Those who are coming to the Netherlands for just a few months to a year may have trouble figuring out where to stay, what to do and how to fit in when they get here.
If you’re coming to the Netherlands for work on a short-term assignment, your company may offer guidance with housing, setting up utilities and language classes. Even if you have all that help, short-term expats still need to figure out how to feel at ease. Tweelwonen, a real estate and rental agency in the Netherlands, explains how short-term expats can make the best of their brief time in their temporary home away from home.
Pick your own short-stay apartment in the Netherlands
Most companies that send employees on overseas assignments for a few months provide housing, but it’s often in everyone’s best interest if the employee gets a say in where they are staying — especially if the employee has a family they will temporarily leave behind. If possible, work with your employer to ensure that the short-term apartment rentals from which you can choose are in good, safe locations; are clean and modern; and, perhaps most importantly, are comfortable and welcoming.
Soon-to-be expats who have been given the opportunity to find their own short-stay apartment have the chance to truly find a place to call their own. There are a few rental agencies in the Netherlands specialised in short-term rentals that can find you an apartment that’s not only close to your office but close to the expat community — a perfect combination.
Relocate with the things that remind you of home
Even if you are only on assignment for a few months, it’s important to ensure that your short-term rental feels as homey as possible. Bringing every single sweater you own, a couch or a collection of books you definitely will not read just eats up a chunk of the relocation budget with which your employer may have provided you. Instead of hauling all your home goods to the Netherlands, bring only the necessities and the things that remind you most of home: framed photos, a particular scented candle, the drawings your children made you, or the blanket you use when cuddling on the couch with your loved ones. After a long day at a foreign office and without the familiarities of home, these little touches may be just what you need.
Lean on your host sponsor
To ensure the success of short-term international assignments in the Netherlands, companies will often pair up the employee with a locally based sponsor or mentor. Take advantage of this valuable resource: these sponsors are often experienced expats and understand the culture shock and frustrations you may experience — they can help with anything from setting up internet in your short-term rental to navigating the city. Not only can they guide you through the day-to-day formalities of establishing a temporary residence in the Netherlands and getting to know your new colleagues, they can help put you in touch with local clubs, organisations and other opportunities to socialise in your free time. For short-term expats travelling without their families, the host sponsor can be vital to staving off homesickness.
Schedule (virtual) family time
Short-term international work assignments have been rising in popularity, but the cost-savings come at a price: employees with spouses and/or children must be willing to leave their families behind for months at a time. If you’ve never been separated from your family for such a long period of time, it’s important to prepare for it — especially since you’ll be working with a time difference. Schedule regular video chats, especially at important family times such as morning and bedtime. If financially feasible, have your loved ones come to visit for an extended weekend or longer.
Join the expat community
Since you won’t be staying in the Netherlands for a long time, the best chance to make friends is with your fellow expats. Becoming part of the local Dutch community can be difficult, even for long-term expats, so don’t feel discouraged if, after a few weeks, you still can’t say anything beyond “alsjeblieft” to the cashier at the grocery store. Join an expat group in your new city, or find a meetup that hosts gatherings around your favourite hobby. Even if you are missing your family, a few new friends can help make the Netherlands feel a little bit more like home.