I couldn’t imagine leaving my favorite city. But if I had to, I would without a doubt move to Amsterdam. With Brexit, it sounds like I don’t really have a choice and I am not the only one. As several major companies in London are moving to the city, Amsterdam is on the verge of becoming the new EU financial hub post-Brexit with more expats looking for work.
It might be sad to leave, but let’s be real, London has its flaws. Spending an hour every day to commute 3 miles is beyond irritating. Trying to get past crowds of tourists anywhere in the center is overwhelming. And let’s not forget the air pollution – it’s nasty. After relocating to Amsterdam for a month, I have to say, I’m not missing any of these.
Amsterdam will never overwhelm you like London. Maybe it’s the weed that makes everything more chill, but it’s probably just the vibe of the city (Londoners smoke more than the Dutch so don’t think it’s the weed). Filled with job opportunities, low living costs and home to a diverse international community, the city has so much to offer. Amsterdam is one of the most breathtaking cities in Europe, the canal belt in itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And if you’re into interior design like me, the center has the cutest apartments that you’ll find yourself staring into like a creep. But most importantly, Dutch food is a lot better than haggis and black pudding.
It’s also the perfect city in Europe if you fear homesickness. If you start missing bangers and mash or just getting squished in the tube for some sick reason, London is only a 40-minute flight away. You can also take the 10-hour bus ride back to London for 21 pounds to save some cash. Or you could also take the Eurostar train!
To help you out, we’re giving you 7 tips for moving from London to Amsterdam.
#1 You’re not in first class, the trains are just that nice so chill out
When you get a train in Amsterdam, especially the intercity, you’ll be shocked at how fancy they are. Back in London, you’re lucky if you find a place to sit. And if you do, it will probably smell like puke.
In the Netherlands, they’re so fancy that you keep thinking you’re in first class. They even have free wi-fi. The Dutch don’t see this as a big deal, but it’s a luxury for Londoners who are used to commuting without service.
So just act cool when you’re in second class and quit asking people if you’re in first class. They’ll think you’re a tourist.
#2 Save money on currency exchange with an international account
When I first moved to London from Portugal, I spent a lot on exchanging my money from euros to pounds. Finding out about international accounts like Revolut and TransferWise literally saved my life. I now use Revolut, an expat’s dream, which allows you to exchange from pounds to euros and vice versa at the best rates. You can transfer money internationally for nothing and it’s perfect for traveling without any fees. This will save you a lot of money! Revolut claims its rates save customers 3% to 5% because it uses the wholesale exchange rate.
It’s also great for keeping tabs on how much money you’re spending as it analyzes your budget for you and you can even set up a savings vault.
#3 Prepare to cry looking for housing – more than you would cry in London
The monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 Sqft) furnished studio in a normal area in Amsterdam is around 1,100€. In London, this would cost you around 1,500€ in a “normal” area (meaning a not so nice area).
However, Amsterdam is facing a housing crisis so to even find a place requires lots of luck. There are not enough homes to even house the permanent population, so expats and students are not the priority. Non-Dutch students and expats are often discriminated against when trying to rent a room, with “Dutch only” rentals.
We advise you to mentally prepare to struggle to find housing and to start looking as soon as possible. To get you through it, here are some 5 tips on finding an apartment in Amsterdam.
#4 It’s okay if you can’t learn Dutch
The Dutch will probably hate me for saying this, but you don’t REALLY need to learn their language. Everyone understands and speaks English in Amsterdam so it won’t make much of a difference. However, it could help you make some Dutch friends and learning the language of a country you’re living in is always a sign of respect. We advise you to try if you have the patience but don’t beat yourself up if you can never get it right. I have met people living here for years that can’t form a sentence in Dutch.
But if you’re up for it, take a look at some ways to learn Dutch for free here.
#5 No need to overdress for nightlife
Is there anything worse than feeling overdressed? This might be the case for a Londoner on their first night out in Amsterdam. In London, especially if we’re talking about the big clubs in Mayfair everyone gets dragged to at least once, females have to wear heels and dresses. In Amsterdam, you can dance all night in your sneakers without the uncomfortable feet pain 10 cm heels will give you. Women in London also NEVER wear tights with their dresses, even in negative degree weather, its like a rule no one talks about.
So if you’re getting ready for a night out, minimal makeup and jeans will do. Still, if your idea of comfort is a flawless contour and a striking outfit, go for it. You’ll get some looks if you overdo it, but who cares what people think.
#6 Dutch people like to plan things in advance
The Dutch are an organized and efficient bunch. They like to plan everything in advance. There’s even a name for it, the “Dutch Agenda”, where they plan every social encounter in advance. I guess this is why they’re so productive, they make time for everything.
In London, we’re used to coming up with things to do spontaneously. When we do plan something in advance, we’ll usually cancel because something better came up. So if you want to keep your Dutch friends, make sure to plan a social time slot.
#7 Get used to riding a bike
For Londoners, the only bicycle riders are vegans that care about the environment (good for them!). Most of us just rely on Transport For London (TFL) to get us where we need to be. In Amsterdam, you don’t necessarily need a bicycle as transportation works really efficiently (more efficiently than in London).
However, you can save over 100€ a month by purchasing a cheap bicycle. Even if you’re daily commute doesn’t involve cycling, you’ll need to learn at one point. Your new Dutch friends will be nice enough to let you ride with them. I know what you’re thinking. How the hell do two people ride a single bike? You’ll see it when you move to Amsterdam, but it’s kind of tricky to do if you’re scared to ride a bicycle. I recommend learning before moving to the city as learning here with all the bicycle traffic is pretty scary.
If you’re moving from London to Amsterdam, you’ve made the right choice. If you’re still anxious about how you’ll survive such a big move, take a look at our guide to living in the Netherlands for the first time. Good luck!
Have you moved from London to Amsterdam? Tell us about your experience in the comments, below!