Frugal Village Forums banner
1 - 20 of 49 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,933 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know you all are hearing us gripe about the prices of everything especially gas going up, up, up. What kinds of cars do most people drive? Do you mostly use public transit?

My brother lived in Germany for many years and said that most people there drove small cars and on the week ends for hauling big things most everyone had some type of trailer that they used.

Are your other things super expensive? What are wages like? I hear most of you are taxed really high also. How do people make it? I am asking since it seems that the US is heading in that direction very soon.

TIA
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,933 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
We'll have to really use all our skills to get by, don't you think ?
You have got that right! That's why I was wondering how others in different countries do it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
469 Posts
I'm interested in the responses to this thread very much, as I've often pondered this same thing. I have a good friend that is a native German, living in Stuttgart. We have discussed the differences in cost of living many times, everything from a gallon of gas to the price of food to the price of a pair of Levis. Without question, it's ALWAYS more expensive there! I've been amazed at how much some things cost there and how on earth they can afford it when their salaries are very similar and then their tax rate is so incredibly high. In my friend's case, he's living in free housing, a hundred-year-old, three-story house where the elders live on the bottom floor, the children on the middle floor, and the their children, when old enough to start a family on the top floor. As one generation passes on, they move down a floor and keep the house in the family for multiple generations. They also have a large garden, eat FAR less meat than we do, buy quality clothing but FAR less of it, drive smaller, more economical cars, go to festivals for almost free entertainment, and (what I think is their BEST benefit) have no cost for health care/premiums. I think no house payment and no insurance premiums give my friend a lot more buying power for the things that matter most. Looking forward to others' replies. . . .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,933 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes I have heard that more than one generation live in a home also. I think that will become the norm here again as well. It used to be the way things were, at least when my parents were growing up.

Of course I don't like feeling the pinch as much as the next person. The scary thing here is that so many people are not of the honest mind set these days, they would rather steal to get what they need/want.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
995 Posts
I know you all are hearing us gripe about the prices of everything especially gas going up, up, up. What kinds of cars do most people drive? Do you mostly use public transit?

My brother lived in Germany for many years and said that most people there drove small cars and on the week ends for hauling big things most everyone had some type of trailer that they used.

Are your other things super expensive? What are wages like? I hear most of you are taxed really high also. How do people make it? I am asking since it seems that the US is heading in that direction very soon.

TIA
I don't how much I can help but I am willing to try.

We live in an good, upper class neighborhood which would mean in the US a huge mansion but which means a townhouse in this part of Rotterdam (there are huge mansions around here but we can't afford them). Ground prices in Holland in the 'randstad' are obscene and therefore house prices in the 'randstad' are VERY VERY expensive.

The 'randstad' is an area in Holland which encompasses the largest cities and is where the most commuters live. Here is a link which explains it better than I can.
Randstad - Wikipedia, the free [email protected]@[email protected]@/wiki/File:Randstad_Population_Bubbles.svg" class="image"><img alt="" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cb/Randstad_Population_Bubbles.svg/400px-Randstad_Population_Bubbles.svg.png"@@[email protected]@commons/thumb/c/cb/Randstad_Population_Bubbles.svg/400px-Randstad_Population_Bubbles.svg.png

Now speaking personally, I drive a SUV, dh drives a BMW which is a company car. He never drives the company car privately since it would cost us a LOT to do so (tax wise). It is not really typical in Holland for people to drive a SUV but it is very typical in the area that I live in.
There are even Hummers in this area.

Our tax is VERY high but it is in layers. The first layer is low -
33% for the first $25,000, then
41.95% from $25,000 to $45,000, then
42% from $45,000 to $75,000 and then everything above
$75,000 is taxed at 52%.
(I used 1.35 as the exchange rate.)

We also have property taxes on 'own' houses. It is a small percentage of the new current value each year. For example we bought our house in 1990 for 183,000 euros - it is now valued at 570,000 euros. We pay property tax for the value at 570,000. In 2011 we will be paying 1,088 euros for the year.

We also have road tax according to the kind of car you drive. I pay $135 each month road tax for my SUV However if I were to drive a ECO car then I would pay a lot less. This rule came into being after I had bought the SUV.

In general people have smaller cars and if they need it, they borrow a bigger car or rent a trailer. We have an excellent public transit system which is used a LOT. However in more rural areas this system is not so good. In the cities a lot of people ride a bike. Of the three of my kids who drive, only 1 of them has a car, the others use bikes.

The last time that I bought gas for the car (last week) it was $7.95 per gallon. It is expected that it will rise to $ 8.95 within a couple of weeks. Most of this price is made up of taxes, that's why yours is a LOT cheaper.

Personally we pay around $450 per month for utilities which is for everything including water. We have a big house for Dutch standards - around 2,200 sq ft. - two bathrooms (also not common here), 5 bedrooms and a large garden (not large by American standards but def for the randstad). We also have air conditioning in our bedroom - also not common across here in houses but definitely pushes up our utility bill. At the moment there are 5 of us in the house. Our 2 youngest sons will be moving out within 2 months to their own apartment.
The utility bill is not a bill that is measured each month but is measured yearly and you get a bill according to what you have used against what you have paid. You then either get money back or you pay for the extra that you have used. The monthly bill is then adjusted accordingly.

We have almost no costs for healthcare except for our health insurance premium which is $967 per month for 5 of us. This includes all drs, including any specialists, hospital care, meds and for us most dentist bills. (We (as can all of Holland) can choose any dr/specialist/hospital that we want.)
Anything above $ 1,485 in dentists bills (each for us) we have to pay ourselves which usually only happens when we have elective stuff done like crowns etc. and even then it isn't that bad.
(I had 4 crowns done a couple of years ago and the total cost was $2,500.) Health insurance is compulsory but only the basic insurance is compulsory and that it around $100 p.p per month but even the basic insurance is very good. However if you have a low income, you do get an allowance from the government so that the insurance works out at only around $50 p.p per month.
Everybody has one yearly deductible of around $200 - also depending on what health services you have used in the year.

Depending on the meds, their is sometimes a very small co-payment. Insurance premiums are never raised because you have used too much the year before, rather it is government ruling how high the increases can go.

Our taxes also cover education. We do have to pay the schools for a part of the tuition but, depending on the school - for example a high school, can be about $500 per school year with books having to be paid on top of that. Again lower income families will be given an allowance to cover most of it.

Elementary education is free except for a nominal amount to be paid for extra activities and is never more than around $135 per year.
Low income families will possibly be exempt from paying.
Kids never have to bring school supplies with them except maybe pens etc.

University education is highly subsidized. ANY college/university only costs around $2,000 per school year plus books. Plus once again, lower income families get help with it. All college kids get an allowance from the government to help with their school expenses.
It varies from around $ 125 to $300 per month depending if the child lives at home or lives outside the home.
Also all university/college kids get free public transport.
Medical school in one of the top hospitals in the country (here in Rotterdam) is $2,000 per school year plus books.

There are of course private elementary/high schools and universities which are also subsidized but still cost the earth (and aren't really necessary most of the time).

Our driving is also different. Kids are not allowed to drive till they are 18. Then they can go to a registered driving school and get lessons which are expensive - varying from $35 to 50 per hour. After some lessons (sometimes as many as 30 or 40) they have to sit a theory exam before they can take the official driving test which also costs a LOT - around $250. It has been know for people to take the driving test more than 3 or 4 times in order to pass (my daughter for example will be taking it for the 5th time in March - she gets very nervous. Our middle son passed in one go).

Our wages - well to be quite honest I haven't a clue. However I do have a link for you.
Netherlands Guide: Working the Netherlands, Salaries, working hours and holidays: Salaries, working hours and.

We have an excellent social service system in place for disability/unemployment etc.

If you want to know more then please do not hesitate to ask.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
995 Posts
I want to add that clothing in the US is a LOT cheaper than here.
When we were in the US last year we bought a LOAD of clothes also for the kids.
Especially the designer labels are cheaper - for example Ralph Lauren/Tommy Hilfiger/UGGS/Levi etc.

A good example - we bought UGGS for our daughter. They cost us $100 in the US - here they are at least double that price if not triple - depending on the type.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
995 Posts
Something that I forgot to post about was our mortgage relief.

I don't know how long we will have this kind of tax relief in Holland since each government that we get is talking more and more about abolishing it.

Say for example we pay $10,000 interest per year on our mortgage. Because we pay the maximum tax (52%) then we get back 52% of the interest. So we only pay $4,800 interest instead of $10,000.
We even don't have to pay it up front and then declare it on a yearly basis, we can declare it right away when buying a house and get it back monthly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,933 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks a bunch Dutchie! It is all very interesting. One of the things that jumped out at me was the cost of your healthcare cost. Over $900.00 a month! That is a cost for sure! I get that you don't have to pay when you do go to the doctor and that is pretty much your cost for the year for what ever you and your family need with the exception of like you said specialty dental work.

Right now for Dh, dd and I it is $577.00 per month we do have to pay co-pays still and is dental is $888.00 a year and it is okay, not super coverage. We put 100.00 a month is a pre-tax account to cover co-pays. We have gone over it some years and have to pay with money from the regular budget. I would say that if you have anything major we would go over the 1200.00 pre-tax amount pretty quick.

That road tax is every month just to drive your SUV! Is it calulated on how much you drive? What if someone has an SUV, but does not drive it much?

Thanks! Lots of interesting information how other countries do things.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
352 Posts
The only thing that sounds like a "bargain" to me is the college. Other than that you are paying where more for everything than we do here. Including health care! Our family pays $1000 a month for health insurance as well. I think people are in for a big shocker when thinking that health care reform is going to be a positive thing....

Anyways, thanks for sharing- interesting. I do think we take for granted in the US things like the sizes of our homes, yards, etc. I like having a little space.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
995 Posts
The only thing that sounds like a "bargain" to me is the college. Other than that you are paying where more for everything than we do here. Including health care! Our family pays $1000 a month for health insurance as well. I think people are in for a big shocker when thinking that health care reform is going to be a positive thing....

Anyways, thanks for sharing- interesting. I do think we take for granted in the US things like the sizes of our homes, yards, etc. I like having a little space.
Don't forget that Holland is one of the most densely populated countries on the planet - out of 240 countries, Holland rates as 30th and the US as nr 179.

Also some of our ground has been re-claimed from the sea making it all very costly.

The $967 for healthcare is for 5 of us (all adults) for everything including dental.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
995 Posts
That road tax is every month just to drive your SUV! Is it calulated on how much you drive? What if someone has an SUV, but does not drive it much?

Thanks! Lots of interesting information how other countries do things.
If you don't want to pay the road tax then you have to have the car on your property and prove that you don't drive it.
It doesn't matter how much you drive for road tax.

The amount of kilometers you drive does have to do with your car insurance.
Our car insurance is for the car and not the driver.

It doesn't matter who is driving whether it be the owner (me) or my daughter (if she passes her test next time). Even if she were to drive the car the next day after getting her license she would be insured just as well.
I have an all-risk insurance for less than 12,000 kilometers per year for around $135 per month.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Labontet

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,747 Posts
A question about the health care, what if you do not agree with your doctor? Can you have a second opinion? What about alternative health care? Do you have to follow what they prescribe with your children? What's healthcare like for the older generation? Is it rationed? Say like, your 55 and need a knee replacement. Do they they have a cut off that says that person can not have after a certain age because the amount of money to do the surgery for someone that old is not cost efficient?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,933 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
About your driving test for new drivers sounds like they get lots of experience. My nephew when he was living in Germany took driving school and he said it was intense. The instructor would call when the weather was certain ways like pouring rain, snow, ect and tell him to be ready in a few minutes to practice driving in those certain conditions. He had to have so much time with each condition to be able to take the test. Also he had to 18.

With the college being available to most everyone are there jobs to go around? Here young adults are graduating and there are no jobs, or very few to be had. And of course all the people who have lost thier jobs recently here compounds the job search.

My ds and his soon to be bride just graduated in December and still have the jobs they had in school. My fdil will be a teacher and those jobs are harder and harder to find and the pay is low. Ds, well his degree is in film. Who knows what will come of that. His minor is in marketing. At least they have jobs at the moment.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
995 Posts
A question about the health care, what if you do not agree with your doctor? Can you have a second opinion? What about alternative health care? Do you have to follow what they prescribe with your children? What's healthcare like for the older generation? Is it rationed? Say like, your 55 and need a knee replacement. Do they they have a cut off that says that person can not have after a certain age because the amount of money to do the surgery for someone that old is not cost efficient?
You can always get a second opinion - you are even insured for it.
If the alternative health care professional is registered as such then you are insured up to a certain maximum which varies per person (and the insurance coverage that they have).
There is no cut off age for anything.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,293 Posts
Dutchie has already been very thorough. I moved to Denmark from the US last year, here are my impressions...

My salary is about the same, but it's taxed to death. I pay 40 - 50% to DK and a percentage on the amount above a certain threshhold in the US. I'm also paying into a DK pension fund, of which I'll only get 30% of what I put in when I leave. As long as I'm not making income in the US, I cannot contribute to a 401K, IRA, etc. I also went from a bonus structure in which I was eligible for up to 6 months of my salary to one where I'm only eligible for up to 3 months.

I supposedly get 6 weeks vacation, which is nice, but on Friday, I realized they were deducting this from my pay, so I need to straighten that out. I've been with the same company since 2006, they should not be charging me for time off.

I don't have a car and I will not get a car. It will cost approx. $3,000 US to convert my US license to a DK license. The cost to register a car is 180% of the car's market value as determined by tax authorities. Then there's the road use tax that Dutchie mentioned.

Public transportation is expensive, if I buy a 10 clip pass, I pay about $6 each way to work, which is about 15 miles away. If I don't buy a 10 clip pass, which sometimes happens if I don't have enough cash on me, it's about $12 each way.

I have to pay a $50/month tax for my work laptop and cellphone because I might use them for personal reasons.

There's also a TV license fee, which I can't remember the amount, but it's a ripoff because I don't watch TV and even if I did, I wouldn't be watching Danish broadcasting, which is what the fees support.

My healthcare is covered, but I pray nothing major happens to me while I'm here because the standard of care doesn't seem to be very good in a lot of cases. Corners are cut, especially where immigrants are involved.

Prescpritions cost far more than they did in the US with insurance, where I paid $90 for a 3 month supply of asthma meds, now I pay close to $300 for 2 months.

There is a 25% sales tax on everything (VAT) and the quality of merchandise is far inferior for what I could get for 1/2 price in the US. Except in dire circumstances, I do all of my merchandise shopping on vacation and in the secondhand stores.

I keep my grocery costs down by shopping the middle eastern grocery stores, I can get 900g of dried chickpeas for about $3.50 US there. Produce tends to be cheaper there, so I tailor my meals to what's cheap. Yesterday, I paid about $4 for 15 medium eggs. Price keeps me from buying much dairy, and meat seems to be very expensive so I'm glad to be a vegetarian.

Dining out is very expensive, a personal size cheese pizza will run about $10.

I ended up buying my flat because Danish landlords are notorious for keeping the entire 3 month deposit and because it would've cost me at least $2,000/month for an apartment that had a shower, not just a hose and a drain in the middle of the floor, and decent square footage. My flat is about 1,000 square feet, completely refurbished (photos are on my blog), but it cost as much as my 2,000 square foot house in an upscale CT suburb. Still a pretty ok deal for here though.

I think this is an ok system if you're born, raised, and plan to stay here. I am not eligible for unemployment, disability, etc. For someone like me who aside from 3 years of awful language classes will never get the education benefit or retire here, it's most definitely not a good arrangement.

I'm glad to have this experience, but I don't think I'll stay here past the end of my 3 year contract.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,302 Posts
I suppose the answer to how do we manage is that we're used to it! So it's not unusual to us.

Tax is high, between 20%-50% depending on how much you earn a year. Healthcare is free at the point of care so we don't (yet) have to pay extra for insurance. Although we (in England) do pay for dentistry and prescriptions. In terms of second opinions if we don't agree with the doctor, yes we are free to do that and also to choose a hospital to be treated in. We also have the option to pay for private healthcare should be so choose.

I don't know if it's more common in other European countries but multi-generational living is not all that common here. I have known a couple of people who live this way but it's usually due to a family member needing special care for one reason or another, not really from a real choice.

Fuel for cars is very expensive here, most of that cost is tax. I guess lots of people do drive small cars but hey, it's a small country!

As Dutchie says about clothing, it is cheaper in the US than it is here - especially for quality stuff. Education is pretty similar to what Dutchie outlines too in terms of it being paid for through taxes and it's only when people go on to further or higher education that costs come in. We're going through quite some changes in that regard just now, it's a very contentious issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,933 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow! With all the different taxes you have to pay what is left over to live on???? 180% of the value of the car to register it? So if I have a car values at 10,000.00 dollars it will cost me 18,000.00 to register it? How can that be? How often do you have to have it registered??? Here is the US it is once a year.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dutchie

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,293 Posts
Wow! With all the different taxes you have to pay what is left over to live on???? 180% of the value of the car to register it? So if I have a car values at 10,000.00 dollars it will cost me 18,000.00 to register it? How can that be? How often do you have to have it registered??? Here is the US it is once a year.
Not much...lol!

Yep, registration costs more than the car. It's a one time fee, but you practically need to take out a mortgage to afford that because there are no $10,000 cars. You get hit with road use every year though.

I was feeling sick about the cost of public transportation, then I looked into the cost of getting a car and I realized I was getting a bargain!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,933 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Not much...lol!

Yep, registration costs more than the car. It's a one time fee, but you practically need to take out a mortgage to afford that because there are no $10,000 cars. You get hit with road use every year though.

I was feeling sick about the cost of public transportation, then I looked into the cost of getting a car and I realized I was getting a bargain!
Thanks you guys for putting things in perspective for us over here! It boggles the mind how you could even have money for daily living.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ktsmama and Dutchie
1 - 20 of 49 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top