Expat On The Cheap: Where To Shop In The NL

by farrah on February 1, 2016 · 2 comments

So we expats are an interesting bunch. Sure there’s this stereotype that they’re (we’re?) all rich and have drivers and nannies and  private schools (where does this come from anyhow?), but your average day-to-day expat is nothing of the sort. If you’re like us- meaning my family and my friends, you’re here temporarily. That most likely means you don’t know when you’re leaving or maybe you do- but you have the idea that MORE CRAP is not something that you want to obtain because YOU HAVE TO PACK IT ALL BACK UP.

decaThe sports store. Yeah, that sign back there says €5.

That, and the fact that your house/apt/etc is most likely smaller than what you had ‘back home’. There are fewer places to put those doo dads and knick knacks. Not to even mention the absolute waste of money we see in actually investing in things like furniture or other big-ticket items. The stuff we have we want to be able to leave/resell/donate. It’s nothing special (except of course my glorious chairs) that you want to take back.

So where do you get all of these little life necessities that don’t cost a ton of money and are, for the most part- easy to leave behind? There is no Target, and in all honesty the places below are less expensive than Target. When we first arrived a list like this was all that I wanted. You’re welcome new expat.

Home Goods

  • Xenos- Holiday decor, home decor, kitchen stuff. It is a hodge podge of all those things that you don’t necessarily need but can use and really want.

Sporting Goods

  • Decathlon– This store inspired the post. My husband came home the other day telling me about this amazing sporting goods store that we had to go and see for ourselves. We drove out to Eindhoven Sunday to check out this place- and it is indeed as amazing as he claimed. Think Dick’s Sporting Goods but bigger, cheaper, more stuff and tons of things for your kids to try out. Everything from roller blades to field hockey and punching bags. No wonder it was so crowded on a Sunday because the rain was miserable- the kids could play in there all day!


  • Lidl- (not just for groceries!)- My best friend swore up and down that this strange little grocery store had more than just food. I was skeptical. But, we started a weekly tradition after checking out the ad and marking off what we wanted. I’ve bought exercise clothes, cutting boards, and even this adorable dress which is actually of nice quality. The key is that you get there as early as possible the day the sale is live because nothing good sticks around for long.
  • Zeeman- The bright yellow sign beckons me to buy my boys new underwear and socks. I also pick up oven gloves, hand towels and cleaning rags. It’s all very inexpensive and you get what you pay for- so keep that in mind.
  • Flying Tiger- This charming little store was introduced to me by Megan up in Den Haag. It has Swiss-like things that you don’t really need but make cute gifts. We have one in Eindhoven too so I am guessing they’re all over the NL.
  • Action- I believe this was rated the #1 store in the NL last year. My friend Sabine goes there quite a bit but since it’s just out of my normal biking range I’ve only been a time or two. Clothing, housewares, inflatable pool toys- it’s all there.

Kid clothing

  • Primark- I have a love/hate with this store because it’s all SO DAMN CHEAP you cannot understand how they possibly make a profit. I have since learned that this UK company doesn’t do ANY advertising because their prices ignite word of mouth. It has cute clothes- I bought the boys Christmas sweaters there two years ago for about €10 each. It is ALWAYS crowded. Just follow the stream of people clutching the brown bags and you’ll find it.

As for me, I shop for clothing quite randomly. I pick up a new sweater or top now and then from Lidl, but don’t skimp on my shoes or jeans. I also like nice handbags but stay true to the Dutch brand Berba there. I’m one of those people who holds onto stuff for years so I don’t mind spending money on things I’ll keep. The boys? Not so much. They grow out of things and blast the knees out quicker than you can say ‘lickety-split’.

So tell me- what other stores can I add to this expat on the cheap list?



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cindy herron July 25, 2016 at 5:41 pm

I’m moving with my family (hubby n 2 young boys under 2 ) from the US to Amsterdam this October. I’m really enjoying all your articles !

Thank you!!


2 farrah August 13, 2016 at 10:29 am

Hi Cindy! Sorry for my delayed response. I hope your preparation for the move is going well and you aren’t totally freaking out 🙂 I’m always happy to help answer any question I can (no matter how silly- really, someone once asked me where they could buy their Oral B toothbrush heads!) or to help calm your nerves.

you can email me at farrah at thethreeunder dot com


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