Moving to the Netherlands Insider Tips

So you’re thinking about moving to the Netherlands? Why???? Well actually, the answer to that question is clear. In my experience, people tend to move here for the following reasons:

  • Love
  • Study
  • Work
  • Seeking Asylum

If you’re moving to the Netherlands for one of the reasons above then this article, written by a bloody foreigner that’s lived in the Netherlands for 13 years will provide you with some essential insider tips on moving here and what to expect.

If you’re a Dutch native, be warned, this article contains sarcasm about Dutch society. So read no further if that upsets you. For the rest, I hope this will help you with your decision-making about moving to the GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD! MAAR ECHT!.

The things I do for my readers!

Moving for love

Over the years, I’ve met many people who’ve moved to the Netherlands to be with the Dutch person they love. If you’re an EU citizen then it’s no problem at all. Doe maar! Moving to the Netherlands is easier than selling a pair of white sneakers to a Dutch girl. If you’re from outside the EU and would like to move here to be with your Dutch partner then let me tell you that legally and administratively it’s more difficult than getting a Dutch person to understand that blackface is a bad thing.

“the Dutch don’t need you and man they expect the same”

Dutch immigration policy for partner reunification for people from outside the EU is a bit like a line from a Bob Dylan song, ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues’  “the cops don’t need you and man they expect the same”. Except I’ll change it to ‘Because the Dutch don’t need you and man they expect the same’.

Dutch immigration policy for bringing a foreign partner into the Netherlands is like running through an obstacle course blindfolded with one arm tied behind your back.

The Dutch immigration maze

If you’re the partner of a Dutch person that wants to move to the Netherlands, best of luck, you’ll need it. Here’s some info from the Dutch immigration service about how to do this. 

Moving to the Netherlands to study

The Dutch government wants your money. Whether you’re from the EU or not they’ll welcome you and your wallet. They and the universities want your cash. So as far as they’re concerned, welcome to Holland. However, sadly, they haven’t communicated to the general population how essential your contribution will be to the long-term prosperity of the Netherlands. For that reason, even if you do get a place to study here, you’ll find that unless you’re wealthy enough to rent an apartment while studying, that finding a room in a shared house occupied by Dutch people will be more difficult than an ethnic minority gaining entry to a nightclub in Breda.

moving to the Netherlands can cause problems finding student accomodation

No Internationals!

You can’t expect young Dutch people to share their homes with foreigners. I mean, foreign women own and use hairdryers! This could put up the cost of the energy bills.


Foreign men don’t use as much hair gel as their Dutch counterparts, which means that they might refuse to contribute to the household hair products budget that can run into many hundreds of euros per month. Plus, who knows what kind of food foreigners might cook? It might not be western.


Rental apartments in Amsterdam sometimes require western way of cooking only

Working in the Netherlands

If you’re moving here for work, here are some essential insider tips:

1. Doe maar effe normaal! Dress like the Dutch

Look at how your colleagues dress and as much as it might upset or embarrass you, dress the same way. Yes, it might be unusual for you to wear denim hotpants while working at a bank, but hey, as the Dutch say, “doe maar gewoon”.  Even if you don’t own a blue suit and brown shoes, go out and buy some. Fit into your working environment for a quiet life. It’s bad enough that you’re foreign, don’t make things worse by dressing like an individual.

2. Go home on time every day

Don’t embarrass your colleagues by hanging around in the office after 17:30. The Dutch take great pride in having a good work-life balance. If you manage a team, don’t expect them to work late.

Just because as an expat you won’t have any friends or a life as such, that doesn’t mean you should spend it at work. Go and do something useful with your spare time.

Seeking Asylum

The Netherlands is a small overcrowded country. They can’t be expected to take everyone or anyone for that matter. The bike lanes are full, there’s no room in the Netherlands. Germany, on the other hand, is huge, it has lots of space and much better bread and sausages than you’ll find in the Netherlands. Try there.

Other things you need to know when living in the Netherlands

Health Insurance is mandatory

When resident in the Netherlands, health insurance is mandatory.  Be aware that on top of a monthly fee that from 2018 you’ll be expected to pay the first 400 euros of costs arising from the majority of medical treatment you receive.  To qualify for an insurance policy you’ll need to register with either your local city council or the IND (if from outside the EU) and get a social security number (BSN).   

Dutch service

Dutch service is generally appalling. There’s an attitude in the Netherlands of “you’re not better than me”. Which leads to people in the service industry acting as if you should be grateful that they’re bothering to do the job they’re paid for. It’s particularly poor when trying to register for utilities or telecom services, especially if you don’t speak Dutch. If you want to avoid the hassle you can use a utility connection service that will deal with this free of charge.

baby in shock

Oh, I’m supposed to change my own nappy at the nursery, of course, Dutch service.

Learning Dutch the Pros and Cons

Even if you live in Amsterdam, where the Dutch locals are 100% sure that they speak English better than native speakers, it’s still worth learning Dutch.

Learning Dutch the positives

The great thing about learning Dutch is that it’s a huge advantage, especially on the dating scene.   Nothing impresses the locals more than an expat that has bothered to try and learn their language. It’s also very useful when out shopping and cycling.  Learning to swear in Dutch is especially handy when trying to survive the bike lanes in Amsterdam or other cities in the Netherlands. The other positive is that if you try really, really hard, you might even make Dutch friends.

The reality of trying to make friends with the Dutch 😉


Learning Dutch the negatives

The downside of learning Dutch is that when you only speak English it’s possible to believe the universal hype about how tolerant Dutch society is.  You’ll be in the Netherlands, on your bike, and out buying battery farmed chicken or toxic eggs at the local supermarket. Hanging out with other expats at Internations or Meetup and everything will be perfect. Once you start learning Dutch and can understand the discussions on Dutch social media, it will spoil your view of the country. Ignorance is bliss.

moving to the Netherlands can be a shock for expats

Did they really say that? I thought Holland was supposed to be tolerant?


How the Dutch deal with discrimination

If you’re from a minority background, you might wonder if racial discrimination takes place here. Well, let me tell you that the rest of the world could learn a lot from how the Dutch deal with racism. Rather than acknowledging that discrimination could be an issue in Dutch society, the way the Dutch deal with it is quite refreshing:

  • Deny that racism can possibly exist in this country
  • Make comparisons between how blacks are treated in America and here
  • Gang up (on social media, never in person) on anyone that complains about discrimination
  • Blame the victim, it’s always their fault, they’re just looking for compensation
  • Tell people to “go home” if they don’t like it here

Discussing discrimination with the Dutch is a bit like:

Living in the Netherlands a summary

The Netherlands is a great place to live but like everywhere has its positives and negatives.  Just remember the following:

  • Never get into a discussion about discrimination with the Dutch especially not about Zwarte Piet
  • Buy a bike if only to save the time it takes to explain why you don’t have one
  • Denim and sneakers are always appropriate for any occasion
  • Get a supermarket loyalty card and sign up to any saving schemes
  • If you buy anything, always tell people how much money you saved for example “I saved 50% on these condoms, let’s use them”
  • When using public transport never wait to allow people to get off. Time is money!
  • Always put your rucksack on the seat next to you when on public transport
  • If you’re female, owning a black leather biker jacket is required by law
  • Men should never wear black shoes if working for ABN Amro or any other Dutch financial institutions


I hope this handy little guide will provide you with some insight into life here. Good luck with moving to the Netherlands

No international students were hurt during the writing of this post.



Facebook is changing their newsfeed if you still want to see the Amsterdam Shallow Man in the future be sure to select Amsterdam Shallow Man as ‘see first’ in your newsfeed.

follow amsterdam shallow man