Over the past fifteen years, I moved and traveled a lot and explored many extraordinary and inspiring places around the world until the Netherlands became few months ago my new target. Here everything is the same but also completely different. Compared to Germany or Hungary, in the Netherlands, I never felt unwelcome like it was in Hungary all the time, and the people here have a natural serenity. I like it like that!
After few weeks in the new country, I could make some experiences and would like to share them with you.
Dutch sounds for a German with English background kinda familiar. Sometimes I’m able to understand everything, sometimes nothing. It’s an interesting language and depending on the dialect; the pronunciation sounds lovely. I started to learn Dutch by doing some lessons with a little help of Duolingo but will do learning it seriously with a teacher soon. I attended two weeks ago to a trial course at a language school, but this was a disaster. We were around twenty foreigners in the class, and the teacher was completely overwhelmed with all of us. He didn’t answer questions, didn’t do anything to help us – just talked an hour about the Dutch language what I could have read in under eight minutes on Wikipedia.
As far as I can say that, I have made very good experiences with Dutch people. They are friendly, open-minded, straightforward, have no problem speaking to me in English, and they are also very helpful and supportive.
The entire registration process in Haarlem was easy and took just fourteen minutes of my life. I only had to go with my passport or my ID, and my rental contract to the city council, filling out some papers to get my BSN (burgerservicenummer) (or Sofi number) which is a unique registration number for everyone who lives in the Netherlands. Only with the BSN you’re able to open a bank account or make contracts like a mobile contract. Usually, you have to wait up to three to five business days until they create your number and register you with the number in the system. In my case, my company already registered me as their new employer at the tax office, and the tax office registered me in the system with a unique BSN because a BSN is required for the tax registration.
In the Netherlands, it isn’t common owning and paying with a credit and in almost every local shop and store you’re able to pay with your debit card or cash. Many of the stores and shops also have signs where they inform the customers that you can’t pay with your credit card there. Many of the banks in the Netherlands only provide a credit card after few months to make sure you have a monthly income like with a monthly salary before they give out a credit card. If you plan to open a bank account in the Netherlands, and you need a credit card, check the conditions of the bank and make sure that you’ll get a credit card directly after you opened the bank account.
The prices and subscriptions etc. are almost the same like in other countries. But here a debit card is required for making the contract. Vodafone, T-Mobile, or PhoneHouse will charge a small amount of money to make sure your bank account is working. If your debit card is working and the transfer is done, you will finish the paperwork and get your SIM card.
Being ensured by a healthcare system works in The Netherlands a bit different than in other countries. From a good few companies here in the Netherlands I know that they insure you only in the case of a long-term sickness and incapacity. For everything else, you have to insure yourself. The website independer.nl helps you to choose a health insurance company.
The infrastructure of the public transport service in Haarlem, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and perhaps other cities and regions as well, is excellent but also quite expensive, especially when you have to travel a lot. In my case, I’m using the service of Connexxion for the Bus in Haarlem, NS for the train between Haarlem and Amsterdam and GVB in Amsterdam for the bus, tram, and metro. Buying a single ticket for each service, back and forth, would cost me altogether 21 EUR per day. In Amsterdam, I can, fortunately, skip using the tram and walk 8-10 minutes to my workplace from Amsterdam Centraal.
Since there doesn’t exist a cheap all-in-one solution for frequent drivers like me, I recommend to check all possible routes and consider if there exist a direct connection from the service public transport provider in your city to your destination, and if you maybe have to walk a bit. Also if you have to travel this way only during the week and not on weekends etc.. A good combination of different subscriptions can help saving money a lot.
I couldn’t try that much because the food here is very meat-heavy, not vegan-ready, and the portions are often a bit too much. But the food I could try yet was delicious.