How and Why to Build Your Startup in the Netherlands with Misha Yurchenko

How and Why to Build Your Startup in the Netherlands with Misha Yurchenko
Misha Yurchenko

Learn how you can build your startup in the Netherlands as an entrepreneur by creating a company. In this episode of the Expat Empire Podcast, we will be hearing from Misha Yurchenko. Misha was one of the guests in an earlier episode of the show, and the last time we checked in with him, he was trying to figure out the next step in his life after leaving the recruitment business in Japan. Since then, he has started a business in career coaching and moved to the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. He talks us through his challenging experiences of building a new company in a new country in this episode. All aspiring international entrepreneurs out there should definitely tune in and take some notes!

LEARN in this episode:

✔ How you can get your start in the Netherlands as an entrepreneur by creating a company, opening a bank account, and getting your visa

✔ The top reasons to pick the Netherlands for your next destination

✔ A breakdown of the costs you can expect from legal fees, visa application fees, and more to get started in the Netherlands

✔ How to balance work and life across cultures when starting a business in a brand new country

✔ Whether you need to learn Dutch or can live in the Netherlands only speaking English

FIND Misha at:

►  Misha’s personal site and blog:

►  Carrus Career Coaching Website: 

►  Misha’s last appearance on the Expat Empire Podcast in episode 5:


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Welcome to the Expat Empire Podcast, the podcast where you can hear from expats around the world and learn how you can join them.

Hey guys, before we get to the interview, I want to remind you that we’re offering free 30-min consulting calls to anyone interested in moving abroad. 

Whether you’re thinking about retiring somewhere warm, starting an international career, or becoming a digital nomad, we’re ready to help you think through the next steps in your journey. 

Send us a message at to schedule your call today!

With that said, let’s start the conversation.


David McNeill: [00:46] Hey, Misha. Thanks so much for joining us today again on the Expat Empire Podcast.

Misha Yurchenko: [00:51] Good to be here.

David McNeill: [00:52] Yeah, it’s a pleasure to get to connect again. Of course we have on a personal level, even had some nice times as you were traveling over here into Portugal. It’s good to be able to connect with you again on the podcast because actually your episode, I think it was episode five of the show, was one of the more popular ones. I know people out there are very interested in how they can get opportunities in Japan, but what’s been really cool is I know as well that you’ve had quite a bit of life changes and a lot of adventures over the last year. I’m super excited to talk about them and of course, hear your stories and share those with our audience as well.

Misha Yurchenko: [01:23] Yeah. Very cool. I’m glad to be back. I think our conversation today will be a little bit different than last time considering I’m in a very, very different country and a different place in terms of my business and what I’m doing.

David McNeill: [01:36] Yeah, man. Before I know that kind of, of course I’ll put the link in the show notes for folks that haven’t checked it out yet, but just to kind of recap shortly the episode last time. You had basically been doing recruiting in Japan. In fact, when we spoke at that point, I think you had left the job about a year prior and you were kind of trying some different side projects and businesses. You were working toward getting your permanent residence there in Japan. Yeah, some time has passed, a few years in fact, and a lot of different things. If you could just give us some of the highlights and of course we’ll dig into more details in the midst of our conversation.

Misha Yurchenko: [02:10] Yeah, totally man. When we last spoke, I had already quit my job. I was freelancing. I was traveling across Asia, sort of doing a bit of soul searching, writing, blogging, all those things. One of the things I noticed is I did start to get a little bit lonely. This sort of freelance solopreneur life has its pros and cons. Just traveling around Asia sort of gets a bit monotonous. You see the same places and the same tourist traps. When I got back to Japan after traveling, I was like, okay, I really want to pursue my goal, which I had initially before quitting my job, which was actually just start a business, do a startup, add value and sort of impact the world in that way. That’s when I started experimenting with a few different ideas.

At the end of the day, I sort of kept going back to my background and my career, which was in recruitment. I think I’m obviously very biased and sort of very narrow in that, just because it’s like, okay, this is what I was doing how can I leverage this? I couldn’t really get away from that. I ended up looking at different ideas for like resume writing services and career consulting services and like all these things. Eventually I came up with the idea of what I’m doing now, which is what I’ve been doing the last two years, which is a career coaching platform for people looking for jobs. Basically we’re connecting these customers, job seekers with career coaches who are former Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Google, like big tech company employees. Then they’re getting one-on-one coaching sessions basically with those coaches. Then a percentage of them are obviously landing the job with the help of those career coaches. That’s, that’s sort of the very short version of what happened and the sort of business that I’m focused on now.

David McNeill: [04:02] Yeah, that’s amazing. I think what you’re doing is really cool. I know that having worked at some tech companies myself and interviewed for a lot of them, that it’s quite hard to get the role, to keep the role, to find your next opportunity. I know that there’s a big need in the market and especially in the midst of all the change we’ve seen in the last couple of years, I know that work’s been, I’m sure work on your side has been strong, but will continue to grow with more people looking at those tech companies’ opportunities.

Misha Yurchenko: [04:27] Yeah. In some ways we were lucky just because a lot of the tech companies are still hiring during COVID. People are still able to get jobs there. That wasn’t initially what we were doing. The play was actually a bit more B2B focused. The first six months of the business I was…one of the things I discovered and if you do any research into the coaching industry and the coaching market, there’s business coaches and life coaches and coaching for everything essentially, but more than half of the revenue from the coaching industry is actually coming from companies. Companies are paying for coaches. Knowing that fact, I said, okay, why don’t we do the B2B market?

So I started approaching companies and pitching them, and then COVID happened. Then all of our like pilots and trials basically just got frozen and we’re like, okay, companies don’t really want to spend money on this right now. I had to go back to square one. That’s how I sort of pivoted again and found the more career coaching approach where people are paying us to help them find a job; which was still very, very relevant during COVID. Even more people are looking for jobs just because they have some time to search for jobs online and sort of questioning, asking the bigger questions like, what am I really doing? Am I really happy here? That’s something that I think is still happening and maybe will increase just because things are still going on. There’s still lockdowns in places. It hasn’t…it’s by no means over.

David McNeill: [05:53] Yeah, absolutely. So did you actually start that business, I guess, legally speaking or whatnot, getting into some of the more technicalities, but did you start that back in Japan or was that part of your move, which I guess you can also unveil for our listeners?

Misha Yurchenko: [06:07] Sure. Let’s see, exactly what happened? I was in Japan. I started building the platform in Japan; the actual marketplace, I found a couple of freelancers and an advisor, two people who actually ended up becoming my co-founders, which we can talk about later. I didn’t register a company anywhere. I just started building it, this was for maybe two or three months, still in Japan. Then I guess, 2019, June or July, yeah, July of 2019 we moved to the Netherlands and right before we moved, I was researching on how to set up a business and all of that.

I actually set up a BV, which is the equivalent of an LLC in the U.S. and I did that online. This is actually pretty straightforward. You can find some law firms to do it for about €1,000-1,200 and they register the company. You decide the number of shares in the company, and the owners, and some basic details, the name of the company, and then pay for that. It took about 3-4 weeks to get that finished. Part of that process, you also need to have a bank account. I was able to register a personal bank account and a business bank account abroad, not actually having an address or being in the country with a mobile bank called Bunq. I don’t know if that’s popular in Portugal, but it’s very popular here. I think it’s a Dutch company, I’m not sure. Anyways, super easy to use one of the best mobile banking experiences actually I’ve had, so yeah, there’s a lot of apps like that, like Revolut is quite similar, but sort of the Dutch version.

I did all of it, basically all of it online before I got to the Netherlands. When I got here it was all pretty much set up, then I could sort of start rolling. That’s sort of the technical part of it. In retrospect, so I wasn’t making any revenue yet, so I was just filling the marketplace. In retrospect, I didn’t actually need to start the BV in order to have the business. One of my mistakes was just actually setting that up because it ended up costing me more money in terms of taxes and just accounting and legal fees later on. If you’re making a lot of revenue already and like you’re moving to the Netherlands, then that’s one thing because you can definitely save on taxes with an LLC, but if you’re just starting your business and there’s zero revenue coming and you have no clients, there’s really no reason to set up a BV. You might as well just go with a sole proprietorship and from a visa perspective, it actually doesn’t matter, it’s actually the same thing. They don’t care which one you set up. That was one lesson learned.

David McNeill: [08:50] Yeah. That’s great to hear that. I appreciate the lesson. In terms of the visa itself. I mean, of course you can keep it at the high level, but sort of how did that work and how did you ultimately even decide to go to the Netherlands and find this opportunity to get the sponsorship there because you’re really moving across the world at this point.

Misha Yurchenko: [09:07] Yeah. Let me start with why we moved there and then I can get into more details of the visa. My wife is Japanese and we met in Tokyo when we were working. Pretty quickly after we were sort of talking about, hey why don’t we travel? Why don’t we explore? She was born and raised in Tokyo and I’d been there for a few years. The reason was very personal. It was like, hey, let’s just go somewhere different, Tokyo and Japan you have those experiences as well. Like it’s a bit of a bubble in a way. The work experience you get there can certainly be useful elsewhere, but it’s also very specific to Japan. I have a lot of friends who have done super well in Japan or had had a good career, but then they strategically actually move to the U.S. or Europe to get some different work experience. Then they go back to Japan later with sort of a fresh perspective.

That wasn’t actually my initial reason for doing that. Or I don’t know if I’ve actually gained that perspective to be honest, but at least we wanted to explore it and get out for a couple of years. So that’s why we went. The reason we chose the Netherlands for a few reasons, number one, people speak English. It’s pretty easy to just set up there and yeah, there’s no real necessity to learn the language unless you’re staying there for a long time. Number two, startup communities seemed pretty active in Amsterdam. Number three, this is not in order of priority and reasons. Like maybe number one is actually the visa. It was actually pretty straightforward to get the visa.

So we contacted a law firm who helps foreigners enter the country. I actually chatted with a few of them and found one that was pretty good because I’m American, there’s a treaty called the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, which you’ve probably heard of, the DAFT, but there’s also something similar for Japanese citizens, which makes it a little bit easier to go through the application process. Specifically you have to do like a, I don’t know, four or five page business plan on like, why you’re…if you have a business you’re setting up. How are you going to get Dutch clients and sort of answer all these questions. In my case, my business plan was like two pages. It was just a little bit shorter and a little bit easier. Not to say that if you’re not American or not Japanese, that it’s going to be that hard.

I have a good Turkish friend who did the exact same thing a few months ago, and he didn’t really have much of an issue. The thing is with his case, he already had his business online making a little bit of money. He had some proof that, oh, hey, this is already working. I’m just going to set up a branch or a similar business in the Netherlands. So it’s really case by case. I can’t say how difficult or easy it would be right now. There’s COVID and a lot of factors to consider but for us at least it wasn’t too hard. What we had to do was submit the business plan and then I think it was like €4,500 as a deposit, just to show that we’re serious and we have some money to live and fill out some paperwork. The lawyer, immigration lawyer did a lot of this for us. Then, yeah, we got to the country, had to make a couple trips to the embassy, fill out some more stuff, get an apartment. Then we got the visa I think, within like four months or so.

David McNeill: [12:37] Okay. Nice.

Misha Yurchenko: [12:38] Yeah. I know. I was just going to say, the cool part about, I guess it depends on the lawyer, but if you can find one where you don’t actually have to pay anything upfront. We only had to pay once we got the visa, which was quite nice, and that was about a thousand, a little more €1,000. €4,500 to enter, €1,000 to the lawyer, €500 to the government, or a bit more for both me and Yuka. Then there was the business, which was like another €1,000 or so. So yeah, €7000- €8,000 total.

David McNeill: [13:09] As you were saying, I guess it wasn’t actually a requirement for you to set up the business before you went.

Misha Yurchenko: [13:13] Yep. I didn’t have to do that.

David McNeill: [13:14] It’s actually very reasonable, it sounds like, and especially being quite open and as you said, maybe even easier coming from the nationalities, the citizenships that you both hold so that’s awesome. What I was wondering though, is if you had to renew it, I mean, how long is that visa and if you had to renew it do you have to prove some progress with your business? How long could you sort of keep it rolling for?

Misha Yurchenko: [13:37] For sure. Yeah. So again, this might change in the future or it might be different now, but as far as I know, I have to prove that I’m making on average €1,500 through the business in revenue, which we are, so that’s not an issue. Then you just have to show that, yeah, you’re active in the Netherlands. Like the businesses here or sole proprietorship is here, you’re making money, you’re paying taxes and that’s about it. Then that would be renewed for three years. Our initial visa was two years and then the renewal would be three years. Then after that, then I think it becomes a little bit more serious and they want you to take a Dutch language test. If you want to renew it again, there’s some path to becoming a resident, a full-time resident here in the EU.

David McNeill: [14:29] I know last time when we were speaking that you were trying, I believe, to get your permanent residence in Japan, is that something that you’ve managed to do or did you maintain that? Like, I don’t know what the process exactly is there and you know, since you left for a while if that impacts that at all.

Misha Yurchenko: [14:45] In Japan, no. I did not get that, but my wife is Japanese. When we go back to Japan, I’ll be under a spousal visa. Yeah, I think that’s probably the most straightforward way to go back for me right now.

David McNeill: [15:00] Yeah, that makes sense. How has it been to actually grow and develop, or frankly even starting from the setup stages of your business over the last couple of years in the Netherlands? Have you found it to be that great startup scene and exciting dynamic business environment or what challenges have you faced as well?

Misha Yurchenko: [15:17] Yeah, it’s a good question. It’s a little bit odd to answer it now because everything that’s happened in the last two years. It’s hard to ignore, but when we got here, really, we just had a few months before COVID happened. I did go to some networking events, some meetups, had some friends visit, and then sort of started getting serious about things a few months in, and then COVID happened. I don’t think that I really experienced or was able to tap into the full potential of events and the community here that was basically shut down for the last year and a half. That’s sort of my, not cop out answer, but like that’s the truth, but in terms of what I can tell you, there’s actually a lot of support for entrepreneurs from what I experienced.

I got a coach who I met online. She’s Dutch, but lived in the UK and has worked as an entrepreneur and has done a few different things. She’s been coaching me like once a month for about 90 minutes on growing the business and that sort of thing. I didn’t have this information before I met her, but there’s all these different subsidies and all of these different grants and subsidies and investments for entrepreneurs. The first thing for example is if you want a coach, the government will actually subsidize you as an entrepreneur to pay for your coach for up to like almost €3,000. Which is great because like, yeah, if you want someone to sort of help you out that knows the market they can give you a lot of advice and also connect you with some people.

So she’s been super helpful, my coach Suzanne, and I didn’t have to pay for that. That’s awesome, basically free coaching. The second thing is there are different funds, almost like little VC funds within the government for each region. They’re trying to invest in startups locally to basically just boost the ecosystem. Like, I didn’t know about any of that until actually quite recently. I’ve had, and it’s a bit unfortunate because now it wouldn’t be quite right for me to take that money and then shut down the company and leave to Japan. So I’m not doing that, but basically I’ve had calls with some of these government officials, and investors and yeah, they basically just have little funds. They invest €50K to like €1 million, depending on your size and potential and everything.

They’re very active, like they’re super active in investing. There is money here from the government that you could take advantage of and these different subsidies, which you can find. Then maybe the third thing, which is not totally relevant to what I’m doing, but could be for other entrepreneurs. The Netherlands is obviously very progressive and there’s a lot of NGOs and a lot of startups as well that are focused on the environmental, having a positive environmental impact and something with sort of a socially relevant, sort of like kind of a social business model, social entrepreneurship and there’s a ton of investment and subsidies for that. I’m on a few newsletters of like all the investments that the government is doing is like supporting a fishing village with a new business model in Africa or this new technology for wind turbines or whatever. If you are an entrepreneur in that space or you’re interested in that space then this is like an awesome place to do it.

David McNeill: [18:40] Yeah. That’s great feedback and definitely, I’m sure there’s plenty of eager entrepreneurs listening or watching out there that are interested in taking up the Netherlands on this great opportunity. But as you looked at the country, of course, as you looked from the outside and then you actually got to experience living there for the last couple of years, how has the culture been even on just a personal level, maybe outside the business as well? Have you found it to be what you expected? Has it been an easy transition or where have some of the harder parts been?

Misha Yurchenko: [19:09] Sure. One of the things I was looking forward to moving here was experiencing a more direct sort of feedback culture, where in Japan, you sort of have to read between the lines and have a lot of context. Once you get good at that, then it’s not that hard. You sort of figure it out. But I was also really craving just people telling me like, okay, this is what I think, this is how it is. I definitely got that. I think that’s one of the benefits, like I was actually just on a call a couple of hours ago with this company here. Yeah, they just asked me super direct questions. We got to the point, as an effective meeting. I have enjoyed a lot of the conversations I’ve had with investors, with potential partners and just with people here in general and not just in business. So that’s super cool.

I think culturally, just like on a day-to-day basis, I’m comparing things to Japan and maybe other places in Europe. The food is certainly overpriced from my experience. You’re paying €30 – €40 maybe for dinner and it’s not that great. Coming from a place where food is super important and you have high quality for price, then we were a little bit disappointed about that. It may not seem like a big deal, you can cook at home and that’s fine. There’s some amazing markets here where you can get awesome cheese and all the stereotypes you think about when you think about the Netherlands, but food is important. It’s a big part and you don’t really realize that food and like the mountains, there’s no mountains here obviously, it’s very flat. You don’t really realize how much you miss things or like things until they’re not there. I think that’s maybe not just my experience, it’s a common experience when you go anywhere and it’s different.

David McNeill: [20:56] Sure. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I know that you moved there just a couple of months before this whole pandemic struck. Did you find it difficult to adjust and deal with that reality? Like you said, you couldn’t go to as many startup events, maybe you couldn’t as easily build a network. I know I’ve had that experience here in Portugal, so what’s it been like to deal with that?

Misha Yurchenko: [21:15] It’s been pretty tough. Personally, I made a couple of good friends here, not many. I think beyond that, it’s been difficult because you’re sort of isolated. You come to a new country, you don’t have a network. You don’t really have many friends. Didn’t have time to really build that or an opportunity to do that. That was really the toughest part for me. This may not be relevant really to anyone anymore because things are getting better but there is still something to say about it, where if you are moving to a new country, you’re trying to do something from scratch. That already is really hard. Just starting a business in itself is tough, no matter where you are. I think I’ve learned a few things about myself and how important, yeah, just how important community is, how important relationships are. Actually investing a lot of time into that and not just working 24/7.

I did get quite burnt out at one point and just basically had to take like six weeks off where I was just brain dead and couldn’t function. That was totally a consequence of my decisions to not really take time off, and sort of that Japanese workaholic mentality perhaps I’d taken from my time there. But I do think thinking a little bit about that when you move anywhere is important. Like, how am I really going to like take time to like 3-6 months just to really put yourself out there, meet a lot of people, make some friends, and then that’s going to make…having a social support network is going to make things so much easier just in terms of starting a business, but also when things get tough.

David McNeill: [22:50] As you said, you’ve had that experience of working in Japan, maybe more workaholic style, but now you’re in Europe, which and especially in the Netherlands, which I think is generally known for having more of that free time, more vacation time, separation between work and home life. Do you feel like you’ve been able to pick up any of that culture and integrate it into yourself as well?

Misha Yurchenko: [23:11] Yeah, definitely. I think that there’s been, there’s just a lot of people out, there’s a lot of people out. Even the restrictions are easing a bit and yeah, whenever it’s a sunny day. The thing is, it’s not just a work culture, but it’s also partly the weather. You don’t have too many sunny days so when there is a sunny day, people are really out. They’re at the park, they’re walking around, they’re drinking. I think before, if I was in Tokyo or somewhere else and it’s a sunny day, with no problem just working right through it. But now I appreciate it a little bit more like, hey, maybe I should step out, smell the roses, enjoy the sunshine a bit. I’m definitely cherishing my weekends more than I did in the past.

David McNeill: [23:52] Yeah. That’s good to hear. I mean, there’s always some adjustment one way or another, and I guess what we become is just a mix of all of those influences and experiences in the long run, right?

Misha Yurchenko: [24:02] Definitely. Yeah. It’s a bit of a journey. One thing I didn’t mention, I forgot to, when we first moved here was just finding an apartment, which I don’t know if we got lucky, but it wasn’t too difficult. There’s a lot of apartments where we live, which is Utrecht, a relatively small town 20-minutes Southeast of Amsterdam. There’s also a lot of apartments in the Hague. A lot of expats go in and out of the city. Those are two places we were looking at just because there were a lot of availabilities. Amsterdam was a little bit harder, a little bit more expensive. One of the reasons we didn’t pick a spot there and also we wanted to experience a slightly smaller city after Tokyo. Yeah, so we definitely got that experience.

The way that it works here, very straightforward, you don’t actually go to the real estate agent’s building or office. You have to call them based on the listing that you see online. There’s a bunch of sites like, and there’s a couple you can find pretty easily. Then you just call them, ask them if the apartment is available, they ask you how much your income is and if you can prove it. You say yes or no, go for a showing usually within that week, and then make a decision pretty quick. That was our experience. Literally the first place I called is the place that we ended up living in.

David McNeill: [25:23] That’s awesome.

Misha Yurchenko: [25:25] Our budget was around €1,000 – €1400. It wasn’t, it’s not like a super, super high budget, but I think it’s maybe a little bit higher than some people. I think if you’re in the €700 – €1,000 range, it’s going to be more competitive, but if you’re above €1,000, then I think it’s not going to be too difficult.

David McNeill: [25:45] And just for reference, I guess, how big of an apartment is that or how would you kind of describe the place?

Misha Yurchenko: [25:52] Yeah. It’s two floors. First floor has the kitchen, the living room, second floor a bedroom and a little work room. Really large windows, which are common here, which is nice, a lot of sunlight. I think it’s around, I don’t know, like 70 square meters, something like that.

David McNeill: [26:09] Nice. It sounds like maybe a better deal than your Shibuya apartment.

Misha Yurchenko: [26:13] Oh yeah. We were paying more in Shibuya for like half the size.

David McNeill: [26:18] That was my experience moving to Berlin as well. Yeah, exactly. I know earlier in the conversation, you also talked about how it was pretty easy to be able to get around and communicate in English. I was curious if you found that out to be true when you were actually living there, and if you’ve tried to learn any Dutch or how was that experience? Is it a problem to be able to just live your life there in English, given that so many people speak it?

Misha Yurchenko: [26:43] So I did not learn any Dutch apart from some really basic greetings. I know the word for, do you want a receipt, at the grocery store, it’s stuff that you hear over and over, but people speak English so well here. It’s super impressive compared to where I was coming from before in Japan. Most people aren’t speaking any decent level of English. I was super impressed by that. That wasn’t really motivating for me to learn the language, I guess. I think I really felt like an expat in that sense. I really felt like I’m going to a new country to sort of work and to maybe set up a new life. But I’m also going to be sort of in this community where I maybe don’t have as many Dutch friends sort of thing.

So I definitely felt like I had more of that experience. For a two year stint, I think that’s fine. Obviously, if you’re going to be here longer than, or in any country, I would definitely be in a language class and not just to learn the language, but also you’re in that environment and you meet people there that are in your situation, you make friends that way. I don’t regret not doing that. It wasn’t super important for me to learn the language, but I think if I were to stay here longer then I would definitely take that up more seriously.

David McNeill: [28:05] Have you seen many other, expats take a serious interest in learning the language because something that I’ve heard and seen of folks that I know living there, just never really seemed to, unless they’re there for 10 plus years, just don’t really seem to pick it up too much. It’s understandable why because everyone speaks English so well. I’m just curious if you’ve seen people really, other foreigners, be able to really invest in integrating that way.

 Misha Yurchenko: [28:29] Not many. I think a lot of, like you said, if you’re here for a long time it’s one thing, but who I have seen pick it up is more like immigrants from not necessarily refugees, but like immigrants from South American or African countries, or just slightly poor countries where like, they’re really getting out to start a new life. They’re not just coming for a couple of years. They’re like, hey, I’m getting to the Netherlands. The first thing I’m going to do is learn the language so I can live here for a long time. They have that goal from the get go so they speak Dutch super well. That’s like pretty much every Uber driver and a lot of like service related industries, like my hair barber, for example, they’ve been here for a few years, like three or four years from Syria. Like their Dutch is already fluent because they’re just super motivated to learn it. But apart yeah. In terms of expats doing startups who are here for two, three years, like, yeah, you don’t really see too many learning the language.

David McNeill: [29:31] Was it always your plan to just stay for around two years or what was your thinking going into it or maybe did it evolve over the time that you lived there?

Misha Yurchenko: [29:39] That’s a good question. Our thinking when we moved was let’s try it out. There wasn’t any sort of time cap or minimum, we just said, hey, we’ve got a two-year visa. We can reconsider it in two years. Our lease, our apartment lease is up in two years so that’s the timing that we’re going to think about it and a few months ago we’re like, okay, let’s take stock of how things have gone. We obviously have friends and family in Japan, also in terms of my business and my network, there are some advantages of me still being in Japan. Interestingly, my customers, my business is pretty much all online and most of my customers are actually in the U.S. so it doesn’t make too much sense for us to be here. With all those factors combined, we said, hey, like, this is a great place. Maybe in the future we can move here or somewhere else in Europe, but yeah, for now, like sayonara, see you next time.

David McNeill: [30:41] How do you feel about it knowing that that’s coming up in the next months or perhaps even when this episode is aired you might already be back in Japan. Like, are you excited about that transition back into Japanese life? I’m sure it’s a mix of emotions.

Misha Yurchenko: [30:56] Yeah. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. I’m definitely excited to go back, but I’m curious to know how my perspective has changed. Like a lot of people, I’m a really positive guy, but like a lot of people I’ve got a bit jaded from this whole COVID experience. I’m like, okay, like sort of annoyed and the weather is still sort of crappy here. Like I’m ready to get out. That’s only one feeling. But on the other hand, I’m like, I’m sure when I get there, there’s going to be some things which I miss and I’ll say, hey, like the Netherlands was way better in this or that, or just the way they run, the way you talk to a company or the, just the public transportation or whatever things that I’ll start comparing it to. I’m sure I’ll have some different feelings when I get there. But I’m curious to know what that is. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s going to be like super negative or super positive. I think it’s just going to be a different frame of reference now that I’ve had this experience.

David McNeill: [31:52] Yeah. That always keeps evolving. There’s no place that’s perfect. Everywhere has its pros and cons. I think that’s very common. If you could just maybe take a step back at your time living here in the Netherlands. Especially as you’re soon to be making your way back to Japan, how would you describe or think about your overall experience there and would you recommend it to other people that might be interested in the opportunity?

Misha Yurchenko: [32:16] Sure. I would absolutely recommend people to consider the Netherlands as an option and really take into account what’s important for you right now, in terms of your business, in terms of work, in terms of culture and all these things, and really take stock of that. I think it’s a very easy place to move to. I think you won’t really have any communicating with people, assuming things are open, like you’ll be able to network and go to events and bars and all of that. I think in many ways it’s pretty straightforward to come here. It’s not the cheapest place. The food isn’t the best. You’re going to have to travel if you want to see some mountains. There’s some of these social elements and just sort of like living factors which are…if they’re really important to you, then yeah, you need to take that into account. But I think overall as a package, it’s a really solid place for us to move to, and it’s a really easy place to start a business.

It’s funny. I actually had a conversation with this guy, this government official, who was interviewing me about my startup experience in order to better improve how the government works with startups. I was super happy to talk to him to share my experience. One of the things I told him was I’m actually shutting down my business here and I’ve set up a business in Delaware in the U.S. Partly just because it’s easier to raise money that way as a startup and also I’m a U.S. citizen so I can just do everything online. If it was really easy for me to do that in the Netherlands and to keep my business, I would just keep it here.

There’s also a lot of European investors, I’ve got the bank account and everything, but the reason I’m shutting it down, there’s actually a couple of reasons I’m shutting down my business. One is, I technically have to have, I either have to be a resident or have someone that works here and lives here. I’m pretty much the only person in my team here and everyone else’s in different countries. What I would have to do is technically appoint some advisor or advisory firm to take care of the company and then pay them some fee, which is not cheap. Then the second point is I can’t legally have my bank account without a residency card here in the Netherlands. Then they would also be in charge of the bank.

If you have somebody like that, or if you’ve already built up some business here, then it could make sense just to keep the business as the main branch or subsidiary. But if you’re just like a solo-preneur and you don’t have any employees, they’re all freelance, then you’re not living here. It’s going to be actually hard to keep that business here without paying quite a bit of money, plus all the accounting and admin you have to do on top of that. So those are the reasons that I’m not keeping the business and I’m just setting it up in the U.S. already. That’s a little bit of context and background that might be useful for people.

David McNeill: [35:04] Ultimately, because of course, you’re finishing out your two year visa and you had that business in the Netherlands, and now you’re going back to Japan intending to be on the spousal visa. Then you don’t have to have a local company in Japan per se, to be able to sponsor yourself or anything like that. Just for the sake of, I guess, of the listeners and viewers that are interested in trying to make that happen. How can I have the U.S. business, but still make the visa work? Of course it depends country to country, but just in your case.

Misha Yurchenko: [35:32] Sure. Yeah, yeah, no, it’s a good question. For the Japan visa, for the spousal visa, my understanding is you basically get it for a year, so it’s a short term. The first year and then you have to renew it and then when it’s renewed, it’s much longer than three years or five years or whatever. When you get the visa initially you just have to show some, yeah, basically some financial stability on either side, either or both sides, and then just a little bit about your intention, all the spousal stuff like how you met and just to prove your marriage is legit. I would of course recommend, I always recommend getting a lawyer and an accountant to do stuff just because I’m super lazy. Especially for somewhere like Japan, it’s like those little details if you miss them you’re just totally screwed. I would definitely recommend getting a lawyer for any of this immigration stuff.

The second part is once you renew the spousal visa, then I think there might be some other requirements for income. They want to see what you’re doing. I’ll have to consider that maybe in a few months, like maybe set up a subsidiary in Japan or I’m paying myself a salary from the U.S. I’m not exactly sure what the best option would be at that stage. I’ll have to see.

David McNeill: [36:46] Cross that bridge when you get there. I think you have enough bridges for now.

Misha Yurchenko: [36:50] I’ve got a few bridges to cross first, yeah.

David McNeill: [36:52] Awesome. Well, it’s amazing to get the full picture of the story over the last few years. It sounds like a lot of ups and downs, but a lot of wonderful adventures and experiences. How can our listeners find out more about you and what you’re doing? I know you shared that last time, but if you could share that again, as well as of course, any information that you can on your business, that would be awesome.

Misha Yurchenko: [37:11] Sure. You can reach out to me anytime through my personal site, which is just That’s my blog posts. I haven’t written a blog post actually in a few months. I still write my newsletter about once a month. You can sort of check out what I’m doing there. I’m always like sharing updates and like different articles and stuff I come across. Then for, if you’re interested in that, you can check it out. We have lots of great coaches. You can get free calls with coaches as well. If you happen to be looking for a job in tech, you can check that out.

David McNeill: [37:44] Awesome. Well, thanks so much Misha. It’s awesome to catch up and look forward to seeing how life goes back for you back in Japan. I have one last question, actually. What are you most looking forward to eating back in Japan? It sounds like that’s top of mind.

Misha Yurchenko: [37:56] Oh My gosh, man. I mean, it’s literally everything. I actually miss, like, I don’t eat a lot of carbs lately. I’m a little bit more on the keto diet, but I really miss good rice, like just some good rice with some yakiniku with a bit of sauce and like a raw egg on top of it. Just like mix that up, delicious.

David McNeill: [38:17] Yeah. That sounds like a dream. Well, enjoy it. I hope to see you back in Japan sometime soon.

Misha Yurchenko: [38:22] Yeah, man, it’s been fun.


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As the founder of Expat Empire, David McNeill is focused on inspiring people to move abroad and showing them how to do it. David started Expat Empire because he has a genuine passion for living abroad. He left the United States in 2014 and has since lived in Tokyo, Berlin, and Porto.