Socialising the Dutch way
Connecting with your community is an important part of feeling at home in the Netherlands. Find out how to meet new people and socialise the Dutch way.
How to socialise the way the Dutch do
New job? Check. Place to live? Check. Official procedures in order? Check. You’ve relocated to the Amsterdam Area and taken care of all the admin. Now it’s time to start connecting with your new community. Meeting new people and making friends can be tricky – and doing so in an unfamiliar culture adds an extra layer of difficulty. Here are some tips to help you get to grips with socialising the Dutch way.
When it comes to socialising, one of the pros of living in the Netherlands is a healthy respect for the value of free time. The importance of a good work-life balance is recognised, and the Dutch make space in their lives for friends, family and community. For some internationals, however, the very direct Dutch communication style can feel off-putting and get in the way of making connections. It’s good to remind yourself that being blunt here doesn’t mean being unfriendly – it’s just the Dutch way. That directness can also work to your advantage: you know where you stand rather than having to second-guess people.
Be prepared to plan appointments in advance
Another aspect internationals can find tricky when adjusting to life in the Netherlands is the Dutch love of planning. Most people prefer to pin down appointments – even social ones – well in advance. It’s not unusual to plan a coffee with a friend weeks before, and you may find Dutch acquaintances reluctant to accept an invitation at short notice. So, equip yourself with a diary and don’t be offended when acquaintances may not take you up on your offer to ‘just drop by.’
Meeting new people in your area
The Amsterdam Area is home to a large and varied international community, with many clubs and activities catering to different nationalities and interests. Joining one of these groups can be a good way to connect with others who are facing the same challenges or share your background. But it’s also rewarding to get to know the locals. It may take a little effort, but adopting the Dutch direct approach by introducing yourself to your neighbours is a good place to start. A neighbour doesn’t have to become a friend (although they might!) – even just being on nodding terms with the people living around you can help you feel at home. You can also try visiting places like the neighbourhood library, sports facilities or community centre for information about local groups and activities you may be interested in. And if you use Facebook, many areas have local groups you can join as a way of connecting with people in your neighbourhood.
Keep up your hobbies and try new ones
If there are sports and other hobbies and activities you’ve enjoyed in your home country, look online for local options to pursue these interests. And you’ve expanded your horizons by relocating to a new country, so why not expand your social horizons too by trying out things you’ve never done before? A 2023 survey found that cooking and reading are the most popular hobbies in the Netherlands – so maybe hunt down a cookery class or a book club. Hockey, indoor climbing, padel (paddle tennis) and, of course, cycling are all popular sports with plenty of clubs welcoming newcomers and beginners.
Whether it’s learning to paddleboard on Amsterdam’s canals or following a creative writing course, new experiences lead to new contacts. So find a new hobby, join a sports club, enrol in a workshop – there are plenty of options even if you speak no or very little Dutch. And, of course, taking Dutch classes is also a great way to meet people who, like you, are either new to the country or looking to become more connected. You will find more courses and creative groups on our international groups and clubs page.
Engage and enjoy
Volunteering for a cause you believe in is a way to actively engage with your local community while also giving something back. And as a bonus, it’s pretty much guaranteed to bring you into contact with like-minded people. At the same time, as you’re looking to expand your network, it’s also good to try getting closer to the people you are in daily contact with at work or when studying. Join your colleagues for the regular Friday afternoon get-together over drinks (aka the vrijmibo – vrijdagmiddagborrel). If you have children, volunteering at their school or kindergarten is a great way to meet other families. If you’re studying in the Netherlands, try joining a student association or study group, or simply compare notes with a friendly fellow student after a class.
Use online resources
Of course, not everyone’s an extrovert, and it can be daunting to launch yourself into new situations with strangers. That’s where the online world can help. It may seem counter-intuitive, but using online resources to connect with others can lead to positive real-world connections as well. And if you’re the introverted type you may find it easier to connect online first with individuals or a small group rather than just turning up to an event, class or club.
To start, check out our list of international groups and clubs in the Amsterdam Area. If you haven’t already, check out networking site Meetup to find groups in your area. There’s a huge range of options – from specific hobbies, sports or professional groups to groups that are purely about getting together and having a good time. The Amsterdam Mamas site and Facebook group offer support, information and community to international parents. Bumble started out as a dating site but there’s now also Bumble BFF which is designed to help you make new friends in your area. Just make a profile outlining your interests and the kind of connection you’re looking for and see what matches pop up. Reddit and Discord platforms also have a strong following among people living in the Netherlands so try exploring these communities to see if you can find others nearby who share your interests.
Find out more
Want to know more about socialising the Dutch way? Watch our video for info and tips from locals and internationals in the Amsterdam Area.