Friends in low places

Is it easy to make new friends in the Netherlands? Here are suggestions from people who’ve already done it.

I find photography a great way to get myself out of the house – even on cold, grey days. It is also one of the few ‘ice breaker’ activities where both Dutch and internationals will approach you and ask you about your camera….


I go to yoga classes every week. This is something I’ve done for a long time and tried instantly to find a place in this country. Continuing with your hobby also helps you to find like-minded people

They have tons of libraries here of which I am a frequent visitor and member. The best one is the Centraal Bibliotheek just off of Amsterdam’s Central Station – great building, collection, activities, and spectacular views!

I visit other cities and make full use of my Museumkaart (museum card). I also like to visit off-the-beaten-path places like the Frisian lakes and the more remote spots in the dunes.


Volunteering is a great way to meet people as well as discover more about the Netherlands…

What is hard about being friends with most expats (not married to a Dutch person) is their time here is usually short so you are always looking for new friends.

It’s as tough as anywhere in the world to meet new people – it’s very hard the first couple of years. I have Dutch friends but I would say most of my friends are from other countries. Learning about and understanding the Dutch culture and learning the language REALLY helps you feel less alienated.


Look out for people who INVITE you to events and social gatherings and stay away from people who DRAG you to events and social gatherings.

The people are very friendly here and I have found that just going up to someone at a bar and striking conversation has led to friendships. Don’t be afraid as an expat or foreigner that you can’t mingle with the Dutch!

To be honest though, having kids was most instrumental in meeting new people on a more personal level and I notice that only since their arrival do I actually feel integrated into Dutch society.

Taken from Ready, Steady, Go Dutch – a new book based on the experiences of people who have done it already. Order your copy from

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