Saturday 11 July 2020

Weather warnings, bikes and waterproofs: your tips for newbies


We asked our social media followers for the single most important tip they would give a newcomer to the Netherlands. These are your answers.

Learn that please (alstublieft) is when you give someone something not when you ask for it

Choose wisely – you can only have one (1) cookie with your cup of coffee.

Buy an agenda and get used to know what are you are going to do two weeks in advance.

Start eating slice of bread for lunch. Eat bread with anything.

To get used to people congratulating you on other people’s birthdays, kissing you three times on the cheek when you meet, and sitting in a circle and eating cake for birthdays – this is a regular Dutch occurrence and they are not staging an intervention

Weather warnings

Download the BuienAlarm app as you touch ground in NL. The accuracy of this app will ensure you are always on time for an appointment no matter how hard it rains. Like a true Dutch your life and appointments will revolve around this app (without getting wet)

You’re likely to experience a variation of every season on any given day. Download the weather app – Buienradar – to see when there’ll be a 10-minute break in the torrential downpour; but don’t rely on it TOO much, as the weather still has a mind of its own!

Download @BuienRadarNL as soon as possible, check the weather like tens of times a day, always talk about weather. Do these while cycling – even better!

Buy vitamin D or stuff for indoor tanning

Take an umbrella with you when it is not sunny. DEFINITELY take an umbrella with you when it IS sunny. The weather here gets mood swings.


I always tell new arrivals to invest in a quality raincoat that is comfortable to wear when riding a bike!

Learn how to cycle before coming to the Netherlands!

Invest in a good bike lock

Look left before crossing anything – bicycles appear out of nowhere!

Albert Heijn won’t take your foreign credit or debit card… you will never know the joy of their automatic check outs, you must instead join the single cash queue of shame.

It is very important to know what zegels are- even if you’re never going to buy a discounted set of wine glasses if you get to 50.

When you set up a bank account, don’t expect that you can do a cash deposit right away. You may need to wait until your card arrives in the mail to do it at an ATM, not all ATMs accept deposits and then you may need to pay a fee to make a cash deposit.

You will pay for a glass of water (and must carry change for the toilet when traveling on the highway)

If you are a cat person, really make an effort to love dogs, too. They are allowed (almost) everywhere and dearly loved by all Dutchies!

Never ask what is in bitterballen

Get used to the Dutch directness

Learn Dutch!!

If you are going to learn Dutch you will force the locals to speak to you. Be strong.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.