Want to know how you can lead a ‘rich’ life as an international student in the Netherlands? Franklin Seute, a fourth-year student of the Bachelor of Mechatronic Engineering programme in Breda, wrote the following book on the topic in English: Living Rich as a Student in The Netherlands.
When Franklin travelled from Aruba to the Netherlands to study, he wished he knew then what he knows now. ‘It starts with buying furniture for your room. At the time, I bought them at IKEA. However, that is the most expensive option. You can save some money by looking on Marktplaats, checking Facebook groups, or visiting thrift shops.’
This is one of the examples that Franklin offers in his book, Living Rich as a Student in The Netherlands. ‘It is common for students from the Caribbean to study in the Netherlands. However, upon arrival it is quite the culture shock. You may not have anywhere near the information you need, which is a significant problem among international students. This inspired me to research student life.’
He spent two years on this. His book contains both his own experiences and the experiences of other international students. When international students come to the Netherlands to study, they have to do everything themselves. This includes paying their rent, going shopping, paying for their insurance, and paying taxes. They have no idea about what represents a ‘normal’ level of expenditure on expenses. Franklin writes about this in his book.
Salaried employment or self-employed
He also explains how the Dutch tax system works, because international students also have to work to make ends meet. They can work as a salaried employee or a self-employed worker without employees. Like many other students, Franklin works as a self-employed worker without employees for Deliveroo and Uber Eats. ‘I am paid for each delivery. If I earn 30 euros in an hour, and that is enough for the week, then I do not need to work more hours.’ This is particularly useful for students following a demanding study programme.
By ‘living rich’, Franklin does not mean earning and spending a lot of money. He promotes a frugal lifestyle. ‘This is different to a cheap lifestyle. As an example, consider travel. Cheap would be not travelling, whereas a frugal lifestyle would mean researching which deals are available so that you can travel regardless. You have the money for all situations, but you do what you like.’
So, how does one live a frugal lifestyle? One example of this is evaluating your monthly expenses for each category. How much do you spend? What is normal to spend? How can you reduce this? ‘You can be creative when purchasing clothing. For example, buy a cheaper pair of jeans rather than an expensive pair. You can stay fashionable by rolling up the trouser legs. Furthermore, you really do not need to buy new shoes every year if your old ones are still in good condition.’
‘With everything that you want to buy, ask yourself: do I really need this? Or do I want it because it is being heavily advertised, because everyone has one, or am I experiencing a social pressure to purchase it? If you buy those shoes or that hat that everyone currently has, you will want the next one a few years later.
I have a laptop from 2015. It still works, but is just a bit slow. If I bought a new one every two years, it would have cost me a lot of money. In the long term, it helps to think in this way.’
If you are a student and follow Franklin’s strategy, you will always have money to spare. For example, for unexpected expenses such as when something breaks. Or to go on holiday or to purchase books. You could spend the money on ‘self-improvement’ as Franklin calls it, such as a gym membership. ‘I also had to learn this. When I lived in Breda, I spent a lot on rent, shopping, and going out. This meant that I had to work more, and resulted in my grades getting worse. That was a tough period. By reducing my expenses, I reduced my stress.’
When Franklin graduates and starts looking for a job, he will benefit from his lifestyle. ‘I don’t need to find a job that pays a lot. I will be looking for something that is a match for me. Focusing on earning more money, a large house, and an expensive car creates lots of stress.’
Living Rich as a Student in The Netherlands is available here.