American Expat Living in Netherlands - Interview with Elizabeth

Published: 12 Oct at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Netherlands
Elizabeth is an attorney turned stay at home mom who moved with her family to the Netherlands from the USA. She is usually found traveling with her husband with two littles in tow. When they are at home the family is crafting, reading and enjoying any sunshine they can find. Elizabeth loves to share her experiences and misadventures of living abroad along with some tips and tricks for organized life. Elizabeth's expat blog is called Dutch Dutch Goose (see listing here)

The New Church in Delft Centrum
The New Church in Delft Centrum

Here's the interview with Elizabeth...

Where are you originally from?
I guess you can say I'm from all over. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but have since called Indiana, Washington DC, California, Texas and Colorado home.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am currently living in Delft, Netherlands.

How long have you lived in Netherlands and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been in Delft for 3 months. The plan is to be here three years. (We would love to stay longer!)

Scheveningen Beach on the North Sea
Scheveningen Beach on the North Sea
Why did you move to Netherlands and what do you do?
We moved to the Netherlands for my husband's job. I stay at home with the kids, which really translates into more time to explore the country. I also spend time crafting, reading and, of course, blogging.

Did you bring family with you?
I came with my husband and two boys who are three and one.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I try to really focus on all the things I love about being in the Netherlands. I know that this move is not forever so it is easy to try to focus on enjoying everything the Netherlands has to offer.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I found my way into an expat group on Facebook before I arrived. I made one great connection on Facebook with another American and she has introduced me to most of my other friends, who all happen to be English-speaking Americans. Not speaking Dutch is a huge barrier to growing friendship and meeting people. That being said as my kids are in more and more activities I'm meeting more Dutch moms and growing friendships. It takes a bit longer than the Expat friendships but I know I will get there.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
There is so much to do in the Netherlands! Specifically in Delft, the Thursday and Saturday markets are wonderful. We almost always run into our friends there. If you have kids the moms all hang out at Kleider, the library and Knus in Delftse Hout. On several occasions we have been approached at these places by other English speaking moms looking to meet other moms.

What do you enjoy most about living in Netherlands?
I love how laid back life can be in the Netherlands. We bike most places instead of driving. Everyone is out and about anytime the weather is good (i.e. not raining) regardless of temperature. Many of the cafes have a place for the children to play so you can enjoy coffee or a meal while they play close by with their friends. Since most everyone is on bike, groceries are picked up a day or two at a time - not shopping for a whole week or month. I love how I always have truly fresh produce in the house.

How does the cost of living in Netherlands compare to home?
The cost of living here is about 15% higher in the Netherlands than in the States. The Netherlands is a fee-for-service economy. You pay for what you use. A bathroom is going to run you 0.50 Euro. Some things like fresh produce are cheaper but a bicycle can cost you as much as a car.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Netherlands?
I do not like to harp on the negatives, but what is up with the appliances here? Our oven is also our microwave and seems to do neither very well. (Combine that with needing to convert my favorite recipes to Celsius and you have a cooking disaster brewing.) The washers and dryers are painfully small. What would be two loads for me in the States will take me several days here. I never feel "done" with laundry. Oh! Condiments cost money here. I wish I would have brought some free ketchup from the U.S.!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Netherlands, what would it be?
Do as the Dutch do and get a bicycle. Even if you drive you can only really experience Dutch life on a bike.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The hardest part is learning everything all over again. I have to find someone to ask for almost everything. The stores here are fairly specialized so I've had to ask where I can go buy things so I do not have to wander around 20 different stores. I've been here several months and today finally asked where I can get cheese that is not Gouda. Although most people speak English, everything is written in Dutch. I'm able to read and understand more and more every day but I have to ask for help a lot!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I think I'm going to have a hard time moving back to the U.S. I love all the little stores and markets. I love bicycling everywhere. I love how close things are. I think I am going to be completely overwhelmed by all the options in the grocery stores. (There are two types of yogurt here as compared with the 50 options in the U.S.) So many of the little things I love doing here are just impossible to do back home.

Our Littles in the Rain
Our Littles in the Rain
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Make a few contacts before you move. Facebook can be such a great resource. I found several moms groups before I moved and started asking members questions about the area and my move. I connected individually with a few bloggers and people from these Facebook groups before I moved. When I arrived I already had a few people in country who I knew and that made a huge difference in making friends and getting settled.
  2. Get a bank account set up as soon as you can. You cannot do anything in the Netherlands without a local bank card. Credit cards are not ubiquitous here and will not be much use when you are getting everything set up. You cannot set up a bank account before you arrive. Research what the banks will need - we were able to set up an account with only a passport - but other banks require more details. You are going to want to be able to transfer a large sum into this account in one move because each time you transfer money you are going to pay a fee, so get your accounts ready before you move.
  3. Get bikes. Once you get a bike you can go anywhere in the Netherlands. If you can't find the perfect bike you can get a beater bike till you find what you need. Make sure you get good locks too.
  4. Get out of your house. You are not going to make friends or experience anything in your house. I know it's hard but you will be glad you ventured out.
  5. Be Positive. You make this experience what it is. Do you want to spend your time enjoying your new home or complaining about how much you missed your old one? I've run into a lot of expats who love to go on and on about how different life is here and it makes me want to turn the other way. You can miss home. You can find things here hard but do not let it consume you or you will miss all the amazing stuff Holland has to offer.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Dutch, Dutch, Goose is a blog about our expat adventure with our kids. You will find how-to's for expat things like getting digitally connected when you arrive or learning to bike around town. You will find information on day trips, weekend trips and week-long trips we have taken since calling the Netherlands home. I can promise you that we are always up to something so stop by and see what it is.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
We would love to hear from you whether you are visiting or looking to move to the area! You can stop by the blog and leave a comment or connect with us on social media. Other Expats have found us through the Dutch, Dutch, Goose Facebook page - plus we are linked up to other Netherlands groups and blogs there.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingElizabeth is an American expat living in Netherlands. Blog description: A Travel & Expat Lifestyle Blog, Follow my family of four as we adjust to life in the Netherlands. We are typically traveling around or doing something crafty. Stop by and see what we are up to.
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