Expat Interview – From Portugal to The Netherlands

Amsterdam-expat-Beatriz-from-Portugal

Tulips, cheese, windmills, wooden shoes, and bikes are just a few examples that come to people’s minds when thinking of The Netherlands. But is that all?

I have asked Beatriz to tell us more about her expat life abroad in Amsterdam including challenges, language, and cultural barriers, local dishes, costs of living, and much more.

Hi Beatriz, tell us about yourself…

Hi Sixtina! First of all, thanks for inviting me for this interview!

I’m originally from Cascais, a village by the sea, just 20 minutes away from Lisbon, Portugal. I moved to Amsterdam 1.5 years ago with my boyfriend, André, who is also from Cascais.

I’m 26 and I work as an Account Manager for a company in the travel industry, based here in Amsterdam. In my free time, I work on my blog Beatriz Paula , which is about life as an expat in Amsterdam, and also about the places I’ve traveled to.

I’m passionate about many things, but if I had to choose three, it would be:

  1. Going to the beach – I love feeling the warm sun on my skin and swimming in the ocean
  2. Going out for dinner – I’m a food lover and I especially like wine, cheese and pasta!
  3. Writing – a lifetime passion and the reason for starting my blog!

What was the main reason for moving to The Netherlands?

I always had the dream of living and working abroad. I feel life is too short to live in just one place, and I wanted to have the experience of living in a new country, meeting people from different cultures and spice up my life.

I started looking for jobs all over Europe and got one in Amsterdam. 1.5 months after accepting the offer, I was living in the city of the canals! You can read more about my moving story to Amsterdam here.

Is it easy to connect with locals or are there any barriers? 

Dutch people speak perfect English! I was really surprised when I first moved here, since even little kids and elders speak English really easily. As such, the communication barriers are close to zero.

As for making friends with locals, I would say that it can be quite difficult to foster strong friendships, unless you speak Dutch and you plan to stay here for quite some time.

How about the cost of living?

The cost of living is ok, taking into account the salary range. The only really expensive thing is rent, especially in Amsterdam. Of course, the further away you move from the city center, the cheaper the rent – so this shouldn’t be a deal breaker!

Services, like dining out, getting your nails done or something repaired, can also be quite expensive here. 

I wrote about the costs of living in Amsterdam and tips on how to safe money in more detail.

What is your favourite and least favorite part about living in The Netherlands?

My favorite thing is the work-life balance. Dutchies really value their free time, and The Netherlands was considered the country with the best work-life balance! Having time to actually enjoy life after work is simply amazing.

My least favorite part is definitely the weather! Coming from a country with 320 days of Sun a year (Portugal), adjusting to this weather has been tough.

You can find out more about what I like and dislike about living here in my Pro’s and Con’s of Living in the Netherlands post!

What was the biggest culture shock for you?

There were not many big cultural shocks, but rather small ones. I would like to share a very funny one, though: when you go to a spa here, you usually have to be completely naked (it’s mandatory). There are only a few special days when you can wear a swimsuit. I was shocked when I learned about this, especially because spas are for both genders – this would be impossible in Portugal!

What is your favorite local food?

Stroopwafels! Dutch food is not the best, but I have to admit that I’m addicted to stroopwafels. You can get them at the supermarket or, better yet, have them warm, straight out of the stroopwafel machine, at any local market.

What is the most annoying stereotype about Dutch people that you found out not to be true?

The stereotype that I heard the most about Dutch people is that they are very individualistic and don’t care about others. I agree that, coming from a Southern-European country, Dutch people are not as warm as my fellow Southern-Europeans; however, I would have to disagree with this stereotype. I find Dutch people to be very approachable, nice and helpful!

What is your favourite thing to do in The Netherlands that people should do if they visit?

My all time favorite thing to do in Amsterdam is to rent a boat and have a picnic on the boat. If you’re coming to Amsterdam, make sure you do this! Take a speaker with you, some wine and tapas and enjoy the beautiful view from the canals.

What was the biggest challenge for you once you moved to The Netherlands?

My biggest challenge was money-wise! I had a few savings when I came here, but not much, since it’s not easy to save in Portugal. I had to spend a lot of money when I first moved here – on the rent deposit, the first month’s rent and furniture. We had to live without a couch for a few months!

What is a fun fact about the Netherlands most people don’t know about or expect?

This is very random, but one fun fact is that you have to scan a special card in order to take the trash out, otherwise the trash can won’t open. I was very surprised when I learned about this – technology, am I right?

Here are more fun facts about Amsterdam.

What would be your top advice for people who are thinking to move to The Netherlands?

I would advise them to save as much as possible before coming, due to the initial costs of moving here. Don’t live without a couch for months like I did!

What is the biggest difference between your home country Portugal and The Netherlands?

I would say the biggest difference is the way we see food. In the Netherlands, people do not sit for a long time at the table. They would rather have a quick sandwich for lunch and get back to work, have an early dinner and then go for drinks.

In Portugal, everything revolves around food. Work colleagues go out for lunch, which can often take 1+ hours, since they like to take their time eating a complete meal and chatting. On weekends, families and friends come together for lunches that take the whole afternoon. They seat, eat, drink and talk for hours. For us, Portuguese, food is more than fuel – it’s the experience of coming together as friends and family and sharing a nice meal.

What do you miss most from home?

My family and friends! They are everything for me, and this is the hardest part of moving abroad. I’ve grown more used to it, but I miss going to the beach and then out for dinner with my friends on the weekend and having those long lunches with my friends and family.

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