If you’re a cheapskate or love good value for money then this Ultimate Cheapskates Guide will help you uncover the best value for money places in Amsterdam. From everything on where to eat, drink, shop to how to find a decent apartment for rent and buy a bike. Basically everything you need to be properly cheap in Amsterdam…

Living creatively below the poverty line is what I do best a freelance copywriter. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Anyone who lives within his or her means suffers from a lack of imagination”. Even though the fellow had a dubious belief system, he did have it right when it came to this quote, and it confirms what I’ve always suspected; I’m not alone in the pursuit of stretching cash to accommodate my interests in life.

Now, I’m fully convinced that living in excess of what I have is boring. This however can be a tricky and taxing task, plus it requires a near ruthless approach to hunting down the best value for money food, beverages, clothing, transport or accommodation available.

We all stressed about opening a Dutch bank account but now it finally has some cheese in it and we’re spending it on us! It’s essentially a cheapskate’s guide to Amsterdam, but if saving a bit of cash on new clothes throughout the year allows you to drop some surplus coin on an extra weeks holiday far away from frosty Dutch winters, then it’s a winner for sure.

Cheap in Amsterdam: A tight-asses guide to dining out

Saying this is a guide to dining out is actually a little misleading. It should probably be “A Tightasses Guide To Scrounging For Food” instead. That being said, we’re not going to suggest fighting seagulls for soggy gutter fries here. The best bet is to hit the places in Amsterdam that represent great value for money bargains.

FEBO is a good place to eat a hearty meal for only a couple of euro, but there’s also Singel 404, which does a cracking sandwich for around 5 euros.

Cheap in Amsterdam
FEBO. It goes down as quick as it comes out. Image: Lachlan Campbell/Supplied.  

If you’ve got someone that you want to impress but don’t believe they’re worth spoiling yet (think first Tinder date), checking out de Foodhallen should also be on the cards. There are great deals on tucker here nearly every night of the week, so sniff around often to find a nightly special. Oh yeah, and Oriental City in the Red Light District cranks out the good stuff as well. Go in skinny, roll out a la panda style.

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Cheap in Amsterdam: A pennypinchers guide to boozing for a bargain

Soundgarden, Belushi’s, Roest or any tourist bar that has “cheap drinks” scrawled across a dilapidated chalkboard out front will do. We’re not here to be fussy or second-guess our instincts. Even if all they’re selling is glorified cough syrup or watered down petrol, we’ll take it.

cheapskates guide to amsterdam
Hmm… tough decision, but it’s hard to say no to beer.. Image: rawpixel/Pixabay

If you do see a sign advertising discounted drinks or are ushered into a dark club by a shady looking spruiker standing out front, don’t be ashamed by your decision. After all, acting like a moth to a flame whenever you see the words “cheap”, “bargain” or “discount” is how we can afford to get absolutely shanked for less than 30 euros a night right? De Nieuwe Anita on Frederik Hendrikstraat also does some ripper cocktails for only a wee bit of coin.

Cheap in Amsterdam: A tightwads guide to buying clothing in Amsterdam

Step back I’ve got this… ok, so the best cheap place in Amsterdam for new(ish) threads is undoubtedly Episode. Go on, challenge me on that, I dare you. Name an item of clothing and I guarantee I’ll be able to find it stashed away within the musty confines of any one of Episodes shop throughout the city. Sure you may pick up a glove with the hand of its deceased owner still in it, and underwear or socks are out of the question (H&M), but there’s oodles of good deals to be found there.

Amsterdam on a budget
What do you want? Take your pick! Source: MAKY.OREL/Wikimedia

Take a trip to Waterlooplein, Prinsengracht, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat or Spuistraat to find an Episode shop and let your eyes and fingertips guide your feet as you explore and dig through their diverse selections of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s era clothing on offer.

I once even tried on a jacket in there, reached into its pocket, and pulled out a 50 euro note, no joke! And in true tightwad fashion, I didn’t even end up buying the jacket… ha, clothes shopping for a profit!

Cheap in Amsterdam: A stingelords guide to finding a place to rent

I approach finding a cheap place to rent in Amsterdam with all the vitality of a taxidermists display cabinet, because you know what, it’s fucking hard. Seriously, if you’re trying to find something to rent in Amsterdam for under 1000 euro a month that doesn’t look like a home in Chernobyl then you can pretty much forget about it. That being said, sites such as parius.com, expatrentals.eu and longtermletting.com allow you to find relatively affordable accommodation without having to put in much effort.

dilapidated house
The apartment comes with curtains and only costs 1500 euros a month?! Take my money. Image: erA_Blackout/Pixabay

Facebook is also a great way to prospect for potential long-term lodging (and in general just being cheap in Amsterdam). Here you can sign up to groups such as Amsterdam apartments 4 rent, apartments in Amsterdam for rent and apartments for rent Amsterdam the Netherlands. Word of advice, don’t be too fussy. Living in a share house is fun and makes rent all the cheaper. if it’s not central that’s also todo bien my friend. All this means is that you’ve got to ride a little further to get anywhere, which is essentially more exercise. Hey, look! You’re getting thinner while your wallet gets thicker. Win, win.

Cheap in Amsterdam: A moneygrubbers guide to procuring a bike

The 5-O are cracking down on the illegal reselling of stolen bikes and I for one am torn about this. Yes, it sucks when your bike is stolen but It’s kinda like it’s being released back into the wild again to roam free, experience other less bony buttocks and presumably mate (I don’t know much about how bikes are made). It’s just a bike anyway right?

Actually, maybe it is time to lay off FEBO. Source: Fons Heijnsbroek/Flickr

So whether you’re new to Amsterdam or have just had your bike flogged by a bolt cutter brandishing kleptomaniac then the best place to go for a cheap and immediate replacement is the Waterlooplein Markets. Sure they’re a bit dodgy and yes, the tires will need to be pumped up straight after leaving but hey, at least you can almost guarantee that you’ll leave with a new bike for around 50EUR. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even find your old bike while you’re there. Just don’t get suckered into buying one of the vendor’s bike chains and locks. They’re about as reliable as a solar powered flashlight after dark.

So there you go – all my tips and tricks on how to be a cheapskate in Amsterdam. It is notoriously expensive so I hope you find a way to beat the system! 

Editor’s Note: this article was originally published on 26 Jan 2017 but was updated on 13 November 2019 for your reading pleasure. 

Feature image: Monlaw/Pixabay

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