Moving to Amsterdam
An expat moving to Amsterdam will find a city rich in history. The capital of the Netherlands is one of the top tourist destinations on the planet with over 5 million visitors each year. The city is named after the Amstel dam, which can still be found in the city center. The canals of the old city which flare out in five concentric rows, has lent the city the name of ‘Venice of the North.’
The Netherlands has one of the highest population densities in the world, and Amsterdam is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. An expat moving to Amsterdam should be prepared to live in a house or apartment that may be smaller than they are used to. The architectural character of the city has developed around trying to solve these problems. The canal was originally constructed to serve as water highways, keeping all parts of the inner city accessible. While still used for transport, the canals make for exquisite tours, and memorable walks along the banks. The city has something for everyone whether it is the extensive museums, scenic walks, or vibrant nightlife.
Amsterdam is part of the Randstad, a quadrangle which include also Utrecht, Rotterdam, and the The Hague. This urban network holds most of the population of the Netherlands. While the city has a seemingly small population of 750 000, the area surrounding has a large number of middle sized villages. For many expats moving to the city, it is these villages rather than the city center which will serve as their home.
Transport in the city is easy to find, with buses, trains and bicycles all accessible from most regions. The Netherlands as a whole is a small country, and the trains extend well into the countryside, meaning that a car is seldom necessary. Expats moving to Amsterdam will find the whole country very easy to navigate.
Amsterdam Housing Market
Amsterdam is a small city with a lot of people living in it making it energetic and interesting but it also means accommodation costs are high. Some areas are less expensive than others and depending on your needs and/or wants you may choose to live further away from the city center and pay less for more space. Unless you’re planning to stay in Amsterdam for over five years, or invest long term in property, it’s better to rent. The rental market in Amsterdam is costly but there are a lot of agents (makelaars) around to help you out. Your best bet is to contact a few and choose one with whom you have a good rapport.
Types of Property Available
A studio apartment is the cheapest option in Amsterdam. Studio really does mean studio though, and they are really only suitable for two people at most. The average studio will be between 40 and 50 square meters. You’ll have an open kitchen and a (usually small) bathroom. For a studio in the center you can expect to pay between €900 and €1,250 a month excluding gas, water and electricity. You may pay up to €200 less on the outskirts of Amsterdam.
A one-bedroom apartment will have a bedroom, a living room or dining room with both an open or separate kitchen and a bathroom. They are usually from 55 to 70m2 and will cost anything from 1000 to 1500 Euros per month furnished but excluding gas, water and electricity. The price variation depends on location and if the apartment has an outside space like a roof terrace or balcony.
These are much the same as one-bedroom houses but are more often spread over two floors, with the living and kitchen area on one floor and the sleeping rooms and bathroom above. Often the second bedroom is quite tiny so make sure it’s big enough if you’re looking for something other than a nursery. Two-bedroom apartments should be from 70 to 90 square meters and can cost anything from €1,300 to €2,000 a month depending on proximity to the city and added extras like gardens and roof terraces. For larger apartments you will be paying upwards of €2,500 a month.
These are not generally found in the center so you’ll be in one of the outlying suburbs like Watergraafsmeer or Amstelveen. You will have a lot more space for your money and most likely a reasonably sized garden. A two bedroom house will cost you up to €2,500 a month and a three bedroom up to €3,500. This is a great option for families who need the space and whose children may be attending an international school nearby. The extra distances you’ll need to travel may mean you should look into buying a car.
There are around 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam and most of them are occupied by their owners or rented out for short periods. If you do manage to find a houseboat for long-term rental you will be paying around €1,700-€2,500 a month. Houseboats are great for the novelty value and are usually very charming, but noise from revelers cruising the canals in the summer months can be intrusive.
Where to look
The Central area of Amsterdam is, despite being a highly prized location, the place to live if you are looking for a primary or second home in Amsterdam. In Central Amsterdam it is difficult to find a complete house or apartment. The breath taking architecture and lovely hidden gardens make it well worth the effort. The canals that flow through these areas are littered with houseboats and what you find is a mix of almost everyone and everything.
Oud Zuid is traditionally known as the better neighborhood of Amsterdam and is one of the most popular areas for expatriates. Many houses are built in the style of the Dutch School and originate from the early 20th Century. Most dwellings are privately owned, well kept and by Dutch standards spacious. In Oud Zuid there is also the Vondelpark. This area is extremely desirable. It offers the best of urban living with a leafier suburban feel. Lots of restaurants, luxury shops and cafes are located in this area. Transport is excellent with the center just 20 minutes away by tram. The area around the Rudolf Hartplein is called Duivelseiland where you can find up-market shops, restaurants and pleasant apartments blocks.
De Jordaan is just outside the grachtengordel and has the hustle and bustle of urban life to it, but at a slightly slower pace. Housing prices in that location have exploded during the past ten years due to the increasing popularity with the locals. De Jordaan is shared between the yuppies, students and the remaining working class families who have not left for the suburbs. The bars and cafes around the area are frequented by an interesting blend of people. Due to the district’s size and continued local popularity, housing in De Jordaan can be very difficult to find.
De Pijp is often referred to as the Latin Quarter of Amsterdam and is named after the narrow, long and straight streets that run parallel to each other. De Pijp still feels like extremely lively district with lots of ethnic diversity. The district is badly in need of renovations and as part of the government’s city clean-up drive they introduced the opportunity to buy apartments. As a result De Pijp offers an increasing amount of opportunities to buy real estate at lower prices.
Westerpark is conveniently located close to the city center and the ring road. It has major parking problems. Several new housing projects fill the gap for affordable 3 or 4 bedroom apartments with a large majority of the unusual buildings situated on former industrial sites.
Eastern Docklands (KNSM-, JAVA-, Borneo island and Sporenburg). Historically, the docklands were first used by big Dutch shipping companies, but since 1988 it has become the biggest post war building project in Amsterdam, with 8500 homes built in the IJ River. The area consists of several new man made islands interconnected by bridges. It offers new comfortable homes in an up market neighborhood, close to both the ring road and the city center.
Than we also point out to you the green and peaceful suburban town of Amstelveen which is situated immediately south of Amsterdam and has a family sort of feel with an unusual combination of Dutch families, suburban singles, pensioners and business people. This means that there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and sushi bars, as well as a wide range of housing available. Prices for larger houses can rival those of the expensive Wassenaar, located outside of The Hague. It is the favored location for both multinational companies and their employees. Trade and IT are big business in Amstelveen and Schiphol airport has been there since 1917.
If you have plans to move to Amsterdam and you do want to find a great location, please make sure you do get the right info!
About the Author: Nasser al Kamouchi is the online marketing manager at Perfect Housing Amsterdam and shares his detailed knowledge of Amsterdam through his very informative articles. The company’s strategy is to provide the highest possible level of service to expats seeking to relocate to, or for a second home in Amsterdam. For more information visit their website : http://www.perfecthousing.nl