Amsterdam is an impressive city rich in history. The city is named after the Amstel dam, which can still be found in the city centre. The capital of the Netherlands is one of the top tourist destinations on the planet with over millions of visitors each year. 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 densest areas in the country. An expat moving the 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 edges. 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 centre 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 easy to navigate even if they never choose to leave this most interesting and liberal of homes.
Amsterdam housing market
Amsterdam is a small city with a lot of people living in it. This makes it energetic and interesting but it also means accommodation costs are high. Some areas are less expensive then others and depending on your needs and/or wants you may choose to live further away from the city centre 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.
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 metres. You’ll have an open kitchen and a (usually small) bathroom. For a studio in the centre 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 1500euros 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 metres 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 centre 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 revellers cruising the canals in the summer months can be intrusive.