The best places to live in Rotterdam
When deciding where to stay, there are many exciting areas and suburbs in Rotterdam for new arrivals to choose from. From trendy, upmarket areas in the city centre to quieter, family-friendly suburbs on the outskirts of town, there's something to suit everyone.
Here's a list of popular expat areas in and around Rotterdam.
City-centre living in Rotterdam
The heart of Rotterdam could become the home or workplace of new expats. Expats staying short term may find themselves staying in a city-centre hotel or apartment, able to enjoy the buzzing city life while working in one of the many international companies operating in Rotterdam Centrum. This district also boasts a transport hub, being home to Rotterdam Centraal, the city’s major railway station.
Oude Westen is a charming, artsy district that acts as a hub for the city's creatives and is especially popular with expats. The area has a distinctly multicultural atmosphere and there's a lot to explore in the form of speciality shops, cafés and restaurants. Younger residents are drawn to this sprawling area thanks to its live music and nightclubs. Despite its city-centre location, rentals in Oude Westen can be affordable and this is a good option for those on a budget.
Home to Rotterdam’s maritime area, Stadsdriehoek is a lively central area boasting waterside restaurants and bars. The popular Markthall is found here, housing eateries as well as apartments and offices. Rotterdam’s history and economy have been shaped by its access to waterways, and the city is said to be home to Europe’s largest seaport. The Nieuwe Maas river flows through the city, and the waterfront Maritime District is a popular tourist area, but is equally attractive to locals who can enjoy a number of landmarks, monuments and the Maritime Museum.
Noordereiland sits in the Nieuwe Maas, dividing the northern and southern suburbs of the city. This island is largely a residential neighbourhood that offers views of the iconic bridges connecting the city, including the modern Erasmusbrug suspension bridge.
Northern and eastern areas of Rotterdam
Families with children generally opt for accommodation in the surrounding suburbs, such as those to the north and east of the city. The green spaces, properties with gardens and access to schools are major draw factors while transport links to business places allow an easy commute.
Rotterdam Noord sits just north of Rotterdam Centraal, ideal for expats working in the city centre who prefer to live in a quieter neighbourhood. Blijdorp has a quaint, village-like atmosphere that is well suited to families. Other perks include close proximity to expansive green spaces such as Vroesenpark, perfect for picnics, and Rotterdam Zoo, a great choice for a family outing. Accommodation in this charming northern area is typically reasonably priced – a major draw factor.
This upmarket suburb is situated to the northeast of the city centre and is one of Rotterdam's most prestigious addresses, offering detached houses and villas, all in a lush, green environment with views of canals and lakes. Due to the high demand among locals and expats alike, accommodation in Hillegersberg tends to be pricey. Those who can afford to live there will enjoy proximity to good public transport links, while expat families with children can rest assured that good quality international schools are not far off.
Kralingen lies east of Rotterdam Centrum and is close to Hillegersberg. As the home of Erasmus University, Kralingen is naturally popular with students. Its proximity to the city centre, along with the excellent schools in the area, also make it attractive for families and executives. There are plenty of restaurants and cafés to enjoy, along with the natural beauty of Kralingse Bos, a forested area with a lake. Kralingen has a distinctly international feel and housing in the area range from humble apartments to sprawling villas.
Southern areas of Rotterdam
Suburbs south of the Maas sprawl outwards, encompassing several eclectic neighbourhoods. Areas of Rotterdam Zuid (Rotterdam South) are well connected to public transport and bicycle paths which make cycling a convenient mode of transport.
Kop van Zuid
Resting on the Maas River's south bank, Kop van Zuid is a vibrant area that is home to many of Rotterdam's architectural marvels. Though the area was once a disused port, the government invested in major redevelopment in the 1990s and today it's a cultural and business hub boasting major banks and financial organisations. Expat professionals, in particular, are likely to enjoy Kop van Zuid's closeness to the city centre.
Katendrecht has also transformed over the years, becoming a lively riverside neighbourhood offering burger joints, classy restaurants and the opportunity to take in beautiful waterfront views while strolling around. Expats looking for accommodation in Rotterdam should not overlook Katendrecht, where they could score a decent bargain.
Western areas of Rotterdam
Families, young expats and cultural and historical enthusiasts are all drawn to Rotterdam-West, a sprawling area encompassing multiple suburbs, such as the historical Delfshaven. While new arrivals may be drawn to central Rotterdam areas, many expats settle in surrounding suburbs and neighbouring cities, such as Schiedam.
Expats keen for a home with a view can find accommodation in one of Delfshaven’s neighbourhoods overlooking the harbour. While the area maintains its historical charm and offers some great sightseeing opportunities, it has developed into a vibrant district with lively bars and music venues.
Schiedam is a city west of Rotterdam. Schiedam's charming historical centre, numerous museums and attractions, and some of the tallest windmills in the world make for a great day out from Rotterdam with the kids. However, some expats may prefer to call Schiedam their home, possibly commuting into Rotterdam for work, or finding a job in Schiedam itself.
►Learn more about finding accommodation in Rotterdam
Photo credits: Nieuwe Maas, Noordereiland by Micheile Henderson; Rotterdam by Lily Fu; Delfshaven by Micheile Henderson. All sourced from Unsplash.
Are you an expat living in Rotterdam?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rotterdam. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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