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Life for expats in the Netherlands

Whether you’re an expat about to move to the Netherlands or you’ve already been living here for a while, getting used to the Dutch and their habits and will probably take some time. Allow us to explain a few typical Dutch things.


Social contact

The Dutch are more direct and informal than people in some other countries, and that can take a bit of getting used to. But after a while, you’ll surely come to appreciate the spontaneity and openness of the Dutch. It’s easy to make contact with people here and they’ll generally be interested in other people and happy to help you. Another bonus is that almost everyone speaks English!

Appointments and diaries

The Dutch are very busy people and are happiest when they’ve got their schedule lined up in their diary (or agenda). Tip: if you have an appointment or have arranged to meet up with someone, make sure you’re on time, as turning up late is impolite. If you want to speak to someone at ABN AMRO International Clients Desk, it’s a good idea to make an appointment in that case too, so we can help you quickly.

Dutch cuisine

The Dutch love to eat foreign food, such as Italian or Indonesian, increasingly opting for these cuisines over their own traditional meat and two veg dishes. One thing that may take some getting used to is lunch, which generally consists of sandwiches and a glass of milk! If you’re looking for a typical Dutch delicacy to take home with you, why not consider 'hagelslag', 'drop' or 'stroopwafels'?

On your bike!

With its mild climate and flat landscape, the Netherlands is the perfect country for cycling, so it’s no surprise that you’ll see bike paths everywhere you go. The Dutch cycle every day, whether they’re off to school or work, or just out a for a fun ride. Dutch children learn to cycle almost before they learn to walk. A lot of newcomers to the Netherlands often wonder why everyone cycles in normal clothes and no-one wears a helmet. Surely accidents happen now and then? Yes, they do, but if you have liability insurance, you’ll be well covered for injuries caused to third parties and/or damage to their possessions.

Stingy or smart with their money?

The Dutch have a reputation for being a stingy, buying food at home to take on holiday with them, for instance, and mainly shopping during the sales. But did you know that the Dutch don’t consider themselves stingy? They’re actually proud of their frugal habits, as they’ve learned to always save some money for a rainy day. That’s why almost every Dutch person has a savings account. They also like to keep track of their finances, sometimes using an online household account book.

Going Dutch

In the Netherlands, it’s normal to only pay for yourself, hence the well-known saying ‘going Dutch’. If you go out for a meal with your colleagues and don’t split the bill right away, you’ll probably get a payment request soon after, asking for your share of the bill.

Online payments

Quick transfers using the Mobile Banking app, contactless debit card payments in the supermarket and online shopping. The Dutch like to manage their money online whenever they can and shopkeepers prefer online payments too. All these online payments mean there’s less need for cash, so it may take you a while to find an ATM if you want to make a withdrawal.

The information on this page is a brief explanation. You can not derive any rights from this.

Payments and cash withdrawals

If you’re an expat, it’s good to know the best way to make payments in the Netherlands. Read on to find out more about the most popular methods used here.

Open a Dutch bank account

  • Apply in our Mobile Banking app
  • Digital identification
  • Get your account number within 4 hours

Welcome to the Netherlands

Our handy checklist will help you sort out of all the things you need to take care of before moving to the Netherlands.