As well as being awarded fifth place overall in HSBCs 2017 Expat Explorer Survey, the Netherlands ranks first for family life out of 46 countries. From this, it’s clear that the Netherlands is considered a very family-friendly place. The city of Amsterdam in particular has experienced an increase in livability mostly due to a steady decline in crime rates, according to the Economist’s 2017 world’s most livable cities index – making it an appealing place for expat families to call home.
But what exactly makes this country and city so appealing and how can you ensure your family maintains a healthy living whilst adapting to life in a new country?
Moving abroad can be a very hectic time, so much so that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may fall by the wayside. With plenty of activities for all the family to get involved in and delicious local cuisine to taste, here are a few things to try in Amsterdam that will help you and your family stay in good health.
Traditional Dutch cuisine
Haring (Hollandse Nieuwe)
From a quaint fishing village to a vibrant city, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam retains its love of all things fish. Haring or “Hollandse Niuwe” (if the fish is caught between May and July) is a traditional Dutch dish of raw herring and is usually served with chopped onions and gherkins. It can be eaten with or without bread, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, eat it the Dutch way by lifting the herring by its tail and eating in an upwards motion – a great way to encourage the kids to try this tasty dish.
If you’re not too fond of raw fish, you can always try kibbeling, a common and popular street food which can be found in various market stalls across the city. This dish consists of pieces of battered and deep-fried white fish, usually cod, and is often served with tartare sauce or aioli.
It may not sound particularly appealing at first, but the Dutch’s version of pea soup is simply delicious. This thick green concoction consists of peas, pork, celery, onions and leeks, and is usually served up by street vendors during the winter months as a warming yet healthy snack.
Similar to the British dish ‘bubble and squeak’, this hearty traditional dish includes a mixed variation of potatoes, sauerkraut, carrot, onion, and kale. It is usually served with rookworst which is a traditional – and not to mention delicious – Dutch smoked sausage.
International food and other healthy options
As a home to 180 people of different nationalities, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam is a thriving hub of cultural diversity for both people and food. With more than 1000 restaurants and eateries, Amsterdam offers a plethora of international food options to choose from including Thai, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Argentinian and more.
You’ll also find plenty of healthy food options from local markets. One market worth mentioning is Albert Cuyp Markt which offers a wonderful assortment of fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, nutritious smoothies, as well as some cheekier options such as cheese, chocolate, and waffles.
Besides, as long as you are eating these cheeky treats in moderation alongside maintaining a healthy diet, there’s no reason why you can’t indulge in stroopwafels and cheese from time to time!
Other than indulging in Amsterdam’s plethora of delicious yet healthy food options, there are plenty of ways to ensure you and your family maintain good health. One popular form of exercise and transport in general in this buzzing city is cycling. With dedicated cycling paths, signals and systems, the cycling culture here is not to be missed. So, put on your helmets and join in! Not only is cycling a great way to maintain health and wellbeing, it’s also a great way to experience the local lifestyle.
One important aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle when moving abroad is ensuring you and your family have access to the country’s healthcare system and that you have all the appropriate healthcare provisions in place. Luckily, the healthcare system in the Netherlands is excellent. This is made clear in the The Legatum Prosperity Index 2017 in which the Netherlands ranked a respectable 8th out of 149 countries for health.
Both private and public hospitals offer a high-quality standard of care, so you can have peace of mind when receiving treatment at either. Hospitals and long-term care is funded through taxation, while short-term treatment is covered by medical insurance. Make sure you have medical insurance to cover short-term care, including visits to a GP, specialist or dentist. If you are unsure of whether you require expat health insurance to help cover any out of pocket fees you may incur, you can check with the government department (Sociale Verzekeringsbank) to put your mind at ease.
From delicious local delicacies and international cuisine, to cycling and high-quality healthcare, Amsterdam offers plenty of ways to help you and your family maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.