Nijmegen, The Netherlands Report of what it's like to live there
Personal Experiences from Nijmegen, The Netherlands
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Au Pair in Paris (4 months), lived in Germany (Bielefeld and Hannover) for 21 years, born in England and lived there for first 5 years.
2. How long have you lived here?
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
Best route via Arnhem.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Houses and flats, usually 80-100 sqm's on average (for a family of 4). Expensive (as in double the price of equivalent housing in Germany), that's why a lot of Dutch are moving over the border to Germany and buying houses there. Trying to find a room for under 250 Euros/month all included as a student is brutal and should be started at least 6 months before!
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Fresh food and household supplies are easily available and cost depends on which store you buy in, there are different chains here, from Aldi (cheap), Lidl to Albert Heijn (which is more expensive) and there are also weekly farmer's markets in the town-centre which sell all kinds of fresh produce, cheese, fish, bread etc.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
2 McDonald's and 2 BurgerKings in town-centre. Countless FEBO snack-centres. Greek, Italian, Indian, Chinese/Indonesion, Turkish, Japanese food. The
1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
3. What English-language religious services are available locally?
4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
BBC1 and BBC2 over cable tv. All American and English TV shows and films are shown in the original language with Dutch undertitles.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
The older generation will probably not speak (much) English or German. Young people will speak English, even if not very well. For full adaptation, speaking the language is obligatory.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Holland does not cater for people with a visual disability. Steps are not marked with contrast strips, stairs sometimes do not have banisters, lighting is not optimal and very few traffic-lights have acoustic warning. People with visual handicaps also do not receive enjoy entry fees or reduced fares on public transport.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Not so cheap and not very reliable.
3. 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?
Leave your car behind and buy a bike! A cheap old one for everyday use and an expensive one which never leaves your side for weekend biking. Never park your bike at the Main Trainstation (Centraal Station), leave it in the free guarded bike-parking at the Keizer-Carel-Plein instead.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Order your phone and or contract over cheap mobile contract websites, that way it will cost you less than quarter of the price the shops ask for. Examples: www.typhone.nl, www.gsmstore.nl, www.gsmtrack.nl, www.gsmstunter.nl. Totally legal and efficient. Or go and buy them in one of the countless little cheap mobile phone shops around town.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
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?
Speaking Dutch is normally necessary when working, expect for working in a scientific context or at a large international company (such as Philips).
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
None. Very safe, unless you're a bicycle.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
GP's tend to be a bit passive. Aggressive treatment of GP's is necessary...;-)
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Mild climate. Not very cold and not very warm (usually). Not a lot of snow, quite a bit of rain.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Don't know. I don't socialize much with other expats. There are 2 Irish pubs in town centre which are frequented a lot by English-speaking expats. There is also a pub (Merleyn) which is frequented a lot by international exchange students.
2. Morale among expats:
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?
Don't go to birthday parties. Especially ones of elderly relatives...
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
This is a pleasant city to live in. A busy student night-life and a lot of nice things to do, especially biking on the dikes.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Moroccans and Turks are not particularly liked here. Or anybody who looks Southern European.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Biking on the polders. Going out on Thursdays (students night out) and in the weekend. Sitting in a café and watching the world go by. Going to the excellent public library (which has quite a big selection of French, German and English books and DVDs). Shopping in town.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Delft Blond Amsterdam chinaware. Available in V&D and the Bijenkorf. Quirky line of chinaware, either in Delft Blue (my favourite) or pink (called
9. Can you save money?
Yes. Especially by doing your food and non-food shopping in Germany (Kleve).
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
7. Do you have any other comments?
Learning Dutch is not very hard and is a piece of cake if you can speak German.