Surviving on a student budget – mission possible!
Student budget has limits, and they sometimes are tighter that we can imagine – especially when you are studying abroad. Coming to a different country can mean you’re not familiar with all the know-how’s of the local life.
It may take months before you understand the city or country you live in to know where to buy what and at what ideal price. But don’t worry about it! Below we have compiled a list of tips, how to get yourself around Netherlands. This will make you an expert in no time and you WILL be able to survive on a student budget.
Tip #1 How to buy a bike
Bikes are an essential part of living in Netherlands. You can’t really escape that. But you can save money while buying a bike!
Most people wouldn’t recommend buying a new bike, and we have to agree. Although a new bike might look “prettier” , there is also a bigger chance it will get stolen and who would want that?
On top of that stolen bikes are resold most of the time, usually on the street but owning such a bike is illegal in Holland, and we would advice against it even if it fits your student budget.
On the other hand, however, a new bike is a long-long-term investment since it will be..well, new. You will be surprised how durable they are, all their parts have at least one year guarantee so you will be mobile with no pressure from a noisy old chain!
For example, BikePlaza has bikes for all types of people and their needs, and if you are willing to invest in a new one, sacrifice a bit more for a durable chain, or two. Windy weather will be less pain with a good bike!
For tighter budget however, what we do recommend is to look on Facebook pages such as Commodity Market or re-selling websites on the internet. There is someone always selling a second-hand bike and you can get it at an affordable price without having to buy a new one. Once you have a bike your Dutch experience will have officially began!
Tip #2 Where to shop
Grocery shopping can be a big pain for university students who hadn’t had much contact with it before. It can also be a major drain of your money! There are however many ways in, which you can save money on food shopping.
First of all, ask around, most Dutch cities have local markets where you can find everything from fruits, vegetables to meat, fish and even flowers! All this at an affordable price, cheaper than in supermarkets. Especially if you come in the late afternoon when most sellers are trying to get rid of their stock.
Supermarkets are still fine to shop at too. You can always try going to the cheaper, discount version. Also most supermarkets offer bonus programs where with a bonus card you can get discounts of off certain products.
University books can be very expensive and can also be a big drain of your money when you have to buy new books every trimester. One solution can be buying used books.
Most universities organize fairs at the beginning of the year where you can buy used books. Additionally many students re-sale their books so take a look at your course’s facebook group or other univeristy connected groups.
Also, teachers often give readings that can be found in the school library, either for or not for rent. You can copy the pages of them, or even better – scan them and have them always with you on your computer!
Do not forget to look around the Internet for the online version of the books – you will be surprised how many you can find!
Okay, electronics are far not a basic concern until u have one broken. Then, everything goes wrong, too wrong.
For students smaller and lighter laptops are more appropriate since it spends a decent amount of time on your shoulder(s) or in your hands. Carrying it around the city is annoying enough, but you have to, you need to. Staying at home just doesn’t help studying process.
Laptops, however, can be highly costly, so a tablet is a good replace. If you have all study materials on a Cloud, you would be able to access them from anywhere with you account.
If you do consider buying a new gadget, Netherlands might not be the perfect price-giver but there are companies like CentralPoint that offer technologies on a reasonable prices, plus service and guarantees. It is worth giving a try.
Second hand electronics are also not to be underestimated, but also the risks they carry should be taken into account. Many second hand devices won’t have an active guarantee, or might be even on sale for some dysfunctions that they already have. Choose smart if you opt for this.
Tip #3 How to travel
Travelling can be challenging, especially when you frequently travel home. Train tickets can be expensive at first sight. But don’t worry you can save money on these too.
If you travel frequently within Netherlands you might want to buy a yearly pass with NS (Dutch train provider). If you order a personal card for 50 euro per year you will have the same 40% discount as all Dutch citizens during rush hours.
Another idea to consider for one-day trip is the group tickets. You can look for your departure station plus “NS group tickets” on Facebook, and you will find a group of people to share the price of the trip! How it works, you can find more information here.
When it comes to plane tickets, try to book them well in advance. Prices are always higher closer to the departure date unless it is a very “dead” season, specifically January and February. We know it is not the dream weather for vacation, but will perfectly suit your student budget if you go for a trip on that time. Also unless the only flight is out of Schiphol, don’t narrow your search to that airport. There are airports in Rotterdam, Maasticht or Eindhoven, which offer cheaper tickets with cheap airlines. All these can be reached by train within two hours maximum!
These are some of the tips for the student budget masters, but they do cover almost all possible spendings for a student! Do you have any good tricks, like drinking only in the Happy Hours around the bars? Share them with us in our comments!