Why I Left the UK for The Netherlands - and I'm Not Looking Back

By Parisa Hashempour | Wednesday 26th September, 2018

If you’ve graduated university in the UK or are drawing close to the end, you know the slog. Job application follows job application and you find yourself wishing you hadn’t blown your student overdraft on nights out in your university city and the odd impromptu trip to Ibiza (okay, maybe that one’s just me). I was lucky enough to dive straight into a grown-up job in the first autumn after graduation. But after a year spent in the big smoke, grinding away in a grad job, I made the difficult choice to get out.

Jumping onto the first rung of the career ladder and then prematurely hurling myself off was scary to say the least, and after packing up my life and moving back out to the sticks (North Wales), I wasn’t convinced I’d made the right choice. Moving back in with the ‘rents and taking a bit of time to assess what you really want can feel like a step back - but like the tangoing, fox-trotting stars of Strictly well know, sometimes you’ve got to step back to take the next step forward.

I had always wanted to experience living in a different country but was always put off by the amount of money and commitment involved. After two years out of education, I made the decision to relocate to the Netherlands. It felt a bit more tame than backpacking around India and yet a big enough change to have some life-changing experiences. Got your attention? THIS is why you should give this clog-loving country a chance:

The open mindset

And no folks, I’m not just talking about drug laws and prostitution. The Dutch are famed for their liberal attitude but there is a special kind of acceptance and open-mindedness that is characteristic of the people in this country. Unlike at home and abroad, they are especially open to communicating with people from an international background – which brings me to my next point.

Errrrrrrybody speaks English

And for the most part, people don’t mind it. They actually enjoy the opportunity to practice what they consider to be an international language. When I first arrived in the country I was extremely embarrassed about having to speak to shop assistants in English but I soon learned that for most Dutch people in the big cities, it’s no problem at all. Shockingly, I’ve had shop assistants apologise for speaking to me in Dutch as soon as they realise I’m not from around here.

Café culture

Even though it gets as cold here as it does in ol’ blighty, people can’t get enough of sitting outside cafes and bars. Grab a beer (a cute lil half-pint), a coffee or even a sparkling water and enjoy being in the great outdoors.

They tell it how it is

The Netherlands is a land filled with extremely straight-talkers. At first, this comes across as blunt but it’s actually seriously refreshing to hear it how it is. I was make-up shopping and trying out eyebrow gels when the Dutch shop assistant that was helping me started bluntly telling me that I was applying it all wrong and that I desperately needed a tweeze - at home, politeness would prevent most shop assistants from a full-throttle attack on my makeup skills. At first, I was taken aback but I actually learned a lot from the experience – namely, how to up my eyebrow game.

University here is CHEAP

If you’re thinking about coming this way to study; I vote, do it. A master’s course in the land of the tulips is around 2000 euros a year. That’s compared to around 10,000 quid sterling in the UK – a pretty big difference. Undergraduate fees cost around the same price and if you are opting for that, you can even get your first year half price! That’s a year of further education for the same price as the iPhone X. Good enough sales pitch?


Okay ‘canals’ might not seem like a valid reason to move country; after all there are canals in Birmingham. But for the most part these ones are minus the piss-stenched creepy underpasses and graffiti. Trust me, there is something uplifting and magical about navigating your way over bridges and past canals on your route to work or school.

You can get anywhere – FAST

Does it take you 40 minutes to walk to work? No problem, a bike will get you there in ten minutes and the roads are quite literally built for bikes. Want to explore the rural north? Easy, just jump on a train and the most it’ll take is a few hours. The Netherlands is a teeny tiny country, which means everywhere is within an easy distance.

Photo Credits: Adrien Olichon