Earlier this year Kevin and I moved our entire life from California to… THE NETHERLANDS! And for the past three months we have been trying to live our best Expat life in Amsterdam. We’ve been here for just over three months now and so far and, spoiler alert — we love it!
How it happened
When Kevin and I first started dating I told him that a dream of mine was to experience the nomad life and travel long-term before I could “settle down”. I wanted to really be immersed in a culture other than the Silicon Valley. And luckily he loved the idea! Obviously there is serious prep work needed to make the dream happen — save up money, can we make passive income, and health insurance, etc. The plan originally was to work for a couple years then quit our jobs and travel. Then maybe when we finished all that we could come back, settle down and get married or whatevah haha.
But then our relationship developed, we decided to take the next step and got engaged! And a month after that Kevin had the opportunity to interview for a role at Booking based in Amsterdam! He first mentioned it to me casually, “oh there’s this role open but it’s based in Amsterdam, it’s so far haha”. But I instantly lit up and was like, “hmm maybe you should take that a little more seriously”. And that’s how the journey began, we went for the role! And if he got it we would go — it would be a great alternative to quitting completely with no income but still give us the experience we wanted! I never imagined I would live an Expat life!
We left the USA on January 27th and haven’t looked back! (Jk I went back for a visit already). The past 6 months have been a whirlwind and we are slowly settling into our new home. From the time we decided to move, there was non stop prep, legal work and packing to do. On top of that I rushed to get all my wedding details done that needed to be done in California. Needless to say, uprooting your life is not easy but we made it!
The first month of expat life in Amsterdam was…COLD. Literally it snowed the day we touched down and I felt like Leo (our dog) was in shock lol. It was an adjustment to get used to the cold forsure! And getting ready to leave in the morning took an extra 10 minutes to put on all the layers. However, the weather only improved from the time we arrived so luckily our experience only got better and better! Luckily Kevin didn’t start work for a week, so we found our permanent apartment, purchased our bikes, and hit the ground running (or biking in our case).
Adjusting to Expat Life
I think it would be impossible for someone to feel “at home” within the first two months of moving to a new country. From our experience, the first two months for us were so hectic that it felt like we were on a super busy extended vacation! And it helped that everyone here also speaks English in addition to Dutch. I can’t imagine how much longer it would have taken to get settled if I couldn’t communicate with the few people I met.
Some classic European/Amsterdam experiences we checked off in the first month:
• Working out at the gym and freaking out about being weak AF because they use kg here
• Using Celcius to gauge temperature
• A bike stolen
• And the other in a bike accident
• One flat tire
…you get the idea haha.
But aside from the first few hiccups, biking every day has been great for our health and our butts! 😉
The flip side. As great as this experience has been, we miss our families a lot. And Asian cuisine here is EXPENSIVE AF! T.T And there are times when I feel frustrated because some things that I understood easily at home, are made 10 times harder here due to the language barrier (all labels, mail and signs are in Dutch). A HUGE struggle for me was grocery shopping — I couldn’t read anything! A trip to the store would take me 2 hours, instead of 30 minutes. I would have to take my phone out in every single aisle and use Google Translate while feeling like a dum dum. The struggle was real and it turned something I usually enjoyed into a dreaded experience. Luckily now, I’ve picked up enough Dutch to get by and its become an easy part of my routine.
Three months in…
Three months into Expat Life and we are beginning to feel more settled. We are lucky to have met some amazing friends from church who make all the difference! 🙂 As much as Kevin and I love each other, it’s important to have other people in your life as well. We bike around our new city and grumble about the tourists in the bike lanes (haha yes we are now those people who ding the heck out of you). But honestly, it’s for your own safety! We walk around our city during golden hour, wonder at the beauty of the canals, and ask each other, “can you even believe this is our home?”.
I think it will take us the full year to really get settled, especially since we are taking a lot of vacation to go home and Bali for our own wedding. But we are excited for more exciting adventures and can’t wait for more of our friends from home to visit us!! *hint hint*
If anyone of you is struggling to make a decision on whether or not to try a totally new experience in a new country. Personally, I 100% recommend you to YES DO IT! However, it is a very tedious process and once you arrive it can be lonely AF — especially if you’re doing it alone. My personality has always been social but independent and I live for new experiences! I thought this adventure would be a dream, and honestly it’s been more than that. I’ve been able to meet people who grew up in completely different environments than myself and learn fun new things, like saying “keen” a lot haha.
In addition to new friends, I find myself reconnecting with old ones and being able to meet people in other countries. Hanging out with people who have the same passion as yourself is invigorating and inspiring! To leave off, if this still hasn’t convinced you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Just ask yourself if you would ever regret not making that leap into the unknown later on in life! 😉
That’s it for this time! It was a long one, but will update you guys again after some time.
— Raychow <3