10 Tips for Living in the Netherlands as an Expat
I’ve been based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands for the past couple months. While it’s one of my favorite cities and I’ve visited many times, I’ve never stayed for this long.
As I leave in a few days, I wanted to share my top 10 hacks I wish I knew about three months ago when I got here!
1. Buienradar App:
Ever wonder how the Dutch get around on their bikes without getting wet? With this handy app! Forget about the Weather Channel or Apple Weather - you need Buienradar. It’s the most efficient rain radar I’ve ever seen. Time your transit in between rain showers.
Why choose just one gym or yoga studio when you can visit them all? OneFit is like ClassPass for the Netherlands.
3. ResQ Club:
Save money and the planet by using this app, which locates fresh food at half the price so it doesn’t go to waste.
Did you know for €12 per year you can get internet access at any of the public library locations? They are GREAT places to work remotely from.
5. Common Grounds:
Can’t or don’t want to decide on a co-working membership? Sign up with Common Grounds instead. With one membership you can work at a variety of spaces throughout the city on a monthly basis.
6. Grocery Store Hack:
The main supermarket in the Netherlands is Albert Heijn - you’ll see the blue and white sign everywhere. It’s important to know that they only accept Dutch pin/debit cards - no international cards of any kind. Before you go shopping, make sure you have cash sign up for a bonus card for free at customer service to get local discounts!
Another solution? You can also download Bunq, an app which gives you a Dutch Maestro card.
For any hair or salon service, all the locals use this app or website. You can book any service in town and pay online. It’s super convenient and you can get discounted rates. It’s way easier and faster than looking up places on Google maps or Yelp. You can check services, availability and book from your current location.
8. Cheap Bike Rental:
If you’re going to be hanging out in the Netherlands, you’ll want to rent a bike. It’s the most superior form of transportation. It’s fun, healthy, fast, and you’ll really absorb the Dutch culture. I recommend renting at My Hotel Bike for the lowest rates in the city. Or, sign up at least 1 month ahead of your arrival with Swapfiets and rent for only €15/month. There’s always a waiting list so remember to sign up in advance!
9. Bike Parking:
Once you have a bike, you’ll need to park it in a safe place to reduce the chance of it getting stolen (happens to the best of us) and to keep it dry. Look for signs for underground bike parking and use them whenever you can. They are free and open 24/7. There are brand new ones all over the city, including:
At Central Station
In De Pijp
At the OBA Public Library
At the Food Hallen
Hold down on your brake as you’re pushing your bike up the conveyor belt on the stairs. It’s much faster and easier!
10. Airport Express Bus:
Many people take the train, an Uber, or taxi from the airport, but the bus is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to get into the center (Museumplein, Liedseplein, etc). You can buy a ticket online or at machines in the airport. The price is only €6 one-way or €10 round-trip.
The bus is 397 and the pick up is directly outside of arrivals to the right side between zones 15-20. Make sure it says 397 on the sign outside.
Exact Airport Express Instructions:
Buy your ticket online
Walk out of the arrivals area (by the train station)
Turn to the right
Look for sign 397
If it’s cold or rainy outside, you can also walk through the terminal towards signs for the NS International Lounge, then go out through the revolving doors down there. It’s across from the Sheraton.
This is also where the Uber pick-up is (usually €20-30 one-way to the center from the airport).