Is Almere serving its expat community well?

 

Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time. We were this time. The Municipality (Gemeente) of Almere is more and more aware of its international community here in town. They have decisions coming up (like about the international school campus) for which they would like to have more information on the international community. So, we offered them to do a survey among the internationals of Almere that we are connected with, to find out their opinion about Almere. What are they happy with, what not, and what are their suggestions? We published an online questionnaire on the Facebook page and website of International Almere.

The questions

In April 2017 we sent out the following five questions to more than 1000 internationals/expats living in Almere:

  1. Why did you choose to live in Almere?
  2. What can the Almere municipality do better to help you to find your way in Almere? 
  3. What do you like about living in Almere?
  4. What don’t you like about living in Almere?
  5. How could Almere attract more internationals?

The answers

The overwhelming response we received gave valuable insights for the municipality about the motives, complaints and suggestions of the international community living in Almere. Some highlights of this survey: many expats are very happily living in Almere. Important reasons to live in Almere are the affordable prices of the houses (especially compared to Amsterdam), the proximity to Utrecht and Amsterdam and many expats view Almere as a child friendly city. Specially appreciated are the nature in and around the city, the public transport and the safety and quietness of Almere. Main topics of dissatisfaction are the roadblocks on the A6 and A1, the negative image of Almere and the somewhat boring atmosphere of the city center, especially at night. Almere seems to be appreciated especially by families with children, that want to escape the busy cities of Utrecht or Amsterdam. So, this is more or less the same group as the non-internationals who like to live in Almere. What should the “Gemeente” improve the most?  By far: availability of online information for living in Almere in English and a sort of helpdesk for internationals at the town hall to help newcomers to get started. If Almere wants to grow the expat/international community, international school availability is very important. People want to live in the near vicinity of the school their children go to.

General conclusion

Next to the availability of schools the main issue for current residents and future newcomers is communication: give information in English and also actively promote the city. The possibilities and opportunities that Almere has to offer are little known amongst new arrivals.

Now what?

A report along with a list of recommendations for the municipality was presented and discussed with a delegation of four representatives of the municipality of Almere on Monday 15th of May.  At the end, we officially handed over the report to Monique Vredenburg, senior project manager Economic Affairs of the Municipality. Again, we’d like to thank all the internationals that took the time to fill in the questionnaire, called us with their remarks or sent us emails with answers. Your input is highly appreciated. We hope the municipality will use all suggestions you gave to further improve their service to the internationals in Almere.

Stephanie Ernst and Michel Daenen present Monique Vredenburg with the results of the survey.

Stephanie Ernst, International Almere, www.internationalalmere.com

Karin Gabor and Michel Daenen, Crossing Cultures, www.crossingcultures.nu

 

For further information, you can contact: Stephanie Ernst, marketing@internationalalmere.com or

Karin Gabor, karin.gabor@crossingcultures.nu or Michel Daenen, michel.daenen@crossingcultures.nu   

Kings Day by our Members …

April 27th is here and when you’re an international living in the Netherlands, it can seem like the whole country is going orange crazy … so International Almere is here to help you survive Kings Day in Almere, and some tips for if you decide to head out to the bigger celebrations in Amsterdam.

We asked our members for the best tips on where to go in Almere, personal experiences and stories, and survival tips so we could make a Guide to Kings Day in Almere and beyond!

 

Memories of Kings Day

Our members shared their experiences of Kings Day – the good, the funny, the cultural mishaps and the bad.  From childhood memories of selling toys, to broken down cars, relocation disasters and even those who were disappointed in the party, they told their stories.

When I was young me and my brother went to sit and sell stuff with my dad. We got up early (well, like 5-6 am) and drive to the city centre, which was not nearly as big as it is now. We would find a nice spot and sit there all day ’till about 5 on our blanket. We did this for years. But slowly the people started to realize that the early bird gets the best buy, and sellers started to realize they would have to come earlier to have the early birds scouting their stuff.. and to claim a good space. Because, Almere was getting bigger every year. Well, that resulted in today people starting to sell from the day before. And although it’s not allowed to sell before 6 pm on the 26th people usually start earlier than that. Petra (Netherlands)

Queens Day and I didn’t start off the right foot. Back in ’89 I was young, naive and came from the country of street- and community party’s. Any party held in public, whether it was the a public holiday, a 700th anniversary of the city, the annual fair of the fire brigade/men’s choir/local gymnastic society/ local church etc., came always with a) music b) beer (ok, in case of the church tea and coffee) and c) food. A LOT of food. Dozens of cakes and pies, “Schwenkbraten” (BBQ), Bratwurst ohne ende…You get the picture. Anyway, at my first Queens Day I left the house, excited to discover the Dutch way to party and try their specialties and found thousands of happy Dutch people drinking beer (Yay!!) and selling their old belongings (huh????). I went home, hungry and disappointed. These days we have Kings Day though, and I have to admit, it has it charms. Once I realized beer is a good companion with almost anything at Kings Day AND I found a charming Dutchman who introduced me to the real thing (Amsterdam), I started to enjoy it. Kings day has everything. From spontaneous street parties, to markets, to gigantic festivals. In Almere I love going to the Belfort Plein, enjoying the sunshine (if we get so lucky) and some music, In Amsterdam I love the market which is kids only at the Vondelpark. Utrecht is also great with lots of terraces, music and a relaxed day out. The fun is starting the evening before though, with Kings Night. In the city centre people start to sell their second hand goods and the first parties are getting started. My advice if this is your first Kings day? Go with the flow and enjoy. Just like the Dutch do! Doreen (Germany)

 

 

When i was young it was heaps of fun.. sitting there at 3am .. people was kind and had lots of laughs. My parents car even broke down on our way with all our stuff in ! People started helping pushing the car down to the mall. We’d take food and coffee with us.. my aunts and uncles was always standing next to us..so a whole line of family next to each other.. damn good times.. memories.. Katrina (Australia/Netherlands)

 I used to love Queens day in Hilversum, there was always a Kermis and loads of free activities for the children, bouncy castles, pony rides, face painting, lots of live music, it was always a fantastic day out. We loved looking what was for sale and getting a bargain. I have to say I was really disappointed when we moved to Almere as there really wasn’t that much on in comparison. Rachael (Australia)

Surviving Amsterdam

It’s said that you’ve never experienced Kings Day until you’ve been to one in Amsterdam.  And yes, we know that Almere is the place to be, our members have also given us their stories and tips for Kings Day in Amsterdam.

Jordaan is very nice on Kings Day! That’s near the Westertoren and Anne Frank museum area! Go early because it’s very busy there ! There’s very creative and funny people who do karaoke from out their window or more funny selling ideas and in the Elandstraat and the Eesterstraat, Noordermarkt & Laurierstraat are really easy to recommend!

 It is such an experience, Kingsday in Amsterdam! I really recommend it for that international feeling of togetherness, joy, and delightfulness, it always gives such a rewarding feeling that day  Internationalism and people from all over the world are like brothers it’s a genuine experience and gives hope (that’s my personal experience) for a better world it is possible Marita (Netherlands)

 

Survival tips for Amsterdam

  1. Go early
  2. Park legally – if you go to Amstel station and then bike or take public transport.
  3. Watch out for glass on the ground and wear closed shoes.
  4. Take small change for toilets and bargains!
  5. Take a litre of water
  6. If you’re going with friends, pick a meeting point for the end of the day in case you get separated
  7. Keep your personal items (phones, wallets) safe at all times.
  8. Wear orange!