Experience Amsterdam as an Expatriate

Netherlands   /  

Amsterdam is the vibrant Dutch capital with an international reputation for high quality of life, myriad historical sites and a tolerance for conventional “taboos.” Overall, it’s a unique city. Living somewhere new is not easy, but with good advice, it can be a truly rewarding experience.

What are the best places to live in Amsterdam?

Of course, housing accommodations vary based on individual preferences, but there’s something for everyone in the Dutch capital. For instance, artists of bohemian dispositions will find Jordaan ideal:

Go Living In Amsterdam - Jordaan

Photography by Johan Wieland

Located west of the grachtengordel, it is a lovely area with canals and narrow streets, although the slim houses are often cramped. De Pijp is another bohemian area with its fair share of tourists, but overall there are many restaurants, museums and boutiques there. Oud-Zuid is a popular destination for expatriates because it offers access to international schools, privately-maintained housing and the Vondelpark. Oud-West is a cheaper version of its eastern neighbor. For the historian, Amsterdam Centre along the canals features snug 17th and 18th century housing, gorgeous but often cramped. The Jewish Quarter naturally caters to Jewish culture. It’s a residential area, and contains the Waterlooplein flea market and zoo. It is probably best to avoid the Old Center if one does not appreciate busy crowds. Because it’s home to the Royal Palace, Dam Square, Centraal Station and infamous Red Light District, it’s predominately flushed with tourists. There is another option for renters. If one plans on living in cheaper, by-month rental units, housing permits may be obtained. A more popular option for expatriates is private rentals, which are more expensive and typically rented out for short-term lessees, although some landlords can offer longer leases based on the needs of their renters.

What sort of people will I encounter in Amsterdam?

As an old, unique and desirable city, a traveler will find all sorts of people. As a rule, the Dutch people are very friendly; it is common to see a complete stranger smiling in one’s direction, or even receive a cheerful “hello.” The Dutch are also unfailingly curious, especially about travelers. Though it can seem nosy at first, it is merely that they are well-intentioned and observant inhabitants.

How would one get around in Amsterdam?

GoLivingIn Amsterdam - Tram

Photography by Rob Allen

Getting around is easy, and a traveler has many options. The first is taking public transportation. Amsterdam offers tram, bus and underground subway systems. In order to ride, one must get a GVB chipkaart, a convenient, relodable ticket-checker. Amsterdam is the cycling capital of the world. If one wants an authentic experience, renting a bicycle is a good option.

What sort of apparel should a traveller bring?

In Amsterdam, it rains – a lot – and many days are slate gray. An umbrella and sturdy goloshes or fashionable, all-weather boots, are a must-have.

In general, the Dutch people are laissez-faire about trends.

GoLivingIn Amsterdam in the rain

Photography by Jan Kunst

Choose solid, well-fitted and casual attire. Even concert halls in Amsterdam have loose dress codes. A bright scarf or unique watch will tastefully liven up any basic outfit.

How much Dutch should one know in order to function?

Most Dutch speak English as a second language, but as a general rule it’s considered polite to try and learn basic conversational Dutch, such as greetings, or anything one would need in order to order food at a restaurant.

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Miki Mo

I am a traveler. I have seen lots of places – from exotic Asia to sophisticated Europe! What makes me appreciate every place the most are the warm people who welcome me – and their willingness to show their culture and tradition! Most of the events I really love, involve feasts and celebrations – each country, each ethnic group has a unique way of celebrating nature, and each has unique tradition – which is such a magnificent scene to watch. Truly, there is a lot to learn in the world – a lot of things to explore, and the journey never ends, well, at least for me ☺


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