The Hague, The Netherlands Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from The Hague, The Netherlands

The Hague, The Netherlands 01/28/19

Background:

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

No. We have lived in Central America, Asia, and Europe.

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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?

USA. It usually takes us ten to eleven hours total, eight hours to just to DC. Schiphol airport is fast, efficient, and clean.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost three years.

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

Diplomatic Mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is very nice. Most diplomats are issued townhouses near the expat town of Wassenaar since that is where the American School is located. We have ample room, a small yet functional backyard, and a wood-burning fireplace. Most Dutch houses are multi-storied and have treacherous stairs so those with mobility issues take note.

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

I find the groceries in line with what we pay in the USA, but if you look around and go to some of the weekend fresh markets, you can get much better prices especially fruits and vegetables; usually one-third the cost of the grocery store.

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

Strong garbage bags, which we order online. The Dutch ones are very thin. I can't think of anything else I can't get here.

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

Everything. There are multiple food delivery options and any type of restaurant you can might want.

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5. 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?

DPO.

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

You can get part-time domestic help for $15-$18/HR. It's not cheap but there are agencies that provide cleaners and individuals that will come to your house weekly.

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

American style gyms from US$35 per month up to $100 per month depending what you need. Loads of options.

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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?

Yes.

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

All.

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

None is really necessary, everyone I've encountered knows English fluently or at least well enough to communicate effectively.

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

Some in the old part of the City and in Amsterdam because of the old cobblestones but it's doable.

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Transportation:

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

All are affordable safe, reliable and clean. Taxis can be a bit pricey but you can make due on the trains and buses.

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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 really, though it may be difficult parking a large SUV. We brought a medium-sized USA SUV and have had no problems.

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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?

It s available and fast. We have had no issues. You can have it installed within a few days of arrival.

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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?

We use Vodaphone and Project Fi and both work fine. There are many other options as well. It's less expensive than the USA. I pay US$30/month for unlimited talk and text and 6GB of data (WiFi is everywhere).

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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?

Yes. We don't have pets so I'm not sure about the rules.

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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?

There is a bilateral work agreement so EFMs can work on the local market . We currently have about 18 EFM positions at post (including Amsterdam) and usually have vacancies available.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Loads.

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

Business. The Dutch don't dress down.

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Health & Safety:

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

No really. Just be on your guard at busy train stations, etc for the usual city stuff-pickpockets, etc.

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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.

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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 do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Some pollen issues year round but nothing out of the ordinary.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

None that I'm aware of.

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

It does rain a fair amount but it hasn't stopped us from enjoying ourselves. It doesn't usually rain all day when it does rain. The winters are dark, cold and wet like most of Europe.

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Schools & Children:

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

Lots of options. We had a good experience with the American School and our child liked it and made it into a good college.

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

Not sure but I know of several families with special needs children who have had good experiences.

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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, similar to USA preschools.

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

Anything you can think of. Not expensive.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge expat community that organizes functions and get-togethers. There are USA companies that have headquarters in the area and employ Americans that share information and resources. It's a close-knit, and welcoming group. A nice way to ease your way into a new environment not affiliated with the Embassy.

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

Lots of outdoor activities. Biking of course, paragliding, kite surfing, running, swimming, sailing, you name it. The Dutch love their sports and take advantage of the nice summer weather to go all out. Amsterdam is a short train ride away with a myriad of museums and cultural experiences. We have never been bored. Our older kids have complete freedom to explore here since it is such a safe environment and public transportation is easy to navigate. We have thoroughly enjoyed it.

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

All.

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

YEs! They are a very tolerant and welcoming society.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

We have. Some consider the Dutch to be insulated and stand-offish but we haven't found that to be the case.

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

None that I've seen.

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

Travel, outdoor activity, museums, sports, restaurants, the beach. Our favorite posting so far.

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

Too many to list. It's all marvelous. The college town of Leiden has been my favorite hidden gem, it's a smaller and more laid back version of Amsterdam.

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

Not really.

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

Easy access to everything, museums, restaurants, theater...

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I had bought my ebike earlier. I held out for a year before buying one and I love it. Makes those 12 mile weekend bike treks a lot easier.

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

In a heartbeat.

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

It has everything.

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4. But don't forget your:

Tylenol and NyQuil. They prescribe paracetamol for everything.

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

The Miniaturist.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I'd recommend this post to anyone, we have thoroughly enjoyed it and will miss it when we leave.

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The Hague, The Netherlands 02/08/15

Background:

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

This is our 3rd overseas tour.

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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?

NYC. Easy nonstop flights from most major East coast cities, between 7.5 and 9 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We arrived in August 2014.

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

U.S. 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?

Most houses are attached homes or duplexes, all have 2 or more floors, steep stairs, small yards. Families tend to live north of The Hague in Wassenaar near the schools. Easy commute.

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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 products similar to U.S. with few exceptions. If you like to bake bring powdered sugar because Dutch stuff is not the same. Prices are about 20% higher.

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

Most stuff is available here.

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

No U.S. chain restaurants except McDonald's, Burger King, Dominios, Subway, KFC. Lots of local restaurants and the quality is not the best.

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

Mosquitoes, but not bad.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch but you can also use local postnl which is not too expensive for local stuff.

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

Very high cost due to strict EU labor laws.

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

Everywhere and same as U.S. prices.

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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?

You have to have a Dutch bank account to get anything done and it takes a bit of time. Always have cash because before you get your Dutch ATM card with the chip and PIN it's the only way you can pay. Even U.S. credit cards with chip and PIN are not accepted in most stores.

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

All.

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

Here's something everyone knows but will not tell you: A LOT. Yes, everyone speaks English but it helps to read Dutch since directions are all written in it and if you want a job outside of the Embassy you must be fluent. Jobs at the Embassy are rare and jobs on the local market that don't require fluent Dutch are rarer still. Maybe you want to start your own business? Great! It's easy and cheap to get a business license but the tax office (belastingdienst) will NOT speak to you in any language other than Dutch.

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

Maybe. There are an awful lot of stairs and not so many lifts so I guess it would depend on the disability.

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Transportation:

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

All safe, not as affordable as you think. 8 Euros round trip to the Embassy and back on the bus. Still cheaper and less of a hassle than parking.

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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?

Roads are great so no issues there. Preferably something small and European because they're easier and cheaper to fix. Small SUV will work but it's a hassle to park.

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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?

Super available but it takes about 2 weeks to set up. Ours is 80 Euros/month for cable and super fast internet.

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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?

Cheap to get here or you can bring an unlocked phone and get a sim card.

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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?

Good (but expensive) care and even a pet ambulance. No quarantine if shots are up to date.

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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?

If you speak Dutch yes, TONS. If not, nada.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Business at the Embassy. Depends on the nature of your business otherwise.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really.

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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?

Good if you are assertive. Don't let them tell you to take paracetamol and go home. If you're sick make them help you. They WILl, begrudgingly. Bronovo hospital knows the drill with expats and it's not too much of a challenge with them. Also, doctors make housecalls!

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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?

Great.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Mold can be an issue. I have terrible pollen allergies and no problems yet but it sometimes take a couple years for me to really start suffering. If you're unsure, bring your own Benadryl because they do not sell it here.

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

Horrible. Rain, cold, wind, ice pellets in winter, dark 17 hours per day in winter. Summer is fairly comfortable but never really gets above 75F and it's daylight 17 hours per day.

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Schools & Children:

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

Our son goes to BSN and we love it. Most kids go to the American School but the waiting list can be more than a year long, which is something the Embassy doesn't usually disclose. The British school is a great option and there is also the International school of The Hague as well.

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

I've been told BSN is the best at handling special needs.

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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?

Some but they are costly.

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

Tons. Soccer, baseball, rugby, swimming, horseback riding, just to name a few.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge expat community. Not sure about other Embassy personnel, I get the impression morale is low at post but all my friends and neighbors are from the UK and they like it here just fine.

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

Travel, museums, amusement parks, pottery, etc.

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

Excellent for everyone.

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

Yes, Dutch people are pretty tolerant.

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

Yes. As more and more immigrants settle here, the native community is becoming increasingly more uncomfortable with it, especially with immigrants from Morocco.

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

Housing is great, pet friendly, school is fabulous.

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

Delft pottery, stroopwafels.

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

Culture, travel within Europe.

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9. Can you save money?

Not really.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That you need to speak Dutch to get a job (duh?) How truly miserable the weather is.

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

Yes! Despite the weather, it really is a cool place to live.

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

Shorts. U.S. bike, buy a local bike.

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4. But don't forget your:

Winter coat, rain boots, umbrella, ear muffs.

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

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The Hague, The Netherlands 06/28/14

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

U.S. - 8 hour direct flights to the east coast are available through AMS.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2011 - present.

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

Government - U.S. 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?

Dutch housing is typically attached (townhouse style) or apartment flats. Detached, single-family housing is rare in The Hague.

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

Most U.S. comparable foods are available here. Marks & Spencer recently arrived, creating an outlet for British foods as well. Costs are higher than U.S. prices by about 35%.

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

Gas / Charcoal Grill - They're priced by the carat weight here. Leave your U.S. bike at home.

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

Major U.S. chains are here.

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

None. Don't expect window screens at home.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the Diplomatic Post Office at 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?

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

They are everywhere.

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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?

The Dutch primarily use a PIN (debit card) system. Your U.S. cards will work at major tourist areas but in general, if you have to swipe it, they won't accept it. You'll need a credit card that includes a gold foil chip and requires a PIN number. We maintain a local bank account for general use.

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

A variety. The American Protestant Church has a significant expat population.

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

Polite exchange is appreciated but the Dutch speak English better than many Americans and often with less of an accent.

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

Maybe…?

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Transportation:

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

Trains = Yes and they run on time. They're expensive - about 5 Euro / day for me.
Buses / Trams = Yes and they're very safe.
Taxis = Only for expense account travel or to the airport. Think Metro car not Yellow cab.

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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?

Bring a small car - please. Full-sized SUV's are present but they are ridiculous here. Fuel is heavily taxed and road taxes vary based on fuel type. Currently gas is about 1.75 Euro / liter. Diesel is cheaper and very common - but road taxes are much high for non-exempted personnel.

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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?

Yes, through a variety of vendors. About 50 Euros / month for broadband.

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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?

Buy one here - or bring one unlocked. Service is everywhere and low-cost.

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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?

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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?

Not so many.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many.

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

Dutch men seldom wear a tie but often wear a jacket.

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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?

"Take (2) paracetamol and visit your huisarts in 5 days." Overall, the Dutch are very low intervention when compared to the U.S. Western quality care is available.

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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?

Very 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?

Northern marine. We previously lived in Seattle for about 5 years. Weather here is sunnier, but similar overall. The weather changes quickly. Don't expect much snow in the north of the country. For winter break, many Dutch will travel south to Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland to ski.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American International School is well-respected and in our experience is comparable to a good quality private school in the U.S. Full-tuition students from oil company families, IKEA, and other multi-nationals and governments keep the school well-funded.

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

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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?

No experience. Some families elect to use Dutch pre-schools.

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

Everywhere - lots of options to compare. Swimming is a big deal here - the diploma program can be something akin to organized crime so shop around. Horseback riding is common and relatively inexpensive.

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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 and positive. Shell, IKEA, and multiple international law organizations create a large and lively expat community.

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

I can only speak for families; yes, this is a great environment for a family. Low-crime and high-quality bicycle and public transportation allows kids, tweens, and teens a lot of freedom to travel safely on their own.

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

Yes.

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

The Dutch collectively are quite liberal. In my experience, individuals are less progressive on issues of race than typical Americans. The Dutch people continue to struggle how to integrate their new immigrant population into main-stream public life. Thus, attitudes toward north Africans, Turks, Poles, Romanians, etc vary widely.

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

The Japanese Garden in Clingendael, 'second' cities such as Leiden, Utrecht, Haarlem, and even Delft offer typical Dutch life in a much more comfortable density when compared to Amsterdam. The Hague can be sleepy and less 'real' than these other towns. Rotterdam is broad-shouldered and proud. The flower auction (Flora Holland) is interesting.

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

Fresh flowers, travel to any of the major European capitals, just about anything.

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

High quality of life: The Dutch people have worked for nearly 500 years to create a comfortable, practical, and beautiful place to live. They have literally created much of the land that comprises the most densely populated metro region in Europe.

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8. Can you save money?

Not really.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely!

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

Your U.S. bicycle. Buy one here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Walking shoes.

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

Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerence. It addresses some of the challenges facing an increasingly multi-cultural Netherlands.

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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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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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The Hague, The Netherlands 11/14/10

Background:

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

Frankfurt, Ankara, Tunis, Doha

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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?

Washington DC, 8 hrs one way

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months

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

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?

Familes tend to live 5-7 miles to the north of the city in Wassenaar where you find large duplexes in south Wassenaar and smaller townhomes in central Wassenaar. Wassenaar is closest to the American School. Couple and singles live in the city of at the beach in Schevinegen. Your looking at apartments and small narrow townhouses or rowhouses. Commute times are:Wassenaar to the US Embassy 15 min by bus or 10 min by car;Schevinegen is 10-12 min by tram.

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

There are two main grocery chains - Albert Heijn and C1000.C1000 has cheaper prices but the number of their stores are a little more limited than Albert Heijn. We buy all our meats and dairy locally and use the US Military Base at Schinnen which is 2 hrs away for everything else. We make a once a month run to the base. For our family of five we spend USD 1k per month on groceries.

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

rain gear is a must

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

McD's, KFC, Burger King, Domino's and Subway are about it as far as American Fast food. A medium sized McDonalds Big Mac meal costs USD 9.There are really good Indonesian, Greek and Lebanese take out places which are a little cheaper. Best deals are Italian, Greek and Indonesian as far as cost and value. I took my family of five to a local pub one Saturday for lunch and spent USD 150 one two cheesburger platters, two chicken nugget platters and two grilled chicken salads with drinks.

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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?

All available in the local grocery stores.

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

very few - a few flies or mosquitos in the summer

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Daily Life:

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

At the embassy via APO or pouch mail; Fedex and UPS also offer service.

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

This depends - the going rate is euro 12-15 per hour which currently is USD 20 per hour. That said, we are currently paying someone euro 9 per hour for 40 hrs per week and she requested that salary and she is doing a remarkable job.you just have to shop around. Hiring non-EU citizens is difficult due to sponsorship. We hired an EU citizen and it was quite easy. What we are paying her is still expensive euro 9 per hour for 40 hrs a week equates to USD 2,200 per month.

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

yes

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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?

This is a joke - The number of places that accept US Credit/Debit cards is slim. Major hotels and maybe major restaurants. Even in the major train stations they do not accept US credit/debit cards. Typically you have to hit an ATM which will take such cards, withdraw the cash and pay for your expenses. Major ATM's include ABN and ING. - They charge up to USD 5 per transaction.

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

Yes, there is an English-speaking Catholic Church - www.parish.nl

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

Wall Street Journal, Herald Tribune, USA Today and New York Times can be found if you look hard enough for them

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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?

You can get by without it..plenty of people speak English. Dutch is very hard to learn, and unless you are living here for longer than 3 yrs you will never use it again.

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

uneven sidewalks made of cobblestones.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, they are safe - I commute daily using the bus system. Currently they accept cash payment with bills no larger then a euro 20 mote, or they take strippenkarts which are purchased at kiosks in the train stations or they take the OV-Chipkart which is like a pay as you go card with a chip in it.

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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?

Nothing bigger than a small SUV or minivan like a Honda Odessy. Streets are very narrow and parking garages are not made for larger vehicles. Service locations are available locally - if US Spec vehicle I would order my parts off the internet or get them from the US Military base.

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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?

Yes - typically it is bundled with cable tv and land line telephone. The high-speed bundle with the premium cable channels is euro 90 per month or USD 125 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?

They are a dime a dozen and there are many plans available.

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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)?

Yes - vets are everywhere and very good.

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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?

Mostly with Shell and ESA.

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

Business, business casual or smart casual at work. In public, jeans and blouses/shirts in winter and summer you see shorts and t-shirts.

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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?

I would say the healthcare is not as great as everyone would think it to be. The Dutch have a social healthcare system where the use of referals is huge. They tend to not medicate what Americans do, and that is frustrating, especially for families with children. The Dutch tend to let ailments run their course or let them get worse until they are more or less forced to medicate. They do not believe in preventative medicine or testing. There are neighborhood doctors called Huisharts or House Doctors and they are a notch below a GP.You have to be registered to use them.

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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 - no pollution

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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?

Wet Wet Wet and Windy Windy Windy - rains probably 5 days out of 7 and is cool. Bring rain coat/pants. Umbrellas are usually broke up pretty quick in the wind. Spring is in late March through mid May with temps in the 50's; June-August is supposed to be summer but temps rarely climb above 75;September - December is the fall time and it rains and wind blows with temps in the 40's/50's; December through March is cold and wet with dustings of snow almost every other night - no major accumulation - just enough to throw the morning commute into a tizzy.

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Schools & Children:

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

American School of The Hague (ASH) is considered one of the best in Europe and it better be considering it is USD 28k per student per school year. They offer pre-k through 12th grade and the campus is located in north Wassenaar -www.ash.nl. My kids attend ASH and love it - we find that they challenge the children completely. The British school has several campuses throughout The Hague.

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

I have heard that the British School is better equipped for special needs children.

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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?

Both are available and expensive - roughly USD 20k per year for full time.

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

yes at ABF in Wassenaar which is a sports club.

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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 - there are expats with Shell Oil and European Space Agency as well as USMIL retirees.

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2. Morale among expats:

Among expats it's 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?

Cinema, stage, concerts (rock, country, classical), plays, festivals, movies.

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

I would say yes with a little hesitation - Singles and couples most defintely. Families yes but if your have 3-4 children or more the cost of living will kill you. For example to travel from The Hague to Frankfurt or Paris which is a 4 hr train ride it is roughly USD 400 per person RT so if you have a family of 5 that equates to USD 2k just to travel to destinations 4 hrs away. Hotels are another USD 200 per night so a family of 5 or more can easily spend USD 3-4k on a 4-5 day excursion. Travel via car is almsot as expensive with gas costing USD 7-8 per gallon.

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

I would say yes.

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

no

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

My kids love the American School of The Hague and have made many friends; Visting Leiden, Delft, Amsterdam.

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

The beach at Scehvinegen or Wassenaar in the summer.

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

Tulip bulbs, Delft pottery, wooden shoes, cheese, antiques, art work, Dutch bikes.

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

Culture, location

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11. Can you save money?

No - it's too expensive to save money unless you sit at home and go nowhere.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Maybe later in life when the kids are out of the house and we can enjoy living in Europe without going broke.

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

large SUV.

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3. But don't forget your:

rain gear.

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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?


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The Hague, The Netherlands 07/19/10

Background:

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

Sixth overseas tour.

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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?

Seven hours direct flight from USA.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

US Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Singles and couples without kids live in the city center, families with kids live in Wassenaar - 30 minutes away. Housing is great. Everyone seems happy who have arrived during the last year or so. The housing board has really made some good decisions on housing.

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

It is slightly expensive, but the COLA covers it.

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

I can find everything here.

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

All fast food chains are here.

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

Very few - some spiders, flies in the summer.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO at 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?

Approx 10 - 15 euros per hour.

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

In the embassy there is a gym, and there are private clubs.

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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?

Credit cards are accepted.

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

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

TV is 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, but Dutch is appreciated.

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

Public transportation would be difficult, as would housing. Very few homes are on one floor.

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Transportation:

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

Very safe.

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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?

All cars are OK, but smaller cars are easier to park.

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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?

Available - approx 50 euros 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?

View All Answers


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.

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

Nice casual to business.

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Health & Safety:

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

Very few.

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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?

Good health care, but very holistic. It is hard to get medicine.

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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?

Clean air.

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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 does rain quite often, but life goes on.

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Schools & Children:

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

American School in the Hague ASH. I have no experience with the school.

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

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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?

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

Many.

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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.

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2. Morale among expats:

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?

One must be proactive, but one can make friends here.

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

Yes - for everyone! There is always something to do.

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

Very accepting.

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

No.

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

Traveling in the country and in Europe.

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

Charming cities, concerts, the beach, museums, everything!

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

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

This is an amazing city and country. The people are friendly, the opportunities to explore and learn a new culture are fabulous.

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11. Can you save money?

A little, but it is fun to spend in Europe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

YES!

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

???

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3. But don't forget your:

Over-the-counter drugs.

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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?

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