An Expat's View: Christian Lelong
Published: 08 October 2009 Modified: 03 November 2011
Christian Lelong, a Mexican working for the Australian mining company BHP Billiton, lived in The Hague together with his French wife and children for nearly four years. In fact, their second daughter was born in the neighbouring city of Delft. Here their impressions of their time in The Hague.
There were a number of things I really liked about living in The Hague. I loved being able to ride my bike, for example. I’m originally from Mexico City which, with 18 million inhabitants, has far too many cars, making cycling dangerous. With so many bike paths, The Hague is a safe place to bike. Being able to cycle around the city was a great bonus of living in The Hague.
We also enjoyed The Hague’s nature and the outdoors in other ways. There are lots of nice places to go running, like through the dunes in Wassenaar and Kijkduin and in the Haagse Bos.
Good restaurants and museums
Culturally the city also has quite a bit to offer. With a city just shy of half a million residents, I was surprised at how many good restaurants there are. There are also a number of good museums which are definitely worth a visit. I especially liked the Gemeentemuseum, Museon, Museum of Photography, Mauritshuis and Escher in Het Paleis. But there are many more museums to choose from. On average we visited a museum once every two weeks, more often then in any other country we have lived in.
Praise for Municipality
The Municipality of The Hague also deserves some praise. It provides good service, especially compared to my past experience in France. I found the people at the municipality pleasant and efficient. City Hall itself is also a very attractive building.
The municipal swimming pools are also a big plus. They are nice and convenient and make a great outing for the kids when the weather is poor, which unfortunately is not a rare thing in the Netherlands. The weather was definitely our number one complaint in terms of our stay in The Hague.
City is far from perfect
There were other things that made our stay here less pleasant. For one thing the city is too quiet – remember I come from Mexico City. I think a real university campus would liven things up as it would attract more young people.
There was also too much rubbish on the streets and in the canals. There was even rubbish in the Hofvijver of the Binnenhof, one of the city’s main attractions. We also thought the food in the Albert Heijn (one of the country’s leading supermarkets) was terrible. There was little variety and the quality of the food is low compared to French and British supermarkets.
And finally a note of caution: we spent a lot of money on parking and speeding tickets – they are very expensive in the Netherlands. I also found that Dutch drivers could get angry very easily. So watch out when driving or parking in the Netherlands.