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Where to Live in Amsterdam: Neighborhoods

By Lucas Heckenbucker

Summary: Lucas Heckenbucker offers an overview of Amsterdam's neighborhoods - Old City Centre, Jordaan, Old South, The Pijp and The Westerpark.

Where to Live in Amsterdam - Amsterdam Neighborhoods

Amsterdam is undoubtedly an exciting city to live in.

This small, atmospheric city has plenty to offer everyone: culture, museums, great food, nightlife, parks and family activities. Amsterdam is officially divided into 15 districts, which are each further subdivided into neighbourhoods.

The city's history, tolerance and social housing policies have helped to ensure diversity throughout the city. The majority of expats looking for a 'typically Dutch' urban environment tend to end up in the canal rings encircling the old city centre, the Jordaan, the Old South or the Pijp.

City Centre Canals

The old city centre is surrounded by four U - shaped canals: the Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. The canal houses lining these canals have retained much of their old-style grandeur and provide the perfect location to enjoy Amsterdam's extraordinary city life. The canals here are packed with cafes, restaurants, tiny boutiques and shops of every kind. The Nine Streets in particular offer ample opportunity for exploring. Apartment prices in this part of the city centre reflect the neighbourhood's desirability, and on-street parking is limited and expensive. Residents can expect to wait years before being granted a parking permit. Parking garages offer nearby alternatives, but expect high prices and a short walk or bike ride to reach them. Houseboats also line the sides of these canals and living in one can offer a slightly cheaper alternative for finding accomodation in this part of town.


The charming Jordaan is located just outside the main canal rings in the city centre and is made up of a number of smaller canals and streets that run perpendicular to the Prinsengracht. This area was originally an old working class neighbourhood and today is an extremely sought after place to live. The Jordaan is known for its myriad of small restaurants and cafes, and is home to several well-known markets on Saturday and Monday. As with the city centre, parking in this area is limited and expensive.

Old South

The Old South is one of the most popular expat neighbourhoods, as it is close to the city centre yet offers larger living spaces and more green, thanks to its close proximity to the Vondel Park. While living in the Old South is quieter than in the City Centre and Jordaan, the area still offers a number of (upmarket) shops, restaurants and cafes. This is an expensive part of town to live in, although parking is easier and parking permit waiting lists are somewhat shorter.

The Pijp

The Pijp is one of the up-and-coming areas of Amsterdam, having benefited from recent city regenerations efforts. The area is ethnically diverse and filled with interesting shops, restaurants and one of the city's largest open-air markets (The Albert Cuyp market). In recent years, the Pijp has become a highly sought after neighbourhood to live in and rising prices reflect this.

The Westerpark

The Westerpark is another neighbourhood that has benefited from regeneration in recent years. The enormous Westerpark park, with its trendy cafes, old industry buildings, rolling fields, wading pool and constantly rotating event schedule has done a lot for the area. Westerpark borders the Jordaan and provides easy access to the Amsterdam ring road and highways.

For a less urban environment, many expats also relocate to Amstelveen, a suburb of Amsterdam directly to the south. The area is green, has a neighbourhood feel and is close to the city's largest park (the Amsterdam Woods (Amsterdamse Bos)) and Schiphol airport. Many international companies are located in Amstelveen, and the International School of Amsterdam is also found here.

To conclude this, please be advised to get the right info about where you want to live in Amsterdam and plans out your living situation ahead.

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About the Author

I am currently working at Perfect Housing Amsterdam, The Netherlands. My current position is Online Marketing and responsible primarily for company online marketing activities.

AGS Worldwide Movers

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Comments about this Article

Sep 18, 2012 03:38

Makes interesting reading. Sounds like not much has changed in since the late 70s and early 80s. I lived and worked in Amsterdam for a number of years. Lived on the Singel, worked on Herengracht. Lived in Beethoven and Corbetstraat and worked in the same area. I even lived on Prinseneiland for a while as well as Gaasperplas when the Floriade was built there. Many happy times were spent on Leidseplein as well as Rembrandsplein, not to mention shopping on the Albert Kuyp. Free summer concerts in the Vondelpark and bike rides in het Amsterdamse Bos. Celebrations in de Jordaan, singing along with the Jordaanse muziek. Then there was Sunday morning coffee, reading the newspaper in the Amstel. For some quiet during the Saturday afternoon, a visit to the Church of Scotland and the gardens of the Begijnenhof. Such happy memories. I wonder how much of all this is still possible?

First Published: Sep 14, 2012

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