The count down is still going: 1 year since I came in Haarlem in order to have my interview for the job I currently have and 9 months since we actually moved. In all this time we managed to find some things that really helped us in our process of accommodation.
The first thing that produced a lot of confusion was the fact that we were thinking that all the products are really expensive here. If in Romania I used to pay 0.75 e for 1.4 liters of milk here we pay 1e for 1 liter (and the milk is not that fat). But not only the food seemed to be so expensive, all other products too: cleaning products or personal care products. Until we’ve seen that in each week the stores have a lot of discounts for all this type of products: 2 at the same price or half priced. Of course, you need to have a bonus card from those stores, but the fact is that this kind of products, being chemicals, have a long availability period so you can take as many as you wish. So now, I think in fact Netherlands it’s cheaper than Romania. There’s even a site on which you may find all the discounts at all the stores: http://www.voordeelmuis.nl/ .
Another thing we considered annoying was the time schedules of the stores. Who is available during the week until 18:00 to buy something? But now I think it’s really a great thing, because instead of buying each day a lot of stuffs you have the weekend or Thursday for this. On each Thursday the stores are open until 21:00. The market is also open, usually, only on Saturdays, but it’s better this way: it’s more probably the fruits/cheese are fresh. In case you are looking for a store and you want to know the time schedule, there’s a site for it: http://www.openingstijden.nl/ .
We like to travel. And since the weather this year was so good we’ve wandered a lot in Netherlands. But how can you do this without paying a lot for the train? There are 2 possibilities: make an NS pass or buy special day trips from Blokker/Hema/Albert Heijn. NS offers different types of passes for traveling, I think the most used is Dal Voordel, which offers 40% discount during off peak hours and in weekends. But we have a Weekend Vrij pass, which offers 40% discount during off peak hours and 100% discount for weekends. And isn’t it nice when you travel with somebody? If you have this kind of NS passes you can offer to others 40% discount for the trips you do together (of course if the discount is also applicable to you). You may find the types of passes at https://www.ns.nl/producten/abonnementen . Regarding the special day trips tickets, from time to time you can find at stores tickets with 7e for a round trip from wherever to wherever in the country, in the same day.
Since we are in NL I have been to some many movies that I can’t count. We have a Pathe cinema near our building so we usually see 2 movies per week. How can you afford this kind of activity? It is so easy: Pathe offers 2 types of passes for unlimited cinema (one is including 3D and Imax). With this pass you can go to a Pathe cinema in which city you wish in NL and pay nothing for the ticket. So if you are a movie lover it’s the perfect pass for you. This is the link if you are interested: https://www.pathe.nl/unlimited .
In Romania I tried many times to have a sport hobby. But I am not that active and my work-life balance was in a really bad situation (80% work, 20% life 😉 ). When I’ve seen the gym right across the street I said “why not?”. And now I am addicted to it, I love kickboxing and Zumba. Why is this information a useful thing? Because everybody can afford a gym pass! If in Romania only corporation employees afford a gym pass with unlimited entry, here it’s really cheap. With the money I pay at my gym with unlimited access, sauna and personal fit trainer, in Romania I was paying for 8 hours at a girls gym. So why not try it? Sport is an important part of my life now and I’ve started even to feel sorry that I will miss kickboxing lessons.
I almost forgot about museum cards. If you like museums there’s a perfect card for you! With 65e per year, with museum card you can visit a lot of museums across the country. Only if you visit Van Gogh, Anne Frank and Rijksmuseum you pay for the card. More info at: http://www.museumkaart.nl .
With all of this Netherlands became so cheap compared with Romania. And all of this types of activities make you happy and free. Because it’s so important to afford a movie, a train trip or a sport! So forget about your couch, go out right now! 🙂