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Retire in Amsterdam Guide

If Amsterdam is on your retirement radar, our detailed Retire in Amsterdam Guide is your go-to resource. Delve into the crucial aspects of life here, including living costs, climate, housing options, healthcare services, and residency procedures. We also explore the city's social dynamics, volunteering scenes, transportation, and how walkable its neighborhoods are.
|-Retire in Amsterdam Guide

Retiring in Amsterdam is a dream for many international retirees. The city’s rich history, vibrant culture, and high quality of life make it an attractive destination. However, like any major city, it also presents its own unique challenges. From the cost of living to the climate, healthcare, and social opportunities, there are many factors to consider when planning a retirement in Amsterdam.

Cost of Living

Amsterdam is one of the most expensive cities in the Netherlands. Housing, in particular, can be quite costly, especially in the city center. However, the cost of groceries, dining, and entertainment is comparable to other major European cities. It’s worth noting that the Netherlands has a progressive tax system, which can affect your overall cost of living.


The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers and cool winters. Rain is common throughout the year, but especially in the autumn months. Despite the often grey skies, Amsterdam’s beautiful canals and historic architecture shine in any weather.


The Netherlands boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Amsterdam is home to several top-rated hospitals, including the Amsterdam University Medical Center and the OLVG Hospital. Many doctors and healthcare professionals speak English, making it easier for international retirees to navigate the healthcare system.

Public Healthcare System

As a resident of the Netherlands, you are required to have health insurance. The Dutch healthcare system is a mix of public and private providers, with the government regulating and funding the system. International retirees can enroll in the public healthcare system, but many also choose to supplement with private insurance.

Residency Options for Retirees

There are several options for international retirees looking to settle in Amsterdam. The Netherlands offers a retirement visa, which allows retirees to live in the country for a year, with the possibility of extension. Alternatively, the Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) allows American citizens to live and work in the Netherlands.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Amsterdam is known for its beautiful parks, including Vondelpark, the city’s largest and most popular park. The city also offers a wide range of recreational activities, from cycling and boating to visiting museums and attending cultural festivals.


Amsterdam’s culinary scene is diverse and vibrant. From traditional Dutch cuisine at Moeders to Indonesian fare at Kantjil & de Tijger, there’s something for every palate. For a more casual dining experience, try The Pancake Bakery or Bakers & Roasters.

Learning the Language

While English is widely spoken in Amsterdam, learning Dutch can enhance your retirement experience. The University of Amsterdam offers Dutch language courses for beginners, while the Dutch Language School provides more advanced classes.

Local Culture

Amsterdam locals are known for their directness and pragmatism. They value honesty and straightforward communication, which can take some getting used to for international retirees. However, they are also friendly and welcoming, making it easy to feel at home in the city.

Market Life

Amsterdam is famous for its markets. The Albert Cuyp Market, the largest street market in the Netherlands, offers everything from fresh produce to clothing and household goods. The Flower Market, meanwhile, is a must-visit for its beautiful blooms and traditional Dutch souvenirs.

Meeting People and Volunteering

Meeting new people in Amsterdam is as easy as joining a club or volunteering. The International Women’s Contact Amsterdam is a popular club for international women living in the city. For volunteering opportunities, consider the Red Cross Amsterdam or the local animal shelter.

Housing and Neighborhoods

Most retirees in Amsterdam live in apartments, either in the city center or in the quieter suburbs. Popular neighborhoods for retirees include the Jordaan, known for its historic charm, and De Pijp, known for its vibrant food scene.


Amsterdam is a compact city with excellent public transportation, making it easy to get around without a car. The city is also famously bike-friendly, with dedicated bike lanes and bike parking throughout the city.

In conclusion, retiring in Amsterdam offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern amenities. While the cost of living and the climate may be challenging for some, the city’s high quality of life and welcoming community make it a rewarding choice for international retirees.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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