Moving to Amsterdam
Moving and Relocation
Moving and Relocation
6 min

Relocation to Amsterdam: Your Ultimate Guide to Relocating and Living in the Dutch Capital

6 min

Relocation to Amsterdam can be an exciting yet daunting experience. Moving to a new country involves numerous challenges, from understanding the local culture to navigating practical logistics. This guide is designed to help you through every step of the process, ensuring your transition to Amsterdam is as smooth as possible. We'll cover everything from the history of the city, tips for adjusting to life in Amsterdam, and how to make the most of your new home.

History of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, has a rich and diverse history. Founded in the late 12th century as a fishing village, it quickly grew into one of the world’s most important ports during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. This period was marked by immense wealth, cultural flowering, and architectural innovation, much of which is still visible in the city today.

Why Choose Amsterdam for Relocation?

Amsterdam offers a unique blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and a high quality of life. Here are some reasons why expats choose Amsterdam:

  • Diverse Expat Community: With a large international population, it's easy to find fellow expats and build a community.
  • High Quality of Life: Excellent Dutch healthcare system, education, and infrastructure.
  • Work Opportunities: Home to many multinational companies, especially in tech and finance.
  • Cultural Richness: Museums, theaters, music festivals, and more.

Relocation to the Amsterdam Area in 10 Steps

Moving to a new city is always an exciting step, and if that city is in a new country, it makes it even more adventurous. A relocation to the Netherlands can be overwhelming. Luckily, living in Amsterdam can be a walk in the park. It’s easy for newcomers and expats to settle in, given the city’s cosmopolitan spirit, rich cultural life, and large international community – combined with a compact size to make getting around a breeze. Many consider Amsterdam one of the best places to live in the Netherlands. That said, there are a few boxes to tick ahead of your relocation. Before you move to Amsterdam, check off each of the important steps below.

1. Gather Necessary Documents

Organizing paperwork before your relocation to Amsterdam can save you time and hassle. Depending on your situation, you might need a visa to enter the country. Various residence permits require original documentation, such as birth and marriage certificates. When registering with your local municipality, having these documents ready is crucial. Some documents may need to be legally translated and authenticated. More information on this can be found on the official Dutch government website.

  • Learn about entrance visa application
  • Understand residence permits and work permits
  • Check if you qualify as a highly skilled migrant
  • Legalize your documents for use in the Netherlands
  • Brexit implications for UK citizens relocating to the Netherlands
  • Explore relocation apps for international talent

2. Secure Employment

If you’re relocating to Amsterdam for work, make sure your job is lined up. If not, or if you’re accompanying a family member, familiarize yourself with the local job market. Amsterdam offers numerous opportunities for international talent. Check expat job boards and contact recruitment agencies. If you plan to start a business, ensure you have the necessary permits.

  • Search for jobs online
  • Engage with recruitment agencies
  • Review our guide to finding a job

3. Find Housing

Securing housing before arriving in Amsterdam can be challenging due to high demand. Research online for rental options and consider temporary accommodation for your initial months. Amsterdam's compact size means you don’t necessarily need to live near your workplace.

4. Prepare Your Pet for the Move

Relocating with pets requires early preparation, sometimes taking 6 to 12 months. Your pet must meet Dutch vaccination standards and have a valid pet passport. Dogs, cats, and ferrets need an identity chip. Contact a pet relocation specialist for long-distance travel to ensure a safe journey.

  • Check vaccination and paperwork requirements
  • Apply for an EU pet passport
  • Consult with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority

5. Import Your Vehicle

Importing a car to the Netherlands involves understanding taxes and fees, which vary by registration location. Cars from the EU require less administration than those from outside. You'll need customs authorization, a vehicle registration certificate, and adequate insurance.

  • Consult the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW)
  • Review applicable taxes from the Dutch Tax Office
  • Understand requirements for cars and driving licenses

6. Learn Dutch

Though many locals speak English, learning Dutch can enhance your experience and help you integrate faster. Look for language classes, mobile apps, or language-learning packages to get started.

  • Explore resources for learning Dutch

7. Research Schools

For families with children, Amsterdam offers a wide range of educational options, including Dutch and international schools. Research these options before moving, as many schools welcome early inquiries from parents.

  • Explore education and childcare options in the Amsterdam Area
  • Browse international schools

8. Settle In Upon Arrival

After arriving in Amsterdam, there are several steps to ensure a smooth transition.

  • Register with the local municipality to receive your citizen service number (BSN)
  • Arrange health insurance
  • Open a bank account
  • Register with a doctor and find a dentist
  • Get tips for feeling at home in Amsterdam
  • Utilize free support at the ACCESS Netherlands helpdesk
  • Seek tenant support for housing issues at !WOON

9. Handle Departure Formalities

If you’re an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, or hold a valid Dutch residence permit, there are formalities to address before leaving the Netherlands. Ensure a smooth transition by taking care of necessary arrangements.

10. Top Ten Tips for Preparing Your Relocation to Amsterdam

Preparing for your relocation to Amsterdam can be a complex process, but these tips will help you get started on the right foot:

  • Research Neighborhoods: Understand the different Amsterdam areas to find the best fit for your lifestyle and budget.
  • Plan Your Budget: Consider the cost of living in Amsterdam, including housing, transportation, and daily expenses.
  • Visit Ahead of Time: If possible, visit Amsterdam before your move to get a feel for the city and its neighborhoods.
  • Connect with Expats: Join online forums and social media groups to connect with other expats and gather valuable insights.
  • Organize Your Documents: Ensure all your paperwork, including your visa application and permits, is in order before you leave.
  • Learn Basic Dutch: Familiarize yourself with basic Dutch phrases to help with everyday interactions.
  • Arrange Temporary Accommodation: Book short-term housing to give yourself time to find a permanent home.
  • Sort Out Healthcare: Research health insurance options and register with a local doctor as soon as you arrive.
  • Get to Know Public Transport: Learn about Amsterdam’s public transport system and consider getting an OV-chipkaart.
  • Prepare for Culture Shock: Read about Dutch culture and customs to help you adjust more quickly to your new environment.

Practical Tips for Relocation to Amsterdam


Finding a place to live can be challenging due to high demand. Popular areas include Jordaan, De Pijp, Amsterdam Zuid, and the Eastern Docklands. Websites like Funda and Pararius are great starting points for your search.


Amsterdam's public transport system includes trams, buses, and metro. The OV-chipkaart is a rechargeable card that makes traveling easier. Cycling is also a popular and efficient way to get around the city.

Cost of Living

Amsterdam is one of the more expensive cities in Europe. Be prepared for high rental costs, but also take advantage of free or low-cost cultural activities.

Opening a Bank Account

To open a bank account, you will need a BSN (Burger Service Number), which you receive upon registering with the municipality. Major banks include ING, ABN AMRO, and Rabobank.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory. Companies like Zilveren Kruis, VGZ, and Menzis offer a variety of plans.

Fun Facts About Amsterdam:

  • Amsterdam has more canals than Venice, earning it the nickname "Venice of the North."
  • The city is built on millions of wooden piles due to its swampy soil.
  • Amsterdam's narrowest house is only 1 meter wide!

Address and Getting There

Amsterdam City Hall

Address: Amstel 1, 1011 PN Amsterdam, Netherlands


  • By Train: The nearest train station is Amsterdam Centraal.
  • By Tram: Trams 4, 9, 14, and 24 stop near the city hall.
  • By Metro: Lines 51, 53, and 54 stop at Waterlooplein, a short walk from the city hall.

Must-See Attractions and Activities

  • Rijksmuseum: Home to masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer.
  • Van Gogh Museum: The largest collection of Van Gogh's works.
  • Anne Frank House: A poignant reminder of World War II.
  • Vondelpark: the Amsterdam Vondelpark is the largest and most famous park in town.
  • Canal Cruises: Explore the city from its famous canals.

Common Questions About Relocation to Amsterdam

  1. What are the best neighborhoods for expats in Amsterdam? Popular neighborhoods for expats include Jordaan, De Pijp, Amsterdam Zuid, and Amsterdam Oost, each offering unique vibes and amenities.

  2. Is it necessary to learn Dutch before your relocation to Amsterdam? While not essential, learning Dutch can significantly enhance your experience and help with daily interactions. Many locals speak English, but making an effort to learn the language is appreciated.

  3. How do I find a job in Amsterdam? Utilize online job boards, connect with recruitment agencies, and network within expat communities. Amsterdam has a vibrant job market, especially in tech and finance.

  4. What is the cost of living in Amsterdam? Amsterdam is one of the more expensive European cities. Expect high rental prices, but also enjoy a high quality of life with access to numerous free and low-cost activities.

  5. How do I register with the municipality? Schedule an appointment at your local municipality (gemeente) to register and obtain your BSN number. Bring necessary documents such as your passport and proof of address.

By following this comprehensive relocation to Amsterdam guide, you can ensure a smooth transition and make the most of your new home. Your Expat Social Club is here to support you every step of the way. Whether you need help finding a job, securing housing, or making new friends, our community is ready to welcome you. Join us today and start your journey to Amsterdam with confidence!

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