Why I Love Living in the Netherlands

This isn’t a pitch for the Dutch way of life; it’s a personal reflection on my experiences that have shaped my appreciation for this country.

Ayca Turan
5 min readApr 27, 2024
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Living in the Netherlands is about more than bikes and tulips — it’s about the daily interactions that turn ordinary days into something special. It’s about finding a simple way of living.

Let me show you what I mean!

Efficient Public Transport

One aspect of Dutch infrastructure I particularly love is the punctuality of NS trains (except during the strikes, which happens about once a year). The experience is often seamless. Trains depart on time, and the station design is thoughtfully executed. I particularly enjoy the option of a silent wagon. It provides a peaceful environment for the two-hour journey, giving me time to unwind and process my day.

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Unlike my experiences in Belgium, where I often had to check my phone to see the time due to a lack of visible clocks, Dutch stations are designed different. You can hardly walk 30 steps without seeing the clock. I always know when the next train is due, easing travel stress on busy days.

Watch This! For a closer look at how thoughtful design makes Dutch train stations a pleasure to use, by Not Just Bikes. It’s a great example of functionality meeting aesthetics in public infrastructure.

From the ease of public transport, we move to another aspect of Dutch mobility — bikes.

It offers freedom, efficiency, and a touch of independence. The widespread cycling culture also means that drivers are generally very respectful and patient with cyclists, contributing to a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone on the road.

Warm and Welcoming People

The warmth of the Dutch people often reveals itself in everyday small talk, creating moments of joy and connection that punctuate even the most ordinary days. For example, recently while walking with my luggage, a passing cyclist — someone I had never met — spotted me and cheerfully called out, “Vakantie?” (Vacation?) His spontaneous interaction lifted my spirits and exemplified the friendly and open nature of the Dutch.

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Such experiences are not isolated. Whether I’m having a tough day or just out and about, the kindness of the people here never fails to improve my mood. This genuine warmth is especially apparent when contrasted with my experiences in other places. For instance, during a visit to a northern European capital, I noticed that greetings like ‘good morning’ or even a simple smile were rare. This lack of casual friendliness made me appreciate it even more — where a smile or a greeting is common and valued.

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It’s not about finding fault with other cultures but recognizing what makes the Netherlands uniquely comforting to me. These small, daily interactions not only enhance my everyday life, also motivate me to learn Dutch. I want to fully engage in these exchanges, to understand and respond when a local grandma asks me something, or to offer help in a more meaningful way.

A Non-Hierarchical Society

Minimal hierarchy and a directness in communication that I find logical. Whether discussing a new idea with “the manager” or questioning a practice, conversations are straightforward, with a mutual respect.

Feeling Right at Average

One less obvious yet impactful aspect of life in the Netherlands is the average height of its residents. Standing at 180 centimeters (okay, actually 178, everyone rounds up), I find myself perfectly average here. This might sound trivial, but it changes daily interactions significantly. Here, wearing high heels doesn’t make me tower awkwardly above the crowd — it’s just the normal height. No one comments on how tall I am, which is a refreshing change.

me carrying a rug with bike, wear a Dutch-style hair clip, people often speak to me in Dutch, assuming I’m a local

The practicalities of living in a country where the average height is taller are noticeable in everyday life. Kitchen counters are at just the right height, so cooking is a breeze without any back pain. Mirrors in restrooms are placed higher, making them just right for a quick check without bending. All these small details make everyday activities more comfortable.

Affordable Flowers

One of the everyday delights in the Netherlands is the affordability of flowers. Where a bouquet might cost upwards of 15 euros elsewhere, here, it’s often less than half that price. This affordability adds a touch of joy to my daily life, making it easy to brighten my home or surprise a friend with a beautiful bouquet.

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Thoughtful Design

What strikes me most is the preservation of architecture throughout the country. Unlike the skyscraper-filled skylines of cities, most Dutch cityscapes maintain an inviting human scale, blending modern architectural innovations with the history.

I recommend watching this video by Hoog, which explores how government-backed graphic design initiatives have raised the bar for design quality nationwide.

“every Hoog video: Why the Dutch are absolutely better at everything in the whole history of humankind”

Perhaps, another time, I’ll share more about the museums and why they are a must-visit for anyone appreciating the confluence of history and modernity.

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As I enjoy my orange tompouce and get ready for King’s Day, I am grateful for these daily experiences that define my life here in the Netherlands — truly a place that feels like home.


27 April 2024



Ayca Turan

Creative technologist | XR design | AI Workflows | 🗺🪞 ayca.tech