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I am planning to apply for a Ph.D. grant. I have two options, one in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and the other one in Stuttgart, Germany.

The one in Amsterdam is 38h per week. The remuneration is €2,395 to € 4,402 gross per month and a favorable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants, I am not Dutch.

The one in Stuttgart is 40h per week and the remuneration is according to (TV-L E13 level).

How much the net salary will be? I don't know how much income tax will apply in either of these countries.

I know there are a lot of other factors I need to take into consideration. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, please share them here.

Thank you so much.

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    Commonly in the Netherlands, you start at 2395 and it goes up every year according to a fixed table. You should be able to get the specifics from the university, the range you give here is huge. In any case, keep living costs in mind (mainly rent and health insurance could differ a lot).
    – user53923
    Jul 24, 2021 at 17:10
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    @Wacek Unlike in the US, in the EU many universities actually take seriously the contract and labor laws, and actively step up to prevent the 60-80 hrs /week scenarios.
    – Greg
    Jul 25, 2021 at 3:31
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    Considering the difference in living costs between the countries and cities, and the goal of a PhD, I do not think your main consideration should be the exact value of salary. Small things like living conditions, lab culture, can much more impactful of your overall wellbeing, and you should also consider professional / scientific value of the two projects, too.
    – Greg
    Jul 25, 2021 at 3:35
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    @Greg "in the EU many universities actually take seriously". I have never been in us. I have experience from several EU universities (both "eastern" and "western") and my experience is that those who succeed (and remain in science) work for 60-80 h / week. Those who just need a PhD for a CV indeed work less. Counties that I speak of: Germany, Austria, Poland and Lithuania. Common scenario: (day N: 6pm) "we need to do the following" (day N+1 9 am) "did you do it, what are the results". Field of "chemical physics".
    – user141903
    Jul 26, 2021 at 6:48
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    @Greg some of my colleagues were funded by some EU grant that required filling in daily schedules that kept hours. Basically someone wrote an Excel macro that asked you for your vacation days and religion (protestants have different holidays than catholics), and based on that these reports were filled in. Naturally 8 hours per day and 0 on weekends. Always :)
    – user141903
    Jul 26, 2021 at 6:59

3 Answers 3

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The salary range for the Amsterdam position is almost certainly a mistake and should read €2395 to €3061. It would average out (over the 4 years and your progression through the salary range) to ~€2200 after taxes per month but there are holiday and end-of-year bonuses which push it up to ~€2400. Additionally, €500/month is going towards a pension fund. This is money you can't immediately access but obviously it still has value.

If the 30% ruling applies (one of the conditions is that you need to be under 30, have a master's degree and relocate from abroad), 30% of the income will be untaxed. As a very rough first estimate, this would net you an additional €200-400 per month (at the expense of losing out on some relatively insignificant social security benefits).

I don't know the German situation well enough to comment on that, but hopefully this gives you a rough idea of what you would earn in the Netherlands. Note that, for a proper comparsion, in the Netherlands you must have mandatory health insurance which is ~€100/month (which you could view as a kind of tax).

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  • You're right, the range for Amsterdam was certainly a mistake. That range was actually for postdocs not for PhDs. thanks for correcting that. And thank you for your good answer. Jul 25, 2021 at 6:08
  • "€500/month is going towards a pension fund. This is money you can't immediately access but obviously it still has value." - what is person leaves Netherlands permanently? Won't these 500 euro be just taken by the govenrment?
    – user141903
    Jul 26, 2021 at 6:54
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    @Wacek No. It can still be paid out if you retire when living abroad. You can also choose to immediately transfer the accumulated pension to your new pension fund if you take up employment elsewhere. Jul 26, 2021 at 7:59
  • @Tom van der Zanden, Yes indeed you can. But take into account that when you get it paid out you will probably have to pay taxes over it, it is not tax free money, so that reduces the value somewhat.
    – user53923
    Jul 27, 2021 at 16:54
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Quite certainly the number of hours listed will be irrelevant. It would be extremely unusual for a PhD student to be on the clock.

The salary range listed for Amsterdam is gigantic. Your net salary in Germany will depend on various personal factors, e.g. whether you are married, if so how much your spouse makes; whether you have children and what religion you are. However, in both cases the salary will ultimately be sufficient for a modest lifestyle; and that is what matters.

The aspects you should focus on are:

  1. Do you forsee that working in the research group will be pleasant and productive?
  2. Do you trust that the PhD supervisor will be capable and willing to act as an effective mentor for you?
  3. Is the idea of living in Amsterdam or Stuttgart respectively for several years appealing to you? Or at least, not off-putting? [If you are planning to bring anyone else along, the same question applies to them.]
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  • You are right, the range for Amsterdam was a mistake. That was for postdocs not for PhDs. Jul 25, 2021 at 6:10
  • The number of hours listed is extremely relevant since that decides what the monthly gross is (irrespectively of what the actual hours worked are). 40 h/wk is a 100 % position. Jul 26, 2021 at 19:41
  • @cbeleites that may be so in germany, but in the Netherlands 38h weeks are a fulltime position (though people sometimes work 40 and get additional leave days in return)
    – user53923
    Jul 27, 2021 at 16:48
  • @cbeleitesunhappywithSX It is relevant that both positions are fulltime. The hour-numbers don't matter.
    – Arno
    Jul 27, 2021 at 16:51
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    @user53923: also 38, 39, 39.5 h/week would all be called full time position in Germany. But there are also PhD positions that are nominally 19-20 h/wk (50 % part time) or 26-ish h/wk (65 % part time). The latter positions will yield half and 65 %, respectively, of the gross wage of a full position. This percentage is the single most important variable factor in finding out how money a PhD student earns. (And those hours paid are in many cases completely independent of the hours a PhD student is expected to work on their thesis). Jul 27, 2021 at 19:52
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A full time TV-L 13 position in Germany will give you roughly 2200€ oft net income in the first year, and it increases after 1 year, and again after 2 years. So I would guess the amount of money you will have in both Amsterdam and Stuttgart will not differ by much more than a few 100€.

From a pure money perspective, you should thus consider:

  • how much would you roughly spend in each city for rent, food etc.?
  • how far are the cities from your current home or your family and would you spend considerably more from one of the to places to travel to those?

But as @Arno already remarked, the more important things to consider are the academic surroundings in each place, the research abilities, the prospective colleagues and mentors, as well as things like local language and culture.

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  • yeah, thanks for your answer. Jul 25, 2021 at 6:09
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    Hmm, might it be possible that you just extrapolated the information in the first half sentence from your own experience? In fact, it is not possible to determine the net income without additional information about the OP's personal situation (as pointed out in Arno's answer). Jul 25, 2021 at 9:11
  • @JochenGlueck: it's possible to do a worst-case calculation with tax class I, no kids and high additional health insurance fees of 1.7 % etc. Everything else will lead to higher net (exluding tax class 6, but presumably the PhD position will not be accompanied by any higher paying side job). For a 100 % (40 h/wk) TVL 13-1 for BaWü I get about 2500 € net with the settings above. Jul 26, 2021 at 19:44

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