‘Have to get used to it!’ Expats share surprising tip for life in the Netherlands

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An estimated 86,000 British people live in the Netherlands with many opting to settle in lively Amsterdam or buzzing Rotterdam. Famously liberal, the Netherlands is known for its tolerant and open society.

Expats usually have no issues settling into Dutch society and many Dutch people speak fluent English.

But while Dutch people are usually very welcoming to newcomers, one expat in the HSBC Expat Explorer survey said newcomers will need to work hard for a social life.

One said: “If you want a social life in the Netherlands you have to work hard.

“The people in big cities are used to dealing with expats, but in the countryside you will always be that stranger from abroad.”

As is the case in many countries, expats may find it easier to settle in a city than a small town.

Cities are normally more likely to have a large expat community who will be able to give good advice to newcomers.

Another expat added: “Spend the first year meeting as many people as you can.

“Life abroad is a lot easier and manageable when you’ve got a network around you.

“Also, Dutch people are nice, but can come across as quite direct. I still have to get used to it!”

Dutch people have a reputation for being very to the point. There’s even a Dutch word to describe it.

Bespreekbaarheid translates as speakability which means that everything can and should be talked about.

In the Netherlands, many people believe that everyone has a right to be as direct as they want.

While this approach definitely has its benefits, it may take British expats some getting used to.

Finding accommodation is a problem for expats all over the world and the Netherlands is no exception.

One expat said: “If you have the time and patience to look, don’t move into a long-term contract flat straight away.

“Get to know the city first, especially the parts you’d like to live in, before you commit to a two year residential contract.”

It can be a good idea to sound out an area before committing to a long term contract straight after moving.

British expats should also try to purchase a bike as soon as they move to The Netherlands to take advantage of the country’s incredible bike lane system.

The Netherlands has fantastic links to the UK and is just a short plane, train or ferry ride from Britain.

Expats can expect a similar climate to the UK with mild summers and cool winters as well as regular rain showers.

Outside of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Utrecht and Delft are also well worth exploring.

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