It has been two years since we moved from Australia to The Netherlands

I can hardly believe it has been two years since we moved from Australia to The Netherlands.  We flew from Brisbane to Amsterdam on the 8th July 2012.  On the plane with me were my husband and our two daughters, who were then aged 3 and 5 years.  I’ve flown across the world many times in my life, but this time was different.  I’d just said a tearful goodbye to my family and was mentally just trying to prepare myself not just for a long plane journey with two little ones, but a new life in another country.

I recently re-discovered this video where they predicted how long the flight would take.  It makes me smile – 5 and 11 minutes seems pretty long when you’re that age!

That particular flight was long and emotional for me.  When we landed in Amsterdam, I cried. Many close friends and even strangers have asked on a consistent basis since that day why we moved from Australia to The Netherlands.  There are so many ways to answer that question.  At first, I couldn’t.  Even when trying to form an answer to the question in my mind, the only thing that would come were tears.  Now, two years later, the most simple answer is that in 2001, I met and later fell in love with a Dutch man, who I married in 2005.  As you’ll read in other parts of this blog, our plan was to first live in The Netherlands, and then to live long term in Australia.  However after he tried life there for a few years, it just didn’t work out the way he expected.  He missed his family and country and the major decision factor was his career – the opportunities in his field were simply much better in The Netherlands.

For the first three weeks we were here, I wrote a daily blog post which helped me cope with the overwhelm of what we had to do to start our new lives here.

If you’d like to, you can read them here:

Moving to the Netherlands (from Australia)

However I can’t.  Yet.  Why?  Since I wrote them, I have worked daily on creating a new life here in The Netherlands and accepting that, at least not in the near future, I will no longer really have a “Life in in Australia“.  That has been the hardest thing I have ever done.  So even after two years, I have not been able to make myself go back and “relive” those first few weeks.  I will one day, but not yet.  I’ve also found it really hard to write personal blog posts over the last 2 years….even writing this one has been a stop/start process over a few weeks.  It’s just such a huge thing to not only move to another country, but to deal with, process and come to terms with all the emotions that come with it.  Sometimes writing helps, sometimes it doesn’t.

Now, our life here is very close to what I’d called “settled”.  So if you were to ask, how long does it take to settle in a new country, though factors and people can vary dramatically, I’d say about 2 years.   We’ve bought a house, I’ve made friends, found work, have a drivers licence and car, managed to get through all the initial challenges of connecting internet, sorting back accounts, finding places to buy my favourite products, have the girls settled into school and more.  Overall, our life here is pretty much settled and stable.   It’s taken a massive daily effort though.

I still desperately miss Australia and my family and friends there on a daily basis.  But I am coming to accept that our life is here now.  For about the first year, I just wanted to pack up and go back.  However now I realise that even if that opportunity presented itself tomorrow, that upheaval would actually be more difficult than staying put.  I guess that’s the tipping point – that after 2 years, if we were to go back now – our “old” life there is gone. I can’t say with any conviction that to build a new one there in Australia now would be any “better” than the one we have here.  I guess I could guarantee that the weather would be better in Queensland though!

So all in all, perhaps not an incredibly positive post, but one of acceptance.  I feel I made the right decision for our family to come here, though it may not have been the same decision I would have made if it was just me.  I don’t know if I will ever be completely “happy” here in The Netherlands, but don’t know if I would have been in Australia either. I still hold that hope that one day, we may return….but not for some time.

Like many of you reading this, I am coming to accept that probably for the rest of my life, I will live between two worlds, either physically (another Christmas trip to Australia coming up!) or in my mind (I’ll never be 100% “Dutch”).

How long did it take you to “settle” after moving across the world if you’ve done that?


Renee and girls as Dutchies

42 thoughts on “It has been two years since we moved from Australia to The Netherlands

  1. Renee, I have lived in Aus for 55 years, but came when in my teens. My parents moving back to Holland with half the family broke up our complete family for ever more. I now live at the Dutch Prins Alexander Village in Birkdale ( you know it well), not because I am not a dinky Aussie now, but for the “gezelligheid” only the Dutch know….and yes, I still miss Holland, as you will probably always miss Aus… are making a sterling effort, though…..

    1. Thanks Ina, nice to hear from you. I’ve often thought about “earlier immigrants” such as yourself – now we have the “luxury” of daily, affordable contact with those on the other side of the world via Skype etc. Yes, you have the best of both worlds there at the Prins Alexander Village! -Renee

    2. Hey Renee! I came across your blog just now. It’s funny three years ago I was so scared to leave my home town of Sydney to come to the Netherlands with my partner, now we are going back to Australia at the end of the year permanently I still have those same feelings of fright! I think you can get used to living anywhere.. you just have to give it time! (and getting a cute cat and dog certainly helps too 🙂

      1. Hi Kimberley, thanks for taking the time to comment! Yes, when you look back it’s amazing how you manage to have done things you never thought you’d do, right?
        All the best for the move, “reverse culture shock” can be a challenge as well but I’m sure you’ll get through it. If you’d ever like to write a guest post for this blog you’d be most welcome to share your story as well!

  2. The interesting thing for me is that as soon as I started living in Sydney it felt like I should have been born there and it just totally felt right. I emigrated on my own when I was 25 so very different circumstances but still I really love it. I’m totally settled and would hate to go back. Which doesn’t mean life doesn’t have its challenges here, it does. But the quality and opportunities here of lifestyle and living are what I love.

      1. I have that feeling of really not feeling 100% “home” anywhere. I love amsterdam and holland in late spring/early summer is nice.

  3. This post came at a perfect time for me. My Dutch husband has been living in Brisbane with me for 6 years. In January however, we are packing up and moving there for his career. Right now I am going through those exciting highs yet terrifying lows on what to expect. I do love your blog and it is helping me get through those moments when I wonder how on earth I will cope! xo

    1. Thanks Felicity, really appreciate you sharing your story and it’s comments like this that are one of my main reasons for sharing mine! It’s a huge move and I like to be honest that it’s not all sunshine (literally, haha), but there are also a lot of positive things about the experience too, I’ll write a more positive post soon 🙂 Meanwhile, if I can help at all, let me know! Do you know which city/area you’ll settle in yet? I can highly recommend The Hague! -Renee

      1. Hi! Initially we’ll be based in Dordrecht as his parents are there which means I automatically known people (phew!) but then it will depend on if/what hospital he gets placed at. We have done some exploring on previous trips so I know many towns are beautiful but I can imagine that The Hague would be suited to expats? Your post was also in no way negative, it was honest! Had you posted all sunshine and rainbows I would have felt like a fool worrying about the size of this move!! 🙂 We don’t have kids to move and while that seems like one less stress, it also means I’ll probably feel a little more isolated when he’s gone all day for work!

    2. My Dutch husband & I have recently made the decision to move to the Netherlands, probably in July 2015. We have 3 children (7, 5 & 2) and none of us speak any Dutch. At this stage, I think it will be a 2-3 year move – for many many reasons. After 13 years here in Australia, my husband really needs some “dutch” time – plus Oma deserves some lovely time with her grandkids. I nervous, scared & excited all at the same time. I appreciate your honestly Renae – I know it’s not going to be all roses, especially for me. Also glad to hear we are not the only ones going through this Felicity! More aussie chicks in the Netherlands! We will start off being based in Montfoort, Utrecht – until more in know about the work situation. Much to organise in the meantime!

      1. How did your move go? I have just decided that my Dutch husband and 11 month old baby and I will move back to holland. We have lived in Victoria for 10 years now but my husband has never got over his homesickness. I don’t even know where to start to organise such a thing hehe, any tips?

  4. Renee, I understand all about getting teary when you think about your birth country, I still do at times when I think of Haarlem . Holland holds so many memories in my heart that can never be erased as long as I live. I came to Australia as a migrant , with my family , on the SS Waterman in the early 60’s, there were 7 of us, and Mum was pregnant with her 6th child at the time, We left all our friends and family behind. The move to Australia was very hard on us as a family, as there was no monetary help as there is now, we scraped by on what ever was available, Some how we managed and Dad had to work several jobs to feed his family. When I finished High school, I landed a job in an office, and saved every penny to move back to Haarlem. But then I met my future husband, Kevin and settled here instead. We have been married for 44 years now and would not have it any other way. I had many opportunities to visit Holland but every time something seemed to get in the way, Finally when my Mum died, on our 50th anniversary of being in Australia, I was able to go. I visited all the places I frequented as a child and cried a few times, smelled the breeze of the ocean, meadows and forests, just as I remembered. even the home I grew up in was still there. Met all my cousins too, and stayed at their homes. When it was time to depart and the plane circled Schiphol. I cried like a baby, just like I cried when we left and the shore line faded out on the horizon leaving Holland. There is just something special about belonging to and sharing your heart with two countries, it’s like the best of both worlds, and gives you a deeper understanding and appreciation of life.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story Tineke, that’s beautiful! By sharing my post, I felt a little hesitant at first, but it’s been really special to get yours and the other comments in return, and understand even more that there are so many of us out there who have been through similar emotions, for a long time. I’ve been to Haarlem a few times, it’s a lovely place. Wow, 7 children, that’s amazing – same size as the family my mum is from and you’re right, back then they just had to make it work somehow! You’re right, it is a challenging but also rewarding way to live, with one foot in each country. -Renee

  5. Even 16 years after my move from the U.S. to the Netherlands, your post resonates strongly with me. One big difference between your life and mine is that you have children which eases your contact with and integration into Dutch culture. I feel I’ve struggled quite a bit to fit in which is why I’ve used my organizational work as my anchor.

    While everything is oh-so-easy when I visit the U.S. to visit family and friends, I do not fit there anymore since my life isn’t there, and I will never be 100% Dutch since I wasn’t raised here. I believe your heart is always in the country where you spent your childhood. I wasn’t raised with Dutch verjaardag liedjes and traditions, and Sinterklaas is still foreign for me though I’ve adapted to wait to hang my Christmas wreath until December 6!

    A number of years ago, a Rotterdam woman with a similar situation as mine told me it took her 12 years to feel settled in NL, and I was horrified. But lo and behold, when I reached the 12 year mark, I realized I did feel, finally, more settled than I had recognized up to then.

    But all of this makes us richer and stronger women, Renee. We experience a much different life from people who spend their entire lives in one place (or country) and I, for one, feel blessed to have all the opportunities I do. I’m so happy with my big, tall and handsome Dutch guy Jaap and can’t imagine life without him.

    Is life always easy? Well, I know you know the answer because it’s the same as yours, but it is what it is. It’s my life, with all the lovely sunshine (sometimes metaphorical) and occasional painful warts that come with the turf. I’m a few years older than you (just a few!) and if I’ve learned anything in my 60 years, it’s that complexity is built into most good things in life, and that complexity is a big part of intricately woven tapestry of a life well lived.

    Hang in there, Renee. You’re doing all the right things. I admire you tremendously.

    1. Hello there Celeste and thank you for your lovely comment. I can’t believe I’ve been back 2 years and not had the chance to see you yet! But you & Jaap and the other Toastmasters were a wonderful group of support (and fun) when we lived here before, but it’s much harder to attend things now with the children – I found it interesting you mention that it eases contact with the culture – at first I found it even harder as I had all my commitments as a parent and though other international mums were friendly, I found it really hard work to “crack” the Dutch connections at school. But finally am there, have lots of nice Dutch and international friends. Enjoyed seeing the pics of your recent trip! You’re right, life isn’t easy, but I read a book recently that a philosopher (I must check who) wished “pain and suffering” on his friends as that’s how you grow! I have a while to go for the 12 year mark, though less if I count the first 5 years I was here! -Renee

  6. We are the opposite to your story Renee. I met this Aussie bloke in Victoria in 2004 and told him straight up I could never leave my country, so he said “then I will move to Holland”. He did in dec 2005 (the dumbest thing to do is to move a queenslander to holland in the middle of winter!!).
    Our life wasn’t easy due to health problems, the weather and the culture shock he got. In Oct 2008 we moved to Qld thinking that with my 2 men (we had a boy in 2007), I could do it now.
    All you describe about your move to Holland was my story too, moving to Australia. There is no description of how you feel when you are homesick for a country. It literally can cause “broken heart syndrome and land you in the intensive care unit.
    To make a long story short in dec 2012 we made the decision that me and our son would return to Holland again and hope I would be able to start up life again overhere and have him come live in holland again. So again I had to make that dramatic flight to the other side of the world. It has been a tough 20 months I tell you and we are not together again as a family yet, but we’re getting there. Returning to your homeland is very very hard I tell you. It’s hard to realize that your country rather not have you back and if it wasn’t for friends I wouldn’t have made it. But I know one thing and that is that I made the right decision and next year we will be permanently together again as a family and I pray that my Aussie bloke this time around will be able to do it like you are doing it!! And then when all is back to “normal” I will write a book about it all 🙂

  7. Ah Renee, I feel the pain behind the words…the struggle. I’m so proud of the bravery you show in how you’ve excepted and made the best of things. Miss you xx

  8. Rene, I am positive that when you wrote this; you probably (most definitively) didn’t write it thinking about the reach and scope of your blog. I am 27 years old and expecting to move to the Netherlands from Costa Rica in about 7 months…
    My reasons are different as well as the context of the move. I’ll be moving with a cousin and no kids, wife, or any other type of “string” attached.
    If you could recommend where to start once there; I’d very much appreciate it… I’ve started doing everything I could from here but it’s just hard to imagine the first 3 steps in Europe.
    I understand about the work permits, renting an apartment and then getting a solid job; aside learning dutch; which we currently are.
    Other than these, what else is imperative to start with the right foot?
    Thanks for sharing.
    Pura vida! 🙂

  9. It takes me pluck, an optimistic outlook and a sense of adventure to make such a move as you have done, and it is exciting and interesting too. I’ve done it a few times now having left Australia for 10 years and lived in The Netherlands, Japan and Hong Kong with my American Ex-pat husband. We returned to live in Melbourne from Amsterdam 6 years ago and whilst I’ve enjoyed a lot of the things I missed about Australia, I must be honest and say returning home has been a struggle and we are now seriously considering moving back to NL.

    What you said about life going on without you ‘back home’ is true, and it isn’t easy to fit back in; a lot of people don’t quite know how to deal with the international experience a peripatetic Aussie has had unless they have done the same. When I lived away from Australia I desperately missed the beach, loved ones, the easy camaraderie of Australian people, healthier fresh produce with flavour, and most of all sunshine! Now I’m here I realise that I struggle to enjoy the outdoors because once it warms up enough to enjoy it the flies show up, the lack of ozone makes me worry about skin cancer so I avoid the sun, everything is far more expensive than where I’ve lived, the easy camaraderie of the average fellow Aussie is nice but it often goes no deeper than that, and I’m so frustrated with government at every level and the suffocating rules for absolutely everything.

    I realised that being away I began to romanticise my homeland, and that anywhere one lives has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Now I know that the planes fly in every direction, sunshine and beaches can be found at the end of a short flight to Southern Europe from NL, and for those who genuinely care it’s easy to keep in touch. With that in mind I’m researching how to move my darling dog to Amsterdam, and eyeing off our belongings to identify what I truly love enough to pay the expensive shipping fees. My husband couldn’t be happier, he hasn’t fallen in love with down under! I’m happy to have discovered your blog, it’s great to hear an Aussie perspective on Dutch life; I’m definitely taking notes as I’m pretty sure in a year or so it will be me too!

    1. Thanks for your comment Cecilia, so fascinating to read the stories of others who have gone through similar things – and reading about how you are making the decision to come back! Please keep in touch and let me know how you go. You’re always most welcome to guest post if you like here too. Good luck with the next steps! -Renee

  10. Hi Renee!
    Just a query about a temporary move to the Netherlands for say 6-12 months
    Family of 3
    Do you know much about the official requirements for Australians in Holland?
    My father is Dutch and I still have family over there whom I’ve never met.
    Any information would be a help as I’ve not been able to find much at all.
    Karmen Blazer

    1. Hello Karmen, I’m sorry to have overlooked this comment earlier! I’m no help when it comes to visa requirements I’m afraid. Here’s one link to start: – but as far as I am aware, you only have a choice of either a 90 day visa, or applying for residence, which is handled by the IND: – hope that by now you have found some information and be interested to hear how you went! -Renee

  11. How are you finding the Netherlands now? Has it gotten any easier?
    I’ve been in Amsterdam now for 19 months. I moved here as I secured a good position at a good company. Although not originally from Melbourne (I was born across the ditch), my parents, sister and brother in law live there with my nephew. I worked in Melbourne for a few years and did some study there, but found it very, very difficult to find work and went through long periods of unemployment, which was of course very difficult.
    Now having been here since November 2014, I am still very unhappy and am desperate to leave. Whilst I’ve been hoping to get some sort of transfer, it doesn’t look so likely and I’m now considering moving back to my folks place, with nothing in the bank, and very few job prospects. I guess I’m hoping that somehow, unlike the last few times I’ve tried, that with my experience over here I’ll be able to find a good job in Melbourne. I just miss it and my family far too much. Feel very foreign and lonely in Amsterdam.

    1. Hi Riri, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and I’m sorry to take this long to reply! I hope your situation has improved in the last couple of months. I’ve also been through the long periods of unemployment, but was fortunate we could live on my husband’s wage at the time. I also had many times when I wanted to leave, but with a husband and children it’s a serious consideration. I’m pleased to say that now, 4 years in, I am mostly happy being here, but still miss Australia and my family every single day, and possibly will for the rest of my life…or may end up moving back some day, and then I will probably miss the Netherlands. Crazy life huh! If you are still in Amsterdam, there are some great expat groups on Facebook and lots of events for “foreigners” or of course plenty aimed at the “local” Dutch people too. Perhaps there is something you have always wanted to try, a sport or hobby, maybe give this a go and see if it helps you connect with others? It’s definitely my friends who have helped me get through the tough times and feel more settled here. Good luck! -Renee

  12. I read this while I consider moving there myself for choice of it being a much more progressive country than Australia. No doubt its been hard for you but I have to say you’re really negative.

    How fortunate you are that you can afford to buy a house & car and support two kids in one of the wealthiest countries in the world – which is no exaggeration & you get to be there easily through your husband’s nationality. Perhaps look at it from a different perspective

    1. Hello Helen,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Absolutely, I agree with you! This post, as I say, feels quite negative and it took me a long time to even get to that point where it’s only “quite negative” – which you call “really negative” but comparing to how I felt before, this is a big improvement.

      I’ve also looked at things from the perspective you mention many times, and still count my blessings daily – yet sometimes it was this perspective that made me feel even worse. Yes, I had all this, and but still found it hard to actually get out of bed in the morning. I felt guilty that I wasn’t thrilled with all I had and instead was curled in a ball crying, missing my friends, family and original home country. I hid this from most people for a long time and certainly didn’t feel like sharing publicly with those I don’t know. However one of the reasons I blog as honestly as I can now, is so that those, like you, considering moving, or who have been through it before, realise the reality of it.

      Have you lived in another country before? Now I’ve lived this life for many years, and connected with and talked to many others in the same situation, I would go so far as to say that it is less than 1% of people who are able to get through the experience without feeling really negative (and in fact extremely negative) at least some of the time. If you are in that 1% – fantastic!

      And I totally agree with you – I try very much to focus on being positive, and I think that is part of how I have managed to build a life where I can not only function, but manage to actually afford to buy a house & car, maintain a happy marriage and physically and emotionally support two kids. I waited a long time to write this post before I was in a place where I could do that to some point. However if I, and others, hide the hard times, then those who are going through depression, or just a bad day, or the many challenges of moving across the world – may feel they are the only ones. And that is dangerous, isolating and I’ve seen first hand that lead to terrible long-term outcomes. I also wouldn’t call it getting to be here “easily” through my husband’s nationality. Sure, more easily than others without the Dutch connection, but still had to go through a rigorous process and fulfil many requirements. The whole visa application system is designed to see who is really serious about living in a new country.

      Yes, the Netherlands may be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. However I still know many highly educated, intelligent, motivated people who are unable to find a job. It took me many years and even now, I don’t feel I have a huge amount of job security. I’ve seen several friends lose jobs here recently. I do completely empathise that there are many, many worse places to be and have personally met newcomers to the Netherlands recently, fleeing as refugees from situations worse that I can even imagine.

      So again, I appreciate you taking the time to comment and genuinely appreciate honest feedback. I hope that this post helps in further explaining my own perspective and you are most welcome to continue to share yours. I wish you every success with the move if you choose to make it and wish you as many positive times as possible – though also must say I wish you negative times too, as it is in those that you really discover what is important to you and your own strengths.

      Warm wishes,


  13. So I’ve just reached that 2 year point myself, however I feel incredibly lucky to have a strong feeling that we’re in the right place, at least for now. But those moments of missing family and friends are so hard, and I hope, 4 years on, that you’re enjoying life here much more xx

    1. Hi Sara-May, I just realised I didn’t ever reply to your comment I’m sorry! Yes, I can identify with how you feel and I am enjoying life more – and hope we finally get a chance to meet up sometime soon!

  14. Hi Renee, I wondered how you are getting on now?
    I am originally from New Zealand and have been here almost 5 years..Most days I cope, but sometimes I still cry myself to sleep feeling completely alone and isolated. Sometimes I grieve for my old life and the old me…I speak Dutch and have a wonderful Dutch boyfriend and I feel so guilty whenever I get upset, its not his fault. He is lovely, his family is lovely but I am still so alone… Does it get better? Its been so long now, Im not convinced moving home to NZ is the right thing to do. Im just stuck in limbo not really belonging anywhere. I wonder if this is how its going to be forever,

    1. Hi Courtenay,

      I’m doing ok thanks! It’s now 4.5 years already. I had a nice holiday to see my family last July/August and try to get back every year. I can’t speak for everyone but I’m fairly sure almost every person who has left their home country, even in must worse circumstances than we have, misses it. My husband family is also lovely but yes, I also still feel an “outsider” often.

      For me, the five things that have made things “better” are:

      1. Keeping busy (sometimes too much but it seems to work) – I have a great job and am also studying a Masters, as well being an entrepreneur on the side.

      2. Make friends – it can be awkward and difficult at first while you find the right ones, but once you “click” with a couple, who totally get you and you can be yourself (sad or not), it’s wonderful. At first I was determined to make Dutch friends – and I have – but it’s really those others who are also far from family who can really empathise with what it’s like.

      3. Be kind to yourself – try not to feel guilty….think of yourself as a friend if that makes sense. Would you tell a friend they should feel guilty for getting upset from time to time?

      4. Keep ties to Australia – though it come sometimes bring on the sadness I like to actively keep connections and ties to Australia. I am a member of the Australian & NZ club in NL and go to events like ANZAC Day. My children and I talk about and watch shows from Australia pretty much daily and Skype my parents at least a fe times a week.

      5. Keep your options open – at least mentally! Overall, as I mentioned in this post about 2.5 years ago now, I still feel now that it would be just as hard to relocate again as stay put. But I am keeping my options open for the future, at least in my mind!

      Hope that helps. Thanks for taking the time to share.


  15. Hi Renee, this is been much much much needed, not just your blogpost but reading all the honest, candid and vulnerable commenters. Thank you all so much.

    Someone above mentioned how once living in anotehr culture/continent, one can start to romanticise one’s homeland. I think we, in Blue Mountains, NSW, are romanticising living in the Netherlands!

    We are gearing up to move there on an open-ended relocation as soon as my husband can secure a job there.

    I’m so grateful to have found your website and this community. Can some of you and Renee comment on the below?

    1. I have read and heard that whilst the Dutch are friendly, cordial and helpful, becoming real friends with the locals can be hard. For those with Dutch partners, perhaps you can share insights into making lasting, real friendships with the Dutch? What topics to avoid, what attitudes to steer clear of and perhaps positive things to do to gain some local friends?

    2. This seems odd, but for those of you who have moved across, how many of you shipped favoured/precious furniture/books/living-accoutrements across? For those of you who did NOT ship, do you regret not doing so?

    3. We have an almost-11 year old who is tearily reluctant to leave her school friends. Did any of you deal with this? How did you handle this prior to her leaving?

    4. Has there been a community/friendship group started as a result of this blog/blogpost? That would be a beautiful, meaningful and anticipated outcome!

    5. Silly questions, apparently we have to get used to MUCH smaller homes than we’re used to here in Australia. We enjoy a king sized bed… do master bedrooms in NL accommodate that?

    6. We have read over and over about locals doing only small, daily shops for groceries etc… Do you also find to do the same? What about the toilet rolls, etc etc that are better bought in bulk?

    Thank you all again. Finding this blog and the people commenting has been a real blessing. My husband and I have just spent more than an hour reading your blog together!

    1. Hello there and thanks for taking the time to comment! Here’s my replies:

      1. This is a tough one to advise on as everyone is different, generalising won’t really help you. Yes, in general I’ve personally found that it can take longer to form friendships with “locals”. I live in The Hague and find that “international Dutch” people (those who work for international companies for example) can often have a stronger command of English, as well as an international interest and outlook that can help connect a bit easier – but also have friends who have made close friendships with Dutchies in smaller remote areas. In general – just talk to people! And persist. There are several books out there about understanding Dutch culture you could try.

      2. My books are probably worth their weight in gold, as I have paid to ship their heavy weight across the world a couple of times now in each move. I don’t know if I would do that again as I barely read them. We didn’t bring furniture in either direction, and I do regret that sometimes as there were beautiful pieces that would have reminded me of “home” (well the other home) but honestly not really worth the cost I guess, but this is something you need to weigh up. You are best to do everything in one go, there are a few boxes I left in Australia with family, and do regret not just putting them with the original shipment, as they wouldn’t have cost much to just add into the container at the time, but now I’m not willing to pay for a brand new shipment.

      3. We moved when kids were 3 & 5 – the eldest seemed to breeze through the move and the youngest struggled, as did I. Older kids can be harder in that they have more grounded roots but perhaps also a little easier as in you can have conversations with them. Depends on the child’s personality too. There are no doubt Facebook groups/blogs on these exact experiences for kids – he/she may also like to start their own blog! I think there are books about this too.

      4. You mean this exact blog post? Check out our Facebook community page: – and there are also a number of Facebook groups for Dutch in Australia and Australians in NL, as well as local Facebook groups for each location.

      5. Again depends on house, and if you prioritise something like this I’m sure you can make it happen, but in general – will be tougher than in Australia. We have 2x single beds next to each other as getting anything bigger up and down stairs is near impossible. I’ve noticed though there are some new online bed companies in NL that you can order a compact, rolled up mattress, that you could probably get upstairs, then unroll, but you’d probably never get it out again!

      Hope that’s helpful and let us know how you go!


    2. Not my blog, but feel I can comment to all these (except 5) and try to help.

      1. I’m here >8 years. I have no Dutch friends, but several Dutch colleagues. I’ve moved around so much the last 15 years, I seem to have more transient relationships, and Facebook friends list reflects a kind of history of “who and when”. I do have Dutch neighbours and they’re truly lovely, and we spend time together to varying extents, but it tends to be morning or afternoon tea, not lunches or dinners. That about suits everybody though.

      2. I shipped everything. And kept dragging it with me. I recently cleaned out paperwork for housing bought and sold in Australia over 10 years ago. I’ve got a lot of other stuff to go through and probably get rid of much of it. That said, until I do that under the conditions I currently have and with seasoned expat perspective of what I want to keep, it was absolutely better to bring all of it.

      3. I have the reverse challenge. I’ve become a father here in NL and am faced with determining how to school my son, not knowing if we’ll stay here, or go back to Aust, or somewhere else. We are currently leaning toward international rather than local schooling. I’ve got no idea how my son would react to moving back to Aust at age 11. It might depend on where we were going to live, and how. But rural Australia is literally a world apart from cosmopolitan The Hague. Inner Melbourne, less so.

      5. You can have king size if you want. There are housing that would accommodate it. As Renee mentioned, it’s pretty normal here for people to have foam mattresses, and to have two separate ones, even if the bed size is king. But in my experience these mattresses can be really lousy for back health. I ended up getting a mattress from the new(ish) IKEA range of spring mattresses and it’s great. Again though, that’s two 90cms to make one queen (180cms). Housing is typically a lot smaller here, but the ability to live central to amenities, and bike and walk a lot of places on a daily basis, really makes it a very civilised way to live. After so many years here, I now look at some Australian houses on and think, “goodness what a waste of space… Hahah, I’m becoming Dutch 🙂

      6. We’ve just started with Albert Heijn online shopping delivery once a week, and probably won’t look back. It’s so convenient to shop from your own home, have a standardised shopping list, and save the time roaming around a supermarket. I’ve live inner city, and the supermarkets are pokey and busy and not a pleasant place to spend too much time really. So we combine a weekly online shop with spot shopping every day or so at local places. And the bulkier stuff, you can get on amazing offers at Kruidvat. The trick is having enough storage space for the all the bulk stuff that you’re buying in advance.

      Hope this helps.

  16. Hey Renee, How would you compare bringing up kids in The Netherlands vs Australia ? I am guessing since education is free all the way to uni, its cheaper (and since they have better quality of education) and better ? We are contemplating on if we should make the move – solely based on providing a better life to our 4 and 2 year olds. Cheers.

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