Amsterdam, with its beautiful canals, peaceful green parks, and postcard views everywhere you turn, is a place that perfectly balances the buzz of city-life with the charm of a cozy, small town. At a size of only 129 square kilometers, everything is accessible and expats moving to Amsterdam find it easy to become familiar with the city, making it feel like home in no time.
The Netherlands ranks as one of the world’s top happiest nations, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
With a great work-life balance, competitive business benefits, and a hub of cultural diversity, Amsterdam is a destination that is pretty hard to beat. Those looking to enjoy the perks of a European city with a relaxed and comfortable style of living, will find Amsterdam to be just the right place for them.
So, what is it really like to live in Amsterdam, you might be wondering? Well, we’re going to tell you!
Here’s what you can expect a typical day living in Amsterdam to look like:
If there’s one thing Amsterdam is known for, it has to be all of the bikes!
Did you know that Amsterdam is the bicycle capital of the world? The city perfectly accommodates cyclists with an abundance of bike lines and priority over other methods of transportation. Biking is the preferred way to get around for most people living in Amsterdam, and more importantly, it’s become a huge part of the lifestyle. So, even if you aren’t a cyclist yourself, moving to Amsterdam might change your mind!
For a Western European capital, Amsterdam is actually a relatively small city, which means commuting either by bike or on foot is easy, cheap and convenient. And when you consider the beautiful architecture of Amsterdam, along with its dazzling canal, why wouldn’t you want to enjoy the view all while getting some fresh air on your way to work? Here’s a tip: the further you are from the center of the city, the more quiet and peaceful it is, making it the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing stroll or bike ride either during your mornings or to decompress after work.
Those who would prefer not to bike or walk have the option of taking the tram. Everything is well connected, so you can hop on the tram and get to where you need to go in no time. Driving a car is pretty uncommon, especially since parking can be a bit expensive.
People living in Amsterdam usually start their day off with some breakfast, the most typical option being either a sandwich or some buttered bread topped with hagelslag, which are small pieces of confectionery, similar to chocolate sprinkles! There are also many cute and cozy cafes to choose from in the city, if you prefer to grab a coffee or food along the way.
One thing to remember about Amsterdam, is that the weather is not always so bright and sunny. Expect to have an umbrella and raincoat ready for those days when it might be a bit more grey and rainy.
Arguably one of the best parts about Amsterdam, and why it is such an attractive city for so many expats looking to move abroad, is its slower pace of life. Amsterdam’s work-life balance is known to be one of the best! Dutch work culture tends to come with a pretty healthy mentality of prioritizing and maintaining a balance between work life, family, and personal matters. You will find that companies in Amsterdam are much more flexible in terms of work hours. Dutch people truly value their family time and time to themselves, meaning that companies will allow their employees to work remotely, sometimes work four days a week instead of five, and will be especially flexible for parents who have obligations towards their children.
The office atmosphere is fairly relaxed, as well. For example, you won’t find there to be such a rigid lunch break or set hours. Rather, it is more common to have lunch, as well as take periodic coffee breaks when you need them throughout the day. The work days usually end a bit earlier than in other cities, with most people leaving work by 5pm and rarely much later than that.
Amsterdam is an incredibly diverse city. There are a lot of expats living in Amsterdam, who will be pleased to find that there is definitely more than one language commonly spoken here. For example, some might be surprised to learn that in some situations they hear more English than Dutch. Amsterdam being such an international city creates a very welcoming and appealing environment for foreigners, and the process of “fitting in” or avoiding culture shock is perhaps a bit easier due to this. Amsterdam’s diversity also means that you will find lots of wonderful places to eat, with cuisines from all over the world! So, expect your lunch breaks to be full of various options to choose from.
An afternoon spent in Amsterdam is great, whether during the weekdays or weekends. Besides admiring the stereotypical yet nonetheless picturesque canals, there is always a serene park bench to read a book, or a trendy coffee house to bring your laptop and enjoy a coffee while working. During the warmer parts of the year, everyone tends to flock outside to enjoy the weather. There are lots of picnics, outdoor dining spots, and events to enjoy in the sunshine.
Amsterdam nightlife has plenty to offer when it comes to how to spend your evenings. Similar to day time, the city is full of cultural events such as festivals, art expositions, and concerts. There is also a large selection of bars and places to gather, making the city feel animated and alive at night. Amsterdam is especially known for its techno parties, so if that’s something you’re into, you can find a lot of that!
On Fridays it is common to enjoy drinks with your colleagues or even coworkers. There is even a term for this, ‘vrijdag middag borrel’ which literally translates to ‘Friday afternoon drinks.’
So, what do you think? Could you see yourself living in Amsterdam? If you're curious about living and working in Amsterdam, you might want to give our current job openings a look. And as always, you can reach out to a member of our team if you ever need any advice.