Must-Have Essentials for Life in the Netherlands

| Leiden International Centre

Moving to a new place can be overwhelming, especially to a foreign country that you’re unfamiliar with, but with some preparation, you’ll be adjusted in no time! Whether you’re preparing to move or already getting settled in, we’ve compiled a list of essential items to ease your transition to the Netherlands.  

1. Bike  

We’re sure you’ve heard about this one already, but in case you need a reminder: you will most likely need a bike for your commute. From going to work to visiting friends and getting groceries. Often, depending on where you’re going, especially if it’s a smaller commute, it can be faster to cycle than to drive or take public transportation. You may run into traffic if by car or delays if by train but when you’re cycling, you can hop on your bike and not have to worry about that.   

If your commute is longer and you use public transport, there is plenty of secure parking for your bicycle if you decide to park at Leiden Central Station. When meeting friends in the city centre, there is endless parking available as well. Within the Leiden region, the beach is easy to reach, with a cycle of 20-30 minutes you can arrive at the coast.  

If you’re looking for the best way to purchase a bicycle, check out this guide that takes you through all possible options available for you that will set you up to pedal successfully.  

2. Rain Jacket  

The weather here is unpredictable and one thing about the Dutch people is that they don’t stop living their lives because it’s raining. It’s part of daily life. Cancelling plans? No need, only a good excuse to accessorize you can throw on a poncho or rain jacket and off on your way you can go. 

There are many types of jackets you can select from but before you expand your collection you should probably start with one that you can use for many different occasions. Preferably one that covers the top part of the legs and has pockets to put items in.
Need some suggestions? Check out these sites for a rainy-day wardrobe upgrade: 

In addition to this, there are many second-hand shops in the Leiden region to choose from. If you prefer to buy that way you can go through all the options here

3. Agenda 

The Dutch are known for planning, covering from appointments to social gatherings. If you're a meticulous planner or a casual one, having a planner on hand is a must whether it’s a traditional or a digital one.

Digital planners offer convenience, serving as both an agenda and a calendar. They're handy for setting reminders and managing your schedule on the go. However, a traditional planner gives you a nice overview of your week and month on paper. 

If you happen to visit a Dutch household, you might come across their famous birthday calendars, typically found in unexpected places such as in front of the toilet. In case you do find one, don't add your birthday, but rather wait for them to take care of it. Dutch people are known to only add those who they consider part of their inner circle. It’s a golden rule.   

Traditional calendars also offer a personal touch, you can customize them with pictures of friends, family, and nice views. If anyone you know happens to have a birthday later in the year and hasn’t gotten a planner just yet, it’s a thoughtful gift for someone too.    

Browse through these places for a range of options to suit your style and scheduling needs:   

4. Cheese slicer

Forget the debate about how to pronounce ‘Gouda,’ mastering the art of cheese slicing is the real challenge. A Dutch household is not complete without a cheese slicer, it’s a staple. Typically, Dutch people will buy their cheese in blocks, as you get more for your money and it’s more convenient since you can use the cheese as you deem fit, whether that’s slicing, shredding, or grating it.  

There are many different selections to choose from: 

5. Orange clothing

From celebrating King’s Day, other national holidays, sporting events, and festivals you’ll need to show Dutch spirit. So, whether you're cheering on your favorite team or joining in the festivities, embrace the orange and let your Dutch pride shine bright.   

You should be able to find orange clothing in most places but a great place to look through is Solow, where you can collect pieces for anything festive from birthdays to festivals and themed events. Shopping secondhand is also a great option to find items to add to your closet.  

With these essentials, you can navigate life in the Netherlands with ease. From cycling through the streets and overcoming the rain in style to staying organized with a planner and mastering the art of the cheese slicer, don’t forget about adding a splash of orange in your closet, you’ll be living like the Dutch in no time. Embrace these must-have items and enjoy your time in the Netherlands.