My tips for Moving to Amsterdam

I recently moved from the US to the Netherlands for work. Having moved around the States quite a bit I expected that moving to Amsterdam would be fairly similar. That was a big eye opener when I arrived in Amsterdam as a brand new expat looking for housing. I quickly realized that I had absolutely no idea of how things where done in Amsterdam. Back home in the US I knew the area, where the best places to live are and where the ones are you should stay out of. So here are a few tips I gathered along the way.

1. Looking for an Apartment

I highly recommend that you start looking yourself at least 1 month in advance before moving to the Netherlands. The rental market is every moving and very fast paced here: properties that are up for rent one day may be gone the day after and new ones show up daily. If you don't know where to look or even where to start I highly recommend finding a local agent who can assist you. Although some real state agents can be pricey it will be a huge weight lifted off your shoulders. Look for companies who have experience with expat housing or expat rentals.

2. Plan to settle in

While I was preparing to move abroad, one of the most important things I should have considered is how I was going to settle in once I've moved. From setting up utilities to understanding the culture, there is a lot of preparation you can do in advance to help make the transition easier and be sure you don't get homesick.

3. Taking your pet with you

It is recommended that you allow at least a 6-9 month waiting period to arrange for your pet paperwork. Dogs, cats and ferrets travelling abroad with their owners must have a 'pet passport' (EU-dierenpaspoort) from the vet. This document contains the following information:

  • Statement from your vet that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies.
  • Description of pet including its breed, sex, age, color, type of fur and marks.
  • Tattoo or microchip number.
  • Name of owner.

4. The 3 types of Housing

The three 'states' of rentals are:

  • Ongemeubileerd, "unfurnished," means that the property has no flooring, curtains, appliances, etc. Expect to have to buy a toilet seat cover, showerhead, hand knobs, light fixtures, hooks — basically everything! Many public sector (social housing) properties are rented out this way, as kaal, or bare.
  • Gestoffeerd, "semi-furnished," translates to some type of flooring, such as carpeting or laminate, basic appliances (don't expect an oven), and sometimes curtains. Work will still be needed.
  • Gemeubileerd, "furnished," essentially means that the property is ready to be lived in, as it's equipped with appliances and furniture.

5. Take a Canal Cruise, and enjoy!

Dubbed the "Venice of the North," Amsterdam has several incredible museums and amazing scenery, it actually has 3 times the bridges and canals than its Italian cousin. The handy hop-on hop-off waterbus is a great way to get around and see the city. It runs along three routes with a total of 16 stops at museums, shopping areas and places of interest, and there's an informative onboard audio commentary. An unlimited one-day ticket costs about €23 ($25), and the stop at Central Station is just a few minutes' walk from the docking spots for river ships.

There you have it. I hope you find these five tips useful. As an encore, I think the best tip is this one: be prepared!