When to walk away

So much advice is given about what to do when you arrive in a new place. What time of year is best to visit? What are the major tourist attractions? How do you find housing and job opportunities?

When it's a good time to leave

But after a year and a half of living in the Netherlands I am now faced with a very different question: How do you know when it is a good time to leave?

As expats we all come to this crossroad eventually. Long after the honeymoon phases have passed and tourist traps have been discovered, one is left with a simple truth: we are away from the place we once called home.

There is no "right" time to leave, but there are a few indicators that may signal that it is time.


I came to The Netherlands to study in The Hague. Having graduated a few months ago my original purpose for being here has passed. There is comfort in closure.

Lingering on beyond your original intent can sometimes diminish the experience of accomplishment. When you have reached the end of one journey, perhaps that is exactly the best time to start another.


The Netherlands may be well know for its tulip fields, but the grass here is not necessarily greener than elsewhere. The economic recession, coupled with potential obstacles like language and work permits, may pose limits to the opportunities you once thought available.

If after months of searching you still have not landed that dream job or scored that internship, then maybe it is time to quit before you fall too far behind professionally or financially.


Let's face it, even if your original purpose for being in the Netherlands has long passed and the opportunities for professional growth are scarce, if you are having fun you might just choose to stay.

But when you have run out of things to see, your expat friends have moved on and your rosy-eyed picture of Holland has faded, there is a pretty good chance that it is time to say goodbye.


Being on the road can be difficult. Though living or travelling in Holland is not what most of us would call "roughing it," it is nonetheless a foreign environment with its share of oddities and idiosyncrasies.

No matter how long we have been away, eventually we long for the comforts of home, wherever that may be. Homesickness is not a feeling to be suppressed, but rather a sentiment that might tell you it is time to return.

 The next adventure 

For many living in a new place and travelling abroad is fueled by a sense of wonder and adventure. But if you find your adventurous spirit waning, then maybe a move to a new location elsewhere will help you reclaim it.

In this way your time in the Netherlands may be less of a final destination, than a stepping-stone to a much greater and fulfilling expat experience.



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