The Expat’s Guide: Apps for expats in the Netherlands
Being in a new country has its ups and downs. Sometimes we need some tools to make things a little easier in our lives. This post on apps for expats in the Netherlands is designed to be a starting point for you to find what works best for you and your life.
The right app at the right moment can make a HUGE difference. It can make checking your bank account take only seconds instead of logging onto the website and having to do it from there. It can make staying in touch easy peasy and figuring out what to do during your next girls’ night so much less stressful. My favorites are the ones that help save me money or time.
When you finish reading, let me know if there are any awesome apps I’ve missed!
Best apps to stay in touch with friends and family back home and your new friends
Using WhatsApp seems to be mandatory in Europe. Is it like this everywhere? Nobody texts anymore! It’s all on WhatsApp and I love it. You can text as normal, send gifs, pictures, videos, and audio messages. I send audio messages far too often, probably, but it’s so much easier. Things just get lost in text, you know?
If you’re American, then Skype is probably what people expect you to use while you’re away. Well, this or Facetime, but I’m not an Apple person, so it’s Skype for me! You can use it for video calls or just like a telephone. Make sure you keep some money on it so you can call over wifi to a landline or cell phone if you need to. Skype is also big for interviews, so it’s best to go ahead and make an account even if you don’t use it often.
As with many things, I’m very iffy on Facebook and their privacy issues. But, let’s face it, everyone seems to be on it and Facebook Messenger makes it so easy to stay in touch. This is how I tend to communicate with my family the most. You also have voice, and video calls available here as well. Why are there so many apps?!
It’s funny when you start to think about how you use different apps. Sean and I use this all.the.time. But not so much with others. I think in the U.S. I used it more, but like I said, over here, it’s all about WhatsApp. Google Hangouts also has the ability to make video and voice calls, but you cannot call a landline or cell phone unless you have Google Voice and that’s not something you can set up when abroad. You’d have to do it before you leave the U.S. and you can only use it on desktop as far as I know. Check your app or play store for the download.
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Apps to learn Dutch with (or just to translate your mail!)
Duolingo is a great app to start with. It’s free, it’s easy to figure out and it is heavily gamified in case you need that extra push. You can even add friends to it and see who can keep up a longer learning streak.
What is life without Google? They have an app for everything! Google Translate is a must on my phone for Dutch so I can translate important pieces of mail. But it’s also perfect for when you’re at a restaurant with an all-Dutch menu, or for when you are traveling anywhere that they don’t speak your native language. Check your app or play store for the download.
I’m a bit biased here. Rosetta Stone is from my hometown and I’ve been using different versions since 2005. Of course, I think about how far along I would be if I kept with it all these years! I still use it frequently, and I really like the setup and user experience. What makes it extra special for me is that it has pictures of my hometown and even some pictures of friends on the app!
Manage your money with these apps
Wise, formerly Transferwise
I swear by Wise. I use it every month because when take advantage of American credit cards, so we move money to pay it off each month. But, if you have house payments, loans, or just family you send money to, Wise is amazing. We’ve been using it for 5 years now, and just love it. Here’s my affiliate link.
If you’re in the Netherlands for a long period, you probably don’t need to figure out the cost equivalent for your home currency. XE mostly comes in handy when traveling to places with currencies other than the Euro. When living in the Netherlands, it’s so easy to travel, so we use it often!
Your bank app
I’ve written about how to set up your finances when moving to the Netherlands and how I recommend bunq. It’s not for everyone since it’s an online-only bank and some people want to be able to go to a bank branch if they need to. Just be sure, whatever bank you use, download their app. Your life will be so much better for it! Here are some of the app websites:
I’m pretty sure you have to have Tikkie (in Dutch) when living in the Netherlands. It’s how you can go out with friends and split the bill later. It’s the easiest thing in the world to use, and by pairing it with WhatsApp, it’s even easier.
Best apps for transportation around Europe
I’ve found Flixbus to be cheap, efficient, easy, and fairly quick depending on how far you are going. The seats are pretty comfortable, there’s a toilet on-board, and you can bring snacks! It might just be the smoothest transportation process we’ve taken all year!
It’s the national airline and if you fly a lot and look forward to status, then KLM is the airline to go with. There are lounges all over the world and some nice perks, too. Having the app makes it super easy to book flights, upgrade, check your seat, and get you a mobile boarding pass. Though, I still check flights through the next app just in case anyone is being sneaky on prices.
You’ve gotta be thorough! Check all of your options for flights with Skyscanner. What I love is that you can set a price alert, so if you are planning pretty far in advance and know how much you want to pay, it’s perfect! You can also search “Everywhere”, too. Which is pretty awesome if you’re feeling adventurous. It’s also possible to book hotels and car rentals on the app.
Omio is my go-to app for comparing planes, trains, and buses. I mostly use this app for trains all over Europe. So many places make it difficult to book trains, so it’s really been a life-saver. We’ve even done a full-explanation of the benefits! Don’t book the trains in the Netherlands here, because you’ll probably have an OV-chipkaart and don’t need to unless you’re going out of the country. Then it can be helpful.
If you’re traveling by train in the Netherlands a lot, then you’ll want to download the NS app. It’ll keep you up-to-date on delays and diversions…which happens a bit too much. But it can also help you plan your journey.
For an overview of all public transportation throughout the whole country and spanning all the carriers, 9292 is the go-to app.
Covering mostly Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Citymapper is a beautiful app that makes public transportation easy. If you are in either of those cities, this app is one of the best with the most detailed information with helpful directions.
If you fly at all, download the Schiphol app. When you get a flight number, put it in there and let it help you. It will let you know which departures area (or arrivals if you are waiting for someone) you should go to, which gate you’ll need to be at (once it’s announced), which carousel your luggage will be on (if you are returning back), and so much more. It’s so great that sometimes it’s updated before the signs in Schiphol. I don’t know how that happens, but I’ve seen it! During delays or changes, it will also let you know.
This is my go-to accommodation app. Yep, I used to work at Booking.com, but I really just like the app. Also, while Airbnbs are fine, I’m very conscious of their effects on over-touristed areas (like Amsterdam), so we stick with hotels and apart-hotels, mostly. There are also apartments on Booking.com, so if we think it appropriate, we can book them that way.
Find restaurants and order food with these apps
Whether you are traveling or looking to eat out in Amsterdam, OpenTable makes it super simple. You can turn on your GPS and let it find restaurants nearby, then pick which date and time you are looking for and it will show you what’s available. Likewise, if you are traveling, you can plan ahead and book dinners before you leave home. Obviously, this only works for places available on the OpenTable app. It’s more popular in some places than others, but it’s a great place to start.
This is another reservation app but The Fork works with even more areas and even more restaurants! It’s always nice to have options and alternatives. They have a rewards program as well, so you earn “yums” when you book. Sometimes they even had discounts when you book through them. I just love that and we used the discounts in Italy!
Yes! Groupon is a thing here. If you are looking for inspiration on things to do, Groupon is a great app for that. I use it to find something fun for my girlfriends and me to do…like afternoon tea. But it’s also helpful to find beauty and spa discounts.
This app is very similar to Groupon but on Social Deal all the deals on a countdown, so be quick! You can also use it to find last-minute deals of all kinds. So, if you are looking for something to do in the next couple of days, this is a great spot to look.
Too Good To Go
I am in love with this idea. Download the Too Good To Go app, let it have your location, or just type it in and it will let you know where you can pick up food that there is an excess of. In Amsterdam, that includes grocery stores, hotels (usually from breakfast), bakeries and restaurants. It helps reduce food waste, which is awesome!
Food delivery apps
The main food delivery apps for Amsterdam are: Thuisbezorgd, UberEats, Deliveroo. Some restaurants are on all of them and some are only on one. Which one to use is down to which is best for your neighborhood and your payment method. We use all depending on what we are craving that evening.
Discover new things to do and places to go with these handy apps
When moving to a new place, you must create a network of people. I think it’s the most important thing to do in making this change work for you. If you are looking to make more friends, we have a post all about that! It’s actually one of our most popular posts. Meetup.com makes it pretty easy to search for topics that interest you. From exercise groups to reading groups, wine-tasting, there’s something for everyone.
Find events and buy tickets on one platform. In addition to Facebook, where you can find events on their events page, Eventbright is a popular app for this area to sell or just distribute free tickets. I like how you can search for “this weekend” and/or filter by using their topics list.
Tripadvisor is great for discovering the must-do things where you live. I mean, there’s always going to be the basic stuff you should see if your city. Let Tripadvisor guide you and help you find those things. People tend to be really good at leaving tips, too, so keep a lookout for those!
Be prepared with the best Amsterdam apps
There are some basic apps for all Amsterdammers that will make your life so much easier. From ferries to weather, we’ve got you covered with our best Amsterdam apps post.
It’s funny how something as simple as an app can change everything. They can make life less stressful, save you money, save you time, and so much more.
If you have an app that you think should go on this list, please leave it in a comment below. We can keep this list growing and help each other!
The thing is, moving is tough, so if knowing about one of these apps make it easier for you, then all the better!