Are you happy in the Netherlands?

I am from India but was living in Dubai for five years before moving to Rotterdam.It was a tough decision where we had a option of staying back.Coming here it's been mix reviews and have learned to be happy.You can't have everything in you platter,I know luxury is less and you need to be practical but there is peace at mind and weather wise you feel good.I have honestly intact become more health conscious coming here and keep moving everyday with new positive thought.Its too early to say how much I like here but time being yes I love this place for lots of other things.If few people don't smile back at you it's everywhere but there are out of 10 at least 6 respond back so looking forwards to find more plus points to write back again

:) I totally agree with you. I recognize your feeling

I am originally from the UK and have lived in the NL for 27 years. In my first 14 years living in Utrecht and then in Flevoland, I was very unhappy with my life there in the West. The ‘cattle mentality’ on public transport, aggressive drivers, some neighbours who didn’t talk to you (apart from wanting to know how much we received for the sale of our house when we were leaving), ‘backstabbing’ colleagues at work, long waits to get a doctor/dentist appointment, everywhere people ‘biting and fighting’ like rats in a barrel.

But I left that all behind and left Holland for good. Where did I go? I moved to the Netherlands. Actually to the north, and to Drenthe. A part of the country that many expats never see.

Is my life different now? Completely. The stress and irritation I had living in the West just evaporated as soon as we move here. And I am now a much happier person.
Why? Because I am in a completely different environment. A world away from what I left behind in Holland. For example: here, I chat with people, even those who I just bump into in the street and have never met before. I’ll walk the dog and say hello to maybe ten people. They all say hello back. A group of high school girls will wish me ‘Good Morning’ without a snigger, as they cycle past, even though I don’t know any of them or their families. In the shops, I will chat with the staff and they will ask me how my business is doing. It’s a genuine interest. I go to buy some ice cream from the ‘Ijssalon’, the lady’s husband comes out from the back, smiles, shakes my hand and invites me for a coffee at their house next door. He says that they are having a BBQ, and would I like to bring my wife and two children. I go to the bike store and the owners ask me for some new business cards, because they’ve just handed our last one out to one of their customers.

If I walk or bike just a few minutes from my home (a 200-year-old farmhouse), I have entered one of the three National Parks nearby. 15 minutes by car and there’s Friesland (the islands have some of the best beaches in the NL), or in another direction, Overijjsel, and from there, in less than half an hour is Giethoorn (the ‘Venice of the North’) and the ‘Weerriben-Wieden’ National Park (like Kakadu, but without the crocs). To the north, not much further than the Frisian border, there’s Aekingerzand – one of the most amazing places you will see in this country – a cross between the Yorkshire Moors and a desert. Great for a picnic (be careful you don’t get accosted by a sheep while eating, as they are not shy), or to go walking for hours and hours without meeting anyone (just don’t get lost like I did!) This is how I always imagined the Netherlands to be. It took me almost 15 years to find it and we gave up everything we had/did not have in the Randstad to come here, including my Dutch wife’s 15-year banking career.

Our neighbours and family in the West thought us a little mad at the time. They all said, 'Why give up the job security that you have here and take a big risk by going to a distant province, where you don’t know anyone and where the businesses you are setting up may not take off?' For me, it was the same ‘risk’ I took when I left BA at Gatwick in 1991 and moved to Maarssenbroek, near Utrecht, even though I had not done any job-hunting before I left. There was no internet and no mobile phones then of course. Job searching was done looking in newspapers and staring at cards down the ‘uitzendburo’s’. In the UK, I crewed for BA; in Holland, the only jobs I could get when I arrived in the NL was cleaning and production line work. I did both of them, while I spent 5 years learning the language and at the same time studying for the required Dutch diplomas so that I could return to tourism/aeroindustry. In 1995, four years after I arrived, I was back working for an airline in the centre of Amsterdam.

But that all seems a very long time ago now. I still do see many Dutch people from the Randstad, as they actually all stay in my house, hundreds of them per year, although they are all complete strangers to me. But I also get to meet Germans, Belgians, French, British, Irish, Americans, Canadians, Australians and nationalities from all over the world. Yes, we run a holiday home year-round here. Many of the guests I take on a walking tour of our village and explain the history, don’t ask for payment but the North Americans will always leave something on the table when they leave.

When we moved to Drenthe back in 2005, it was the height of summer. Upon seeing all the tourists biking through the village (our village population swells by 300% during summer!) I remember saying to the owner of the local supermarket when I first arrived, ‘Wow, with all this space and nature everywhere, I feel like I am on holiday here’. ‘But the difference is you now live here, welcome to Drenthe’, he said.

When I lived in the West, I became as angry as so many of the people around me. At times, I was really down and depressed. When you are surrounded by too many people who don’t seem to share the same values that you have been brought up with, you get to hate your life and you really believe that the entire country is rude, hostile and cold. It’s not true. I still live in the Netherlands but I now have a completely different life. If I go back to the Randstad for a day, I immediately notice it all again but after about an hour’s drive east, I’m back in ‘my Netherlands’.

For those of you who are unhappy living where you are, or feel trapped here (maybe you now have kids in school, or a partner who has never lived outside the NL and who doesn’t want to leave her/his family behind, you know), if you can find work outside the Randstad or wherever you are in the NL where you find that you just don’t fit, I would say, go for it. Check out the other provinces (including in the east and the south of the country), and maybe stay a weekend to get the feel of the place (even the cities up here have a different atmosphere!) And don’t let your inlaws, colleagues or neighbours talk you out of it, because they know nothing!

For those reasons I love and miss Zeeland very much.

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