5 Things the Netherlands doesn’t have (but should)

At DutchReview we like to celebrate a lot of the wonderful things that make the Netherlands great, but let’s be fair, there’s also a lot that the Netherlands doesn’t have, but should.

If you’ve lived in Holland your whole life you may not realize, for example, that there are real places in the world where the not-so-mythical sun actually shines. However, we complain about Dutch weather enough. Instead, let’s focus on some other vitally important things that the Netherlands doesn’t have either.

Space and housing

Ok, so this one is quite simple. The Netherlands is small and it has a lot of people. It would be nice to have a bit more space to put all these people. It’s not as if we don’t have the technology. We’ve been making land out of water for hundreds of years, why stop now?

A logical follow up to the lack of space is the lack of houses, at least that’s certainly what it feels like. Ever tried finding a reasonable place to live in Amsterdam? It’s really super easy, just accept homelessness or crippling debt. Ok, so that’s not everyone’s biggest issue, but it’s certainly a problem if you’re an international student.

Maybe we can convince more people to move North? Image: Norway.today/Wikimedia

Good curtains

Is it that hard to put up curtains that actually block light coming in? How do Dutch people sleep in such bright conditions? I’ll never truly understand, and it’s not just in the bedrooms that curtains that cause problems. It’s on every window!

Have you ever tried one of those lovely summer evening strolls in the Netherlands? There you are, just strolling calmly along the sidewalk and suddenly your gaze drifts to the right and next thing you know you’re staring at the neighbouring family gathered together to watch some evening television.

READ MORE | Why don’t the Dutch like to use curtains?

So you turn back before you’re caught creeping and thank god you didn’t just make eye contact because holy shit what if they had seen you? What would they think? And you know the Dutch, not afraid to speak their minds. What would they tell their friends? What if you’re ostracized from all social interaction with others because you’ve become that creepy guy that looks into others’ houses?

It wasn’t even your fault, you accidentally looked, you didn’t mean to look in. Good curtains are just something that the Netherlands doesn’t have. So you keep your eyes down for the rest of the walk. Who needs to enjoy the open air and actually look around at the cute neighbourhood houses? The sidewalk is just fine, and so that’s what you look at when you awkwardly make your way home trying to avoid any eye contact with others. And all because Dutch people just don’t have good curtains.

Delicious Dutch cuisine

Yes, Dutch food does exist, but is a plethora of fried snacks and glorified mashed potatoes really worth celebrating? Wouldn’t it be nice if the Dutch had good food to call their own? It’s not as though there is a lack of ingredients. The Dutch are some of the world’s most renowned experts when it comes to growing with greenhouse technology. Not to mention they have no issue producing high-quality meat and fish as well.

Why then have the Dutch settled for sticking a potato, a plain piece of meat, and some broccoli on a plate? Simply put, it seems the Dutch, on the whole, lack an appreciation for truly brilliant food. It’s not as though they hate it, of course, and there are plenty of exceptions, but the love for food just isn’t as ingrained in the Dutch.

It’s not too strange to see a Dutchie bring their own sandwich to work and eat it in 10 minutes before continuing work. Have you ever seen a Frenchman do that? Or an Italian? I haven’t, and that’s because they have an appreciation for taking the time to enjoy good food. That same appreciation is just something that the Netherlands doesn’t have.

So as much as I love the Dutch, I do often wish they had spent time developing a food culture worth enjoying. Like the French, or the Italians, or the Indonesians, or the Greeks, or the Thai, or the Spanish, or the Japanese, or the Mexicans, or the Brazilians, or the Indians, or everyone else except the British.

Boerenkool: The pinnacle of Dutch cuisine. Image: M.Minderhoud/Wikimedia

A good men’s football team

At the moment, I am super happy with the state of Dutch football. Well… women’s football that is. I mean, we’re European champions! So nothing to complain about there. Let’s keep that up.

But when it comes to the men…well, let’s just say it would be nice to maybe dream about an opportunity to maybe get to the second round of qualifying for a major tournament. Right now, though, it seems that a good men’s football team is just another thing that the Netherlands doesn’t have.

Let’s stay optimistic though, at least the women are doing well in qualifying so far.

At least we still have the Dutch Orange Spirit. Image: Dmitrij Nejmyrok/Wikimedia

Toilets with leg space

I know I’ve complained about the absurdity of Dutch toilets before, but I just can’t help myself. Why can’t they just put the toilet in a room where you aren’t resting your knees halfway up the wall in order to fit your legs? Why even bother putting a toilet if you end up squatting on top of it anyway? It’s not as though the Dutch are small people, it’s even the exact opposite!

READ MORE: Why are there no public toilets in the Netherlands?

I will never understand, but I’ve been complaining about this for years and it seems to make no difference. Maybe I just need to give up. It seems toilets in the Netherlands will just never have legroom.

Is there anything else you think the Netherlands doesn’t have, but should? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: RexRoof/Flickr/CC2.0

Noah Bloemhttp://www.redelephantstories.com
Noah grew up in Dhaka, Jakarta, and New York City before finding his way to Rotterdam (and now back to New York again). Despite having recently snagged a bachelor’s degree at Erasmus University College, he is fully committed to postponing adulthood as long as possible.


  1. Correction…Article starts off with: “What the Netherlands Doesn’t Have: Good Curtains” . I believe it should be “Don’t” have…..would like to take it a step further and say “What the DUTCH Don’t have” 🙂 🙂

  2. When I lived in the Netherlands as a young boy, we did have curtains and they were not transparent. We lived in a town house and the bathroom was small, yes, but, there was leg room while perched on the toilet. Lol. The bath tub was a little round thing that a child could fit in but an adult could not. Oh, and the voetbal team, I was scouted by both the Olympic and National teams and old have played with them had I not immigrated to Canada. Oranje over alles. ?

  3. I have a slightly different view of some of your points. Your issue with Dutch curtains brought a chuckle. You didn’t mention that not only do the Dutch not like curtains, they keep their windows sparkling clean (insult to injury, if your will). The flip side of that is that the Dutch really like to know what is happening out on the street. I only lived there 3 years, but that was my sense…seemed like a charming personality quirk at the time. As I recall, some households even install side mirrors outside their windows, so they can see what’s happening further down the street. If I somehow caught someone’s eye on the inside, since I was able to read their newspaper from the street, I would just wave and smile.
    The food photo you chose was a little disgusting, but I like Dutch food. It has a simplicity that I feel reflects the beauty of the Dutch people. They make delicious soups. Boerenkool (notwithstanding your photo) is quite delicious and definitely falls into the category of comfort food. Whenever I wanted something spicy, there was always an Indonesian restaurant to go to. So, really, Dutch food contains both ends of the spectrum. I still miss the fried egg on my Nasi Goreng~!

    • The mirrors outside the windows are to see who is ringing your door bell. Not to see who’s on the street.

  4. I find the issue of space flabbergasting. In the 1970’s when my family left for Canada, the government basically encouraged Dutch citizens to emigrate. You were given incentives to leave, and many of us did. Now when I visit the Netherlands I notice it has received a staggering influx of foreign settlers from 3rd world countries. If overpopulation was/is a problem, then why was this influx of immigration allowed to happen?

    • Oh gosh yes! Send all these “third world settlers” back to where they came from. Poverty, bad sanitation, low mortality rates – what’s not to like? Give us a break Sylvia, you were hardly pushed out of the country. Personally I think somewhere remote in Canada is probably the best place for you!

  5. NL is missing a good coffee culture. Just been to Prague where there’s great coffee everywhere, buzzy cafes even in obscure locations… back to Amsterdam where we have set up a great little place that’s largely being ignored by locals, who will all whinge when the tourists discover us!

  6. Amazon. Where do you get your stuff!? How do you function! And stationary shops where you buy boxes and envelopes for posting stuff.

  7. Ceiling fans. I can do without airco (truly unnecessary 98% of the time), but I really really wish ceiling fans were a thing here. Just think of how effective those little ventilation slots above the windows would be!!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

I tried a Dutch at-home fertility test — here’s what happened

When I was 18, I was completely sure that by 25 I’d be married to a man, doting on at least two children, and...

Snail sausage anyone? Dutch Design Week presents some interesting dishes

The Dutch Design Week (DDW) for 2021 shed light on our production and consumption. The result? Zwarma, snail sausage, and more were added to...

Dutch students invent fully solar-powered campervan — and it works!

Students of TU- Eindhoven are expecting a call from Elon Musk any day now. Why? Not to fly into space with him — Jeff...

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.