With numerous global companies, a high quality of life, plenty of cultural capital, and a strong international community, it’s no wonder upwards of 800,000 residents call Amsterdam home. But living in the country’s capital city comes at a cost — the highest cost of any Dutch city, to be precise.
If you’re thinking of making the move to Amsterdam yourself, you’re likely wondering what things cost, and how this will affect your quality of life. What you can expect to spend will vary greatly by lifestyle, and in many ways, you get what you pay for in this city. But some general costs will give you a picture of what that can look like. Let’s break it down.
Housing in Amsterdam: a place to call home
First things first: you have to live somewhere in Amsterdam — and it’s likely going to be your greatest expense. Although housing in the city is expensive far and wide, where you choose to live will be a great determining factor in the amount you’ll have to shell out for rent or your mortgage.
In general, living within or close to the city centre will be costlier than living toward the outskirts. And naturally, the more desirable the neighbourhood, the higher the price tag.
Cost of renting a house in Amsterdam
One key distinction to be aware of regarding the rental market in the Netherlands is between social housing and private housing. Social housing is allotted for people with lower incomes, capping the rent at €752 in 2021. The waitlist for social housing can take years, so it’s generally not very accessible to expats.
The vast majority of people moving to Amsterdam will have to go for private housing, which has no price regulation. Landlords have the freedom to set the rent at whatever price they see fit.
On average, these are the rent prices you can expect to find when combing the Amsterdam rental market:
|Type of housing||Price range|
|Social housing||up to €752|
|Room in a shared apartment||€400 – 1,200|
|Studio apartment||€700 – 1,300|
|1 bedroom apartment||€900 – 2,000|
|2 bedroom apartment||€1,200 – 3,000|
|2 – 3 bedroom apartment/house||€2,000 – 5,000|
Keep in mind, rent costs are continually on the rise in Amsterdam, so don’t be surprised if the prices you encounter are even higher.
Cost of buying a home in Amsterdam
Again: location, location, location. The closer you are to the centre, the less bang you’re likely to get for your buck (or the European equivalent thereof).
But what homes in the centre lack in size they often make up for in character. For example, my ceiling is so low that visiting Dutchies often need to maintain a slightly cocked neck or bent knee for the duration of their stay, but the city view is ridiculous.
Another point to be aware of is that the real estate market in Amsterdam is competitive, and buyers often report paying far above the asking price for homes. But buying a house and getting a Dutch mortgage is a whole separate story, so let’s stick with asking prices here:
|Cost of an apartment in the city centre (per square metre)
|General price range||€6,500.00 – 9,000|
|Cost of an apartment outside the city centre (per square metre)
|General price range||€4,100 – 6,000|
To buy a simple one-bedroom apartment on the low end of the spectrum, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, you might be able to get away with paying around €200,000. For a higher-end three-bedroom apartment in the centre, you can expect to spend something closer to €500,000. In general, here’s the (very general) range you can expect to pay for a home in Amsterdam:
|Type of housing||Price range|
|Studio apartment||€180,000 – 350,000|
|1 bedroom apartment||€200,000 – 400,000|
|2 bedroom apartment||€225,000 – 450,000|
|2 – 3 bedroom apartment/house||€250,000 – 600,000|
Of course, you’ll also run across plenty of gorgeous properties soaring way up into the multi-millions.
|Good to know: your average annual mortgage interest at a 20-year fixed-rate should be somewhere around 2.25%.|
READ MORE | Top tips for buying a house in the Netherlands
Utilities in Amsterdam: how much to budget for gas, water, electricity, internet, and phone
Gas and electricity
You have many utility providers to choose from in the Netherlands. Often, getting your gas and electricity from one provider will save money. If you rent, sometimes these costs will be included and covered by your landlord, but don’t count on it.
Gas costs about .08 euros per kWh in the Netherlands, which is fairly average in comparison with other countries. However, the cost of electricity is among the most expensive in the world, at around .25 euros per kWh. You can expect to pay an average of €120-200 per month for both gas and electricity combined.
If you’re new to Amsterdam, you may find the system for paying your gas and electric bills a bit strange. You’ll likely be charged a flat rate each month, based on the average usage predicted for your house and the number of occupants. Once a year, in April, you’ll either get the money back that you overpaid for your usage, or you’ll have to pay for the excess you consumed.
Just keep in mind the amount you pay each month is not necessarily the actual cost. However, the estimated cost will be adjusted each year based on your true usage.
Water in Amsterdam works differently. There are two different ways that your water bill can be calculated. If you use a water meter, you’ll pay monthly costs by cubic metre of water used, plus an annual fee for the metre. If you opt-out of the metre, bills should fall in the range of around €15-30 per month.
Monthly internet costs
The average cost for the internet in the Netherlands is in the range of €32 for a lower speed connection to €67 for higher speed (although it’s all relatively fast). It’s common to bundle your internet with TV and phone service. Some websites allow for an easy price comparison between providers.
Cell phone plans in the Netherlands don’t differ much from other countries. Monthly costs can be as low as €8 for unlimited calling with no data, up to around €40 a month for unlimited data.
An average plan with up to 10 gigabytes of data and unlimited calling should be somewhere around €20 a month. You may also need to pay an activation fee.
How much to budget for groceries in Amsterdam
NUMBEO provides the following average costs for groceries in Amsterdam, and I have to say, they’re pretty spot-on with my own experience.
|Item||Average price||Price range|
|Milk (1 liter)||€1.08||€0.85 – 1.80|
|Loaf of white bread (500g)||€ 1.75||€0.99 – 3.00|
|Rice (white) (1kg)||€2.06||€1.50 – 3.00|
|Eggs (regular) (12)||€2.87||€1.96 – 4.20|
|Local cheese (1kg)||€11.93||€6.50 – 20.29|
|Chicken fillets (1kg)||€8.00||€5 – 10.00|
|Beef (or equivalent red meat) (1kg)||€13.95||€6 – 18.50|
|Apples (1kg)||€2.11||€1.29 – 3.00|
|Banana (1kg)||€1.63||€1.19 – 3.00|
|Oranges (1kg)||€1.69||€1.10 – 3.50|
|Potatoes (1kg)||€1.55||€1.00 – 2.80|
|Onion (1kg)||€1.32||€1.00 – 2.00|
|Lettuce (1 head)||€0.91||€0.69 – 1.50|
|Water (1.5-liter bottle)||€0.89||€0.50 – 1.50|
|Bottle of wine (mid-range)||€7.00||€5.00 – 12.50|
|Domestic beer (0.5-liter bottle)||€1.23||€0.75 – 2.00|
|Imported beer (0.5-liter bottle)||€1.87||€1.43 – 2.59|
|Cigarettes 20-pack||€8.00||€6.00 – 9.00|
Price of transportation in Amsterdam
The least expensive way to get around in Amsterdam is by bike, and it’s usually the quickest way too. When you do take public transportation (on those days when you don’t feel like turning up at your destination like a wet cat), you can hop on a tram, bus, or train with several options for ticketing. Or, grab a taxi, Uber, or scooter.
These are the general prices for public transportation with Amsterdam’s public transportation system, GBV (Gemeente Vervoerbedrijf):
|Type of ticket||Price|
|One-hour tram or bus ticket||€3.20|
|One-day (24 hours) ticket||€8.50|
|One-day child GVB ticket||€4|
|Monthly pass (regular price)||€97.50|
|OV-chipkaart (rechargeable card)||€7.50 for the card itself, then €0.99 base rate plus €0.17 per kilometre|
Additional multi-day, discounted, and other purchase options are available.
Taxis in Amsterdam are obliged to use a metre. They can set their own fares but the government sets a maximum price. A trip from Schiphol Airport to the city centre should be around €50. Trips within the city should be significantly less.
Uber costs will vary based on a number of factors but are generally less expensive than a traditional taxi. A fare from Schiphol Airport to the city centre will be in the range of €40-55.
If you’re up for the challenge of driving (and parking) a car in Amsterdam, you’ll have several factors to consider:
|Car expense||Average price|
|Parking||€1+ per 15 minutes in the centre, with daily rates as high as €80 (check the map for specifics)|
|Resident parking permit||€34 per 6 months (Zuidoost) to €284 per 6 months (Centrum)|
|Gasoline (1 liter)||€1.66 (ranging from €1.50 – 1.75)|
|Insurance (required by law)||€100 per month (for a basic plan)|
|Tax||€100 annually (based on type of car, fuel required, age of car, and CO2 emissions)|
|New car||€35,500 (mid-size, mid-range sedan)|
|Total monthly estimate:||€450|
Eating and drinking out in Amsterdam
If you’re planning on going out for a night of dinner and drinks, expect to spend a fair amount of money. Prices aren’t outrageous compared to many other major cities, but compared to the rest of the country, they’re up there. Although, with a bit of trial and error and asking around, you can find a handful of places offering nice meals at friendly prices.
For drinks, if you’re on a budget, best to stick to beer or wine — in some cases, it’s less expensive than even a bottle of water!
|Restaurant item||Average price||Price range|
|Meal at an inexpensive restaurant||€16.00||€10.00 – 25.00|
|Meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant, three-course||€75.00||€60.00 – 120.00|
|Meal at a fast-food restaurant||€8.50||€8.00 – 10.00|
|Domestic beer||€5.00||€3.00 – 8.00|
|Imported beer||€5.00||€3.50 – 6.00|
|Wine||€4.00||€3.00 – 6.00|
|Cappuccino||€3.50||€2.00 – 4.00|
|Coke/Pepsi||€3.00||€2.00 – 3.00|
|Water||€3.00||€2.00 – 3.50|
|Since this is the COVID era, if you’re eating out, be sure to stay safe and up to date with government regulations.|
Paying for insurance in Amsterdam
Health insurance when living in Amsterdam
Health insurance is required for anyone living or working in the Netherlands. Generally, a basic package costs just over €100 per month, but this can vary greatly by the company and plan you select. Some employers offer corporate health insurance plans, which may be less expensive than taking out an individual policy.
The standard deductible (eigen risico), or price you’ll need to pay each year before your insurance kicks in, is set at €385 for all insurance providers. Some people opt for a higher deductible in exchange for lower monthly costs. Children under the age of 18 are insured with the standard package free of charge.
The Dutch government also requires that you pay an income-based contribution for the standard package. This is a percentage of your salary, also known as the ZVW contribution. Your employer will forward it directly to the Health Insurance Fund.
Home insurance in Amsterdam
Home insurance when living in Amsterdam isn’t mandatory by law, but it is required by many mortgage providers. Costs will vary based on your situation, taking into consideration things such as the value of your home and goods, your neighbourhood, and other risk levels. A basic policy typically falls into the range of €4 to 10 a month.
Other insurances in Amsterdam
Liability insurance is not obligatory either but is also so inexpensive that people generally have it. Paying just a few euros per month will cover claims from third parties for damages as high as €2.5 million.
Some Dutch liability plans may even cover, for example, when your friend comes to visit from another country and crashes their bike into someone else’s. They’re your visitor, so any damages they incur are covered under your dirt-cheap insurance policy.
Cost of education in Amsterdam
Attending university in the Netherlands
For Dutchies, higher education is quite affordable because it’s subsidised by the government. For international students, the cost is higher, though still reasonable. You’ll pay an annual tuition fee based on your nationality, chosen degree programme, and whether you study part-time or full-time.
On average, full-time EU/EEA students will pay about € 4,336 per year in tuition costs for a full-time program. Non-EU/EEA students can expect to pay around €13,300 per year.
In addition to tuition, the UvA advises students to budget for somewhere between €900 and €1,500 per month on living expenses, including rent. They break it down as:
|University living expenses||Cost|
|Visa/residence permit (if non-EU national)||€210, one-time fee|
|Accommodation||€350 – €800 per month|
|General living expenses||€400 – €500 per month|
|Insurance||€35 – €100 per month|
|Books||€50 – €100 per month|
|Public transport (optional)||€40 – €100 per month|
Cost of education for children
The Dutch government also subsidises school for children, so if you decide to send your child to a Dutch school it’s nearly free of charge. You’ll just need to make some small contributions for things like school trips or after school activities — somewhere around €100 annually.
For a private education or an international school, the cost is significantly higher — from €4,500 up to €23,000 euros a year.
Salary expectations in Amsterdam
Now that we have a better picture of what it costs to live in the country’s capital, let’s take a look at how salaries stack up. Of course, they will vary greatly based on industry and experience, but in general, Dutch salaries are rather average — a bit lower than the US and UK, for example, but still generally quite manageable in relation to the cost of living. According to the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB), the median gross salary in 2020 was €36,000, meaning a monthly net pay of around €2,150. In 2021, the projected average salary is €36,500.
The national minimum wage for 2021 is set at €1,684.80 per month (€20,218 per year) for adults over the age of 21.
One nice thing about working in the Netherlands is that your employer is required to give you annual holiday pay, which is 8% of your salary. When negotiating salary, whether or not this amount is included in the offer can make a significant difference in your quoted salary.
Don’t forget about taxes!
If the salary range your potential employer is offering is something you can live with, next, consider taxes. You’ll be obliged to pay payroll tax, which is made up of a salary-based tax along with national insurance contributions for pensions, Dutch benefits and allowances, and unemployment allowance. It typically adds up to around 29.7% of your gross income.
As this tax is quite high, you’ll want to consider your net (take home) pay, rather than simply your gross pay (total salary) — the difference can be substantial. You can use this calculator to estimate your monthly net income based on your salary. Some expats qualify for the 30% tax ruling, which means they only pay Dutch taxes on 70% of their gross income.
Cost of childcare when living in Amsterdam
While you’re out there hustling to afford rent and pay taxes, you might need someone to look after your children. The cost of Dutch childcare varies depending on the centre and what type and frequency of care you’ll need for your child. Daycare and nursery school for the little ones costs around €750 per month on average, with discounts available if you have additional children. For after school care, costs will be in the €650 to €800 a month range.
Some parents opt for childminders (oppas), who generally charge around €7 per hour for the less experienced teenager or €15 per hour for someone with more experience. If you would like them to do additional housework, it would be reflected in the wage.
Au pairs would likely be the least expensive option for your family, often exchanging room, board, and a small salary for a 30-hour workweek.
Many residents in the Netherlands qualify for a childcare benefit (kinderopvangtoeslag), wherein the government subsidises the cost. This will depend on the number of children you have in childcare, your income, and your social situation. You can calculate how much you will pay using an online calculator.
Now, to add up all these separate costs would require some math, so to spare you the terrible inconvenience, here are the average estimated monthly costs of living for individuals and families living in Amsterdam:
|Family type||Estimated cost of living (without rent)|
|Family of four||€3,266.64|
Quick tips to save money when living in Amsterdam
- Cycle or walk — make those legs earn their keep!
- Develop a keen eye for kortings
- Shop at outdoor markets when possible
- Opt for beer or wine when dining out
- See if you qualify for any government allowances (toeslagen)
- Students: take advantage of student discounts
Does your experience with the cost of living in Amsterdam match up? Tell us in the comments below!