Our ‘Navigate the Netherlands’ story:


From Islamabad, Pakistan to Amsterdam, the Netherlands



New2nl wants to connect with our readers. We want to know where they live, what they do, what their family looks like, and most of all, what brings them to the Netherlands. The best way to do this? Ask our dear clients directly!

In these ‘Our Navigate the Netherlands story’ series, we’ll interview one family three times during their process of moving to the Netherlands: just before they move, after their first few weeks in the Netherlands, and 6-12 months after their arrival in the country.

This is part three about the Hayat family’s move to the Netherlands. In case you have missed part 1, in which this Pakistani family explained why they were moving to the Netherlands, and how they prepared, you can read it here. In part 2 you can read how they got settled and made their first friends.

Mutahhir:  If you know how to cycle, but find Amsterdam bike traffic to be intimidating, don’t worry, just jump in and pretty soon you’ll come to realize how cycling is the number 1 way of moving within Amsterdam.

How is everything going for you?

Everything has been great! We’re finally feeling like we’re settled in and feeling a bit like the Netherlands is home.

Do you already feel at home in your new home? What have you done to create this feeling?

We love our place! One of the things we did early on was to not move a lot of our stuff from back home. This let us really design the place to our liking. Nooria’s a big fan of re-arranging the house and has a great eye for where things go. That’s really helped us not feel like this was an apartment that we moved into, but a place that we designed for ourselves.

Have you or your family members made any friends yet? If yes, where did you meet?

Having a healthy social circle has been one of the things we’ve been thankful for the most in this move. Having moved to different countries before, we know just how difficult it can be to make new friends.

A lot of our social circle was created organically. The decision we made was to keep ourselves open to meeting and befriending new people. Some friends we were introduced to as they were also new to the Netherlands like we were, others were friends or acquaintances of our friends back home. We also made friends from work and the kids’ school was also a great place to meet people and make new friends.

Which member of your family is currently most fluent in Dutch?

This is tricky to gauge reliably because I think both the kids are on a different level than us parents. I think Mustafa has the biggest vocabulary, while Taiba is the most fluent in Dutch. Mutahhir can read most of the correspondence we get (I’m sure he’s using a lot more Google Translate than he’d like to admit!), but Nooria is the one taking the Dutch course now, so the situation might change very soon :).

What has been your most valuable discovery so far? This can be anything you can think of!

This discovery may pertain specifically to living in Amsterdam, but we figured out how to find a balance with regards to transport. Amsterdam has a great transport system, but the real power comes when you mix and match the various services that are available to you. This is how we think of moving as a family within Netherlands:

– Going nearby individually or with one kid: Bikes
– Going nearby with the whole family: Bikes / Metro / Tram / Bus.
– Bad weather, going farther, or going for a night out: Uber
– Long trips, going to a different city to meet friends: Greenwheels
– Going to another city for tourism: Trains / Flights / Car rentals

Of course there’s a lot of mix and match and we make our decisions based on the kind of activity.

What is the most fun thing you have experienced so far? And the strangest thing?

Photo by Lisheng Chang on Unsplash

I think the thing we appreciate the most is the ability to just get on a train or a car and visit a completely new country. Moving between countries where you don’t have to think about visa restrictions and border controls always blows our minds, coming from Pakistan.

The strangest thing we experienced has been the weather…..

How are your children doing at school?

We feel that they’re doing pretty good. They’ve made friends which is super important, they’re doing well academically, and they seem to be having fun.

Does the school meet your expectations?

This is a tricky question to answer specifically because our expectations are heavily biased on the kind of education we get in Pakistan and how we were educated.

That being said, we’re loving the way that the school approaches the IPC curriculum and we feel the kids are learning a lot about all kinds of things. We are also really appreciative of the fact that the school has a huge expat community so the kids get to meet others from different countries and cultures. We want them to be global citizens, to be open and understanding about other cultures; we feel like the school is going to be an important aspect of that.

How is your job going?

Mutahhir: My job is going really well. It’s been an exciting and busy year, but I really like the team and the work I’m doing.

Which differences at work did you have most difficulty getting used to?

Mutahhir: Since I was remote before, but was working with the same team, the commute and family presence were the biggest changes.

With regards to the commute, as it stands it’s around 25 minutes by bike, so I get a good workout each day, which has been great! I really look forward to my commute now, and really hate it when my bike is having problems or the weather is just horrible because I then have to take public transport.

Being remote ensured that I was able to help out and be present for the kids, so that’s still something I’ve been unable to get around. However, the school days are a bit longer here, and since both kids now go to school, the difference hasn’t been that big.

Have you already been back to your own country since your move to the Netherlands? If yes, how was it?

We spent our entire summer holidays back home, and it was lovely. There’s just something about home that you can’t quite explain. The kids had a lot of fun with their grandparents, met friends and family, had delicious food, and enjoyed all the sun!

What is the biggest obstacle/problem you have encountered so far? How did you overcome it?

There’s nothing that really comes to mind with regards to this. We’ve been lucky that we’ve not really encountered any big issues with moving and living here. We’ve found the systems in place within the Netherlands that make resolving issues really easy.

What tips would you give to families who are new to the Netherlands?

We’d like to pass on some of the numerous tips we’ve received over the past year:

– If you’re moving from a sunny region, the winters here can really get to you. Take rest and go out whenever the sun comes out! There are also medications for dealing with this, talk to your huisarts (family doctor) if you’re feeling down a lot in the winters.
– If you don’t know how to yet, learn how to cycle. If you know how to cycle, but find Amsterdam bike traffic to be intimidating, don’t worry, just jump in and pretty soon you’ll come to realize how cycling is the number 1 way of moving within Amsterdam.
– Buy a crappy old bike, cheap!
– Get a museumkaart, the museums here are wonderful.
– There are tons of websites that compare health insurance, energy providers etc.; Find the best deal, not just the first one.
– For most home necessities, there are deals going on in different shops. You can find out about deals by looking online at places like: www.reclamefolder.nl. You can save a lot like that.
– Last but not least, don’t stress out if there’s something you need to get done at the gemeente (muncipality). They offer excellent service and almost every interaction I’ve had there has been with someone who is super nice and genuinely wants to help you.


Would you like to connect with Nooria and Mutahhir Hayat? You may send a message to annebet@new2nl.com and we’ll make sure to pass it on.

Have you also worked with New2nl and would you like to be featured in the next ‘Navigate the Netherlands’ story? Please answer the above questions and send them together with some high-res pictures of your family and some favorite places of yours in your home country to annebet@new2nl.com.

Other stories in this series:

The Schavemaker family from South Africa – part 1&2

The Hayat family from Pakistan – part 1&2

The Davidson family from the USA – part 1