The Hague, The Netherlands Report of what it's like to live there - 07/21/11

Personal Experiences from The Hague, The Netherlands

The Hague, The Netherlands 07/21/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No - this is a ninth expat experience

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

From Washington, DC, 7 hours

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government, US Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The housing is wonderful. I work with the USG/Embassy and this is really great housing. One has to get use to smaller storage and kitchen areas, but we are living in Europe! I am very impressed with the level of service we receive and the quality of housing.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Costs are high here. Some families always go the the base to get things...it is two plus hours away. We prefer to shop on the local market.much more fun and saves on gas and time. Things are expensive, but the COLA almost covers the USD difference.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing, everything is available here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There is fast food, but there are such great restaurants that I have not gone to McDonald's or KFC.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Everything. There are organic market and stores.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via the embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cleaning is expensive 10 - 15 euros per hour. Some have live ins from other countries, but the base pay is over 1.5K per month, mandated from the Dutch government.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, all over the place and at the embassy

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No issues. As safe as the USA

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Many

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Most channels are in English.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None...everyone speaks English, Dutch is great to speak, but there are no issues with not speaking Dutch.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A little more difficult given the cobblestone streets and some places with no elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Awesome public transportation. We rarely use our car.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A smaller car is better...narrow streets and tight parking places make this a better option.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Very available. I have a package of internet, cable TV and phone for approx USD 90 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The embassy provides one for all usdh employees

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes. Everyone that I know that wants a job, has a job.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Biz casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Very good medical care.the Dutch can be slow on prescribing drugs, but i have not ha an issue.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It can rain quite a bit here.we had summer in April and June, it has been cold in June and July...i am using my fall sweaters.last year was great, though.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

ASH, the American School of The Hague is really great. The kids really like it, and are getting a strong academic education.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I understand that the British school may be better than ASH.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

I have used the Dutch pre-school and love it!My kids were easily accepted and quickly picked up Dutch.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes - great summer and sports opportunities

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large - this is the expat capitol of the world

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2. Morale among expats:

Very good

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Very fun, in house or out and about

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for everyone!

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Great for everyone!

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I have not experienced anything.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Amazing cities with great architecture, good food, sailing, great transportation hub, public transportation that works, great people.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Where do i start? Great bike riding, spring tulip viewing, amazing shopping, the beach, historic tours, wildlife, museums, etc

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Food, art, travel.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It is an amazing city and an amazing country.one can stumble across one enchanting city after the other.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes and no. We have saved money and had a great time. Others complain about prices, but we are having a great time.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

In a heart beat!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bad attitude...this is such a fun and great posting

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a great post. I am impressed with the embassy and and country.

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