Some foreigners do not even know our little country the Netherlands or as the Dutch call it ”Koude Kikkerlandje”, and often associated the Netherlands with Amsterdam. The usual saying generally goes like “Oh, I want to visit Amsterdam once in my life”. Because they want to do weed or go to the Red Light District. Believe us, there is more to the Netherlands than what you have in mind.
This is a country that fits the needs of everyone, where you can choose between enjoying the bustling city vibe or the countryside nature. There’s more to the Dutch than just being the tallest people country, cheese, and of course, marijuana. Let’s jump right into it.
1. Ranked as top English-speaking country in Europe
The comfort of being understood takes a big pressure off from adjusting well in a new country. So don’t you worry about having to learn Dutch right away. Almost everyone understands the language in the Netherlands, the elderly people have some issues with it, but they are always willing to try and help you wherever they could.
The Dutch might be clean freaks (and it is likely to rub off on you)
No, it’s not OCD. My curiosity sparked so I asked my colleague and there’s actually a story to this. Every time someone comes over they clean there entire house, from top to bottom every corner gets a good sweep. Even if they’ve cleaned the day before, the house has to look ”spik en span” as they say in Dutch when you have visitors coming.
When you walk into any household in the Netherlands, you’ll notice their kitchen has 4 garbage bags which separately collect plastics, cardboards, food waste and one for everything that doesn’t belong in the other 3. You have no choice but to do that since you must throw them in separate bins in your local area. At the end of the year, it saves you a lot of money, the more you separate the lesser regular bags you have to throw in the bin (because this is the one you pay the most for).
3. Big on Tech
Most tech companies find their digital gateway to Europe via the Netherlands. Hence, there are so many headquarters located through the whole of the Netherlands (so not only in Amsterdam). You can find startups to multinationals, and interestingly, there are quite a lot of crossovers in every industry sector such as AgTech, MedTech, eHealth, etc. Digitalization is taken very seriously even by the Dutch government. They launched a strategy for accelerating digitally in various sectors and educating right digital skills to everyone in the Netherlands to boost the country to become a Europe’s digital leader.
4. Everything is automated
Your life is about to become easier. The life in the city is quick and efficient, Dutch people don’t like to wait and are always on time. Imagine the tantrum they make when the train has a delay of 5 minutes. Time is key, they don’t walk as fast as Londeners but still.
Whether you buy a bar of chocolate or go on a shopping spree, you will be paying via the NFC of your debit card, your phone or the touch of your smart watch. Nifty no?
They even have this parking app on their phone. Remember when you have to put money in a machine to get a ticket for your car to park? NO say the Dutch. This is not convenient, let’s create an app which is registered at your license plate and start it as soon as you parked and get out of the car and end it when you get back in your car. No paper waste, you never need small change and the only thing you have to remember is to end it.
4. Inclusive communities for all
You can join a variety of groups, clubs and associations via Meetup, Eventbrite, or Facebook groups. Just search what you’re interested in, and it will pop right up. There’s literally every group here you can think of from expat to LGBTQ+ to specific STEM roles to women in leadership.
Don’t be surprised to come across people representing different organizations when you take a random walk through the city you live in.
5. Cultural diversity is booming
More than half of the country’s population are immigrants and of non-Dutch backgrounds. This accounts for 1 in 5 people who are born abroad. The most multicultural environment is felt in major cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
So, if you crave the ethnic cuisine from your hometown, your gastronomy wishes are most likely to be fulfilled in the big cities.
6. Experience all 4 seasons
This is your opportunity to have your first winter or fall, especially if you come from a tropical island or hotter region. Every season there is something new to experience in the Netherlands. Regardless, I hate to break it to you, it’s likely to rain every season. The expectancy of the weather in the Netherlands is something you must mentally prepare for, but in no time, you’ll be used to it (after a lot of complaining, and no, it never stops).
7. Beer lovers’ heaven
As the world’s 2nd biggest beer exporter, you are never going to run out of any beer. To name some popular Dutch-brewed brands are Heineken, Bavaria, Amstel and Grolsch. Though these may be well-known, we definitely recommend trying some locally brewed beers offered in cafes and restaurants. There are so many, you will never run out of options.
8. Art and museum enthusiasts – expect to be spoilt of choices!
You may have heard of world-class museums like Van Gogh, Anne Frank and maybe even Rijksmuseum. The country pays homage to both art and culture nationally and internationally. There are many astonishing cultural activities to do given the large number of museums that are preserved for over 100 years.
You can buy an annual Museum Pass subscription if you already know that you will be investing a good amount of time getting mesmerized by the art and history across the Netherlands.
9. Festivalgoers time to shine
If you’re a party animal or crazy about festivals, you have your own season to do so from April to October. Especially if you’re an Electronic Dance Music lover, this is its’ birth nation, and you will also be hearing this mostly in every club you walk into. Don’t worry if you despite it, there’s also a lot going on for Jazz, classical, hip-hop and many more!
Some big festivals you can check out are Mysteryland, Best Kept Secret and Milkshake.
10. King’s Day
This is when you will realize you do not actually own an orange t-shirt and you want to because every single person on the 27th April is going to be wearing this color. Either on their clothes, wigs or even makeup.
Partying with your friends is cool, but you know what’s even more fun? There are concerts, fun fairs, street and canal parties, flea markets selling stuff without permits and toasting to the King with Oranjebitter (translates to Orange Bitter, which is an orange liqueur). The entire country is celebrating their King even the Dutch that live abroad celebrate it all over the country, they even have a Dutch bar in London where it’s an actual thing.
11. Pride Week
This may start to seem like the Netherlands is big on the celebration scene. This specific celebration is for diversity and acceptance. A festival in Amsterdam that attracts people from neighboring countries too. Many issues are addressed such as identity, acceptance, equality, and emancipation.
Fun fact: Did you know the first legal same-sex marriage was in the Netherlands?
It’s a beautiful day to step out and spread love. People wear what they feel like to represent themselves. Boats are decorated in rainbow colors and filled with people dancing to songs blasting from their speakers. Flags of different backgrounds and communities are noticeably raised in the air to represent. Drag queens stand in front of the boats all dressed up to do what they do – slay. You can choose from a selection of pride events such as canal pride, pride walk, pride park, street parties, art and culture and pride at the beach. Each event is easily accessible so walk your way through the city and be surprised.
Celebrate love, celebrate your pride!
12. Going Dutch
This is every international person’s favorite thing about the Netherlands. Imagine the possibilities of going out and not having to pay for everything every time, that you didn’t even buy. Ah, finally you can save for the things you want.
As a pet-friendly country, you will know notice many people owning either a dog, cat, guinea pig, bunny, rabbit, and whatnot. So be prepared to come across a cat staring right into your soul from an Amsterdam window, a furry puppy approaching you on your walk or seeing a parrot on the shopping cart in your nearby supermarket.
Most of the restaurants and cafes proudly accommodate cats and dogs, and a lot of green land is available for your furry babies to enjoy.
14. The Dutch and their eating habits
The Dutch eat greasy food in moderation despite the love for it. You might often see your colleagues pour themselves a glass of milk. What might come new to you at the time they eat their dinner, which is generally before 19:00 (aka 7 pm – yes, they use 24-hour clock which you must get used to).
15. Work-life balance
If you come from Canada or USA, you might be shocked when you see your colleagues already packing up their bags to leave on the time they are supposed to leave for home. Overworking is not the Dutch culture because they know they deserve to enjoy their personal and social lives. They are even rated 9.5/10 on the OECD Better Life Index. Trust me, you’ll value you it once you get the hang of it.
16. Top healthcare system
The citizens are highly satisfied with the health care system currently in place. To learn more about how it works, check out the blog on health insurance.
17. Public schooling is free from the age of 4
18. Standard of living
Environmental quality, jobs and earnings, education, private security and health status rank relatively high.
19. The 7th best education system in the world
Also, the 3rd most educated country in the world. It may also be good for you to know there is a future-proof curriculum being built by the Ministry of Education Netherlands with the help of other experts.
20. Transport how you prefer
Long distances are usually covered by trains. Shorter distances are reachable by bus, tram, ferry and/or metro. However, in the Netherlands, your best bet is to buy a bike. You even have a dedicate cycle path across the country. It would be weird to not own one, did you know even the prime minister of the Netherlands ride a bike to work?
Don’t be scared, it may seem difficult but it’s a well-organized experience. Just make sure to lock your bikes because they are treated like gold in the Netherlands.
21. Other cities in the Netherlands are easily reachable
22. Hop over to a neighboring EU country with your VISA anytime
Do check beforehand which European countries are eligible with your type of VISA and what you need to bring with you.
23. Low crime rate
The most common theft in the Netherlands happen to bikes (as they are treated like gold remember). So again, don’t forget to lock them bikes!
24. Unemployment benefits
Although, the unemployment rate is at an all-time low right now. If you do lose your job, there are a lot of different benefits you can choose from and receive till you find another placement. For instance, depending on your previous income you may receive a certain percentage of it to survive.
25. Career opportunities
There are more jobs than there are people in the Netherlands, so your opportunity won’t take too long to come to you. Unless you’re picky, then it will take a while.
26. Expat explosion
In a good way, of course. Since the Netherlands is booming in various fields and there is also a low unemployment rate, there are going to be a growing number of expats flowing into the country starting now. So, if you’re a foreigner, now is your chance to move here!
27. Your sustainability support is recognized
If you install a solar panel in your house or decided to drive an electric car you will receive government funding for it.
29. Freelancers receive benefits and tax return
30. Highly skilled migrants receive 30% ruling on gross income
If you meet the conditions, you can receive 30% of your salary as tax free allowance. You can learn more about it in our upcoming blogs.
31. Pension schemes to take care of employees
Some companies can opt to offer their employees a pension fund. Although, it may be good for you to know in certain business sectors, the company must offer their employees a compulsory pension fund in the Netherlands.
32. Government institutions are robust
Whether you are registering in the Netherlands or must inform the government of any other changes about your situation, the municipality of your city is generally quick to process all the information. Taking into consideration, they also work according to timelines. So no long lines for the desks anymore.
33. Reimbursements on insurance and tax
A portion of the tax and insurance you paid throughout the year can be returned after requesting the right institutions. Now you can get that extra portion of income and buy yourself a treat!
34. Mighty internet speed
The internet is super-fast and runs at 500MB per second so don’t you worry about any buffers while loading Netflix.
Dutch markets are AMAZING. Imagine on a Sunday morning you wake up, the sun is shining and you realized you’re out of cereal and have to go to the supermarket. Out of nowhere you will come across, a market set up in the area. It could be for cheese, food, antiques, art, flowers, spices, and many more! The options are limitless and a lot cheaper. It may be good for you to find out which ones are common to pop up in your neighborhood.
36. Fun activities to combat homesickness
You will never run out of any. There’s so much to do, and so many events come and go! Are you in the mood for games? Go to the arcade. Dance? Book a bachata class with your partner or find one there. Something romantic? Go for outdoor movie theatre, preferably in summer otherwise you will freeze. There’s so much to do that your agenda will be filled and in no time, your homesickness will fade away with all the fun you’ll be having.
37. Friendly greeters
When you’re walking down the street and come across an elderly person or a younger one smiling at you. They’re just being nice and silently greeting you, so do not mistake it for flirting. 😉 Or if you ask for directions, Dutch people like to throw in a “success” in the end which means good luck. Even if you’re on a random bench eating your lunch, a random passerby will say “Eet smakelijk” that translates to have a good meal. Isn’t that cute?
38. Little to no corruption
The Netherlands ranked 8th with a score 82 points out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 2021. This is relatively okay from that perception.
39. Covid control
The government hosts a press conference every few weeks to update on new measures depending on the current situation of the country. For more information, refer to www.government.nl.
40. General Practitioners (GPs) can only refer to a specialist if you’re either in a life-threatening situation (in ordinary person terms means dying
41. Gender equality
The Dutch are proactively taking cautious steps towards a gender equal nation. The Dutch parliament are working towards having an equal amount of men and women ministers. They also introduced a regulation for corporates with a “Commissionary Board” must have 30% females which is now at 13.8%.