Before moving to a new nation, whether the Netherlands or another, you will certainly be given advice, suggestions, anecdotes, recommendations, and plenty of warnings. And I wish someone had told me about these 9 practical things while living in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is a monarchy.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is the formal title given by King Willem-Alexander to the sovereign states of the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. Who knew there was a Dutch king? Probably a large number of people, but I was not one of them.
The king lives in Wassenaar at Villa Eikenhorst on the De Horsten estate. He is largely a figurehead, but he is honored in typical Dutch fashion* on April 27th, King’s Day.
There are light bike checkpoints.
The cops will set up checkpoints occasionally to ensure that all bikes have lights. And, believe me, it’s a major issue. It starts with the spread of the “Brace Yourselves Check Points Are Coming” warning, which is commonly done via WhatsApp.
The next step is to get some lights because yours are most likely broken, out of battery, or non-existent. If you go to SoLow, Kruidvat, HEMA, or Action, you’ll discover empty shelves where bike lights should be.
But don’t worry, even without lights, you can make it through the checkpoint. Of course, you can avoid the dangerous streets. If that isn’t an option, you have two other options:
When you see the checkpoint approaching, get off your bike and walk. It’s as simple as pie!
If the worst happens, fling yourself to the ground, bike and all. Maybe, just maybe, your absence of lighting will be forgotten in the commotion that ensues.
There are red light districts worldwide.
Amsterdam is not the only city with a red light district. Who would have guessed? Not me, yet again. Until I took a wrong turn down an unfamiliar street and discovered that Groningen, like many other cities, has its fair share of window prostitution.
MasterCard and Visa? Nope
Visa and Mastercard are not widely accepted. Why on earth not? I’m still reeling from the discomfort and perplexity I felt during my first few visits to Albert Heijn (a Dutch supermarket).
Even though no card means no intoxicated contactloos pinnen. And trust me, this is a good thing.
Dutch staircases are extremely steep.
The rest of the world calls them ladders. However, here’s an example of how narrow and steep they are in the Netherlands. I’m not sure how more people haven’t fallen and snapped their necks!
A celebration isn’t complete without balloons.
Anyone outside of the Netherlands who hears the term “Netherlands” will say one or more of the following: “weed!” “marijuana,” “roll a joint,” “420,” or “burn it.” That’s all well and good, but do you know what’s even better? Balloons.
Not just any balloons, but balloons packed with nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. The gas is a depressant that slows down the brain, causing sensations of euphoria, difficulties thinking clearly, and fits of uncontrollable laughter.
In summary, it gives you a huge high, even if it only lasts a few minutes.
You’ll frequently see young men walking down the street with a canister of laughing gas in their hands. While the government has prohibited selling laughing gas in clubs and taverns, this is not a passing fad.
The Dutch are a little obsessed with cats.
The Dutch adore cats. Almost as much as they are cyclists. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but there are a lot of cats here.
Professor Doerak, a cat at the University of Groningen, even has his Instagram account.
People at home will merely inquire, “How’s life in Amsterdam?”
When you tell people you’re moving to the Netherlands for the first time, you’re probably going to tell them what city you’ll be living in.
However, let me tell you that you should not have bothered. They will continue to presume you live in Amsterdam, or at the very least close to it.
You might end yourself liking those Dutchies.
Anyone will tell you that the Dutch are direct, frank, and to the point. But few people informed me how friendly the Dutch are! Waiters and shop workers are always courteous and make an effort to engage clients in conversation.
Every time my chain fell off my bike (which was frequently), someone was always happy to assist me or offer me a tissue for my oil-stained hands. It warms your heart, which is wonderful given how chilly it can be here.
Here are some helpful tips when living in the Netherlands.