5 shocking things you'll discover if you're Dutch in the U.S.

TransferWise content team
3 minute read

Are you Dutch and living in the U.S.? You are not alone, as there are more than 88,000 people living in the U.S who were born in the Netherlands.

To help those who've crossed the Atlantic to live in the U.S., TransferWise customers who’ve already made the move shared five valuable lessons that you’ll learn when relocating to the U.S.

Toning it down


While being direct and honest is valued in Dutch culture, it can come across as rude among Americans, who are used to toning down criticism, or “packaging it in a nice fluffy wrapper,” as Tim, a Dutch emigrant in New York said.

It can be a tad bit harder to detect authenticity too, as “How are you?” is commonly used for a greeting and “We should meet for a coffee sometime!” as code lingo for “It was nice to meet you,” whether or not the person actually wants to actually share a coffee later(!).

Tipping on everything


In the Netherlands, most people round up to tip, with a 10 percent tip only granted at the fanciest of restaurants with exceptional service.

Dutch servers are paid a minimum wage that they can live on, so much of their income doesn't depend solely on tips. Yet in America, where the federal minimum wage is just $2.13 an hour for people who recieve at least $30 a month in tips, it is important to always tip 15 to 25 percent of the bill. The total can run closer to 25 percent at fancier establishments or where an extra effort was made in the service.

It is also customary to tip for everyday services such as taxi rides or haircuts, and at the same rate (usually 20 percent) as a good restaurant meal.

Biking is a hobby, not transportation


In sharp contrast to the Netherlands, many people in the U.S. put their bikes on their cars to get somewhere “bike-able,” rather than using them to get from A to B.

Not all hope is lost in this car country however: many larger cities are expanding their bike lanes and biking culture.

While you may not be used to wearing a clunky helmut in the Netherlands, be sure to don one over in America, as drivers aren't as accustomed to share the lanes with their two-wheeled friends.

The food is actually good


American food may be perceived as served only in large portions, on large plates, and lean a little towards the greasier side.

In the Netherlands (and much of the world), American food doesn’t get the best reputation. Sometimes, sadly, it's for good reason, with the “cheese” slathered on nachos and fries looking and tasting like some chemical experiment, and rubbery hot dogs of rather questionable meat content.

Yet with a growing farmers market trend in many cities, and a huge diversity of food from every corner of the globe, you can also find some of the tastiest options in the U.S. And several supermarkets such as Trader Joe’s bring you gourmet quality at downmarket prices.

Different dining habits


Americans are big on finger food, and rarely will you catch them eating a hamburger, slice of pizza or burrito with anything but their hands.

When they do dine with utensils, they only use a knife if they really need to cut something, like a huge piece of steak. And when they do pick one up, they employ the ‘bait and switch’ method, passing the knife and fork back and forth like it’s a foot - ahem, soccer ball.

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Your bank might say it's "free" or offer a "fixed fee" to send money home but they routinely hit you with as much as 3% on the exchange rate mark-up they use.

TransferWise charges just 1% or 0.7% over $5,000 with no mark-up - that means you get a far better exchange rate.

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Want to see how we calculate this? Click here.

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