Winter is about to begin. After my first 6 months in Holland, with a pretty warm Summer – even for a Brazilian – and all the leaves falling in Autumn, the days are shorter and I can say I already love my heating system.
This is the first time I live out of Brazil. Although I moved from the countryside to the metropolitan area, living in the other side of the Atlantic is quite different. I already expected cold and wet weather, but definitely that’s only one of several differences. Living abroad makes you notice differences everywhere, because everything becomes a comparison with your old home.
Fortunately, here at FindHotel I’m not the only one going through this situation. Can you imagine working with people from 17 different nationalities, when the whole company has about 30 employees? And now, since we’re growing fast and hiring a lot, I thought it would be useful to write about my first impressions as a newcomer for my fellow future colleagues or for those thinking about moving to Amsterdam so they know what to expect. I hope you enjoy:
1 – Amsterdam is a super international city
Believe me, you will not be the only expat living in Amsterdam. During my first days here, I used to take the metro to go to the office and I remember finding it quite unusual how few people were speaking Dutch. Don’t get surprised if you go to a restaurant or to the supermarket and people attend to you in English or if the attendants speak only English; the Netherlands is now the first non-English-native country in the world in English proficiency. The bad part of it is that when I try to practice my Dutch skills and they notice my accent, they switch to English instantaneously and so no Dutch practicing.
You’re going to find every kind of restaurant here: Brazilian, Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican, Turkish, Indonesian and from lots of other places. Might be tricky to find some classic Dutch restaurants, though. And don’t think that all this “internationalism” is just due to the tourists; thousands of people from all over the world have decided to make Amsterdam their new home.
Besides that, Amsterdam Airport is a big hub with flights for everywhere – being just 20-25 minutes away from the city center -, and if you have a Dutch work permit you can travel all around Europe without needing any kind of Visa. Weekend flights become a pleasant routine.
2 – You won’t understand how you could live without a bike for so long
I live 2 blocks from the train station (in a small nearby city), which I take everyday to go to the office. Few weeks ago I took a ride with a friend to Amsterdam, and got back by train. Believe me, I was super upset because I had to walk home instead of cycling. You are going to see all kind of bikes here, with every kind of accessory. People carrying one child, or two children, or even three children and a pet are pretty common. And these same people will overtake you with a smile on their faces as if they were having no effort at all while you’re freezing with the wind.
Everything is prepared for bikes, you can take them on the train, on the metro and even request an Uber with bike support. There are parking places for them everywhere – although it might be tricky to find a free spot.
3 – Big city, but feels like a village
Although the city center might be a bit chaotic sometimes due to the large amount of tourists, the rest of the city feels like a peaceful small village. Filled with incredibly beautiful canals, you will not find those traffic jams crossing the city. Actually, you can take your bike from its north end to the south end in less than half hour.
It’s geography and climate, with trees everywhere and beautiful parks brings a special charm, which, together with all the old architecture, makes you feel like you’re in one of those old movies. And the best part? All of that is combined with all the opportunities of an international city, and the cultural and cosmopolitan environment of a European main city.
4 – Quite different houses, and not easy to find one for you
As I mentioned before, when you live abroad, you start to notice every small difference. Here, instead of regular size windows, expect to see really big windows, made only of glass, where you can see everything from the outside. You won’t find utility/laundry rooms: your washing machine will be in a storage, or in the bathroom, or in the kitchen, or who knows where (it will just not be in a utility room). The toilet rooms are so small that it might make a bug feel claustrophobic inside, but you get used to it. And before you get to feel all these differences, you have another challenge: finding a place.
It is not easy to rent/buy a house in Amsterdam. You need to be fast, because all good opportunities are taken really soon after they pop up. I would suggest to avoid the touristic areas in the very center around Dam Square and Red Light District. Also, as far from the center you are, the cheaper it will be. There are trains to Amsterdam from everywhere, so commuting from a nearby city might be an option (although, I would definitely live in Amsterdam). Google it, contact rental agencies, and keep a close eye for scammers, since they are everywhere. By doing that and being optimistic, you might find something nice and fast.
5 – Hub of great events
From music concerts to industry conferences, Amsterdam is a hub of great events, and there is always something interesting to attend. In October we had the ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) with the best DJs in the world altogether, shaking the whole city. On the professional area, conferences from Cell Therapy to Cyber Security and Growth Hacking made the whole year in Amsterdam an opportunity to learn, meet new people and develop new business opportunities with people from all around the world.
6 – Simple lunch but great sweets
I was used to have those super big buffets with all the food on Earth available for lunch, while living in Brazil. Dutch people are used to stopping for 15 minutes, having a sandwich and that’s all. Luckily for me, at FindHotel we have lunch in the office, with real food and a larger break for ping-pong or pool. But although they are not used to big lunches, they are pros in having awesome ‘not that healthy’ sweet food. Try to have a coffee with a stroopwafel along with it, or some sweet pancakes, or some coconuts pastry, or some… Ooh, it’s so good!
7 – Crazy weather
No, seriously, really crazy weather.
It will rain, a lot! But it looks like Dutch people have some kind of superpower making umbrellas underused here. Apparently, after living here for a while, you achieve this superpower as well and just put on a rain coat/suit, get your bike and not care about it anymore. It’s understandable since I think I take at least 3 rain showers per week on my way from/to the office.
Besides that, it can be more windy than rainy. Yes, another reason for you not to use umbrellas. After all, how would you use them and still ride your bike? (Pro tip: biking + umbrellas + Dutch weather = broken umbrellas and you on the ground)
8 – Looking for highly skilled professionals
Amsterdam and other cities across the Netherlands are always looking for great people and professionals. Based on that, there are several laws that encourage highly skilled professionals to move to Holland. The most important one is the ‘30% ruling’, which is a tax benefit that allows to you to pay less taxes for 8 years, besides having lots of other benefits such as automatic driver license authorization and getting work permit approvals for your partner.
FindHotel is also looking for highly skilled professionals: check out our open vacancies.