Dutch Culture & Lifestyle

The Dutch culture is unique. This can, of course, be said of each culture. The Dutch want to be modern and progressive, but also wish to preserve their standards and values. The Dutch are extremely direct in their communication. They may sound blunt if you come from a culture where communication is more indirect and context driven. They do not use hyperbole, and likewise they expect to be told yes or no in clear words. In general, ideas will be discussed quite openly at meetings, with everyone entitled to their opinion. 

The Netherlands is known worldwide for its tolerant attitude and the aspects of this most visible to outsiders are the open attitude to for example homosexuality, abortion, and soft drugs.

The Dutch Way: The Cloggies and their peculiarities as observed by expats

  • The Dutch are firm believers in equality in all spheres of life. Nobody has an undue advantage over the other.

  • They are friendly people - kind, polite and helpful.  

  • Moderation is the key to a successful living for the Dutch. Show-offs are not encouraged in any field.

  • There are probably more bikes than people in Holland. It is the most prized possession of the Dutch. This reflects well in their fitness and healthy lifestyle.

  • The Dutch are very good planners - weekdays as well as the weekends are planned, well in advance. The Dutch lifestyle is regulated by diaries. It is probably the single most popular gift on the new year!! Everything is jotted down religiously in the diaries from meetings to leisure time.

  • The Dutch seek consensus whether it be a meeting or discussion. They live by the principle of agreement and harmony.

  • The Dutch enjoy a great family life and firmly believe that money cannot buy happiness. The personal and professional lives are kept separate.

  • They are a private bunch and emotions are kept under check during dealings with strangers.

  • Weather is the most discussed topic in short conversations. The Netherlands weather definitely merits this, what with it showing all colors from snow, to rain, to wind, to sun.

  • The Dutch like to practice their English. As soon as you start off in broken Dutch, they start speaking to you in English.

  • Thanks to their spirit of openness and frankness, humor resonates well with most of them. ‘Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg’ Act normally, that is crazy enough - is a favourite Dutch expression.

There are several good books on Dutch culture available. Check one of the bookstores to find one that interests you.

Last Modified: 04-01-2017