Living Abroad: Amsterdam Edition

One of the most-read articles in my blog is the post „Living Abroad: A new Life in Chile – Differences between Chile & Germany“, so I thought it was about time to compare my new life in the Netherlands with my home country. After living in Australia, Chile, France and Spain I have to say that the Netherlands is probably the most similar to Germany – or as some dutchies are joking: Is it just the better version of Germany? Let´s find out!

L I V I N G

֎ Language: The dutch language seems to be a mixture of German and English, so whenever we get a letter in the mail I´m able to understand most of the context. Reading and listening are pretty easy for me, but speaking is a whole other level – without a proper language course, there is no way to learn it. Even though I normally love apps like Duolingo, in this particular case it didn´t help me much. Luckily in Amsterdam, everyone speaks English perfectly, so it is very easy to move around and you only need dutch, if you want to work in an office.

֎ Safety: Amsterdam is super safe, especially compared to my previous locations. I can walk or bike around at night time without any problems and even catcalling is very uncommon, which makes it a very nice place to live in. While in Chile most houses have high fences and a concierge for safety reasons, alarm systems and even protection dogs, you will often find an open door or window in Amsterdam. Actually, it is very common, that you can look all the way into the apartments on the ground floor, cause dutch people often don´t use curtains.

֎ Rent: Amsterdam is for sure the priciest city I lived in so far. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city is around 1,600 € and a three-bedroom apartment costs around 2,700 € – and the rooms are teeny tiny!

֎ Bathroom: Dutch apartments often have the toilet in a separate bathroom from the shower, which I still find a bit strange. Most of the time the toilet is such a small room it doesn´t even have a bathroom sink. Bathtubs are also not that common and it took us a while to find a place where I can take my beloved bubble baths.

֎ Windows: The stairs are super steep in dutch houses and when someone wants to move they normally do that through the windows. Therefore it is also very common to rent a furnished apartment in Amsterdam, which often comes even with the smallest things like cutlery. You can move in and feel at home within an hour.

֎ Houseboat: Amsterdam has around 2,500 floating houses due to a shortage in housing in the sixties and seventies. Especially in the city centre you can still see a lot of them or rent some on Airbnb.

֎ Boat: Renting a boat is one of the best things you can do in Amsterdam and we do it pretty much every weekend from March to September. Boaty and Mokumboot are two rental services I can really recommend. You don´t need a licence and they will quickly teach you everything you want to know.

֎ Bike: Your bike will be your best friend, if you don´t want to buy one, you can get a Swapfiets, which costs under 20 € per month. Normally you can bike everywhere within 10-15 mins – you will even see cows if you bike that long. Bikes in Amsterdam often don´t have any gear and only a pedal break – but they normally come with two locks!

֎ Traffic system: The traffic system is great and with the OV-chipkaart you can take buses, the metro and even some trains, which makes travelling around very easy. It´s a card that you charge with some money, that also gives you a discount for each ride.

֎ Weather: For being a nordic country the weather in Amsterdam has positively surprised me, as it seemed to be a bit better than in Germany. In the summertime, it was so warm that I was even swimming in the Amstel (the biggest river that gave the city its name) and there is a lot of sunlight. Spring and autumn, on the other hand, are rain seasons that you better take seriously, cause on a windy day there could be a table flying in the air – no joke!

L I F E S T Y L E

֎ Small-town: Amsterdam has a small-town vibe, with its beautiful canals and scenery atmosphere. Even though it is a major European city it is very easy and quick to move around and there are only a few high-rise buildings.

֎ Friendship: Building a friendship with a dutchie is way trickier than in Chile, Spain or France! Dutch people usually have smaller friend groups, similar to Germany, where you often have friends from your childhood that you stick with over life.

֎ Cash is king: If you visit Amsterdam and don´t have a dutch debit card, you will need some cash. A lot of stores don´t take credit cards so better have some cash with you.

֎ Efficiency: The dutch are efficient. And when I say that as a german girl it really means something! A few months ago for example a company came to change the water pipelines of the whole house – and they were done after a few hours! In Germany that would have taken weeks, in Chile probably months.

֎ Plan: Dutchies love making plans. They adore nothing as much as planning 4 months ahead – even if it´s just for a brunch. Whenever we want to mingle with our dutch friends, it takes a lot of preplanning. Our international friends on the other hand often have time for a spontaneous beer at night time.

֎ Diversity: Amsterdam is a very diverse city with a lot of internationals from all around the world. Dutch people accept different cultures and are very LGBTQ+ friendly. Pride Week for example is one of the biggest highlights in the Amsterdam party calendar.

֎ Open-Minded: Amsterdam is so much more than you think it is! While the city is known for its red-light district and weed, it has way more to offer. The city itself is beautiful, it has a thriving art scene and a very laid-back lifestyle. As long as you don´t bother anyone you can pretty much do whatever you want in Amsterdam.

F O O D

֎ Delivery: While there are a lot of delivery services, ordering groceries is not as common yet as I´m used to from France and Chile. Often you can only order a few items, but not your whole weekly groceries. In a city where most people don´t have a car and only bikes, I often get annoyed by the fact of how often I spend time going to the supermarket.

֎ Organic Food: The organic food options are great and there are so many amazing local stores and organic supermarkets. Living in Amsterdam makes it easier to use less plastic and eat more organic.

֎ Vegan friendly: Pretty much every restaurant has various vegetarian or vegan options and there are even a few vegetarian restaurants with tasting menus.

֎ Alcohol: Alcohol is pretty affordable (similar to Germany), but what I really like, is how many non-alcoholic options the restaurants offer. I often chose a nice non-alcoholic cocktail or fresh juice and they make the glass so pretty, that other guests don´t even realize that you´re not drinking alcohol.

֎ Early Birds: Lunch is usually at 12 am, dinner at 5 pm.

֎ Reservation is key: If you want to go to a Museum, restaurant or pretty much anywhere in Amsterdam you will need a reservation. There is ALWAYS a waitlist for everything and my boyfriend even has a list on his phone with all the ridiculous things he´s on the waitlist for.

֎ Opening hours: Everything is open on Sunday, but weirdly shops close around 5 pm at the weekend. So if you want to go shopping for some new clothes on a Saturday better go early.

֎ Coffee(shops): The coffee culture in Amsterdam is big and there are a lot of very good cafés – but be careful: Never call them „coffeeshop“. That´s for the other stuff, you know 😉

֎ Bakeries: Even though the bread isn´t quite as good as the german one – I´m still missing my good old Schwarzbrot – but luckily there are quite a few great french bakeries in my neighbourhood. In case you ever come visit Bakkerij Mater is a MUST! Their croissants are to die for.

These are the differences that I recognized compared to living in Germany, Spain, France, Chile and Australia. Have you ever been to Amsterdam and found some more?

What was the strangest difference for you? Please let me know in the comments below, what else you would like to learn about my new life in Amsterdam.

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