dutch landscape with windmills and tulips

7 Things To Know Before Moving To Netherlands

If you’re gearing up for a move to the Netherlands, understanding the country’s quirks and requirements is key. Armed with these seven “things to know before moving to Netherlands”, from legal logistics to cultural customs, you’ll be well-prepared to embrace life in this dynamic society. Uncover the foundations of Dutch living and ensure your transition is as smooth as Dutch bike paths with our in-depth guide.

Key Takeaways

  • The Netherlands features a unique landscape with ingenious water management systems, extensive cycling infrastructure, and a deep appreciation for environmental ingenuity.
  • Dutch society values direct communication, scheduled social interactions, and bursts of national pride during celebrations like King’s Day, where wearing orange is a must.
  • Moving to the Netherlands involves preparing for a significant lifestyle change that includes learning the Dutch language, understanding the mandatory health insurance, and embracing the local customs and etiquette.

1. Exploring the Dutch Landscape: More Than Just Tulips and Windmills

While the Netherlands is often encapsulated in imagery of tulips and windmills, there’s a whole other world that beckons beyond these symbols of Dutch culture. The landscape here is a marvel of human ingenuity; a testament to the centuries-old battle against water and an embrace of the land’s natural contours.

Here, you’ll find a country that’s both a historical canvas and a modern-day engineering masterpiece, where the very soil beneath your feet tells a story of triumph and adaptation.

The Lowdown on the Lowlands

As you explore the Dutch landscape, you’ll find its low-lying nature captivating. With much of the whole country sitting below sea level, the Netherlands is a showcase of successful human intervention in nature. The Dutch created a landscape of polders and dikes, turning the threat of water into a manageable resource. The ingenuity of the Dutch developed techniques like the historic windmills of Kinderdijk-Elshout, not just quaint tourist attractions but vital cogs in the machinery that keeps the nation dry.

And if you think that’s impressive, wait until you learn about Prince Alexander Polder, the country’s lowest point at 22 feet below sea level!

A Cyclist’s Paradise

In addition to their landscape mastery, the Dutch also excel in creating a cyclist-friendly infrastructure. The Netherlands is a cyclist’s utopia, boasting:

  • An extensive network of bike lanes that often take precedence over cars
  • cycling is not just a mode of transport but a way of life embraced by everyone from suited professionals to Dutch kids on their way to school
  • you won’t see many helmets here; the Dutch believe in the safety of their bike paths, and the sight of a helmeted cyclist is as rare as finding a hill in this flatland!

2. Navigating Dutch Society: Etiquette and Customs

Moving from the physical landscape, let’s delve into the intricate dynamics of Dutch society. The Netherlands may be small, but its cultural footprint is anything but. Here, you’ll learn the subtle art of a timely ‘goededag’ and the three-kiss greeting, all while unraveling the thread of privacy and directness that weaves through Dutch interactions.

It’s a place where scheduling meetups is an art form, and spontaneity in visits can be a faux pas. Embrace these nuances, and you’ll find yourself at the heart of Dutch society.

Embracing Orange Fever

But don’t let the reserved nature of daily interactions fool you; when it comes to national pride, the Dutch let loose with a burst of bright orange. Orange fever grips the nation during football matches, King’s Day, and any event where the Netherlands is on the global stage. It’s a positive attitude that turns the whole country into a sea of orange, making it clear that when the Dutch celebrate, they do it in style.

So, if you’re moving to the Netherlands, prepare your wardrobe for a splash of orange – it’s the unofficial national color that unites the Dutch in joyous revelry.

The Art of Dutch Directness

It’s time to address the Dutch’s notable directness, which is an art form in itself. If you’re used to sugarcoating, prepare for a change. The Dutch pride themselves on being straightforward, finding it efficient and clear. This frankness is a cornerstone of Dutch culture, and while it might catch you off guard at first, you’ll soon appreciate the honesty it brings to every interaction.

Remember, it’s not rudeness; it’s just the basic Dutch way for a Dutch person!

3. Mastering the Move

Mastering the move to the Netherlands is about more than packing your bags and booking a flight; it’s about the meticulous planning and organization that the Dutch so famously value. From choosing the right shipping partner to understanding housing and health insurance, a smooth transition requires attention to detail.

Let’s delve into the practical steps involved in making the Netherlands your new home.

Choosing the Right Shipping Partner: UPakWeShip

When it comes to moving your life across borders, partnering with UPakWeShip is a smart move. Renowned for its reliability and efficiency, UPakWeShip takes the stress out of international relocation, ensuring that your belongings arrive safely in your new Dutch residence.

With various shipping options tailored to your needs, you’ll find that UPakWeShip is not just a service provider but a partner in your journey to the Netherlands.

Securing Accommodation

Once you’ve landed, securing accommodation is your next step. Be prepared for a surprise: Dutch apartments often come bare – no floors, no light fixtures, sometimes not even a lick of paint! It’s a blank canvas for you to furnish and decorate. This might seem daunting, but it’s an opportunity to make your new space truly your own.

Plus, with stores like Kringloopwinkels offering a treasure trove of second-hand items, you can furnish your home without breaking the bank.

Understanding Health Insurance Requirements

Healthcare is next on the list, and the Netherlands takes it seriously. Basic health insurance is not just a recommendation here; it’s mandatory. The Dutch health insurance system ensures that everyone contributes to and benefits from one of the world’s top-rated healthcare systems.

As a newcomer, you’ll need to navigate this system, ensuring you’re covered from the moment you step foot in the country. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

4. Settling In Civic Integration and Language Skills

Settling into Dutch life isn’t just about finding a place to live or navigating the healthcare system; it’s also about integrating into the civic fabric of the country. For many, this means learning the Dutch language and understanding the ins and outs of Dutch society.

We’ll examine how you can start this vital integration process.

Begin Civic Integration

The civic integration process is a structured pathway to becoming a part of Dutch society. It involves language learning and familiarization with the societal norms that define the Netherlands. For non-EU citizens, this process starts even before relocation, with exams that test your Dutch language skills and knowledge of Dutch society.

It’s a journey of learning, with a timeframe of three years to complete, but one that opens the door to a deeper connection with your new home.

Learning Dutch: A Gateway to Integration

To learn Dutch is more than just a language skill; it’s an integration gateway. While many Dutch people speak English, the ability to speak Dutch will enrich your interactions and help you form deeper connections with Dutch friends and colleagues. It’s a challenging but rewarding endeavor that will set you apart and show your commitment to embracing Dutch culture.

Plus, with additional language training options available, you can tailor your learning to fit your lifestyle and needs.

5. Life in the Netherlands: Cultural Insights and Daily Living

Life in the Netherlands is marked by:

  • A unique blend of conservatism, discipline, and a strong sense of community
  • Pride in their work-life balance
  • An egalitarian outlook
  • A cultural landscape that values privacy and detail

We’ll examine the subtleties of everyday life in this intriguing country.

From Heineken to Health Care: Embracing Dutch Living

Embracing Dutch living means enjoying everything from:

  • a fluitje of Heineken at traditional Dutch pubs
  • relying on a healthcare system that consistently ranks among the best in the world
  • adapting to the local payment methods and opening a Dutch bank account as many businesses eschew credit cards
  • finding affordable ways to furnish your home through stores like Kringloopwinkels.

With the Dutch holding a top rank in diet and nutrition, you’ll find that embracing Dutch living is not just about fitting in but about thriving in a culture that values quality of life.

Making Connections: Building Relationships with Dutch Friends

Building relationships with Dutch friends may take time, as the Dutch value their work-life balance and may not be as open to spontaneous interactions as people from other cultures. However, once you’ve made good friends, you’ll find depth and sincerity in these truly rewarding relationships.

Understanding the importance of scheduling and respecting personal boundaries will go a long way in forming lasting friendships in the Netherlands.

6. Education and Employment: Thriving in the Dutch System

Education and employment are two of the cornerstones of Dutch society. With an education system that ranks high globally and a job market ripe with opportunities for skilled workers, the Netherlands can be a land of opportunity for those prepared to navigate its systems.

We’ll examine the essentials for flourishing within the Dutch educational and employment sphere.

Dutch School Excellence

Dutch schools are a testament to the country’s commitment to high-quality education. Ranked fifth by the World Economic Forum, the Dutch education system offers a mix of international and local schools, catering to a diverse student body. For families moving to the Netherlands, early research and preparation are key to ensuring a smooth transition for your children.

With most Dutch kids attending school from a young age, it’s essential to start familiarizing them with the Dutch language and culture as soon as possible.

Working in the Netherlands: Opportunities and Challenges

The Dutch job market presents a wealth of opportunities for expats, especially in sectors like IT, finance, and marketing. However, non-EU citizens will need to secure a work permit, and everyone should expect to start with temporary contracts or through employment agencies.

The egalitarian Dutch business culture and the prevalence of part-time employment provide a supportive environment for both local and expat workers alike. And with self-employment rates on the rise, the Netherlands is a great place for those looking to forge their path.

7. Celebrating Kings Day: A Royal Dutch Experience

Kings Day is a highlight of Dutch culture, a day when the entire country comes together to celebrate the king’s birthday with a nationwide explosion of orange. It’s a time of street festivals, concerts, and a general outpouring of national pride.

We’ll look at how you, as a newcomer, can partake in the celebrations and experience this distinctive facet of Dutch society.

A Toast to the King: Beer and Merriment

Beer is at the heart of Kings Day celebrations, with Heineken, a popular Dutch beer, being the traditional choice for toasting the king. From the bustling streets of Amsterdam to the picturesque canals of Utrecht, the Dutch raise their glasses to celebrate their monarch’s birthday. It’s a day of joy and celebration, and Heineken flows as freely as the music and laughter that fill the air.

Kings Day Festivities: A Guide for Expats

As an expat, Kings Day is an opportunity to immerse yourself in Dutch culture fully. Dressing in orange and joining the street parties are just the beginning. Engage with the locals by participating in traditional games, and don’t miss out on the flea markets where you can find a variety of treasures.

Remember, public transportation is your best bet for getting around during the busy festivities, so plan accordingly and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere that Kings Day brings.


As our journey through the essential things to know before moving to the Netherlands comes to a close, it’s clear that this small country offers a rich tapestry of experiences. From its low-lying landscapes and cycling culture to its direct communication style and vibrant traditions like Kings Day, the Netherlands is a place where old-world charm meets modern living. Whether you’re navigating society, mastering your move, or settling into Dutch life, these insights will help you transition smoothly and embrace your new home with open arms. So pack your bike, practice your Dutch, and get ready for an adventure in the heart of Europe.

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