Portuguese Expat Living in Netherlands - Interview with Catarina

Published: 17 Dec at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Netherlands
Catarina is a freelance writer living in the beautiful city of The Hague with her husband and daughter. She was born in Portugal, but spent her childhood in Africa, an experience that has shaped her life and interests. She has a B.A. in Philosophy and is also a trained teacher. Traveling, for leisure and cultural enrichment, and reading, especially crime and historical novels, are her passions. Catarina's expat blog is called Craftie Mum (see listing here)

Pipe cleaner crafts
Pipe cleaner crafts

Here's the interview with Catarina...

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Portugal.

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm living in The Hague, in The Netherlands.

How long have you lived in Netherlands and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been here for a year and a half, and don't have a plan on how long we will stay. Basically, we're taking it one day at a time and enjoying our expat experience.

Why did you move to Netherlands and what do you do?
I moved in order to find new career prospects, as the situation in Portugal wasn't very appealing for me at the time. I was a full time high school teacher, but found myself unemployed due to the economical crisis. Nowadays I translate, write, organize events and coach.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes, my husband and daughter are here with me.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The transition was fairly smooth, because as a child I had already gone through a similar process when we moved to Africa. The hardest part for me is having to learn a new language, and juggling that with work and family life.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Making friends and meeting people was easy enough, I just got out there via the expat parenting and other meetup groups. Currently I also get to socialize with the locals via a community volunteer group and through my daughter's pr-school.

Some tasty Arab food at The Hague's Embassy Festival 2014
Some tasty Arab food at The Hague's Embassy Festival 2014
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I highly recommend The Hague area for leisure and cultural activities, the museums have unique collections, the historical centre is very well preserved and the beach area is thoroughly enjoyable. In short, it's a quaint little city that you will immediately fall in love with. For future expats I would say that The Netherlands is a well organized country with an easy going culture where you can easily feel at home.

What do you enjoy most about living in Netherlands?
The balance between work and family life, all the activities/spaces thought up for children and the open air culture.

How does the cost of living in Netherlands compare to home?
The cost of living is higher, but so are the salaries.

Visiting the Japanese Garden of The Hague
Visiting the Japanese Garden of The Hague
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Netherlands?
Being away from family and friends, that's the big negative. Also my difficulty with learning the language.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Netherlands, what would it be?
Keep an open mind and dive in, make friends, enjoy your new country.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Not being able to spend time with family and close friends from my home country on a regular basis.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
If I return home I think it will be hard at first, because when you live abroad for a while your mindset and values inevitably suffer changes and then going back can be a shock.

Mother and daughter
Mother and daughter
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Consider whether you really want to leave your comfort zone and move abroad.
  2. Take some of your favourite things with you, to help you feel at home in your new country.
  3. If you're going with kids, research about the healthcare and schooling system in advance.
  4. If the language is different in your host country, take the time and make the effort to learn at least the basics.
  5. Participate in events, activities, meetups, with other expats and locals, it really doesn't matter what or with whom, as long as you don't isolate yourself.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is focused on expat life, parenting, cooking and crafting. I write about the things I'm passionate about and feel that the blog is a great tool to communicate and exchange thoughts with other parents and expats.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
By e-mail

About the author

Expat Blog ListingCatarina is a Portuguese expat living in Netherlands. Blog description: In this blog I focus on my experiences as a parent and an expat, with a bit of cooking and crafting in between.
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