Welcome to Rotterdam

Embark on your expat journey with greater ease

Moving to Rotterdam for a new job is an excellent opportunity to have a fresh start but it can be unnerving at the same time. Especially when you plan to relocate all by yourself. It’s a whole different level of overwhelming. There are so many things to take into account before the move itself.

I’ve been in your shoes. No matter how mentally strong you’re, the challenges that you face as a newcomer can make the start of your expat life hard. Many relocations fail within the first few months. For this reason, it’s imperative to make sure that practical arrangements are taken care of before or shortly after arrival. Over the past years, I’ve simplified and streamlined the relocation process for solo expats and helped them to integrate faster into Dutch life.

Having me by your side gives you a head start and peace of mind. I’m here to help you sidestep any pitfalls, minimise stress, and maximise the joy of living in the Netherlands. Very soon, you’ll find your feet and feel at home in the bustling city on the Maas.

Expat challenges

Finding your way around

To leave your comfort zone and be thrust into an entirely new environment, with its own climate, culture, and customs is a bold move. With all these sudden changes, it’s no surprise that expat problems arise during the tricky adjustment period.

Sorting out the paperwork

Your employer has taken care of the bare necessities such as a residence permit but you require more help with setting up your new home base. From signing a rental agreement to applying for health insurance, paperwork is one of the most crucial parts when relocating. Working through a long list of tasks is time-consuming, and feels like a burden as you’re not familiar with the local system or language.

Culture shock 

Most employers don’t provide cross-cultural training to help you deal with cultural differences. Therefore, you might be caught off guard by the infamous Dutch directness, struggle to understand the local sense of humour or get discouraged when trying to make friends with your Dutch colleagues. The Dutch like to keep their working and personal life separate, so it can be difficult to socialise with colleagues outside of work.

Language barrier 

Locals are often multilingual, especially in Rotterdam, most speak a reasonable level of English. However, when you don’t speak or understand Dutch yet, you can end up feeling isolated, lost and inadequate. Not to mention it can make even the simplest tasks, such as grocery shopping in a supermarket gruelling.

Loneliness 

The life of an expat can be an emotional rollercoaster. You can’t really prepare yourself for the emotions that follow a move abroad. Adjusting, settling in, and creating a new life is a process that takes time, like making friends. Living far away from your family can contribute to loneliness and feeling homesick. No matter how good social technology becomes, it’s not the same as a face-to-face interaction in real life.


Working together, I ensure you can enjoy this period of adaptation to the fullest. You can focus on your new job while I take care of the necessary arrangements, and you can rely on me for social support. I’ll show you how to transition from a newbie to Rotterdammer, avoiding cultural blunders and awkward situations, easing you into life in the Netherlands.

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

Proud Rotterdammer

As a proud Rotterdammert (how we refer to ourselves), I love showing people around my Rotterdam. With over 170 nationalities living side by side, Rotterdam is a thriving port city you need to get to know first before you fall in love with it.

This vibrant city offers you a unique combination of old and new architecture, a multicultural food scene, colourful street art, and renowned museums. Countless events put Rotterdam on the international map such as North Sea Jazz Festival and International Film Festival. It has the constant urge for rejuvenation and a no-nonsense mentality. A place that has something for everyone and where countless expats feel at home quickly.

Creating a home away from home

Settling into Dutch life

Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling

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 secured a furnished rental apartment in an expat-friendly area. 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.

Understanding the Dutch 

While we explore your neighbourhood, I share Rotterdam’s best-kept secrets and tell you more about the Dutch customs, habits and business culture. After all, the faster you feel at home in your new environment, the quicker you’ll integrate into the 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 experiences and how I can support you moving forward.

Photo: Caffee Booon

Creating your social circle

For expats, having a local support network is a necessity. With this in mind, I organise different activities like 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 not only a great opportunity to exchange experiences with other expats and practise your Dutch with locals but also fast-track your integration process.

Buddy support 

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 or turn simple errands into a scavenger hunt 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. Easy peasy.

Photo: Schorem

SparkLing One services

How it works

To create an enjoyable relocation experience for you, let’s start by having a chat. I can get to know more about you and identify your needs. This is also a great way to find out if we’re a good fit as we’ll be working closely and intensively together. I specialise in supporting solo expats, mostly highly skilled migrants, engineers working in the maritime and energy sector.

Once we decide to work together, we’ll take a deep dive into your situation, crafting a personalised roadmap for a smooth and successful transition to Rotterdam. I do the work, so you can focus on your new job and make time for self-care during this hectic time. You can rest assured that your relocation is off to a flying start before you even step on the aeroplane.

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

Ling has been instrumental in a smooth transition for me. Not only did she help with all the technical aspects of residency permit, leasing signing, insurance etc. due to her strong connections and expertise in the process, but she was also intuitively helpful with the integration that is needed when moving to a new living space, city and life. I would not be nearly as comfortable or settled only days into my move without Ling. You will not find a more perfect expat buddy!

Dana Lukens

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 the 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 the Dutch healthcare system
  • assistance with selecting a Dutch healthcare insurance provider
  • assistance with finding a general practitioner, dentist and pharmacy
  • orientation tour of Rotterdam city centre
  • orientation tour of your neighbourhood
  • support via e-mail and WhatsApp throughout the course of the assignment

The fee for the SparkLing Essential Package is Euro 2000. 

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. You feel lonely as you don’t have a local support network yet. 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 and effort to find like-minded people to hang out with. When you don’t immediately come across people to who you feel comfortable asking for help or opening up, 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, customs, and business etiquette. 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:
– 30-minute weekly check-in sessions via Zoom
– 1 meet-up in Rotterdam 
– support via e-mail and WhatsApp for 1 month

The monthly fee for the SparkLing Buddy Support Package is Euro 450.            When you need help with going through a few things, my hourly rate is Euro 80.

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 the 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, osteopath. The fee is Euro 300.

  • 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 60 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 staycation plan is Euro 200.

  • 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, arranging a cleaner or attending the move-out inspection on your behalf, I take care of all the necessary arrangements for a smooth departure. The starting fee is Euro 850.

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 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 80. 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 using 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.