It’s been six months since I moved to the city of tulips.
Every day, when I am sipping my morning coffee and looking through the window in Amsterdam East, I feel deeply grateful for being here.
My decision to move was not made in one day, although it was pretty spontaneous and quick.
People who know me well, thankfully accept my way of making quick (and sometimes crazy) decisions.
While these type of choices lead me to wonderful destinations and beautiful experiences, they often have a cost too.
Just to give you an example:
I have been scammed as I booked an apartment in the centre of Amsterdam which did not exist, when I first came here I bought a second-hand bike that broke the very next day, I spent a lot of money on public transport because I did not know that you need to check out (and not just check in) when you travel by bus,…
As much as I laugh on these and similar experiences now, I would like to share some tips for those who are flirting with the idea about moving to Amsterdam.
If you decide to do it, make sure to prepare and inform yourself!
3 Pros of Moving to Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a vibrant city with a booming economy. While most people associate it with coffee shops, Red Light District and entertaining nightlife, I see it as an international city, where the majority of people are friendly, the English language is commonly accepted and freedom is deeply valued.
To not make it too long, I will sum the 3 pros of moving to Amsterdam.
If you are drawn to architecture and are usually looking at houses and cityscape while travelling, you will most probably instantly fall in love with the beautiful houses, streets, and canals of Amsterdam.
At least, I did…
To feel at home in a foreign city, you need to like the environment you’ll be living in – just think about it, you will look at it every day!
Amsterdam’s magnificent canals, historical architecture, and beautiful parks will make any romantic heart beat faster.
As an additional plus, the streets are regularly cleaned and mostly safe (just be aware of the pickpockets).
And what I personally like the most – small window and door details, outdoor plants, and occasional street art make the same street look different everytime you walk through it!
English is Understood & Spoken
Amsterdam is one of the rare European cities, where English is understood and fluently spoken in stores, restaurants, and other public facilities. It is touristic and international, therefore you will not get a surprised look if you ask something in English.
Nonetheless, I think speaking Dutch is highly appreciated and strongly advised. Many international companies have their headquarters in Amsterdam, so you might not be required to learn it in order to get a job.
But speaking Dutch will definitely make you feel more at home, and may open doors that are otherwise closed.
I am struggling with Dutch (I am open for recommendations about a good Dutch course) but I have witnessed the perks of knowing Dutch and learning it is my mission too!
A City of Possibilities
This third category might seem too general, but I will explain it. As I stated in the beginning, Amsterdam is a vibrant city – meaning, there is a food festival, book sign, networking event, concert,… happening every day!
If you are the kind of person who easily gets bored and needs a lot of possibilities, as I do, Amsterdam might be the right choice for you.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? What do you like most about it?
3 Cons of Moving to Amsterdam
I tried to gather why I love living in Amsterdam in three paragraphs, and I admit, it was hard!
It is a city where I feel at home, and I could easily state 10 things that I love about it.
On the other hand, I think is important to know the other side of the coin too.
It is Expensive
For a Slovenian girl, Amsterdam is super expensive! Being aware of it before moving here, can help you determine your initial budget. The price of the one-bedroom apartment (aka studio) is usually higher than € 1.300 while the average price for renting a room is around € 500 – € 700. The price also depends on the location!
Living in Amsterdam means that you will have to pay your insurance, which is mandatory.
The price of a basic insurance starts from little less than € 100.
Then let’s check the average prices in restaurants and bars: an average price for a cappuccino is € 3 and a small beer can cost you between € 4 and € 6. Want to dine outside? Prepare to spend around € 15 for a general dish.
Public transport is expensive as well, this is probably why most of the people travel by bike.
I have talked to many expats who moved to Amsterdam because they were intrigued by a higher paycheck.
Only after arriving here they realized, that their overall financial benefit is not actually higher than before – they spent the difference on the higher rent and food…
The Weather is…
Well, this you have probably heard before – the weather in Amsterdam is moody and changing.
A lot of rain and wind, accompanied with low temperatures and grey skies during winter.
Furthermore, as the days are really long during summer when the sun rises before 5 am, from November on they are getting shorter and darker.
If you are a person whose mood is easily affected by weather, it might make you feel down or even depressed.
When moving here in colder months, be prepared to miss the sun.
Not Everything is Good for Everyone
I like this city, so I had troubles finding the third negative side of it (sorry-not-sorry). What I can add is that different people have different desires and expectations about Amsterdam and furthermore different experiences.
Many people might like it and not choose to live here, and some might not like it at all.
I believe that not everything is good for everyone, therefore you need to experience it by yourself.
Tips When Moving to Amsterdam
If you have made your decision and decided to move to the capital of The Netherlands, I created a small list of things that can make your moving abroad easier.
Prepare an initial budget
This is probably essential when you decide to move anywhere in the world, but as Amsterdam is expensive, especially for eastern-European countries, the best you can do is prepare for it. Evaluate the cost of living, do some research for the apartment and save. For a basic start € 2.000 should be enough, but you know what they say – the more, the better!
Search for a Job and an Apartment Simultaneously
Finding a job in Amsterdam is necessary if you want to live here. Thankfully, the internet allows you to start your search from your current home. Revise your LinkedIn profile, refresh your CV, write a professional cover letter, and go!
Just a few sites for job-hunting:
- I am Expat – the biggest site for internationals in NL (it offers a lot of practical information too!);
- Indeed – by uploading your CV you can directly apply for some jobs;
- Monsterboard – recommended by IT expats;
- Hoitalent – oriented towards international career seekers;
- Together Abroad – multilingual job board recruitment.
If you are at the beginning of your career, I suggest finding an internship here.
Sites for internships:
- Erasmusintern – offers many opportunities, especially if you are enrolled in Erasmus+;
- Graduateland – especially good if you graduated recently.
Because Amsterdam has a high demand for apartments, it is advised to look for a place to stay as soon as possible.
Most of the housing possibilities demand the first rent and a deposit upfront – be as reasonable as possible when paying for yours, and take extra caution before spending too much money on something that might not be real.
If you are looking for an apartment through an agency, be prepared to pay their fee too.
Because of the high demand, apartment scams are popular online! Do not fall into a trap as I did and pay upfront the necessary amount before making sure that the person offering the housing possibility and the apartment really exist.
You can schedule a video-call or ask for the person’s scanned documents – just take extra caution and you will be fine. I have noticed too many people who came to Amsterdam thinking a room is waiting for them and found out they were scammed.
Presumed landlords who tell you, that they will send you the keys as soon as you pay or promise you to reserve the room once you send them the screenshot of the payment, without showing their face are not to be trusted.
In my case, I found the presumed fake apartment through the website Housing Anywhere. The scammer made a whole lookalike Airbnb website with fake reviews and sent his bank accounts data to my email.
Although I take full responsibility for not being cautious enough, I know many people could (and have) fallen in the same trap.
After the negative experience, I found an available room in a Facebook Group. I had a video call with the landlord, she showed me the apartment, my room and we agreed on further steps.
Sites where you can look for an apartment:
- Kamernet – You need to pay an initial fee to get in touch with people who rent the rooms/apartments;
- Maarktplats – good for searching apartments and furniture (as well as many other things in NL).
- Amsterdam Apartments 4 Rent
- Apartment, Room, House | Netherlands (Holland)
- Amsterdam Flat-hunting – find a team instead of fighting for rooms!
When looking for housing, make sure to check if you can register at the address.
Registration is necessary to obtain your BSN Number.
Connect with People who Already Live Here
On Facebook, there are many groups of expats and people who live in certain parts of the world.
You can join the group from your country and start making connections.
This might be extremely helpful when moving to Amsterdam.
In my case, I met another Slovenian girl who lived in Amsterdam through Facebook, and I cannot be more thankful for having her in my life.
Not only, did she give me hope, when I thought everything is going against my decision to move, she also helped when searching for another apartment, and gave me valuable advice on places I should visit, where to eat, shop, etc.
In my case, we actually became close friends and ended up living together after a couple of months.
Who knows, you might find someone who can land you a room so you can come here and look for your own room or apartment while being in Amsterdam. Or you might even meet a really good and valuable friend, as I did.
Choose a Good Season
I came to Amsterdam during Summer, which had a huge impact on my first impression of the city.
Beautiful, sunny days, parks full of people who were chilling on the towels, many outdoor events and summer festivals – I was feeling a positive “amsterdamy” vibe every single day!
If you have the opportunity to choose when to move, I advise choosing Spring or Summer.
In these months the days are longer, sunny weather is more frequent (although many said, this summer with perfect sunny days was exceptional) and people are happier and more relaxed.
Amsterdam is charming in Autumn as well, but the weather tends to be moodier with large quantities of rain.
Again, there is no right or wrong, and every experience is different. So the best thing you can do is TRY.
A Good Start to Begin
You can think about moving or you can jump into it. I hope this article helped you plan your next move and make it work. Because that’s what is really important at the end, isn’t it?
That you have a good time and minimise the risk of making bad decisions.
Have you already moved to the city? What are your remarks about moving to Amsterdam?
Let me (and others) know in the comments!
Do you have any further question left?
Get in touch – I will be glad to share my experience with you!
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