15 tips to live like a local when working abroad
The profile of international employees is changing. The highly-skilled worker who comes to the Netherlands for a few months and then flies out again is on the decline. Today, international employees are more eager than ever to adapt to Dutch life and live like a local. As Htel Serviced Apartments is an expert in the field of employee housing for 15 years, we’ve gathered 15 tips to live like a local when working abroad.
Almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks English, but speaking even just a little bit of Dutch can really help make you feel like part of the community. Start with some key phrases in Dutch to thank the locals (“Dank je wel!”) or order your meals at restaurants in Dutch.
Housing in residential areas
Stay in one of the quiet neighbourhoods just outside the tourist centre. By settling in a green environment with schools, sports parks, playgrounds, shops and parks, you will really feel like part of the community.
Jump on a bike
Once settled jump on your bike to go to work, to do groceries or when you go out. As central areas aren’t congested with traffic as most people travel by bike, Dutchies go anywhere by bike! In your free time cycle to the Amsterdamse Bos (forest) for a picnic.
While getting your kroket or a frikandel (Dutch snacks) out of the wall is described as a pretty touristy thing to do, every Dutchie gets their food out of the wall once in a while. Just pay a euro or two and choose your snack. Another tip: get yourself a freshly baked stroopwafel (Dutch cookie) from the market!
Visit a bruin café (brown cafe) with your friends. These traditional bars, complete with dark wood furniture, soft lighting and an abundance of antique clutter, make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. That’s what we call ‘gezellig’ (roughly means cosy).
Sport has a connecting factor. In the Netherlands fitness is the most popular sport. So the local fitness club is not only the place to exercise but also to make new friends. When moving to The Netherlands with your family: soccer is still the most popular sport among children and young adults.
We also like to invite friends over in our warm and homely ambience to experience that gezellig feeling with friends, a couple of beers and a portion of bitterballen (Dutch snacks). Also Dutch: make an appointment first.
Step outside the comfort of the canals and explore the neighbourhoods that give Amsterdam its characteristic quirkiness, such as Amsterdam Noord’s industrial-artsy vibes or Oud-West’s culinary and cultural delights.
The weather in Amsterdam is unpredictable. One minute the skies are blue, the next it’s pouring rain. Fortunately, we’ve a great app called Buienalarm (rain alarm) that alerts you when a downpour is due so you can plan your journey accordingly.
Terrace life year round
No matter if it’s overcast, cold, raining or snowing, you’ll always find people sitting outside on a terrace enjoying coffee, a beer or a snack. And there are plenty of bars and cafes in Amsterdam that prepare for these all-weather visitors by providing blankets and heaters.
Sailing to secluded areas
The canals of Amsterdam are packed with official tourist boats, but you’ll often see smaller boats sailing by with just a few people enjoying the company of friends. Rent a boat yourself to sail around Amsterdam’s picturesque canals and escape the tourist trail by sailing to secluded areas.
Amsterdam is a cultural melting pot, which is summed up perfectly in its eclectic cuisine. After you’ve had your fill of Dutch treats and sweets, sample some of the foods brought to the city from around the world. Indonesian and Surinam food are particularly popular.
Picnic at the park
The vast majority of tourists end up at the Vondelpark at some point. It is close to the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, and a good place to have a break. But we recommend a visit to the Westerpark. Pick up some local food from the market and enjoy a picnic.
Albert Cuyp market
A huge open-plan market doesn’t necessarily sound like a place that is off the beaten track but at the Albert Cuyp Markt, in the Pijp district, you’ll quickly see it is the residents of Amsterdam that dominate its stalls, cafés and shops. If you want to feel part of the local culture, you should pop along here.
When residents of our capital want to escape the crowds for a bit, they go to the park or to the beach. The train to Zandvoort aan Zee leaves from Amsterdam Central Station twice an hour. The double-decker train takes thirty-minutes to carry you to the coast. On the outward journey, sit on the left-hand side for great views of Haarlem, a beautiful town that is well worth a visit too.
Htel Serviced Apartments is the perfect place for international employees (and their families) who come to the Netherlands for a short or extended stay. The apartments are spacious and our team will do anything to ensure that you feel at home when you are away from home. Our apartments are located in a quiet, green neighbourhood with schools, parks and other important facilities nearby. You can explore the neighbourhood on one of our Htel bikes, as true Dutchie. Like to know more? Click here.