Ten tips for making yourself at home in Groningen
Welcome to Groningen! City Central has put together the ultimate starter kit for Groningen newbies. From the basics like rubbish disposal to where to find the best new restaurants, these are the essentials of your new home.
1. Finding a home
Groningen is a popular destination for students and young professionals, and the housing market is quite competitive. Check out this moving guide if you are still preparing for your move to the city.
If you’re looking to buy, start with Funda. For extra house hunt help, the International Welcome Center North (IWCN) has service partners specialising in housing for internationals.
For students, there’s At Home in Groningen: a regularly updated list of (short stay, max. 12 months) rooms for rent in Groningen.
2. Registering at the municipality
Once you’re all moved in, you have to register your new address at Groningen city hall. Make an appointment at gemeente.groningen.nl, gather up your documents and head to the municipal office at Kreupelstraat 1.
3. Getting a government ID
A DigiD is a digital ID for pretty much everything in the Netherlands, from healthcare to financial aid and taxes. It’s different from your BSN (burgerservicenummer, citizen service number), but you do need a BSN to apply for a DigiD through their English-language page.
4. Cards: banks and rubbish
Dutch bank card
A Dutch bank account will make life so much easier, especially once the Tikkies (payment requests) start pouring in after a borrel (drinks). Consult this detailed checklist from IWCN when choosing a Dutch bank, and schedule an in-person appointment.
Rubbish card (Huisvuilpas)
Groningen’s waste disposal system is actually kind of a big deal on the internet: a video of the system was a big hit on Reddit.
If your household doesn’t already have one, you can apply for a huisvalpas through the municipality. The card is assigned to a numbered rubbish bin (dark blue bins connected to large underground containers): place the card on the bin’s scanner, and when the screen turns green, open the metal cylinder, place your bags inside, then close it.
For recycling, you can find containers labelled milieudienst for paper (yellow panel) and glass (blue panel) throughout the city.
5. Travel: public transport and bikes
You just need one card for most modes of public transport in the Netherlands: the OV (openbaar vervoer) chip card. Get a personalized chip card so you can automatically upload money if your balance gets low and add specific travel products for northern transport companies like Arriva (train) and Qbuzz (bus).
Groningen is made for bikes – literally. But unless you have access to a private bike shed (or several heavy-duty bike locks), we recommend buying a used one from one of the dozens of bike shops in town. Another option: Swapfiets. For a monthly fee, these blue-tire bikes can be swapped out if they are broken or damaged.
6. Market days
Groningen’s centre is brimming with stands selling local products and fresh produce every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. The Grote Markt mainly sell textiles, and the Vismarkt has food stalls, including cheese, spices, fruits, baked goods and, of course, fish (Vismarkt means “fish market” in Dutch).
Other great semi-regular markets sell goods created right here in Groningen: the Ommelandermarkt (country market) at the Harmonieplein (Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 28) every second Saturday of the month features exclusively locally-made foods and crafts, and several provincial towns host monthly sustainable markets.
7. Food and drinks
Restaurants serving delicious international cuisine are popping up all over the city. Visit Groningen has a running list of the latest additions to Groningen’s restaurant offerings, and ordering in is easy too, thanks to Groningen-founded bike delivery service Fooddrop and other bike-based couriers.
8. Learning Dutch
Most Dutch people are (perhaps too) eager to speak English with you, but learning Dutch is key to tapping into life in Groningen. The University of Groningen’s Language Centre offers free Dutch courses up to level B1 for students, PhD candidates and post docs. Regional educational centres (ROCs) like Noorderpoort and Alfa-College also have Dutch language courses for foreigners.
9. Health care: insurance and general practitioners
Everyone in the Netherlands has to have health insurance. You can use this English-language insurance policy comparison tool when choosing your provider - prices start around 100 euros a month. Healthcare subsidies are also available - slightly different rules apply for health coverage for students.
Except for emergencies, your general practitioner is your gatekeeper in the Netherlands: you need a referral from them to visit a specialist. Dutch health insurance covers GP appointments and hospital visits and (dental coverage is extra). Check out Zorgkaart Nederland to find your nearest GP.
10. Get the apps
Groningen.nl has a really helpful list of must-have apps for Dutch life. Here are our favourites:
Buienradar: This weather app’s precipitation graph shows when it’s forecast to start raining down to the minute (a lifesaver for cycling).
Tikkie: A micropayment app for going Dutch.