The Hague, The Netherlands Report of what it's like to live there - 04/09/14

Personal Experiences from The Hague, The Netherlands

The Hague, The Netherlands 04/09/14

Background:

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

No. Bosnia, Spain, Mexico, Albania.

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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?

DC is a direct 9-10 hour flight from Amsterdam.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

UN employment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most Dutch houses are tall narrow townhomes. The houses have VERY steep stairs. If you have small children, bring baby gates.

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

You can get almost anything you need from the local grocery store although it will be significantly smaller scale than you are used to (think a 2-pack of toilet paper).

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

McDonald's, Burger King, Dominoes.

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

None at all, not even mosquitos.

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Daily Life:

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

Available but expensive.

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

Plenty.

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

Not a problem.

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

Anglican.

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

None--the Dutch speak perfect Engish.

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

No.

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Transportation:

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

The tram is excellent and safe. Taxis are rarer and can be pricey.

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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?

Any kind is fine but smaller is better for parking purposes and European cars have more accessible parts.

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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 fast and affordable internet.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Normal European. It's cold so shorts aren't prevalent.

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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?

None. Health care is quite good although the Dutch do not dispense medicine as freely as in the U.S. It can be difficult to get simple things like cough syrup or decongestants as they prefer herbal remedies.

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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?

Good.

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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 is cold, windy and rainy much of the time. The Hague is right on the North Sea so the wind is quite strong. It is very far north so the summer days are long but the winter days are brutally short and dark.

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Schools & Children:

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

All sorts. British, American, French, German.

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

I am not aware.

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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?

Yes but they are expensive and it can be difficult to get a spot.

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Expat Life:

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

Large, morale is decent.

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

Yes and no. It is a nice city but can be a bit boring for singles. For families it can be nice but the weather is so consistently bad that it puts a damper on family outings.

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

Yes, the Dutch are very tolerant.

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

Over the past 20 years there has been a rise in anti-immmigrant sentiment targeting primarily Turkish immigrants.

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

Biking to and from work.

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

Lot to see and do (weather permitting).

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

None.

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

Being able to ride your bike everywhere. It is very green (because it rains all the time).

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That the weather was as bad as it really is, that the winters are so dark and depressing.

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

No.

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

Flip flops (its cold and rainy!).

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4. But don't forget your:

Raincoats, rainboots, umbrellas.

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