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Life In The Netherlands

The Netherlands is an increasingly popular location for expats, the majority of whom adjust quite readily to the easy-going Dutch way of life.

The Netherlands is known as the Gateway to Europe as a result of its waterway network, which links Belgium, France and Germany. The Netherlands is extremely flat with almost a third of the country being built on reclaimed land from the sea. This has led to the immense sprawl of dykes throughout the country, for which it is now famous. Holland is culturally rich and is where many of the world's most celebrated artists originate from, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh and Mondrian.

Public Transportation

The Netherlands has a very efficient system of public transportation. In Rotterdam, you will find national trains, light-rail, a metro system and various bus routes. The national rail service is called NS and you can plan your journey via their website. They also have a mobile app. The light-rail, metro and bus services are all operated by private companies. You can plan your journey on their websites as well or use the more popular 9292 site. This site combines all forms of public transport in the Netherlands.

To travel on NS, you must have pre-purchased a valid ticket/OV Chipcard before your journey and conductors may check your tickets. It is still possible on some bus and rail lines to purchase tickets on the spot, however it is much more common to use an OV chipkaart. These cards are accepted on all forms of public transportation. You must have a minimum balance on your card to use it. Cards can be linked to your bank accountant for automatic recharging. They can also be used to rent bikes at the NS stations, known as OV fiets. There are various discount and subscription opportunities with NS as well as other public transportation providers.

Cycling

You may have already noticed that the most popular form of transportation in the Netherlands is the bicycle. Actually, as most people in Holland have at least one bike each, there are more bikes in this country than people! Bike paths are everywhere throughout the country, making cycling very safe. Cyclists generally have the right-of-way but that is not universal. Helmets are rarely worn here. Lights are mandatory, both in the front and in the rear, when cycling at night. You should familiarize yourself with the cycling rules or risk one of fifty possible cycling-related fines.

Shopping

The Netherlands has a number of large supermarket chains including Jumbo, Albert Heijn, and Hoogvliet. There you will be able to buy most basic necessities. Most of these supermarkets also offer online ordering/delivery services. Most neighborhoods also have one or more bakeries (bakkerij) where you can get fresh bread and pastries, a butcher (slagerij) where you can buy meat and prepared salads, a fish store (vishandel), a fruit and vegetable store (groentenwinkel) and a cheese shop (kaaswinkel). Other common stores include a chocolate shop (chocolaterie) and a liquor store (slijterij). Many cities also have at least one weekly market where you can buy fresh produce, cheese, meat, fish and (very affordable!) flowers. Your local Gemeente website will tell you the dates of these markets.