss your new experience and how I can support you moving forward.

Creating your social circle

Meeting new people can be tricky, no matter where you live. Being in an unfamiliar environment with many new things to learn as well as adapting to all of the changes can be very emotionally taxing. For expats, having a network of people who understand what you’re going through or who are at least able to listen and provide comfort, is a necessity.

With this in mind, I organise different activities for expats and locals. Think architecture discovery tours, street art explorations or just simply sharing a meal together at one of my favourite food spots. You get to know Rotterdam better, meet other people with common interests and have some fun. This is also a great opportunity to exchange experiences with other expats and practise your Dutch with locals.

Tips and tricks to make your life easier

 

I’m used to being asked a wide variety of questions: from how to find a great barber to where to go for a nature getaway in the Netherlands. Don’t wrack your brain looking for answers to every single question when you can simply ask me. As your guide and buddy, I’m happy to share my personal tips and introduce you to my favourite hotspots in Rotterdam. As we say in the Netherlands, “lekker makkelijk (nice and easy)!”. 

SparkLing One services

How it works

To create an enjoyable relocation experience for you, let’s start by having a chat. I can learn more about your situation and needs. This is also an excellent opportunity to find out if we’re compatible as we’ll be working closely and intensively together.

Once we decide to work together, we’ll take a deep dive into your relocation, crafting a personalised roadmap for a seamless and successful transition to Rotterdam. Your relocation is off to a flying start before you even step on the airplane.

I look forward to helping you to settle into your new life.

When you’re ready to take the plunge and move to Rotterdam, I help you overcome the initial challenges as you begin a new chapter abroad.

Here’s what you get:

  • assistance with finding a (semi-) furnished rental apartment in Rotterdam area
  • information on the best neighbourhoods  to live in
  • accompany you to 2 viewings or attend these viewings on your behalf              When you’re not in Rotterdam at the time of the viewing, I can arrange a pre-recorded video or a live stream of the property.
  • accompany you to the move-in inspection or attend this inspection on your behalf
  • assistance with arranging home utilities (energy, water and internet)
  • assistance with arranging household contents and liability insurances
  • assistance with BSN (Citizen Service Number) registration
  • assistance with opening a Dutch bank account
  • assistance with understanding Dutch documents e.g. rental contract
  • how to use OV-chipcard and public transport
  • how to use DigiD
  • information on Dutch healthcare system
  • assistance with selecting a Dutch healthcare insurance provider
  • assistance with finding a general practitioner, dentist and pharmacy
  • a list of useful links and apps
  • orientation tour of Rotterdam city centre or orientation tour of your neighbourhood, with special focus on amenities such as shops, gym, park
  • buddy support throughout the course of the assignment

 

The fee for the SparkLing Essential Package is Euro 1875.

The first months in a new country can be exciting but it can also feel scary and mind-boggling. You need to adapt to new people, a new language, a new way of doing things. Before you know you find yourself anxious and culturally disoriented.

Making new friends can be awkward, especially if you’re an introvert. Like all relationships, it takes time to find like-minded people to hang out with. When you don’t immediately come across people who you feel comfortable asking for help or opening up to, you can count on me to support you through this transition.

For instance:

  • You’re bound to have a lot of shopping to do when you move into your new home. Without the shops and brands you’re familiar with, you might not know where to buy the bare essentials like bedding. A go-to local buddy comes in handy. Don’t wrack your brain looking for answers to every single question when you can simply ask me.
 
  • Are you struggling to understand the Dutch documents you’ve received such as municipality letters? Need support with sorting out an issue with Dutch service providers over the phone. No worries! You’ve got me on speed dial.
 
  • Understanding your host culture is more than learning the language. It’s also about coming to comprehend the more subtle aspects such as non-verbal communication, values, traditions and customs. As your cultural informant I give you some pointers to help you get through culture shock.
 
  • After you’ve had a few lessons and you can speak basic Dutch, it’s time to practise speaking Dutch with someone who will not automatically reply in English. As a near-native Dutch speaker I can help you increase your confidence while you learn to talk about subjects that are relevant to your personal and business life. Learning a new language should be fun! I’m happy to throw in some Rotterdam expressions and phrases to help you become a Rotterdammert.

Let’s buddy up!

What you get:
– 15-minute weekly check-in sessions via Zoom
– 1 meet-up in Rotterdam (We can go shopping together for essentials or I can introduce you to my favourite food joints or show you around lesser-known areas.)
– support via e-mail and WhatsApp for 1 month

The monthly fee for the SparkLing Buddy Support Package is Euro 300.

It’s my aim to give you a headstart and make your life easier before, during and after your relocation to Rotterdam. Besides the packages, my services are fully customisable to suit your needs.

For example:

  • Besides providing you with information on Dutch healthcare system, I help you select the best Dutch health insurance plan and recommend a general practitioner, dentist and other healthcare professionals e.g. physiotherapist. The fee is Euro 250.

 

  • Ready to explore the lesser-known areas in Rotterdam while making new friends? As a huge supporter of urban creativity, I organise street art and street food walking tours with expert guides. The fee for a 2.5-hour tour is Euro 85 per person (max. 4 persons per tour).

 

  • Once you’re settled in your new home, it’s time to discover the unknown and hidden gems of the Netherlands. Let me share my insider tips and create an unforgettable getaway for you. I specialise in staycations in Texel, the largest of the Dutch Wadden Sea Islands. Sweeping white-sand beaches, wildlife-rich nature reserves, sun-dappled forests and quaint villages are among the highlights of Texel. The starting fee for a travel plan is Euro 250.

 

  • Before you bid a final ‘doei (bye)’ to the Netherlands, there are many bureaucratic tasks to complete. Whether if you need help with finding a reliable  moving company or attend the move-out inspection on your behalf, I take care of all the necessary arrangements for a smooth departure. The starting fee is Euro 1250.

You’re preparing yourself for an overseas move.

There are plenty of practical topics you’ll need to research before moving abroad. Thanks to the internet, there’s a wealth of resources available online that you can find. Spending hours on the internet doing research and digging into multiple Facebook expat groups leave you depleted and you wonder if you actually have the correct information.

While online research is helpful, there’s no better way to get practical and insider tips than talking to someone who’s been in your shoes. And when it comes to the expat experience, you may find lots of conflicting information. I can tell it to you straight how things work and show you the shortcuts to a pleasant life in Rotterdam.

What you get:
– 1.5 hour session via Zoom, recorded so you can refer to it later

Please send me your questions beforehand so we can identify the main areas where you need my support. This ensures we get the most out of our time and that I can answer whatever questions you have.

The fee for the SparkLing Shortcuts Session is Euro 250.

  • All prices are inclusive of 21% VAT.
  • Travel time and travel expenses are included in the Essential Package price.
  • You can pay in three instalments for orders above Euro 1000.
  • My hourly rate is Euro 85. This rate applies to any additional time spent working outside the scope of any given packages or services and this rate is exclusive of travel time and travel expenses.
  • For international payments I recommend to use Wise instead of a bank or PayPal to avoid unnecessary high transfer and conversion fees. 

Trees, the earth’s lungs

Forests contain the overwhelming majority of life on Earth, including a staggering 80% of the planet’s terrestrial species. We depend on forests for our survival but tend to take forests for granted. To help things get better for woodlands, planting new trees is good. Saving existing and mature forests is better and a crucial part of our planet’s long-term health.

Travelling is an essential part of my life. The trips I’ve taken, have helped to shape me into the person I’m today. As a huge supporter of sustainable tourism and nature conservation I want to do my part in protecting the planet while still seeing the world.

Besides travelling more environmentally conscious, I offset my carbon footprint through forest conservation. For each trip booked and for each expat guided I donate Euro 15 to The Forest Project. I can’t wait to adopt a plot of forest in the Netherlands by the end of 2021. Every tree counts. Together we contribute to a better climate, more biodiversity and better living conditions.