Expats moving to the Netherlands are sure to have many concerns and queries about their new home. To ease these worries, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about life in the Netherlands.
Do expats need to speak Dutch?
'Need' would be too strong a word, and it depends on how long expats intend to stay. For those who intend to settle in the Netherlands permanently, it's strongly recommended. Most Dutch people can and are happy to speak English, but the language is an essential tool for expats who wish to establish local relationships and navigate Dutch culture.
Are the Dutch friendly?
Expats in the Netherlands often criticise the Dutch for being closed to new arrivals. Office culture can be difficult to penetrate and making appointments is a must. It’s more common for expats to make friends with other expats, but this is not to say it's impossible to make Dutch friends. Having children or a big passion for a sport or activity makes it much easier to meet others, both locals and foreigners.
Do expats need a car in the Netherlands?
It isn't necessary to buy a car. Public transport in the Netherlands is effective and affordable. There are few locations not on the grid, with most cities and towns connected by road or rail links, and within the major cities there are extensive, rail, bus and tram services. The only caveat is that those living in rural areas might need a car, but there's very little of the country that can be described as rural and inaccessible.
Is the Netherlands safe?
Generally, yes. Violent crime rates are low, and people are generally safe walking alone in the streets. But there is one crime in the Netherlands that is fairly common: bicycle theft. Pickpocketing is also fairly common in crowded tourist areas and expats should be wary of anyone brushing past or bumping into them, as they may well be searching for valuables.
Is 'Holland' the same as 'the Netherlands'?
Many foreigners use the names 'Holland' and 'the Netherlands' interchangeably. While these terms are informally used frequently, they are not synonymous. The Netherlands is the name of the country and encompasses 12 provinces, while Holland, on the other hand, refers to only two provinces: North and South Holland.