Dutch Lifestyle: First Steps to Get Settled

Congratulations! You finally arrived in the Netherlands! So...what should you do first and where can you get started? Since you're going to start living the Dutch lifestyle, you most definitely need to get yourself a bike! Open a bank account and of course, get an OV-Chipkaart to travel. But that's not it!

What you should do as a newcomer to the Dutch lifestyle

Step 1: Register at the gemeente

Now, this is something you HAVE to do as a newcomer! Registering at the gemeente (Town Hall) is how the government can know where you're living. Each town has its own gemeente. For students, usually, the school will make an appointment for you to go there yourself. They will then issue you a BSN number after your appointment (your social security number). Trust me when I say that you will use your BSN a lot.


Register 4 weeks before or 5 days after you move into your new place. Mind you that each gemeente have their own time limit.


Not register at all. The government can and will take action on this matter and it's not going to be pretty.

Step 2: Open a bank account

credit cards as a part of dutch lifestyle

One of the things you can do after getting your BSN number is to open a dutch bank account. There are so many to choose from: ING, ABN-AMRO, Rabobank, or bunq. To open an account, you can simply go to their nearest branch. Prepare your BSN number, passport/ID, rental contract, and residence permit (for non-EU citizens). Or just open an account in 5 minutes through bunq's mobile app.


Make one immediately after getting your BSN number. Most shops and universities in the Netherlands accept debit instead of cash or credit. It will make your life easier!


Put off making a bank account because it looks like a hassle. Trust me, not a good idea.

Step 3A: Get a bike

a bike representing dutch lifestyle

You are in Holland, the biking capital. Getting a bike here might not be a bad idea right? You can save money traveling by doing so! Plus, it will make you healthier as well! You can get them in bike shops (that sell new and secondhand bikes) or through Facebook groups.


Buy one immediately after getting settled in. Most bike shops run out of affordable bikes fast and you'll soon discover that having a bike changes everything here. It will make your life so much easier!


Buy new ones. Although it is okay, I would recommend buying them second hand. This is because of, first of all, a new bike can be quite expensive. Secondly, since bikes get often stole, buying a cheap one would be a smarter move.

Step 3B: Get an OV-Chipkaart

If you really want to experience that Dutch lifestyle you have to get an OV-Chipkaart. An OV-Chipkaart is basically a transportation card. You can use it on buses, trams, metros, and trains. It's very handy! There are two types of cards: a blue one and a yellow one. The blue one is an anonymous card. This means that it can be used by anyone. The downside to this card is that once you lose it, you can't get the system to track it. Then, you have the yellow one which is the personal card. I would recommend getting this one. You can put subscriptions and get deals with this card! There are also apps where you can track the schedule of trams and trains called (9292 or NS). Get your OV-Chipkaart here!


Make sure do get your OV-Chipkaart, even if it's just the anonymous one.


Have no OV at all. Although you can buy train and tram tickets, they are usually more expensive.


So this is only some of what you will need to be able to start living the Dutch life. Stay tuned for our guide about the Essential steps you need to take to get the best out of student life here!

Dutch lifestyle starts with housing

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