Moving to the Netherlands was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I left a community that was always there for me. I left everything I’ve ever known to be with the man I love. The decision to move abroad was not an easy one. Uprooting your life is never easy. The first year and a half were especially difficult for me. But now I’ve lived in the Netherlands for four years, and I’m really enjoying it. Of course, every place has its pros and cons, so here are mine.
1. Pro: Being Frugal Isn’t Looked Down Upon
I’ve always been called a cheap person. My family and friends love saying that I’m being stingy and frugal. Most people in the USA didn’t understand why I didn’t just want to spend on everyone and everything. Now I live in a country where being frugal is not only appreciated but the norm. Being responsible with money and thinking ahead should be something that’s a norm, not something that’s frowned upon.
2. Con: Paracetamol Is A Cure All
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m not the biggest fan of the Dutch healthcare system. Preventative medicine isn’t common, and paracetamol is the cure for everything. The doctors will fight you tooth and nail before agreeing to conduct any tests. They do this to save the healthcare system money. But you’re left frustrated and in pain for months or even years. To me, that’s not proper healthcare.
3. Pro: People Appreciate You For You
I come from a culture that values how you look, how much money you appear to make, what university you went to, and what your job is over who you are as a person. In the Netherlands, I am rarely asked where I went to school or what degree I obtained. People seem to appreciate how you treat others and who you are more than class and money.
4. Con: The Cold Attitude
People say that the more north you go, the colder people get. And I completely agree with that statement. Dutch people are very nice and helpful. But they aren’t warm people. They won’t invite you into their home unless you’re their friend or something. When you spend time with them, you don’t usually feel like you can be absolutely yourself.
In the USA, people are so extremely nice and friendly, it’s ingrained into the culture. How people treat you can really change how you’re feeling for the better. To me, being kind and caring isn’t something that requires effort; it’s natural.
5. Pro: The Healthy Lifestyle
It is undeniable that the lifestyle in the Netherlands is a pretty healthy one. People use their bicycles as a primary mode of transportation. Cities are extremely walkable. Your personal time is valued and isn’t infringed on. For example, if you have a day off, your colleagues or boss most likely won’t bother you. In addition, the whole hierarchy system at work isn’t really that common. So you can speak to your boss openly, and that helps you actually enjoy your work. There isn’t the whole fear culture.
6. Con: The Housing Crisis
The Netherlands is ridiculously overpopulated, and the government doesn’t seem to care about it. Due to overpopulation and lack of permits and space to build, there is an extreme housing crisis. Although I personally am not affected by this housing crisis, I know many people that are. It’s not ok that we are living in a time of advanced technology and a rich economy, and people are struggling to find adequate housing.
7. Pro: The Country Is Beautiful
To end on a positive note, this country is absolutely beautiful. I recently made a video about how incredibly clean and nice the Netherlands is. I think many Dutch people take for granted how well-maintained all the infrastructure is. The bike paths and roads are perfect, the buildings are perfect, and the trains are really great, no matter how much you want to complain about them. When you go outside, you aren’t met with tons of trash and homeless people living outside your door.
Every Place Has Its Ups and Downs
There is no perfect place. No matter where you live, there will always be things you like and don’t like. The most important thing is that it works for you. For me, the pros generously outweigh the cons. So the Netherlands is the right place for me. I just ask that if you’re having a hard time here, give it a few years and actually make an effort to integrate and make friends before giving up and moving someplace else. Feeling at home in a new place takes time.
The featured photo was taken by Sara Podbielski.
What are your pros and cons of living in the Netherlands?