You will learn to love everything Dutch, but be warned: this is an honest, short get-started guide of the Netherlands, aimed at truly helping you to get started in Holland – as is everything LearnDutchOnline.nl does, actually.
If you’re looking for housing, check out Funda and Pararius. Never pay money upfront, unless you signed a contract and have it checked, first, by an official legal advisor.
Make sure you are up-to-date in regards of the differences in law with your home country as it might seem everyone is trying to rip you off, otherwise. If you are dealing with any legal problems, contact het Juridisch Loket. They provide free help and advice and connect you to a lawyer if necessary. Losing money while looking for housing is something that obviously won’t help you to get started in NL – so stay sharp and get help before thing go south.
One of the most important Dutch laws regarding consumer and vendor right is the ‘Distance sale’-law (Koop op afstand).
You will undoubtedly deal with this law as you’ll make most of your purchases online, via websites like Bol.com (the Dutch Amazon) or Wehkamp.nl. LearnDutchOnline.nl is not in any way affiliated with these companies.
Get me some Dutch food!
In real life, you will want to buy your groceries locally at the ‘Groenteboer’ (‘vegetable farmer’), alot of times from Turkish origin, especially in the big cities. Of course, you must buy your favorite brands at de Albert Heijn or the Jumbo and Lidl for a more budget friendly stock. These two supermarkets can be found everywhere and they have proven that ‘cheap’ supermarkets can provide a similar or even better quality than higher end ones. Every honest Dutchie will tell you that, too.
Looking for more organic options? No problem!
You can find them everywhere, but best is to buy locally. If you, a new, hungry expat, are looking for the best authentic Dutch foods, check out this post on our Instagram page.
As for your everyday products for in and around the house, quick snack, office supplies, hardware etcetera – Action is your friend. Going to this store has become a true experience for Dutch people, as you’ll always find what you need for the best price and probably pick up something else you didn’t know you needed. The Action is considered somewhat of a budget Hema – the most Dutch store you’ll visit.
De Hema is legendary, providing everything you need and more for your family life. One thing you absolutely MUST do is have your breakfast and lunch there. It will only cost you a couple of euro’s, is delicious and incredibly fun. Even mothers and their adult sons hang out there!
Looking for furniture and more serious hardware? Bricks, complete living rooms, cabins? Go to a ‘Woonboulevard‘, Gamma, Leenbakker and, of course, Ikea. These stores are in and around every big city.
A culturally rich & colourful country, finally learning how to deal with its colonial past..
The Netherlands is becoming more and more diverse, the melting pot-vibe of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag, originally, can be felt almost everywhere. If you are looking for street food – like the famous döner – you can find them at Döner Company, which obviously sells döner, amazingly at all big NS train stations. You can find kosher, halal, vegan and organic fast food options, both online and offline – so food will never be a problem.
Definitely give Surinamese and Indonesian food a try, as these are amazing cuisines and hold a colonial connection to the Netherlands.
In sports, culture, music and on television, we Dutch are very colourful and becoming more and more conscious of our colonial past and how it still affects us individually and our society at large. The relationship of the Surinamese, Indonesians and Antillians born and raised here is similar to that of black Americans in the USA, though this history is not (yet) taught at most Dutch schools.
Continue learning: the 10 things you should absolutely know about your new home country!
You can notice this change especially by focusing on the symbolic Dutch christmas character of ‘Zwarte Piet’, which is a blackface character. In fact. 2019, this year, finally seems to be the year of the big change of this figure.
More and more big cities aren’t using the blackface character anymore – with Amsterdam leading this societal adjustment. If you really want to get started in the Netherlands, you must be aware of these important changes in Dutch society.
Get to know Dutch people: ‘Nederlanders’
But how is a typical Dutch person? Most might say we’re direct, tolerant and progressive – but open up the average expat group and you’ll most of your fellow expats saying the exact opposite. And unfortunately, it’s true. You might find that what we call ‘direct’ is actually rude. Therefore, alot of us don’t actually know how to be really direct and honest – especially when dealing with other cultures. We then tend to be our extremely tolerant and progressive selves by spewing mostly stereotypes, prejudices and acting actually quite narrow-minded. But then again, can you blame us? Our country is not too big, so how can our mind be that big? (just joking)
It’s what we at LDO jokingly call the Dutch syndrome: everything Dutch is great, including the Dutch themselves, being open, entrepreneurial, direct..The list goes on and on, while the truth is you should experience it yourself. If you do encounter a person acting like described here: you have been warned. Don’t worry – there are enough great, true & kind Dutchies. Sometimes, you just have to look a little harder, to get something better!
I want to have some fun..I can only really begin life in NL when I know the best hotspots!
In terms of sports and going out, we have you covered. As small the Netherlands might be, you can find anything from industrial clubs, raves in churches, the Basic Fit or local professional gyms, to theme parks, like de Efteling and Walibi Holland. During the colder months, expect to see fun fairs (‘kermis’ in Dutch) popping up everywhere, where you can enjoy a fun time with or without little ones, while enjoying an ‘oliebol’, ‘poffertjes’ or ‘frietje met’. Lekker! Get the best Dutch fries here.
Just looking for a cool spot to grab a coffee? Again, check out the Hema.
But look around in your city – or the one near you – you will definitely find a hip place with your organic beans, carrot cake and more of the like. These spots often make ideal working places for students and freelancers, too, providing free, high quality wifi.
There are unlimited ways of having fun here, you can rest assured. In Amsterdam you can even find amazing spa’s, yoga centers and arcade halls. Looking for some rural relaxation? Within 2 hours you can take the car or train to another province (there are 12 provinces in the Netherlands, each with their own specific character), rent a unique AirBNB with or without cows, and zen all out. That is the benefit of such a small country! If you’re looking for the authentic Dutch rural life, which will definitely calm you down, visit Brabant, Twente or Friesland.
How to get a BSN? What is a BSN?
Now the practical stuff. To make sure you get started in the best way as a new expat in the Netherlands: as a Dutch citizen, you are connected to a municipality (‘de gemeente’). You have to follow the rules and regulations of your particular gemeente. Inform yourself on local taxes, taking care of your trash, financial support, organizing things in the public space, your business etc. You will find one or several offices througout your city or village. You register yourself and your family and even your newborn kid there.
If you want to start a business, you have to go to the Dutch chamber of commerce: de Kamer van Koophandel. The BSN, taxes and most ‘gemeente’ issues, you can deal with online, generally by using the DigiD internet identification system.
What to do when you’re sick? You call the doctor! First, you have to register yourself with a local doctor. Same for a dentist or any other therapist. You need a medical insurance, obviously, like CZ.
You can arrange this online, like your banking, gas and power, internet and taxes. Only if you have to be in the hospital, your work or at the gemeente, you have to go out of your house, actually. The Dutch healthcare system is very good, generally.
But what if there’s immediate danger, or it feels like that? You call 112! That’s the emergency number of the Dutch police, ambulance and firefighters. If you need the police for a less urgent matter (theft, fraud, con-artist, threats), go to a bureau near you or their website.
What’s the best way of transportation for you, to get started in the Netherlands?
Buy a good bike and an ‘OV chipkaart’ – this is essential. This last one is for the tram, bus, metro and even the train – similar to the British ‘Oyster card’. If you can afford it, take a membership for the route you use mostly (from home to work for example). This will save you TONS, especially if you take the train. Going by car is becoming more and more tiresome with regular traffic jams increasing everywhere. If you are an entrepreneur and/or have a big family, a car is essential and cost-effective. Otherwise, you’re better off with just the above, in regards of time and money. Good transportation is crucial to get started in NL. Plan all your trips using the 9292.nl and NS sites.
What about schools, universities and libraries?
The schools and universities in the Netherlands are as diverse as its people. You can find top-notch islamic schools to international school following the British system here. Convenient of most universities (like the VU in Amsterdam and the TUE in Eindhoven) is that they are publicly accesible to everyone.
You can therefore go there to study, have meetings (when the rooms are not already reserved) and work.
There will never be an excuse not to be productive, and the combination of work, life and fun balance provided in the Netherlands is what makes living here so attractive.
As with the universities, the Dutch libraries underwent a change and sometimes provide even better facilities than most universities. Go to the ‘bibliotheek’ for thewifi, work- and study place in an inspiring, productive environment.
Popular libraries you have to visit if you are student of love working outside otherwise are the library at the Oudegracht in Utrecht and the Central Library in Amsterdam. So you can spend whole days there, studying. Chilling, eating, reading – everything. It’s amazing.
That’s it..Are you ready to get started in NL, Holland, the Netherlands now?
Did we miss anything? Feel free to send us your feedback and tips!Did we forgot something essential for you to get started in the Netherlands? Let uso know via email@example.com!
Thinking about learning Dutch? Pick one of several real life and online options LearnDutchOnline.nl provides. Love blogs on living in the Netherlands and learning Dutch? Then keep on reading.
Love! Een gezellige tijd toegewenst in Nederland! (Wishing you a fun and pleasant stay in the Netherlands!)