Leaving the Netherlands: 5 things that make you sob with regret (and 5 that won’t)

Shockingly, some people actually leave this little gem of a country. Once you have left there are certain things you will see, do or eat that will flood you with nostalgia for the land of stroopwafel and windmills. This will probably make you think that leaving the Netherlands was a mistake (Duh!).

However, if you do have to make the big move away from the lowlands, we’ve compiled a list of just five of the things you’ll miss about living in the Netherlands — even though there are more than we can count. Also, we have five things that will make you feel a lot better about missing the Netherlands.

5 things that will make you sad when leaving the Netherlands

1. Seeing a tulip

Ahh, the tulip. This symbol of Dutchness signifies spring is coming. Every year the humble tulip graces the Dutch countryside, gardens, and city centre. In fact, it’s actually pretty difficult to avoid tulips in the Netherlands. The first time you see a tulip on non-Dutch soil, your heart will ache with the memory of all those beautiful flowers from the Keukenhof to the market stalls. 💐

2. Riding a bike

Let’s face it, the Netherlands is the ideal place to ride a bike. The bike lanes, the storage, the traffic light system — riding a bike here is a doddle. So, when it comes to riding a bike in another country, you will be filled with a mixture of nostalgia for the Netherlands, and anger that the rest of the world hasn’t quite caught up to the super Dutch cycling infrastructure.

3. Drinking Dutch beer

Dutch beer is cheap, tasty, and available in most countries. Yet, as is the case with the famous Irish stout Guinness, it just doesn’t taste the same when you’re not drinking it in its country of origin. 🍻

4. Special dates in the Dutch calendar

Whether it’s King’s Day, Sinterklaas, Liberation Day, or New Years…The Dutch certainly know how to party! When that time of year rolls around you’ll be seriously considering booking the next flight and joining in the festivities.

5. Looking back at old photos (especially of pretty canals and buildings)

Let’s face it, the quintessential image of the Netherlands is a bridge over a canal, adorned by wonky, gabled houses. Perhaps even with a few bikes locked up, with hundreds of tourists posing for a selfie blocking the view. When you look back at your own version, you’ll miss living somewhere that is so pretty.

The houses are pretty but also kind of tiny! Image:Victor/Pexels

5 Things not to miss when leaving the Netherlands:

Now we’ve established all those things that will make you homesick for the Netherlands, what about things about living in the Netherlands that aren’t quite so wonderful? Yes, I’m going to say it – life in the Netherlands is not always perfect!

1. Dutch bureaucracy

Ahh, Dutch bureaucracy. That love of paperwork and rules can make life (especially for expats) somewhat difficult at times.

2. Dutch directness

Okay, maybe you enjoy being told things exactly as someone sees them. It can be refreshing. However, sometimes you don’t want to hear everyone’s opinion on your life choices or fashion sense. Sometimes the truth hurts, and things are better left unsaid!

3. The fear of crossing a road

Dutch roads are a nightmare. The bikes, the trams, the pedestrians, the cars, the mopeds…everyone thinks that they have right of way. Really, we all know bikes are king here, but it still doesn’t make navigating the traffic any easier.

4. The food

Controversial we know, but Dutch food is not always great. Sure, there are some delicacies to be enjoyed here but you have to question the culinary taste of any country that loves pickled herring as much as the Dutch do.

Hell No Netherlands Food! Image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied

5…We’ve run out of things that you won’t miss — sorry!

This list is really nit-picking. The Netherlands is actually a pretty great place to live and I guarantee that you will miss it if you ever leave!

What would you miss, or not, if you were leaving the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Andrew Virnuls/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2018, and was fully updated in May 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Emily Hine
Emily Hine
Emily is originally from the UK. She moved to Groningen over a year ago to study for her Master's degree and is struggling to leave. She is really enjoying learning about and embracing Dutch culture.

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  1. I would definitely miss the people there.
    They are super friendly and always greet you on the streets with a Hallo hoe gaat het? Or a nod of the head.
    Every time you visit family or friends you are welcomed with coffee and cake or vlaai. Heerlijk.

  2. I miss so many things about the Netherlands.
    Most of all my family, but lots of food items like the good bread, herring, eel, dutch shrimps, licorice, cookies and cheeses! I do buy it online but it’s not the same.
    Miss the gezelligheid, good public transportation and to many other things to mention.

  3. Dutch cheese, herring and the good infrastructure!! “Gezelligheid” is what you can bring in yourself, when you choose your friends wisely ?

  4. I won’t miss the aggressive driving style, the stupidity on the roads… and I’ve been in India too so used to some… I also won’t miss the traffic jams which are about as long as the country itself… and every morning. I won’t miss the total lack of nature. This must be the only country in the world where the main national park is an army training ground. The noise, the pollution, the overcrowdedness, but most of all the total lack of any socialness. Unlike most who replied here I was actually born in this country. I don’t base my opinion on a few months or even a few years. I’ve lived here for over 50 years.

    • Than you never have been in the real Netherlands, in Drenthe is a beautyful nationale park, and in Gelderland too, you only remain in the city ofcourse, you don’t see the poverty in Amerika, and the poort healthcare, the racisme, and the oppression of the real Americans, the Indians.

  5. We want to go back. Is it hard to move and get a good place to stay that is affordable. My husband is from scheniva.

  6. I can completely find myself in the things I will NOT miss but add to that the list of things that would make me sad.

    The Netherlands, no country as overrated as this place.

  7. Thanks Sharing Good And Use Full Article. There are several amazing places in the Netherlands, but as an expat relocating to Netherlands, you will be interested in knowing what areas are best to live in.
    The Hague

  8. its bullshit all of these. Im fucking sick of the Dutch. I wonder why some people even miss 5 things above. Tulip flower??? we are not living in the 17th century. Riding bike?? we can do other countries. Food is terrible. Just an overated contry.

  9. Hum,

    You can find tulips in other countries too! Same goes for riding a bike!
    And for the beer? How can one even enjoy Dutch beer once you tasted Belgian, British or even some American beers?! Special dates are you kidding me?! As if other countries didn’t celebrate NYE!?
    What you won’t miss when you leave
    -the awful weather with the constant wind and low sky+ so many rainy days per week (never have I seen such a white-grey sky anywhere else!)
    -the architecture: every buildings look the same. The only difference is the colour, but again with the grey sky, try to tell the difference between a dark red one and a grey one?!)
    -the high prices (need water? Oh yeah, it’s 2 euros at the convenience store!)
    -the horrible untasty food (stroopwaffles? More like boiled cardoard with too much added sugar inside)
    -the permanent rudeness wether it is from people on the street or in public services
    – the lack of indication on the (dirty) streets
    – in Amsterdam, the smell…it literally reeks of cannabis everywhere!


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