How Can I? How Should I? Would I

Duri Price

Sitting in a coffee (just coffee) shop, listing to St. Germain (Techno-Jazz) and some drum-techno (real drums, mixed with techno). Skritching the shop cat (most shops, stores and hotels have cats. Amsterdam has zillions of mice) and contemplating things.

Met an American computer geek last night. Wandered into a random, empty pub looking for some Bombay Sapphire Gin. Failed at that but ended up sampling some Dutch Gin (quite good) and talking to the bartender, who was the American computer geek. I think he tends bar for free as a source of entertainment rather than income, but he definitely does the computer work for money. He came over several years ago, farted around for the summer then went looking for work. Three days.

He told me how to go about it, then suggested I avoid the mistakes he made and go straight to self-incorporation. Unlike the US starting a company here is no quite so simple or cheap. It costs about 3-5000g (about $1800 USD) plus a lot of red tape. It can be done in a few weeks though, and once done you can stay indefinitely and work for a company without them needing to sponsor you. This greatly improves your odds of getting employed. He gave me the contact info for an American woman who specializes in helping Americans get started this way.

All this leaves me with less of a question of ‘how can I’ and more a question of ‘how should I’, or even ‘would I’?

Ok, here are the two major things running through my head in terms of options;1) Complete my trip here in the EU and then return to the US. Once home throw everything into becoming self employed and starting that consulting/training business I’ve been tinkering with. Work contracts that will be either short (a couple weeks max for training) or long (6-9 months for lab creation or reorg).Advantages; Pay is good when working. Travel when not working, so I can see Europe or elsewhere at leisure. Home base in Seattle gives me a well mapped stomping ground and support network as needed. Freedom to change working environments periodically, the other benefits of being own boss. Challenge. Disadvantages; Can I get started? Not entirely or always my own schedule. All the disadvantages of being own boss.

(Side Note: I just saw someone zip by on a scooter with a Kozmo bag over their back. All your base are belong to us.)

2) Start a business over here, then work the same sort of gig, with a higher likelihood of doing long-term work (1 year or more).Advantages: Live full time in Amsterdam. Possible access to other EU countries. Comparable pay rates. Neat city, Good for resume to have a small international company in your name. Self employment advantages. Disadvantages; Considerable effort to get started. Living here is different than visiting here (the geek warned me that the Dutch, though polite, don’t have much reason to warm to yet another American. Though I understand this, I don’t seem to be having too much trouble. Maybe better social skills?). Out of mainstream American work environment. Self employment disadvantages, with a little more uncertainty thrown in. Unknown other issues that I won’t discover until it’s too late.

So that’s the dry treatment. I’m not sure where my head is at with this just yet. I plan on getting out and putting my card and CV/Resume in peoples hands, but I suspect that actual decisions are going to be long in coming as I travel. A lot to think about.

Ok, related question; Why Amsterdam over Seattle? Pot and prostitution are not enough certainly; neither one would be more than an occasional toy for me, not a lifestyle, and for those purposes both are available in Seattle if one knows where to look.

Financially it also appears to pretty much zero out. So the draw has to be specific to the location, culture or city. Am I that taken with Holland, Amsterdam or the Dutch? Not… yet? Not sure I won’t be; there are a lot of very cool things about the way the place is run in terms of approach to legal issues (not specific issues, but how they focus on them in the first place) and mindset, and the city is very pretty. Maybe I’m too early in my trip…. hmmm…

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