Photo: Daniel M Ernst/Shutterstock

9 Dutch Habits We Should All Adopt

by Sarah Chetrit Jun 27, 2017


The OV-chipkaart is a reusable card that you use on public transportation. This card works on any bus, tram, metro, or train all throughout the entire country. It makes it much easier to explore the country freely without needing separate tickets for different modes of transportation, or cities.

Bike every day, everywhere.

Biking in the Netherlands is nothing new. In fact, we are probably the most modeled-after country when it comes to biking. The obvious benefits include being healthier and less stressed; not having to pay for car insurance, parking and maintenance; and having more freedom to go about your city whenever you want. In addition, there’s the lesser-seen benefit of minimizing social class differences. Whether someone is rich or poor, everyone rolls up to work, school, and even the club on similar looking omafiets (translated to granny bikes).


In addition to coat checks, venues and clubs also have lockers, in which you can drop €1-2 in to store your belongings. If you’re skilled enough, you and your friends can shove 3-4 coats in a locker, making it cheaper than coat check. Plus, you never have to wait in line at the end of the night.

Ice cream on a sunny afternoon.

It’s not uncommon to see adults (without children) eating ice cream on a sunny afternoon. Even if it’s 55 degrees F, as long as you have a coat and it’s sunny, it’s totally acceptable to eat a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream on a cone outdoors. I love seeing a 70+-year-old person licking an ice cream cone while biking.

Cashless transactions.

Whether you’re buying something for €0.50 or €50, you can pay for it with your Dutch debit card. without a fee. In general, you can go on about your business without using cash here on a day to day basis. That is, unless you want to pick up marijuana at a coffee shop. Some of those shops still rely on cash.

Smart keys.

Many apartments here use smart keys, which are keys that can open up two or more doors. With only one key to open up the building’s door, your apartment door, and perhaps the door to a storage room or outdoor communal garden, you’ll never have to fumble through your keys to see which one goes where.

13th month allowances.

It’s common practice for companies to pay their employees a 13-month allowance, which means an employee gets paid approximately 8.33% of their base salary every year in addition to their regular salary. Normally, employees get their 13-month allowance around November or December, which covers their Christmas expenses, but some employees get it in July so they have money for their holiday in August.

Warning consumers about the costs of credit.

Many people don’t have credit cards because Dutch people don’t live above their means. They spend what they get and don’t usually buy things on credit. However, the option to buy things on credit or payment plans exist. When a store offers credit, they express clearly that buying goods on payment plans means that in the end, it’ll cost more. I didn’t know that watching out for the consumer existed before I moved here.

Personal liability insurance.

90% of the country has personal liability insurance, meaning going around the Netherlands is virtually risk-free. If you run your bike into a car and scratch it, or worse, into another companies take care of it. Since everyone else has this insurance, it makes it really cheap at about €3-5 a month.

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