Located in the northwest of Europe, The Netherlands has a very flat landscape which makes it perfect for biking around. Known for the tulip field, cheese, windmills, stroopwafels and canals, navigating the country when you are not native to the space can be a culture shock.
Here are a few things you should know about The Netherlands and the culture you will experience living there.
Family is very important to the Dutch people and they tend to be very close to their immediate family. Support shown financially and emotionally is strongly towards the closest of family members.
The Dutch are raised to be independent from a young age and tend to move out earlier in age than the rest of Europe. Unfortunately, due to the lack of housing and high prices, people in recent years have been living with their parents longer.
It is common in The Netherlands to give a handshake when you meet someone. Short and formal forms of address is common in the country. For friends and close family giving kisses on the cheek is more common as people are more comfortable with each other.
Do not ask someone "how are you" or "are you alright", this is a greeting equivalent to "hello" in some countries such as the UK but, in The Netherlands if you don't really want to know, don't ask this. You will get a real and honest answer and if you aren't ready for that you may be shocked at the answer and may get into a conversation you were not willing to have.
The Dutch are a very tolerant society and most of the population have no religious denomination making up around 57% of the population. Followed by 18% of the population being Catholic and 14% being Protestant, 5% observing the religion Islam and the remaining population following other religious practices.
Religion does not play a big role in everyday society for the people within The Netherlands so walking around cities such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam you will see churches but there is not a large number of people identifying towards specific belief systems.
Etiquette and Mannerisms
There are a few common etiquette and mannerisms in The Netherlands that may not be know to you for instance, being punctual is very important in The Netherlands it is considered very rude to be late to an agreed upon time. Here are a few other forms of etiquette and mannerisms you should know about:
- If you are late to a meeting you need to give a legitimate reason.
- Always book to meet friends in advance as people will have their calendar planned weeks in advance.
- You're expected to bring a cake for your colleagues on your birthday.
- There is a flat hierarchy in the office space, people are not only very informal with the co-workers but also their boss.
- Don't walk in the bike paths!
While the Dutch like to follow the rules that are set they are very laid back people in everyday life.
Hierarchical rules are not particularly followed and no one person is seen as better than the other. In addition a big one, if you go out to eat whether it is your friends or a love interest be prepared to pay for what you ordered. The Dutch are very serious about their money and how they spend it. So if you are going out with people make sure you can afford the things that you buy.
The Dutch are known to be very direct when they are communicating with people and very straightforward. If you are from a less direct society this communication style can come off rude but this is not as intended. If you are "excessively" polite people will not perceive you as trustworthy.
Personal space is important in The Netherlands, arms length is generally acceptable and body language is less relied on as the words a person uses is taken for what they mean rather than the way they are positioning their body.
Biking culture is huge in the country, the country is very flat which allows this to be possible. Regardless of the weather you can bike their without a doubt.
There are many biking lanes in the country evern in the main large cities, with the country haveing more bikes than people and bike theft being more common than car theft in the country. It doesn't matter if you are a doctor, scientist, teacher, prime minister or anything in between no one is looked down on or better than someone for riding a bike. Many people at all levels of society consider this a common mode of moving through the area that they live in.
Punctuality for meetings is very important much like punctuality when you make plans with your friends. A small amount of light conversation is typically made in the beginning but meetings will turn to the subject at hand in order to not waste each others times and complete the intended agenda.
Meetings are very formal and it takes time, credentials first then personal later. Decision making is not only made at the management level, all options are expressed and shared to come to a common conclusion.
Pros of Living in The Netherlands
There are many positives to living in The Netherlands here are a few you can take into account:
- High quality of life.
- English is widely spoken (this being said it is always good to learn the local language).
- Amazing public transport links throughout the country.
- Great work life balance.
- Low crime rates.
- Efficient healthcare system.
- Cycling culture.
Cons of Living in The Netherlands
With the positives there are negatives. Here are a few negatives to be aware of living in The Netherlands:
- Dutch is a difficult language to learn.
- Housing is expensive and there are not many options available.
- Wet winters and mild summers.
- Expensive healthcare.
Are You Thinking Of Living In The Netherlands?
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