Survival Guide to moving to the Netherlands

Moving to a new country can be an exciting, but daunting experience. But don’t worry! It’s totally possible to make the transition from your home country to the Dutch way of life without being overwhelmed. Here are some tips to help you survive moving to the Netherlands as an international student.


First, it’s important to sort out your accommodation ahead of time. This is probably the most challenging part of the process as there is a lot of demand for student accommodation in the Netherlands and available houses and apartments can go quickly. Don’t wait until your classes start – start looking for a place to live as soon as you accept your offer.

BSN Number

Once you’ve found somewhere to live, there are a few other things you’ll need to sort out before starting university life in the Netherlands. First off, it’s important to get yourself a BSN number – also known as a ‘Citizen Service Number’. This will be helpful to access government services such as healthcare but also to open a bank account or buy a transportation card. International students should apply for their BSN number at their local town hall or municipal office once they arrive in the Netherlands.


If you plan on using any public transport while studying here, then it’s also worth getting yourself an OV-Chipkaart. This is like a prepaid travel card which allows students access to buses, trams and metro systems across the country at discounted rates. As an additional bonus, many universities offer discounts on OV-Chipkaart purchases for their international students – so make sure you check with your university first!

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Bank account

Finally, it’s worth setting up a bank account. Dutch people use their debit cards for everything and you will barely see any cash around here. Even if you have a Revolt card, you’ll still need to open a bank account as most places require you to pay with a Dutch card. Most banks will require proof of residence (e.g., your rental agreement) when setting up an account – so have this handy when visiting the bank branch upon arrival!

And there you have it: four key pieces of advice for surviving the move from your home country into life in the Netherlands as an international student! Just remember: with good organisation and preparation – not only will your transition go smoothly – but you can start enjoying all that this wonderful little country has to offer!


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