Thursday, June 14, 2012

Expat blog hop 20 - Shopping

So the theme for this week is Shopping.....

Shopping I have found is not such a major pastime here in the Netherlands, people don't seem to window shop. They shop for what they need, this may be a reflection on themselves as a culture and a society.

Shopping in the Netherlands takes some getting used to. Shops are open for a limited amount of time and the service is also different too.

In most towns around the Netherlands, shops are open Mondays 12.00 - 18.00 Rest of the weekdays and Saturdays 9.00/10.00/10.30 -18.00  (with some towns having late night shopping til 20.00 on Thursdays.) And on Sundays it one supermarket is open from 12.00 - 18.00 and if it is "Koopzondag" then other shops can choose whether to open or not.

Each city/town has its own strucutre so it is best to check on   before shopping. Oh and a word of warning on the 1st Hemelvaarts day, nothing is open, not even the local chip shop (trust me on experience)

Two fellow expat bloggers have great posts on Shopping in the Netherlands, English mum in NL,  tells you where to shop and Letter from the Netherlands, brings up some great tales on shopping too.

But today as the normal shopping experiences have been told before I am going to give you a list of must haves in the Netherlands. What should you buy when you first arrive? What the necessities that every household needs upon arriving in the Netherlands? What will make that transition smoother?

1. Bicycle: This has to be the very first thing on my list. You really need one here. And a good one too, you may not think you will use it often but once you have settled and become at one with the Dutch, it will be a vital piece in your house.

Coming to the Netherlands with children then why not consider a bakfiets? A bicycle with a box attached to transport the children around, much safer than 2 seats, one on the front and one on the back.

2. A good bin/ storage system:  The Netherlands are proud of their recycling system and I must admit it is pretty good. We have a bin for all plastics, a bin for paper, a bin for plastic bottles that can go back to supermarket and make us money (not millions!) a bin for glass bottles and jars, a bin for organic waste and a bin for the rest which isn't much.
Now you can see that if you do not have a good system it would take up your whole kitchen, which believe me, is possible in a Dutch built kitchen. We have this from Ikea in a cupboard, a great storage system.

3. Small fold up umbrella/raincoat: The weather is so unpredictable here that it is necessary to carry these around and if like me you can't cycle holding an umbrella yet then the latter would be the best option.

4. Shoe rack and coat storage system:  Dutch hallways are gracious in size, yet they have to store endless amounts of shoes, scarves, hats, gloves, bags, coats, jackets....... With the weather we have at the moment we have shoes ranging from flip flops to snow boots. (oh OK the latter is only cause I haven't got round to putting them away) but you get the idea!  A storage system is a necessity, something we haven't quite managed yet and our little hallway of less than a meter wide (more or less the norm) is bursting at the seams!

5. An OV chipkaart: Planning on travelling when you get here with the train or bus? Then you will need one of these. A plastic card getting you from a to b by bus, metro, tram or train. A personal one is best as you can but monthly deals on it and have it automatically put money on when it gets lower than a certain amount/

6. An agenda, family planner and calendar.
Trust me you cannot function without one in the Netherlands, everything is done by appointment, even play dates with friends. Shall we meet for a drink is followed by the next step of each party involved pulling out an agenda of some sort. Try and live without one for a month and let me know how you fair.

What do you think you should buy upon arriving in the Netherlands? Let me know in a comment below!

Have a post related to shopping in your country? Why not link it up below and don't forget to visit the other great blogs and posts too!!


  1. I have loads to say about shopping in Israel - but I realize that most of it would be a rant because I'm so dissatified with it. I still buy all my underwear in M&S when I go to London to visit.

    1. Oh I know! Clothes are hard to find here too, I think the western europeans just all have a different body shape to me!!

  2. I forgot to mention that I LOLed at the bit about the diary/organizer. It's so sxteriotypical but so true that Nothern Europeans are a formal lot and Mediterranean types are much more laid back and last minute(read late for everything). I don't look at my filofax or make any entries from one week to the next.

    1. Yes, When I first came here it was hard as I came from Spain where I had no diary but now it is a lifesaver.

  3. A BBQ!! I have never seen a country so on to something like these dutchies with the barbecue! Something great by the way, I have learned to love it as much as they do.

    Also the 40% train discount card is pretty basic to have if you travel a bit by train.

    And the Museum Card is just wonderful. I bought it last Easter and... I haven't used it yet! But I think it's a good investment, it opens the doors of tons of museums all around the country.


    1. Oh yes , the BBQ. It always makes me laugh that the temperature goes just slightly higher and the sun comes out immediately everyone in is shorts and flip flops and barbecuing.

  4. Great theme, I did have to laugh at the organiser - they would have no idea what to do with that here at all!

    1. No they didn't in Spain either, here it is the opposite


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