Ricardo from Portugal
How was the process of moving from Portugal to the Netherlands?
Luckily I can say that moving to the Netherlands, and more specifically to Amsterdam, went quite smoothly, as I had a relocation agency supporting me throughout all this process.
Was it easy to find a place to live and to arrange everything, like social security number, health insurance, etc?
On one hand, with the help of the relocation agency and also my colleagues at work, I would say that in general all the required arrangements, such as BSN, Health Insurance, Bank Account, Family Doctor and Dentist, were quite easy.
On the other hand, in Amsterdam to find accommodation that suited my interests, being it location, budget, etc. was a major challenge. This happens, due to the fact that Amsterdam is an appealing destination and highly touristic and thus the demand of places to live clearly surpasses what the market offers. As a result, many people have to relocate to the neighborhood of Amsterdam, such as Haarlem, Utrecht, Leiden, and many other cities. I consider myself lucky enough to have found a place aligned with my preferences.
Do you feel at home in the Netherlands and especially in the city of Amsterdam?
Definitely! As part of my job I have to travel frequently to other countries, mainly Hungary at this point in time, and believe it or not, after a couple days I was getting homesick. You would think that being Portuguese, naturally this would mean my hometown in Portugal, but in reality I was missing Amsterdam.
When I arrived in Amsterdam and got out from the airport with my luggage, naturally raining, the thought that immediately came to my mind was “Home sweet Home”.
What activities do you like the most in the Netherlands / region of Amsterdam?
Unfortunately I have to say that besides going to Enschede on a business trip, I have not visited yet other places in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam, due to my job travelling requirements.
In Amsterdam, you can do practically everything you want, as you will find always a place that provides you with the activity you are looking for, being it sports, leisure, cultural sessions, etc.
Personally, after having recently bought a bike I am enjoying exploring the city and riding to work as well. This is possible due to the amazing infrastructures, cycling culture that people have, and of course to the fact that the Netherlands is a flat country what promotes cycling even more. In addition, there are many social events with expats in the city, in which I try to attend when possible, facilitating also our integration in the Netherlands by knowing people in the same situation and facing same type of challenges as you.
What surprises you about the Dutch people, the Dutch way of life and or culture?
Even though I am in the Netherlands only 2 months and still don´t know Dutch culture that well, I would say that what impressed me the most were four different aspects.
- Dutch people are extremely fluent in English, which makes it difficult in a great deal to learn Dutch;
- They are very straightforward, as they will tell you what they think about you or a specific topic in a very direct way and not what you would like to hear;
- Dutch are very healthy conscious, as they usually do sports, being it running, cycling, or many others, and they are selective with what they eat;
- They have a high productivity mindset. A clear example is the light and cold lunch they have, so they will not feel sleepy after lunch and are able to go back to work immediately. Furthermore, the time spent for the break is relatively little, so people tend to finish work and go home earlier, allowing them to have more time with family or just for relaxing.
What tips or advice would you give someone who’s relocating to the Netherlands?
Besides trying to get to know and live according the Dutch culture, being it riding the bike to work, learning Dutch or even get used to the cold meals at lunch, I would definitely advice you on two aspects.
First, start looking for accommodation as soon as possible, so you are able to find a place within your requirements. Before arriving in the Netherlands, start speaking with friends, search for Facebook groups or even do some research on real estate agencies websites.
Also, be prepared for the “typical” Dutch weather. Rainy days and the fact that you can have the four seasons on the same day are a constant, and there is nothing you can do to change it. So, either you are prepared to adapt yourself and live with it or you will regret coming here...