How I managed to move from a 130 acre rural property in Australia to live in a spatially challenged 30 square meter apartment in Amsterdam


Coming from a small town of about 3000 people (plus 2000 cows) and growing up in the quintessential country farmhouse on 130 acres I’m used to wide open spaces, no neighbours, and stairs that don’t require sucking in your stomach and shuffling sideways to get up them – which is why as you can probably imagine, adapting to life in a tiny apartment in Amsterdam was always going to take me a little bit of time to get used to.


I guess living conditions could be worse…


I’m a positive bloke though and I try to take things in my stride, but my girlfriend didn’t mention the fact I was going to have to play Tetris with my surfboards when I moved into her tiny Amsterdam apartment. Looking down from the plane window at the carpet of lights below I knew it was going to be a bit of a squeeze, and a quick flick through the in-flight magazine confirmed my apprehension. “Netherlands has a population density of 500 people per square kilometre”. Maybe I should’ve done my research before jumping on the next flight to Amsterdam. Especially considering Australia is about 3 people per square kilometre.


Where’s the rest of it?

To be honest, “barely enough room to swing a cat” was the first thought that went through my head. Just to clarify, for those that haven’t heard this phrase, it’s not to be taken literally. I don’t enter every apartment I intend to rent with a cat in hand that I then proceed to swing in a counter-clockwise motion by the tail to gauge whether the room is an adequate size. All I’m saying is that when I entered my girlfriends tiny Amsterdam apartment for the first time, I did wonder if I was part of some kind of cruel “prank the newcomer” initiation conspiracy – like there was actually a hidden door behind the bookcase where the other 3 rooms were located. How naively optimistic of me right?


Tiny homes are the new trend… and a Labrador nearly killed 70 people
Tiny homes are the new trend… and a Labrador nearly killed 70 people



Making the most of the situation


But on the other hand… cleaning, the bane of my existence, is now a quick and pain free endeavour. Back home doing a once a month (ok, maybe once a year) clean of the house meant preparing for battle with spiders that essentially owned parts of your room. Yes Mr. Spider you can have my bed, I’ll sleep in the corner. It also involved the whole Campbell clan (all 6 of us) and usually took 2 whole days, or to be more specific, my whole weekend. Now, a 10 minute whip around the apartment is all it takes to have everything looking spotless.

clean all rthe thibgs

Another blessing that comes with moving into a pint-sized apartment with your significant other is the fact that arguments (or “robust” discussions as my Dad calls ‘em) are now resolved pretty bloody quickly. There’s no chance of having a disagreement followed by (my) retreat back to a bunker of broody solitude. When you practically live in each other’s pocket, you need identify the problem and hash it out like the semi-civilised adults. I’ve now also turned into some kind of prodigal MacGyver when trying to utilise furniture for multiple purposes. What some may see as a bland looking office desk, through my eyes becomes a place to do puzzles, a home entertainment platform and dining room table all rolled into one. Eat your heart out Ikea.


Looking back on it all, if you’d asked me a year ago if I could survive in a tiny Amsterdam apartment I’d most likely answer, “Could Bigfoot live in a shoebox?”


Turns out… he can.


  1. I once thought of living in The Netherlands and gave up the idea because of the ridiculous size of the apartments and the ladder type stairs. They certainly dont offer quality of life.


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