Is Amsterdam the best place to live?

Have you read The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World? The author traveled the world in search of what factors, including money, culture, and democracy, affect happiness. Its opening chapter about Amsterdam is a great hook–interesting and hilarious. For me, reading about how people live in different places around the world related to my nagging interest in finding a simpler life abroad and made me reflect on what places might be my future home. Since my short but wonderful stay in Amsterdam, I have wondered if that just might be the best place to live. I plan to go back, wander its neighborhoods more, and find out what it’s really like to live there.


My husband and I stayed there for four days, and the only mistake we made was booking a hotel that was outside the city center. We got a hugely discounted rate but would have gotten more travel experiences from staying in a hotel right in the center. Lesson learned…and since then I have always told people to spend more to stay in the center. That way you can walk everywhere, go back to your room to rest during the day, and stay out at night without worrying about getting back to your hotel. Everything else about our time there was perfect, and we often talk about going back. Here are my reasons why Amsterdam is a wonderful place to visit and just might be a great place to live.

Amsterdam has excellent quality of life.

It’s clean and safe. It has a lovely environment, with little traffic or pollution and beautiful canals that give the city a special ambiance. According to a 2011 study, Amsterdam has the 12th best quality of life because of its infrastructure and environment.

Amsterdam canal

Half of the population is not Dutch.

For someone like me who values ethnic and cultural diversity, this statistic is a welcome one. In fact, one source states that Amsterdam has residents from more countries than any other city in the world. It means that the schools and neighborhoods are not entirely filled with blond, blue-eyed Dutch; instead the city has a sizable immigrant population, as evidenced in the city’s variety of ethnic restaurants. How integrated this population is with the Dutch residents is a question worth asking, however.

Amsterdam bridge

“Leef en laat leven,” or “Live and let live”

This is a saying that the Dutch are known for, and it shows in the city’s liberal policies and the people’s laid-back attitude. The most famous example is the city’s allowing marijuana to be sold and smoked in “coffee shops,” but recently this has changed with a new law passed that allows only residents of Amsterdam to partake. While I personally don’t like pot or prostitution and don’t condone the objectification of women, I do appreciate the city’s tolerance of diverse lifestyles.

Photo credit: flickr by Moyan_Brenn

Photo credit: flickr by Moyan_Brenn

More bikes, fewer cars!

The bicycles are probably what made the strongest impression on me when I first arrived in Amsterdam. They are everywhere, zipping past on every street, sometimes in huge groups that can be intimidating (at least to me since I was on a bike, too, and almost crashed trying to figure out the street signs). There are even parking garages for bikes! In 2006, there were about 465,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, but even better is that driving is discouraged. Like in many other European cities, driving a car is a hassle due to limited parking, expensive parking tickets, and many one-way streets and pedestrian areas. Traveling there was special because of this, and living somewhere where few people drive would be a dream come true for me.

bikes in the Netherlands

A young, cool vibe

Despite Amsterdam’s obvious history and beautiful old architecture and canals, the city has a cool, youthful vibe. This was especially apparent in some of the smaller neighborhoods and off-beat cafes and shops that we happened upon in the Jordaan neighborhood. In addition, the people were friendly and easy-going. Despite the large number of tourists, including rowdy ones, that descend on the city all year, the young people we spoke with were welcoming.

amsterdam houses

Amsterdam is a beautiful, unique city, and one that I liked right from the beginning, and I can’t wait to go back! Have you been to Amsterdam? Do you live there? Please share your impressions!


  • I agree. Amsterdam would be an utterly charming and enviable city to inhabit.

  • Pal says:

    Ooh, Amsterdam! I can confirm that the answer is yes. I chose to live there myself and somehow it feels like its gonna remain my base forever (or possibly the neighbouring Haarlem).

    There’s only one problem: the weather. But luckily there are plenty of bars and cafes to keep yourself distracted. And as you say it, it’s the live an let die attitude that makes it great, people are more relaxed than in most cities. It might be all th fresh air from the biking…

    • Ana says:

      Pal, I did not know you lived in Haarlem. This is where Victor is from and I love both cities. I keep telling my dutch husband that one of these days we are just going to pack and move there. He can not even think about the winters there but I would pack in move in a heartbeat. And it is exactly because of this blog. The people, the easy going attitude, the friendliness. Everything.
      And the idea of not having to get in a car to do everything really excites me…

      • Pal says:

        Hi Ana! 🙂 I do like Haarlem quite a bit, but never lived there. But maybe one day, I like it that it’s close to the beach (even though it’s not South Beach, you know…). And agree with you, not having to bother about cars is a bliss.

      • Jenna says:

        Not having to get into a car would be so great! But I’m sure living outside the center is not quite so simple.

    • Jenna says:

      I loved Haarlem! We went there as a day-trip from Amsterdam, and it seemed like an excellent city in many ways. I agree, though, about the weather in Amsterdam. It would be especially hard for us coming from sunny California, but no place is perfect, right? 🙂

  • OH Yes!! I was there last March and I could move in a minute! And I LOVED Geography of Bliss!! Actually making my second pass right now…Eric W. funny, funny man! Nice article my friend!

    • Jenna says:

      I knew you loved your time in Amsterdam…I guess you will have to plan a return trip! And you must go to Belgium next time! Gorgeous!

  • Emiel says:


    Great post and it really shows your enthusiasm for Amsterdam. I live one hour from Amsterdam but do visit the city a lot (mainly for business). True, winters are not the best time but that’s an issue for the whole of Northern Europe. I do have to admit that also I get this excited, and even nostalgic feeling every time I visit Amsterdam. Excited because of the vibes, nostalgic because of…well, just look at the pictures. As a Dutchman I know a lot about the history of the city and walking through some parts of Amsterdam instantly creates that special nostalgic feeling.

    I especially love walking the canals at night, watching the lights and the houses (many houses you can just look inside because there are no curtains). Especially in summer the whole city center is just fabulous, with boats and people having drinks and chats on the sidewalk.

    If you could live there? I’m sure, you will love it. There are a couple of downsides though: traffic in the city center is terrible (mainly because of narrow one-way streets; there is just not enough space!) and houses in the center are extremely expensive. Mind you, there is more Amsterdam than only the city center and those parts are far less attractive. On the positive side: there is a lot to see within walking/biking distances and Amsterdam has lots of events all year round.

    The city center is quite busy, where you already mentioned the meandering stream of tourists that is always going through the city. It’s not like in New York where tourists spread across a large area; in Amsterdam it’s crowded. Some parts I just hate because of that, for example the Damrak (street from the train station to the royal palace). It’s packed with terrible food stalls and noisy gamble shops. All for the tourists, which is fine but creates the wrong vibe for me.

    It’s international for sure! Lots of expats and also lots of immigrants (who are not always that integrated to be honest). Great museums to visit and lots of job opportunities. I can give you some lessons on how to maneuver with a bike! 🙂

    In short, I believe you will love it. But you have to be tolerant (in many aspects) and be aware that not the whole city is magic….. Haarlem by the way was voted this week as the city with the biggest diversity of special shops. It’s a great place as well, but Amsterdam has the international image and does reflect that.

    • Jenna says:

      Emiel, Thank you for taking the time to leave such a detailed comment. It will certainly help others who visit this post because they are thinking about living there. Every place has its positive and negative side, and Amsterdam is no exception. I think we get a false view of life in those beautiful European cities because we have to remember that average people live outside the center. When I was in Florence recently, I learned that most people inherit a place to live from the previous generation; otherwise, property is way out of the range of an average family’s salary. So thank you for that reminder and information. 🙂

  • monique says:

    Jenna, I share your feelings about amsterdam and I loved this post.. My short visit many yrs ago made a big impression on me. The architecture, bikes, canals. And I love the dutch people, But as Emiel mentions (and House Hunters Intl “Living Abroad”confirms – I love their amsterdam episode!), to live there is quite expensive. But compared to the states, from what I hear from a friend (woman) from the netherlands, I envy their quality of life, low crime and homeless rate, healthcare, culture. Weather would be a huge challenge for me, prob a dealkiller for yearound living. But a house exchange for a few months? Definitely!

    • Pal says:

      Monique, house exchange sounds like a plan :-). Where is your place, I’m in! (I say this half-jokingly, half-seriously, you never know, if the stars are aligned correctly one day…)

      • Jenna says:

        Actually a very good idea! Monique lives about 30 minutes from me in a lovely college town with lots of cool stuff to do, and the location in Northern California is perfect!

      • monique says:

        Pal, keep it in mind! Are you in Amsterdam? You never know….We live in the charming university town of Davis in Northern California. A little over an hour to san francisco bay area, a few hours to Lake Tahoe/Sierra Nevada . 30 min to Napa Valley.

        • Pal says:

          Monique, we might be on something here 🙂 We can always keep it in mind, you never know. I definitely love your part of the world and haven’t been there enough.

          I’ll signed up to your blog now, so we can stay in touch and then who knows one day… I’m heading back to Amsterdam in a month’s time, and just like you not a big fan of cold weather, so you can imagine how I feel about it now. But summers in Amsterdam are not too unsimilar from San Fran climate, so during those months you’ll be fine.

          • Jenna says:

            I love the house exchange idea. More of us should think of doing something like this!

    • Jenna says:

      I agree about the weather. When I was there, it was May and it was cold! Apparently that was a particularly cold May in all of Europe, but I know I would miss the sunny weather we enjoy here in CA.

  • We’re looking for a base in Europe and Amsterdam certainly sounds appealing. Even though I’ve never been there, it seems like it ticks a lot of boxes in what I look for in a city – relaxed vibe but big enough city, easy to bike around, diverse and tolerant. Ethnic food is a must for me! Might need to check it out!!

    I wonder how child friendly it is?

    • Pal says:

      Another factor worth mentioning about Amsterdam is the language, you can get by with English easily.

      A factor to think about is housing: it’s not that easy to find apartments to rent, and it’s not cheap either. Small area, high demand.

      Child friendliness depends on the age of the kids: since most Amsterdam apartments have no elevators but very steep stairs it can be an issue if you live on the top floor. Food wise I think you’re fine, there’s a bit of everything: Indonesian, Thai, Ethiopian etc, and even Dutch ;).

      If later on you would wonder more and you’d seriously consider it, I’m happy to chip in with answers to your questions.

      • Jenna says:

        Thanks for all your insight, Pal. Good points about the kids and housing. As I mentioned in response to Emiel, every place has its negative points, too, so it’s good that you two mentioned some of them to keep all us dreamers out of the clouds 🙂

      • Thanks Pal. That’s really helpful!

      • Sofia says:

        Hi Pal. I saw hoping you could help me out. I lived for 6 months in Groningen. Don’t know if you have been there. But I really liked it is small as a town with all the amenities of a city. Perfect. But for work reasons it seems I might move to Amsterdam soon. Do you think the life quality is similar? Amsterdam does sound nicer in a lot of ways though. Being more international and with awesome “city jumpers” from schiphol sounds like a dream. Also, being from a huge city like Mexico City I sometimes didn’t really enjoyed everything being closed by 6.except on Thursday.
        So what do you think? Will I like it?

        • Pal says:

          Hi Sofia! Sounds exciting, always great having a new place to look forward to.

          There are considerable differences between Amsterdam and Groningen, while also in general you could say the similarities are obvious. The big difference is that compared to Groningen Amsterdam can feel a bit more hectic – but for you being from Mexico City I doubt that would come across like that. Life quality is great, plenty to do and also easy to escape for the weekend, as you mention it. One drawback with Amsterdam is that accommodation is scarce and fairly pricey, especially compared to Groningen, thus start looking early – if you need help with areas, sites just pm me. The expat community is huge here, so it really feels international, easy to settle in, while there’s also that certain Dutch feeling (sorry, Amsterdam-feeling, it’s after all a bit different from the rest of the country).

          Thus, conclusion: I am almost certain that you would love it, and totally certain that you wouldn’t hate it ;-). If you need any further info, just get in touch, very happy to help.

  • Loved to read that! Always great to read a visitors view about ‘my’ city. I’m moving back to Amsterdam after 2 years of Sydney and can’t wait. Curious if Amsterdam will feel really small now… Missed riding my bike the most, haha. Thanks for sharing your observations and beautiful photos. Nienke

  • I spent about as much time as you and your husband did in Amsterdam (maybe one day longer) and loved it! I don’t think I’d rather live there than NYC, but it was a fun and beautiful city with lots of great museums. Anyhoo, one kind of random observation: I’m severely arachnophobic, and I remember there being spiderwebs EVERYWHERE in Amsterdam and a nearby village that I visited . . .

    Also, I had no idea that the population of Amsterdam was so geographically diverse. That’s really cool!

    • Jenna says:

      Hmm, I don’t remember seeing any spiders there, but I wonder why there were so many when you were there. Luckily for me, they don’t really bother me!

  • Stephen says:

    Hi Jenna,

    I’m a California native (L.A.) living in Amsterdam now for 3.5 years. I agree with many of the above comments, and I have to say that I absolutely love Amsterdam. If you’re considering a move to Europe, I think you should seriously consider it as a top contender. Aside from having the high quality of life, laid back vibe, pretty canals, etc… it’s a really creative and fashionable place. I’m always impressed by the endless amounts of quirky, cool restaurants, shops and cafes tucked away in all corners of the city. There’s always something new to discover and there’s always some interesting cultural event going on. Of course Amsterdam isn’t as big as say London or Paris, but it’s still a big city that offers everything you could possibly want – incredible museums, beautiful parks, impressive architecture, a hip and happening restaurant scene, the best airport in Europe, and really great shopping – aside from all the big names, the city is swarming with independent fashion designers. Someone mentioned ethnic food – you can easily find anything here, and everything is authentic because the population is so diverse. I studied urban planning at university, so for me it’s particularly interesting that the city has a lot of new construction developments. They’re expanding the metro (underground) network and new areas with interesting modern buildings are coming to life outside the historic center. The only cities which I think really can compete in Europe are Barcelona and Berlin.

    BUT, the weather can be miserable at times. It rains a lot, not all the time. Winters are relatively mild compared to inland Europe. And the beach is within easy reach. I would recommend making the move in spring so you can fully appreciate it before winter comes around. If you’re coming from SoCal, then the climate will be your biggest adjustment, especially when you’re cycling for half an hour in pouring rain with shopping bags dangling from your handle bars :-/

    So yeah, no place is perfect, but I love being here!

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Stephen, Thank you for taking the time to leave such a detailed comment. I do love the idea of living there and enjoyed reading more about the city and the architecture outside the city center that you mentioned. I live in Sacramento, so I am used to cold weather (sort of) but also lots of sun, and I find the sunny days here so refreshing, so I know the weather would be a hard adjustment. However, I recently researched jobs there (just to see what the market is like for experienced English professors) and really found nothing. Amsterdam may be a good place for us to spend a summer but I doubt we would be able to find work to make living there a reality.

    • Arvind says:

      I Lol’d at your description of cycling in the rain with shopping bags, because that’s exactly what I did when I lived in LA. I don’t know why everyone’s so obsessed with cars in LA, you can definitely get by atleast in downtown and the westside.

  • Selina says:

    Well, you seem to have had a nice tourist experience, and you have an observant eye. Amsterdam, and its environs is an amazing place to live – if you happen to be European – and I think being white helps too. Sure its multicultural and its fine if you are from a western background, but the arab population here is really disconnected. Two worlds. The Dutch keep to themselves (the famous tolerence) and as an expat, your friends will be expats. I lived in a couple of other european countries, the US and Australia – and for me this place suits me. People were too in my business in the US (Boston) and people in Australia were always trying to compete. Here you can be who you want, speak 10 languages, have a PhD, MD by 32, be homo, be trans, who really cares (well not the Dutch at least)…so in the tolerence (or lack of interest beyond an initial curiosity) you can be whoever you challenge yourself to be…and the cheap food, biking, proximity to everywhere, and the fact that you can just speak English if you are too darned lazy to bother that day…its a special place…and we need to remember the tolerence and open-ness of the Dutch to let us in. Amazing place to live – very hard to leave.

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Selina,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. You touch on the topic of integration and I know that is a challenge for many immigrant groups in any city. I think it’s great that the Dutch government allows (welcomes?) so many immigrants, but they can do more to help the immigrants integrate. Here is Sacramento the city and state have some programs for that.

  • Ana says:

    Dear all,
    I had the chance to stay in Amsterdam while running a professional project.
    I stayed there for a couple of months, and I’ve been completely in love with Amsterdam since then.
    I feel this love will be within me till the end of my days. No doubt, Amsterdam is “the” place in my heart.
    Sometimes I feel quite crazy for wishing so much to be there for ever. I believe, in parts, this feeling is a result of the romantic experience it’s enviroment is.
    I used to go back from work around midnight, sitting in the back seat of the car, letting my sight get lost, whith the sparkles of the street’s lights reflected on the channels. Just wonderful.
    Great experiences in life comes from embracing all possible cultures!
    Wish you a lot of that.
    Peace and Love,

    • Jenna says:

      🙂 I have had that feeling, but the city that captured my heart is Florence, Italy. I can see why you fell in love with Amsterdam, though. I hope I get the chance to get to know it much better.

  • Heather says:

    My husband and I are in the beginning stages of saving and planning to move to Amsterdam. Does anyone have any recommendation of where would be the best part to move to in Amsterdam? We have two younger kids so that is a factor that we have to think of… But also want to be close to the city?

    • Jenna says:

      I don’t know but will check with my friend Emiel, who is from near there and writes the Act of Traveling blog. I will also post this as a reader question on my blog’s Facebook community.

  • Carlos says:

    Hello All,

    I’m being relocated by my work to The Netherlands and I still haven’t made my mind in what city to live in. Amsterdam or Utrecht. My company office is in Den Bosch but don’t pretend to live there. Likewise I will be traveling a lot in Europe and need the airport close.

    Could someone advise me what city would be better? Amsterdam or Utrecht? Likewise in what neighborhood would be good within each of those cities?

    Thanks for the support,


    • Pal says:

      Hi Carlos,

      I think I feel qualified to answer your questions, as a local Amsterdammer. I can say that much that both options are great, even though I’m partially biased towards Amsterdam. It’s a bit more cosmopolitan and since I’m not Dutch either it feels more like a little island where anyone can feel at home. But Utrecht is a very nice city too.

      Since you’ll be commuting to Den Bosch, Utrecht is a better option from that point of view (btw, use this site for train schedules:, very useful, takes you door to door), half an hour instead of 60 minutes from Amsterdam. You also get more value for your money in Utrecht when it comes to housing, it’s not significantly cheaper but you get more space/quality for the same rent. If you have family it might be a better option too from that viewpoint.

      Another city to consider is Haarlem, although then you have a bit longer commute still (but close to Schiphol) and you have the sea very nearby, which can be an extra plus.

      At the end, I believe you also need to take into account what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for. If going out is important for you, Amsterdam is the place to be.

      When it comes to neighbourhood it’s a bit more difficult helping you without knowing what you like and i also think it helps coming and spending a week before deciding where you want to live (of course, not always possible). if you have more questions, just send an email, I’ll happily help you out further.

      • Jenna says:

        Thanks for helping these readers, Pal. I love that this post has built this little sense of community on here. 🙂

      • Freda says:

        Hi Pal, I’m hoping you could help me with some info. Me and my husband are thinking to migrate to Amsterdam. We are Malaysian and we know it’s difficult for Asian to migrate to any of European country. I have been leaving in Dublin for almost 8 years before I got married to my Husband and Raven also used to live in UK because of work reasons.
        And now we are thinking to migrate to Netherlands with our small girl. Can you suggest in which city which we should give preference: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague or Utrecht.
        Really appreciate.

        • Pal says:

          Hi. Freda, sorry for delayed reply, been away on summer vacation and didn’t have the chance to reply earlier.

          So let’s see if I can help you choose. All four cities are great places to live in my opinion, although with really different feels. Amsterdam is surely the most cosmopolitan and with the lot happening. The disadvantages is that it’s a bit more expensive when it comes to accommodation, and also the centre at least is less children-friendly (most apartments on upper floors have very demanding stairs…). However, there are some new modern neighbourhoods offering way more in comfort like Ijburg and Zeeburg.

          Rotterdam is likely the most affordable of the four, it’s definitely cheaper. It’s also the most modern one and a lot of exciting new things are happening with great projects. It really is an up-and-coming city, although maybe not in everyone’s taste since it’s so modern.

          Utrecht I know the least and it’s also my least favourite, but those who know it like it quite a bit. It’s cheaper and calmer than Amsterdam, but still with a cozy feel.

          The Hague is the smallest, but it’s a great place to raise kids, probably the easiest of the four. It’s also pretty, with nice neighbourhoods and it’s close to everything really. It’s definitely cheaper than Amsterdam and still has an ex-pat feel with many international schools for instance. I think it’d be my recommendation for your specific case.

          You should also consider Haarlem and. Leiden, both small cosy cities with great life quality and good locations. So have I made it easier? 😉 Hopefully! Good luck with your decisions and let me know if I can help with anything further!

  • Michel says:

    Hi Jenna, I am a dutch guy living in Amsterdam and I totally agree with your story, I have traveled the world but I always love to come back to Amsterdam. Just one correction on your story. The proposed law to stop feign people to stop smoking joints has not passed. So everybody can still smoke, even though I am not a smoker myself. Just to be clear 🙂

  • Zoe says:


    I found your website while looking for information about the living in Amsterdam.

    I am French, and I consider going to Amsterdam soon in the aim to work and settle down there (if possible!). I need a break from France for awhile!

    Actually, I first thought about going to London, but no need to mention how life is such expensive in the British capital…so my second choice were Barcelona, but let’s say that if don’t speak Spanish at all, and it’s hard to survive with only French and English over there! Them Amsterdam came as my third choice, even though I have never been there. That’s why I’m going first as a visitor and see how it goes in regards to my feelings towards the city. Why Amsterdam you may think as I have never been there yet…just because I have heard that English is spoken by almost everyone and that could make things much more easier, at the beginning at least. I’m willing to learn some Dutch (if I ever decide to stay there for longer).

    I don’t really have specific qualified skills, I’m an executive assistant, but I won’t look for a job in my field as I don’t speak Dutch, so I will not look for all those “offices jobs”…I’m being realistic! I will look for a job in a cafe or restaurant as a waitress. I have done that for one year in Australia, so it should be fine in the Netherlands too…only thing I am thinking about and here’s is my question to you guys knowing the life in the Netherlands…
    Do you think that finding a job without speaking any Dutch would be difficult? I know most of Dutch speak English, but I mean for the jobs I will be looking for (mainly in restaurants or cafés), as I would have to interact with people directly, I wonder if English would be enough?

    Thanks a lot for having read my message!

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Zoe,

      Good luck with your move! I cannot speak to what it’s like to live in Amsterdam (I wish I could!) but perhaps if you want to work in restaurants or cafes, you could look for ones in hotels or tourist areas where they need English-speaking staff.

      • Zoe says:

        Thanks for your answer Jenna!

        By the way I have read that you’re from north California…I have spent 6 months in San Francisco and felt in love with that city…except the weather 🙂 I wish I could live there. I think as humans we are always interested by the other side of the world 🙂

        • Jenna says:

          The weather in San Francisco can be pretty bad but is not typical for Northern CA. Where I live in warm and very sunny most of the year. As you said, we are always fascinated by other places…I’d love to live in France one day!
          About your original question, there are some people who comment on this post who live in Amsterdam, so maybe one of them will respond with better information than what I can provide

          • Zoe says:

            Thanks again. Yes I have been around napa valley and the weather was pretty warmer than San Francisco…San Francisco is a wonderful city but yes that “weird” climate comes from the cold ocean!

            Anyway, in regards to my question, I hope someone could answer. I read that one of your followers named Pal knows lots about Amsterdam! Hope he will come across my post!

  • Pal says:

    Bonjour Zoe 🙂 – I have a feeling you’re gonna like Amsterdam, I have many French friends and acquaintances here and I know that in general they settle in here easily and end up staying for a looong time. I still think it’s a great idea coming here first to see if you’re going to like it, always best that way.

    To answer your question: yes, I think you’ll be just fine landing a job in a bar or even a restaurant, it’s an international city and some places don’t mind it at all if your Dutch is only basic. With that said, I’m quite sure that way you’d pick up the necessary quite fast anyway and then it’s easier.

    keep in mind that there might even be jobs for French-speakers, so keep an eye out for them. It’s common with international companies having a European base here, many French are here too.

    Good luck with your move if you decide to go for it!

    • Zoe says:

      Hi Pal 🙂

      Thanks à lot for your helpful answer. I really appreciate it!

      Yes I have decided to go for it and I’ll be there soon. I am trying to get essential informations while I’m still in France and see how it goes once there.

      Do you have some recommendations about the accommodation and where is nice to stay (I know the nicer the more expensive is), but if you have some areas in mind (not too expensive and not too far from the city center). Hmm I don’t know if that exists tough!


  • Pal says:

    Hi again Zoe 🙂 – That’s going to be the tough one and likely the biggest challenge you’ll face. Housing is scarce here, especially the affordable kind, so I’d like to say that networking, meeting people once you are here will be your best bets. Finding a room is definitely easier than your own place, without any doubt.

    There’s however a Facebook group that could get you started at least: “Amsterdam Apartments 4 Rent”. For areas both West and East (Oost) are up-and-coming and cheaper than the centre and not too far out.

    There should be some leads for sure! Good luck and let me know how it goes once you’re here 🙂

  • visited amstrdam 7th 12h july 2015 loved it stayed in centre beautifuk hotel called neive dan van 4 star hotel,gillianporter

  • Lena says:

    My boyfriend, our little dog and I are planning to move to Amsterdam from near Florence, Italy. I am a little worried about the weather – is it really that cold? I’ve lived in Dublin and Cork, and Cork especially was definitely too rainy, wet and windy for me. Anybody know how Amsterdam compares?
    Also, we would prefer to live in a more rural area with a good connection to the city, does anyone know of anyone have any suggestions of where might be a good place to look? We would be more interested in house shares or communal living than our own place 🙂
    Lena xx

    • Jenna says:

      Wow, from one beautiful place to another! Luck you! I’m sure the weather difference will take some getting used to, though. Good luck with your move!

      • Lena says:

        Thanks Jenna 🙂 Florence has been great in so many ways (not least the weather) but it’s a difficult place to get set up in and has limited opportunities for yoga, music, and theatre, which are very important to me – hence the move.

        It would be great to get some advice from someone regarding good places to live outside of the city but with a good connection to it!

        • Jenna says:

          I have a couple of friends who live in the Amsterdam area. Let me see if they can come on here and respond to your comment.
          I love Florence but didn’t realize that there are limited opportunities for those things you mentioned. The weather there is similar to the weather here in N. California, so I know how nice that can be. 🙂

          • Pal says:

            Hi Lena,

            I live in Amsterdam now and I happened to have lived in Florence as well once upon a time, so I’m in the position to be able to compare. I can immediately say that the differences are quite big, both are nice for their own reasons, but it’s definitely two different places. I love both though :-).

            Easy topic to talk about first: the weather. NL is definitely not Tuscany, but with that said, it’s not Ireland either. I would say that it’s fairly similar to the Pacific North-West if that helps. Rarely (too) warm, but usually pleasant, winters in general fairly mild (although it can be pretty cold too now and then, but it’s been a few years now), and yes, a bit more cloudy than what i like. Rain is, however, more of the drizzle-kind than continuous downpours, quite different from Ireland. Conclusion: no risk to get continuously sweaty, but no reason to panic for too harsh conditions either, just expect more clouds – it’s not Tuscany for sure.

            When it comes to country-living near Amsterdam. Not very good with the communal living part, but do know that it exists, especially further east in the country (Nijmegen area i know of). Rural areas around Amsterdam to recommend will definitely depend on how often you’d like to be in the city: if it’s daily, you really shouldn’t venture further afield than half an hour by train (and make sure you’re on a train line – Google Maps has direct public transport linked to it, otherwise use

            Some suggestions to the north, slightly, the area of Zaandam can offer some finds (fairly cheap) and for instance the town of Hoorn is very cute (the centre of it at least). There are many other parts there which are worth checking out: Monnickendam, Marken, Bergen an Zee).

            Another area to recommend would be closer to Utrecht. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily commuting distance, unless you live in the city (again, depends on your working conditions, I would not do it daily).Maybe Zeist? The Amersfoort area is also nice and rural, but I don’t feel that I know about it to be more specific about it.

            South of Amsterdam are also options, but can’t really say enough about the rural aspects of it. In general though I’d say that the further you are from Amsterdam, the more affordable it gets.

            One thing to take into account: Amsterdam is very cosmopolitan, while the country-side is certainly less so. Cities like Utrecht, Haarlem, The Hague have what I’d call a busy international scene, but the rest of the country is more Dutch. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it can make your experience totally different – countrysiders are just less open in general, or take longer to get to know.

            I hope it helps somewhat to orientate and facilitate your decision-process. I’m happy to help further if you have more specific questions 🙂 Good luck with the move/planning!

  • Debbie says:

    Love reading all the information. My Dutch/American husband and I (American) are living in Zeeland, NL now. Yes, have to say it is very pretty but way out here. He is from Zeeland and after us living in the US all over for 13 years we both find it harder to live here. Always seem to gravitate towards Amsterdam. I know we don’t want to live right in Amsterdam, being that we are a little older and not into the night life etc. Going out to eat at a good restaurant and maybe a show. Would love to be able to be in Amsterdam in about 30 min. or so. We also have a restaurant this way and would like to do so again with our move. I guess the big thing is I do miss having some contact with English speaking. Would be great to be able to take a class again and have meet ups. So right now we are doing some road trips. I will take this information and more.

  • poonam says:

    Hi pal
    Does people can make their living with English Language?

    How many people can speak good English

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