What Is It Like To Live In Amsterdam? (Local Explains)

March 28, 2023

Amsterdam is a vibrant, historic, and lively city, attracting people from all over the world to come and see it for themselves. There is something for everyone here, whether you’re here to study for a few years or looking to start a new life.

However, there are many things to consider when starting somewhere new, and Amsterdam is no different. In this article, I will answer a few questions that’ll give you a better idea of what living in this world-famous city is like.

How is it to Live in Amsterdam?

Fun, exciting, and fast-paced are the words I’d use to describe what it is like to live in Amsterdam. The Dutch are known for living fast and to the fullest, and this city fully embodies that. Living in this city means you get exposed to so many cultures, people, and activities that you won’t find anywhere else.

The number of tourists that you see every day can become overwhelming, but once you’ve been here for a while, it’ll become normal, and you won’t notice it as a nuisance.

As a former bartender that worked and lived in the city’s center, I feel like I got to experience the most "Amsterdam" experience I could. Being in the epicenter of tourism, you’ll get to see many things, good and bad, and I have made a lot of memories that I still cherish to this day.

This city has everything, which makes it easy to try new things, meet new people, and eat new food.

Is Amsterdam a Good Place to Live in?

Beautiful view of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is generally considered a good place to live in. Residents experience a high level of life satisfaction, scoring 8.3 out of 10 in the OECD Better Life Index for work-life balance. However, Amsterdam is an expensive city to live in, with a high cost of living comparable to some other large capital cities in Europe.

Besides tourism, Amsterdam is a major student city, and it’s the students that make the city what it is. There is no Amsterdam without the vibrant student and university culture. Students bring energy to the city that is simply needed. They are excited, curious, and want to live life to the fullest.

It is quite an intoxicating mindset to adopt, and when you’re surrounded by them, it’s hard to resist.

Many students from around the world come to study at our renowned universities, but all these students also need a place to live. Because of this, there has been a housing crisis in the Netherlands for quite some time.

It shouldn’t be overlooked that the housing crisis can make it difficult for you to find accommodation when you arrive. If you’ve decided to move to Amsterdam, then I’d suggest looking at accommodation ahead of time to make sure you won’t get disappointed upon arrival.

If you’re moving to Amsterdam for opportunities or to start fresh, this is the place to do it. In Amsterdam, you can be whoever you want to be. No matter what kind of person you are, there will be a community in Amsterdam that is ready to embrace you.

Companies of every kind based in the city are looking for new and passionate people to aid in their cause, making the first step of finding a new job very easy. If you feel like making a career change, finding something new in Amsterdam might be less daunting.

Regardless, Amsterdam has many benefits that provide great quality of life, such as healthcare, public transport, and various cultures. Whatever you can think of, you can find it somewhere in Amsterdam.

What Are The Pros And Cons of Living in Amsterdam?

Busy street in Amsterdam

Having lived in Amsterdam for a while, there are good and bad things I remember about living in the city. If you’re still not sure about your decision to move, this pros and cons list might help you cut the rope.

Pros of living in Amsterdam

  • Multicultural city: Amsterdam is a diverse and tolerant city with a large international community. This diversity makes it a welcoming and inclusive place to live in, and it also leads to a rich cultural scene with plenty of international events and festivals.
  • Excellent public transport: Amsterdam has a well-developed public transport system, including trams, buses, and trains, which makes it easy to get around the city and beyond. The city is also very bike-friendly, with extensive bike lanes and bike parking facilities.
  • High quality of life: Amsterdam consistently ranks high in quality of life surveys, thanks to its excellent healthcare system, good education facilities, and high standard of living. The city also has a strong focus on sustainability and green initiatives.
  • Beautiful architecture and scenery: Amsterdam is famous for its stunning canal network, historic buildings, and picturesque streets. The city also has plenty of green spaces, including parks and gardens, which provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • Vibrant cultural scene: Amsterdam is a hub for art, music, and culture, with many museums, galleries, and music venues. The city has many famous cultural institutions, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Concertgebouw.
  • Excellent food and drink: Amsterdam has a thriving food and drink scene, with plenty of cafes, bars, and restaurants offering a wide range of cuisines. The city is also famous for its traditional Dutch cuisine, including stroopwafels, bitterballen, and herring.
  • Everything is accessible and close: Amsterdam might feel big, but the center is actually quite small. Wherever you are in the city, you can get to the center by metro, tram, or bus within minutes. You can find any store or restaurant nearby when you get to the center or even a bit outside.

Overall, Amsterdam is a great place to live for those who value diversity, sustainability, culture, and quality of life.

Cons of living in Amsterdam

  • High cost of living: Amsterdam is an expensive city to live in, with high costs for accommodation, transportation, and everyday expenses. The city’s popularity as a tourist destination also means that prices can be inflated.
  • Crowded and busy: Amsterdam is a popular city, both for tourists and residents, which means that it can be crowded and busy, especially in the city center. This can make it difficult to find quiet spaces and can also lead to issues with noise pollution.
  • Weather: Amsterdam’s weather can be unpredictable and often rainy, which can be a challenge for those who prefer sunny and warm climates.
  • Bike theft: While Amsterdam is a bike-friendly city, it is also known for bike thefts, which can be a frustrating and expensive problem for residents. It’s important to take precautions to keep bikes safe, such as using sturdy locks and parking in secure locations.
  • Language barrier: While many Dutch people speak English, the official language of Amsterdam is Dutch, which can make it difficult for non-Dutch speakers to navigate certain aspects of life in the city, such as government bureaucracy or healthcare.

While Amsterdam has many benefits, it’s important to be aware of the challenges that come with living in a major city, such as high costs, crowds, and in the case of Amsterdam, the weather.

Is it Expensive to Live in Amsterdam?

Yes, Amsterdam is generally considered an expensive city to live in. According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Amsterdam is higher than the average cost of living in the Netherlands and is comparable to other major European cities like Paris and London.

The cost of accommodation, in particular, can be very high, with rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averaging around €1,500-€2,000 per month and even higher for larger apartments or luxury accommodations.

Other expenses, such as groceries, transportation, and entertainment, can also be relatively expensive compared to other cities. However, salaries in Amsterdam are generally higher than in other parts of the Netherlands, which can help to offset some of these costs.

Expense:Average cost in Amsterdam:
Rent (1 bedroom in the city center)€1,500-€2,000 per month
Rent (1 bedroom outside of the city center)€1,200-€1,600 per month
Utilities (electricity, heating, water, garbage)€150-€200 per month
Internet (60 Mbps or more, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)€40-€50 per month
Groceries (for 1 person, per month)€250-€300 per month

Note that these are just average costs and can vary depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

Do I Recommend Living in Amsterdam?

I very much enjoyed my time in Amsterdam. I was working as a bartender in the heart of the city and got to experience everything Amsterdam had to offer. My life was fast, fun, and memorable.

However, it’s not for everyone. I’ve met many people that felt overwhelmed by everything happening around them, but also people that jumped right in and had the time of their lives.

If you are someone who’s energetic, extroverted, and thrives in chaos, I would highly recommend moving to Amsterdam. You’ll have a lot of fun and meet a ton of incredible people while also getting hit with challenges and struggles that you’ll have to learn to overcome.

If you are more into a quiet and chill environment, I’d recommend moving to other cities in the Netherlands. It’s hard to find moments of calm and quiet in Amsterdam, and if that is something you value, you might find yourself frustrated or stressed after a couple of weeks.

This is not to say that there isn’t part of Amsterdam that is quieter and calmer, but you won’t fully get the Amsterdam experience, and would it really be worth it if you had to sacrifice that?

So, is it worth it to live in Amsterdam?

Whether or not it is worth it to live in Amsterdam depends on individual preferences and circumstances.

Amsterdam is a vibrant and diverse city with a high quality of life, excellent public transport, and a strong focus on sustainability and green initiatives. It also has a rich cultural scene, with plenty of museums, galleries, music venues, and festivals.

However, Amsterdam is also an expensive city to live in, with high costs for accommodation, transportation, and everyday expenses. It can also be crowded and busy, and the weather can be unpredictable and often rainy.

Ultimately, whether or not it is worth it to live in Amsterdam depends on your personal priorities and goals.

If you value diversity, culture, sustainability, and quality of life, and are willing to pay the higher costs associated with living in a major European city, then Amsterdam may be a great place to live.

However, if you prefer a quieter, more affordable lifestyle, then Amsterdam may not be the best fit for you.


Whether you’re a student, a workaholic, or somewhere in between, Amsterdam is an amazing city that offers something for everyone.

Moving to a new city can be a big step, and you want to make sure that you’ve covered all the bases before packing your bags and hopping on that flight.

I hope, with this article, you have got a better idea of what it’s like living in the city and what you can expect from the perspective of a former local.

If you’re still excited about moving to Amsterdam after reading this article, then you are ready to go on this new adventure.

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Written by

Leo van den Berg
As a Dutchman I am extremely proud of the beautiful country in which I live. My goal is to convey my passion and love for the Netherlands to as many people as possible.

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