I came the Netherlands 3 years ago and instead of moving to Amsterdam, I’ve chosen the quaint city of Eindhoven. Every year, Eindhoven would receive a new awesome title or award: it had the highest patent density in the Brainport area, it became the world’s most inventive city and the world’s first crowdsourced smart city.
I looked at all the buzz around the city with a bemused face because, I mean, it’s Eindhoven, you guys. So I went about spending my time there, going to cooler and cooler events, checking out design innovations, witnessing the city’s development. I grew fond of this unpretty city. But I’ll be honest, my heart always ached for Amsterdam. I’d come and visit every few weeks and recharge with positive energy. When I could still pull all-nighters without crushing myself, I’d come for partying the weekend away. Then for meeting friends, visiting museums or attending concerts. I promised myself I’d move here to be living “the Dutch dream” before I leave the Netherlands.
And so I did. A month ago I started a new job and hoped on the train from the south. So if you too are moving to Amsterdam soon, here’s a few pointers to help you in your first few months here:
Do not underestimate the housing situation
Facebook groups, friends of friends or housing agencies – start looking for a place in advance. Check out what are the best neighbourhoods to live in, learn from other people’s mistakes and be patient. Understand that Amsterdam outgrew itself too fast for its own good and it’s still settling in with its new-ish “cool capital” title.
It’s a small capital, but it’s big enough to make you commute
I was SO used to biking everywhere that I didn’t even think about getting a monthly subscription for public transportation. I mean, this is a capital that doesn’t even have 1 million inhabitants, right? Fast forward to my first week here, I learned that not only I’m bad at mornings but I’m particularly bad at biking 10 km to work in the winter. Long gone are the days when I could wake up at 9 am and be in the office by 9:30 because my commute now take 45 times. It involves a metro and a tram change and a tiny bit of walking. Next month it will take me an hour, yay me!
The biking is aggressive
I bike like a granny and I’m proud of it. I enjoy the ride and I don’t like being in a rush. Yeah, that’s not really a thing in Amsterdam. God forbid you didn’t take off the second before the light turned green, they will bike-honk from the back of the line. I laughed the first time it happened. I hurried up the next time. Or if you really want to integrate, why wait for the green light? It’s still surprising to me how many people jail-bike (is that a thing?).
It’s an expat wonderland but it’s driving people crazy
From the housing crisis to its bustling business environment, people are not as relaxed as I’m told they used to be. Competition for jobs and internships is fierce, people are in a rush and it’s changing my outlook on Dutch lifestyle. I’m holding tight to my daily dose of “gezzeligheid” and I’m finding it harder to nurture new friendships. Yet again, they say it’s not as easy to make friends when you get older. Ahem, experienced, not old.
The city center is a forbidden area
Listen to me, Amsterdam receives 5+ million tourists every year. The city center where all the pretty canals are is only that big. When you move here, go there several times in a short amount of time and get it out of your system. It’s a bit like walking in a Disney park, a lot of sparkles and glitter, tons of noise and people bumping into each other. I think it’s pretty cool the municipality is finally starting to direct the way tourism develops.
It’s expensive AF
I don’t even know where my money is going to be honest. Ask me again in a couple of months, I just finished paying a deposit, contract fee and rent for the first month so I basically know nothing. But if you want to cry, take a look at the how much more expensive Amsterdam is compared to Eindhoven. 65% more expensive rent? Ah, the joys of living the dream. I know, I shouldn’t be comparing, apples and pears, I need a second to adapt here.
Go for it
You moved here, you did. Go on, live a little. Go to the awesome events you find all over the city, network, try all the local drinks, visit the museums, do some of the touristy things, eat all bitterballen. You’re here, enjoy!