Who could have predicted in 2014 that Joana and Dário would relocate to Austria to attend a Dutch language course, start a life and career in the Netherlands and even buy a newly built house there just a few years later? Unlikely as it would’ve seemed to them at the time, it is exactly what ended up happening. Let’s take a look at the journey of this Portuguese couple and their reasons for moving to the Netherlands.

Looking abroad

In the summer of 2014, Joana graduated as dentist at Fernando Pessoa University, while she and Dário were also raising their 1-year-old son Gonçalo. After then gaining a few months of work experience, Joana came to the conclusion that she couldn’t develop herself professionally the way she wanted, especially due to the economical crisis in Portugal around that time. Meanwhile, Dário encountered difficulties to find a suitable job as a sports teacher.

They started thinking about a life outside of their beloved Portugal, though with mixed feelings: their families treated them well and supported them with everything they needed. Still, with Portugal not offering them the opportunities they were looking for, they began their search.

A career as a dentist in the Netherlands?

It didn’t take long before Joana and I got in touch.  It was January 2015 and we found each other on Facebook, where I  informed Joana through a video call about the possibility of starting a career in the Netherlands.

Though she liked the prospect of an all-inclusive program that would help her settle here as a dentist, Dário was at first sceptical. Still, their interest was peaked and we met in person a few weeks later at our office in Amsterdam.

After spending a day at our office, discussing everything, and meeting other interested dentists from all over Europe, they were convinced that Holland would be their next destination. They returned back to Portugal, informed their families and prepared themselves for the next adventurous chapter in their journey: travelling to the Austrian mountains to attend a Dutch language course in the picturesque Seefeld!



Learning the Dutch language at the Academy in Seefeld

With their suitcases, they arrived in Hotel Wetterstein in Seefeld and re-united with several other dentists who they had already met during the interviews in Amsterdam.

During the day, Joana attended Dutch classes, and after class, she was a partner and a mother. So two fulltime jobs, and although it was tough sometimes, she managed to combine both. They also received help from a local nanny,  who was a great support for Joana, Dário and the little Gonçalo during their stay there.

Reflecting on their period in Seefeld a few years later, they are grateful and both saw it as a essential training and an unforgettable experience.

Although Joana didn’t have to take an exam at the time she joined our course (since 2017, every dentist has to take a Dutch language exam), she learned Dutch level B1, which helped her a lot in her daily job as dentist in a dental clinic. However, even if the exam had been mandatory in those days, Joana says she would still have come to the Netherlands.


Living and working as a Portugese dentist in the Netherlands

After finishing  the course in Austria, Dário was offered a job at our company. Because he had seen with his own eyes what kind of steps every dentist has to take, he started to work as recruiter and could share his own experience with interested dentists from Portugal. After having worked as a recruiter for several years, and having motivated many dentists, these days he takes care of all the preparations and bureaucracy surrounding the language course!

After taking her first steps in Dutch dentistry in the South Western cities of Goes and Vlissingen, Joana currently works in a dental clinic in Rotterdam. In the beginning, she started to work as pediatric dentist, but over the years, she discovered that she also likes general dentistry. Now she performs all types of treatments, ranging from endodontics to prosthetics and everything inbetween.

This variety in her work is something that she likes a lot and is, as Joana suggests, also one of the reasons why dentists from Portugal and other EU countries should consider a career in the Netherlands.

A bright future

Recently, Joana, Dário en Gonçalo welcomed a second child in their family, which also led to Joana working fewer hours than before.

With enough patients on her work days, and enough time to take care of the little one, she is able to combine what she always wanted: working succesfully as a dentist and having enough time as a mother for the kids!

The next chapter in their Dutch life is that Joana and Dário bought a newly built house in Barendrecht, which turned out to be a great decision. Not only because they could decorate their new house in their own style, but also because they live in a great area with lovely neighbours.

By providing a better future for their family, having a good work-life balance, and finding a nice place to live , Joana and Dário have finally found what they were looking for: quality of life!

Written by: Arjen Versteeg (recruiter)

About the dentist

Name Joana Macário
Country Portugal

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