Amsterdam has long been one of the world's top travel spots, but the capital of the Netherlands is fast becoming a preferred expat destination too. A culturally diverse city, rich in history and tradition, Amsterdam boasts pretty canals, jaw-dropping architecture and a phenomenal artistic heritage.
Living in Amsterdam as an expat
Of course, visitors are drawn to Amsterdam for more than just its Insta-worthy canals; tourists rarely leave before experiencing the illicit thrills of its Red Light District and coffee shops. Be that as it may, those who choose to make the city their long-term home may have come for the edginess of this famously liberal city, but they tend to stay for the laid-back lifestyle. Along with a vibrant nightlife, the Dutch capital offers family-friendly activities, from museums and art galleries to scenic walks and excellent eateries.
Luckily, Amsterdam boasts a thriving economy in which expats can access job opportunities in the finance, media, IT, engineering and logistics industries. The city is also home to multinational corporations such as Uber, LinkedIn and Netflix, creating further opportunities for expats.
Amsterdam’s well-developed public transport network consists of buses, trains and trams, but, given the city's bicycle culture, most people prefer cycling to work or school.
Cost of living in Amsterdam
Perhaps the only downside to life in Amsterdam is the cost of living. The city has a notoriously high cost of living, with accommodation taking the biggest chunk of expats’ salaries. Accommodation in Amsterdam is limited while demand is high, driving prices up. City centre apartments may also be smaller than some expats are used to. As a result, many choose to live in the surrounding areas and suburbs, rather than in the city itself.
Expats will get relief when it comes to public transport as most people cycle for their daily commute, which is a free and healthy mode of transport. Eating out can cost a pretty penny, but groceries are generally affordable.
Expat families and children in Amsterdam
Expats moving to Amsterdam will children will find that the city is ideal for raising a family. Public schooling is free for all children until the age of 16, but the language of instruction is Dutch. Expat parents with older non-Dutch-speaking children may consider private or international schools.
That said, international schools can be rather steep and difficult to gain admission into, so parents should apply in advance. Healthcare in Amsterdam is also one of the best in the world. Expats who are from outside the EU and UK should secure private medical insurance to avoid incurring hefty bills.
Parents will be delighted to know there is plenty to keep the kids entertained during their leisure time. Amsterdam has an abundance of museums, interactive and fantasy-themed parks and green spaces for children to explore.
Climate in Amsterdam
The weather in Amsterdam is mild and damp, with lots of rainfall throughout the year. Winters are cold and frosty, while summers are warm.
Amsterdam's excellent quality of life, buzzing lifestyle and open-minded locals will soon have expats falling in love and staying far longer than they intended.
►Read our list of pros and cons of moving to Amsterdam for a balanced overview
"I love the fact that, even though it's a very cosmopolitan city, Amsterdam manages to keep its Dutch charm, sometimes creating the feeling you live in a small town, where everyone knows each other, even if that is not the case. It is not unusual to be approached on the tram by an old lady who just wants to discuss the weather or the last movie she saw. I love how the locals know how to celebrate their holidays or to enjoy each ray of sun by sitting outside with a glass of good wine and surrounded by friends." Read more in our interview with Dana.
"The city generally feels very active, energetic and embracing. And, of course it is very scenic with the beautiful century-old houses along canals." Harini and Eric share their thoughts on all the things they enjoy about living in Amsterdam in this expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Amsterdam?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Amsterdam. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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