Moving to Amsterdam

Expats moving to Amsterdam will find themselves in a culturally diverse city that is rich in history and tradition. The capital of the Netherlands is one of the world's top travel destinations, attracting millions of visitors each year. 

Amsterdam started out around a dam on the Amstel River, and its name reflects this. The canals of the old city, which flare out in five concentric rows, have led to it being called ‘the Venice of the North’.

The city forms part of the Randstad, a conurbation that also includes Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague. While Amsterdam proper has a seemingly small population of 821,000, the surrounding Randstad is the most populated area in the country, with a population of over 7 million.

Houses and apartments in Amsterdam may be smaller than expats are used to, and due to the high population density, accommodation is often limited and may be one of the biggest challenges for expats moving to Amsterdam. As a result, many choose to live in the surrounding villages, rather than in the city itself. 

Amsterdam’s architectural character has developed around trying to solve the housing problem. The canals were originally constructed to serve as water highways, keeping all parts of the inner city accessible. While still used for transport, the canals make for exquisite tours and memorable walks along the water's edge.

Tourists often choose the city for the illicit thrills of its Red Light District and coffee shops, but residents have an abundance of choice when it comes to lifestyle and leisure, including extensive museums, scenic walks and vibrant nightlife. 

Amsterdam has a well-developed transport network consisting of buses, trains and trams. Cycling is also popular, with dedicated bicycle lanes throughout the city. As a whole, the Netherlands is a small country and the trains extend well into the countryside, so buying a car is seldom necessary.

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