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Moving to Amsterdam from the US

Amsterdam is a city with a long, rich history. It’s famous for its canals, art and its colorful nightlife and its friendliness towards visitors. The city, along with the whole country, welcomes expats with open arms, even allowing them to vote in local elections. The Netherlands have bred some of world’s most famous artists, such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt. It offers expats of all ages a mix of old and new, great amenities, healthcare and education and a great quality of life.

Amsterdam has a large American expat community who are either studying or working in the city. The crime rate is very low, and everyone walks around the city at night. 99% of the population speak English, so language is not a problem. One of the joys of living in Amsterdam is that if you have a problem, everyone will run to help you, unlike many cities in the States. The people are friendly, polite and helpful.

Transport

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Amsterdam has an excellent public transport system, giving you the option to travel by train, tram, bus, ferry or metro. An OV-chipkaart is used for payment. There are many different options to purchase, from a 1 day pass to a monthly pass. These cards can be reloaded when they run out of credit. A seven-day travel pass will cost $37.

Alternatively, do what most Amsterdammers do, buy a bike. If you live in or near the city centre, you will find you rarely use public transport as everything is within walking distance.

Neighbourhoods, House Prices and Rentals

The most popular areas for expats to live in is on the canal rings which encircle the old city centre, the Jordaan, the Pipj and the Oud Zuid. These areas tend to be expensive but there is a variety of houses and apartments to choose from.

The Jordaan is an up and coming area which has a mix of students, artists, wealthy expats and old Amsterdammers. It is an area full of restaurants and bars, and there are artists and musicians wherever you turn. The average price of a one bedroomed flat is around $1700 per month and a three-bedroomed flat will be around $6,500 per month.

Oud Zuid is very popular with expat families, as it’s close to the international schools. It’s a leafy suburb with trees and parks, lots of pavement cafes and upmarket shopping centres. Rental prices range from around $1500 per month for a one bedroomed flat, up to $7,000 for a three-bedroomed house.

If you move further away from the city centre, the rent for a one-bedroomed apartment will be around $800 per month and a three-bedroomed house around $4,000.

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Education

Amsterdam has many excellent schools and tertiary education institutions. It is proud of the high standard of education on offer. The International School of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam International Community School take children from the ages of 3 to 18 and offers the IB (International Baccalaureate). The British School of Amsterdam offers the British education curriculum.

There are over 30 institutions of higher learning in the city, ranging from the University of Amsterdam which has over 30,000 students to art colleges, IT colleges and lots in between. There is also the American credited Webster University which follows the American curriculum.

Amsterdam VS Seattle

Many people feel that Amsterdam is similar in feel and culture to Seattle. The cities are almost the same size and both Amsterdammers and Seattleites love to walk, cycle and enjoy the water that is so a part of their cities. Coffee is something else they share a love of, although it has to be said that the coffee is Amsterdam is significantly stronger than that in Seattle. Both enjoy a good lifestyle and the cost of living is around the same in both cities.

Interesting Facts about Amsterdam

Amsterdam is sinking! No joke. Each house must be built on poles to prevent it sinking into the marshy ground. They used to use wooden poles but now they sink concrete instead. The buildings in Amsterdam are held up with over 11 million support poles!

Amsterdam is home to more nationalities than any other city in the world. Because of its multicultural nature, most Amsterdammers speak three languages, usually Dutch, English and German. They are also known to be the tallest nation in the world.

What to do in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is a fascinating city which caters for everyone. Its activities range from one end of the spectrum to the other. It offers its famous red light district and some of the best art galleries in the world. It has excellent restaurants for enjoying that fine dining experience, stylish nightclubs and bars but it also has sleazy coffee joints which have a certain charm and attract the bohemian visitor or just those who are curious to experience the other side of Amsterdam.

Visit the museums, explore the waterways, skate on the canals in the winter, enjoy the vast array of street food, save on parking and cycle everywhere, explore the shops on The Nine Streets and visit Anne Frank House. Don’t forget to find time to relax at a coffee shop for a couple of hours and just watch the world go by.

Eating and Drinking in Amsterdam

If you are pining away for a good burger, go to Getto and enjoy one for around $15. The burgers are to die for and each one is named after a drag queen who performs there. Getto say they have "an attitude-free zone, for gays, lesbians, bi, queers and straights".

For those who want a fine dining experience, go to the 23rd floor of the Okura Hotel and book a table at Ciel Bleu. You won’t be disappointed with the food, the wine or the view. Your three-course set price menu is around $190 a head. For vegan and vegetarian food, try Restaurant De Waaghals which has a relaxed indoor and outdoor eating area and serves beautifully prepared and presented seasonal foods with organic wines.

Nightlife in Amsterdam

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Like most European cities, Amsterdam wakes up in the late evening. If you want sex shows, erotic museums, strip clubs, cannabis and coffee shops, then head for the famous Red Light District. If the theatre is more your cup of tea, try the Leidseplein and visit one of the many theatres, cinemas or bars in the area which have great musical entertainment of many genres.

Rembrandtplein has a good selection of cinemas, bars and clubs. The younger crowd tend to go to Jordaan. Remember is only legal to buy soft drugs at designated coffee shops. If you buy off the street, you will end up at the local police station. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and there are said to be over 25,000 prostitutes in the Netherlands.

If you prefer a quiet meal, then into the centre of Amsterdam for an early meal. This is a good time to take the children out and go for a walk along the canals.