“Ah, Amsterdam. What a city! My expat life here is just the start of what I expect to be a life-long love affair with the city. Is that feeling of love just me? I don’t think so. In fact, I have yet to meet a single person who didn’t love, or isn’t loving, their expat time in Amsterdam. Do you agree…?”
Those are the words of David Raleigh, director of Angloinfo Amsterdam. So, we asked David, “What are your main reasons for loving expat life in Amsterdam?” Read on to see if you agree with David’s top 7 picks…
1. The Canals
“Let’s start with the obvious one: Amsterdam is a fine-looking city and much of that is due to the beautiful canals. Being on a boat and exploring the canals is a pure joy. Add some friends and a few glasses of wine and you’ll have an unforgettable experience. I get great enjoyment just cycling along the canals — it feels so refreshing just to be there. I urge you to go to visit one of the best museums of Amsterdam, Het Grachtenhuis. Here you will learn why the canals were built and how it was achieved. It’s fascinating. When they finished the canal building, hundreds of years ago, I wonder if they too thought, “Wow, not only is it practical, but it’s really good looking too!”
2. The Food
“Amsterdam is a great place to eat. So many new restaurants have opened in the last two years that it’s becoming difficult to keep up with it all. The foodie movement is in full swing and that has raised the awareness and interest in good eating. I do my best to avoid the ubiquitous fried food offerings of bitterballen (red hot food balls), kibling (deep fried fish) and the Febo fast food outlets, and instead opt for the healthy side: I am a complete junkie for what I call ‘Dutch sushi’ made with herring. And, of course, the Dutch make the best pea soup in the world!”
3. The Dutch people
“There’s no other nationality quite like the Dutch. You simply have to love them. They are cool, funny, open, polite, positive, smart and hardworking. I’ve noticed that they are almost always laughing about something. To sum up the Dutch way of life, I’d say they are great at holding onto the best things of the past and very open to adopting the best things of the modern world.”
4. Bike Culture
“The Dutch are so passionate about bikes that you would think they invented the bicycle! It certainly helps that Amsterdam is a very flat city, which makes it very easy to get around on a bike. The whole country is a nation of cyclists and that has massive advantages, such as less air pollution and fewer traffic jams. And it helps burn off all the calories from the fried food too! Once you move here, you’ll need to buy a bike. A good bike with a really good lock are a must. The lock is important — I had six bikes stolen in the first 12 months. Lock it well or lose it.” Find out more about buying or renting a bike at Angloinfo Amsterdam’s Directory: ‘Bicycles: Retail, Repair & Accessories‘.
5. A normal, good quality of life
“Life in Amsterdam has a vibe. A good vibe. A normal vibe. Everyone is very normal. That means being down to earth and respecting others. The government seems to tax fairly, meaning that the money flows around. The streets are clean. The infrastructure works really well. There is a level of civility in the population that has been lost in other parts of the world. The streets seem really safe, even very late at night. The city is orientated towards family living. All this adds up to a great quality of life in my opinion.”
6. The language — or getting by without it
“Dutch is rated one of the easiest languages to learn, for English mother-tongue expats. There are enough similarities to make it possible to pick up pretty quickly. Well… yes and no. It is easy to pick up the basics. Going beyond that can be tough. It takes time, money and an iron will. Even getting that far you’ll still meet Dutch people who reply to your question in excellent Dutch with an English answer. So, what I am saying is the reason my Dutch is nowhere near as good as it should be is entirely the fault of the Dutch. They are just too good at English! It does have advantages. You can move here and immediately start to work and live well using just English. It does make Amsterdam very attractive to businesses looking to move here. To move your career forward, though, fluent Dutch is a must. And just for showing due respect to the locals, our hosts as it were, learning Dutch is a necessity.” Take a look at the Angloinfo Amsterdam Directory for Dutch lessons.
Amsterdam has recently gone from being an occasional listing on a European culture tour to appearing at the top of the list. The opening of some fine museums has helped change that. The Rijksmuseum, the Hermitage, the much under-visited MOCO museum, the Steideljk, and the newly refurbished Van Gogh shouldn’t be missed, to name just a few. There’s a world class opera house that hosts some of the very best shows, theatres with great plays being performed in Dutch (sometimes with subtitles) and many shows in English. And there’s a whole raft of great live music venues and festivals. The choice is huge. Residents can get a museum card (Museumkaart — info in Dutch) that allows you free access to most of the museums. For culture events in Amsterdam and Den Haag, it’s worth buying a ‘We are Public’ pass, which for €15 per month gives users access to daily events at over 100 venues.
Do you have some special reasons of your own for loving Amsterdam? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally published at www.angloinfo.com on February 28, 2017.