With more canals than Venice and more bicycles than residents, Amsterdam is a unique city whose high quality of life and growing economy make it an attractive destination for remote workers.
For tourists, Amsterdam is known primarily for two wildly contrasting things: colorful tulip blooms and the Red Light District. It’s a European hot spot for stag parties and adventurous backpackers, renowned for its open-minded approach to drug use and sexuality. Its popularity isn’t limited to the party demographic, though. More historically-minded travelers equate it with landmarks like the Anne Frank house and come in droves to see its Golden Age art and architecture. Those who live in Amsterdam know its true identity is far richer and more varied than what you’ll see in tourism brochures. It’s a thriving center of international commerce and has seen particularly impressive growth in the technology sector. The city also has an internationally-renowned culinary scene and a very active art culture that’s far more modern and varied than what you’ll see in its famous museums. Add in the beautiful architecture divided by a network of canals and massive public parks, and you’ll understand why Amsterdam is one of the most desirable cities in the world for expats and nomads from a wide range of industries.
Where to live in Amsterdam
For most who move to Amsterdam, the goal is to be close to the Binnenstad (city center) but not directly in it. Thanks to the exceptional public transportation and easy bikeability of Amsterdam, you can get to the attractions and businesses of the Binnenstad from any neighborhood in the city. Generally speaking, the closer you are to the city center, the more lively and compact the area will be. The areas to the south and west are increasingly spread out and calm the further away from center you get. The Noord area (on the northern shore) offers an enticing mix of quiet residential streets and bustling bohemian neighborhoods.
Best Neighborhoods in Amsterdam
For those who want to live in the beating heart of Amsterdam, the centrally-located neighborhoods of Grachtengordel, Jordaan, and Plantage are your best choice. Some may find their narrow streets and compact homes a bit claustrophobic, but they put you in close proximity to the most dining and entertainment options. The north shore neighborhood of Buiksloterham and the southern neighborhood of De Pijp have an equally lively atmosphere with a more affordable cost of living (and far fewer tourists). Amsterdam is a very green city, so you’ll have easy access to parks and open space no matter where you live. That said, neighborhoods a bit further from the Binnenstad, like Zuid and Oud-West, have broader streets and more greenery mixed into the residential areas.
A desirable neighborhood for both foreigners and locals, this diverse neighborhood is known for its quaint homes and narrow streets. While it’s a bit pricier than other areas, its vibrant energy and numerous cafes and shops are worth the higher rents for those who want to be in the heart of the action.
Including the neighborhoods of Kinkerbuurt, Cremerbuurt, and Da Costabuurt, this area is popular with young professionals who want a lively atmosphere with a slightly lower cost of living than the city center. It borders the Vondelpark, too, so you’ll still have easy access to green space.
Amazing Apartments, Coliving Spaces and More
We've been rounded up the best housing options in Amsterdam. All are available on flexible terms, so you can stay one month or as long as you want
Quick Facts About AmsterdamCalled the Venice of the North for its system of 165 canals, Amsterdam is one of the few world cities that’s below sea level--and this is just one of many reasons it’s so unique. Here are some more fun facts to help you learn more about life in the Dutch capital:
It’s not a particularly sunny city.Amsterdam gets a lot of rain, especially from November through January, when the temperature hovers in the 30s and 40s. It’s warmer and drier in the summer, but even then it’s noteworthy to get more than 4 days of sunshine in a row. The good news is the city has great drainage infrastructure and almost never floods.
Rules are important.The laid-back attitude in Amsterdam can make people think it’s a place anything goes, but the truth is local society is highly ordered and rule-oriented. Pay attention to the rules, especially if you’re using public transportation or visiting one of the coffee shops, to avoid getting called out or chastised by a local.
The people are casual (and brutally honest).The Dutch people, as a rule, are straightforward and open. This affects everything from the attire (which veers toward jeans and t-shirts in most situations) to the lack of curtains on the windows. The people are equally honest and up-front and will talk openly with strangers about topics that would be considered taboo in other countries.
It’s a cyclist’s paradise.Biking is one of the most popular forms of transportation in Amsterdam. The city is home to more than 1 million bikes and has more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) of bike paths. If you don’t own a bike of your own, you can rent them from stations all over the city.
It has the most museums per capita of any world city.There are more than 50 museums in Amsterdam, ranging from world-famous art collections like the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum to quirky spots like the Micropia microbe museum or Below the Surface, which displays items unearthed during the construction of the Rokin Metro station. There’s even a museum inside the Schiphol Airport.
Koopavond is the shopping day for night owls.With the exception of supermarkets, most stores close at 5 pm throughout the Netherlands--except for on koopavond. On this designated day, stores stay open until 9 pm. Amsterdam’s koopavond is Thursday.
Coffee shops are a bit different here.If you’re looking for a pastry or a cup of coffee, you’re looking for a koffiehuis (coffee house). A store labeled “Coffee Shop” is where you go to purchase and smoke cannabis. Even more confusing, a “cafe” is more akin to a casual restaurant or bar.
Its Vondelpark is home to a flock of parakeets.There are contrasting theories on where these invasive birds came from, ranging from pets set free to an overturned cargo truck. Regardless of their origin, roughly 4,000 of these small parrots live in the park today.
Work in Amsterdam
The Netherlands is one of the most economically developed countries in the world, and Amsterdam is its financial heart. A number of international corporations have headquarters here, including big names like Uber, ING, and Unilever. With its diverse economy, there are jobs available in a wide range of industries, from electronics and technology to industry and transportation. While it is easier to move to Amsterdam if you already have secure employment, it’s not a requirement for obtaining a citizen service number. If you’re looking for a job, listing sites like Jobs in Amsterdam and I Am Expat can be a great resource. Amsterdam is also very friendly for freelancers, who can register their business easily through the Chamber of Commerce for a relatively small fee.
How good is Amsterdam for Digital Nomads or Remote Work
Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Amsterdam. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Amsterdam for both of these growing movements?
Average Internet SpeedThe Netherlands ranks 5th in the world for its mobile speeds, with an average connection speed around 80Mbps. Speeds in the capital tend slightly below the national average, but are still consistently high. In Amsterdam, the average download speed is around 38Mbps, with an average upload speed of roughly 28Mbps.
Work-friendly Coffee ShopsAmsterdam is full of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and students, and there are ample work-friendly cafes throughout the city to accommodate them. Here are our 3 favorites: Anne & Max: This local chain has locations in both the West and South, so there’s likely to be one close to you wherever you live. All the locations have ample seating and consistently good coffee, and also serve delicious pastries (including gluten-free options). CT Coffee & Coconuts: Built in a former movie theater, this cafe in De Pijp is huge, with enough tables you’ll find a spot even when it’s busy. It’s also a popular lunch spot and can get a bit loud in the afternoons, though it’s usually calm and quiet in the morning and early evening. Bocca: This minimalist cafe in the heart of the city brews from beans roasted in-house, so you know it’s fresh and flavorful. It also has ample outlets and consistently good Wi-Fi.
Coworking SpacesAmsterdam is a hub for innovation and creative entrepreneurs, and they’re home to a large variety of coworking spaces to support their work. Some of the top-rated include: Merkspace: Located in a historic building in the city center, this modern workspace has a delightful ambiance and all the technology you need to do your work. Their affordable membership packages also give you access to their workshops and networking events. The Thinking Hut: One of the first independent coworking spaces in Amsterdam, they now have two locations (Oost and Zuid), both of which offer an open and collaborative environment. A Lab: This large coworking space has a diverse membership of tech workers, business owners, and creative freelancers. Members get 24/7 access to the workspace, as well as amenities like print/copy machines and a communal kitchen. If you aren’t sure you want a full coworking space, there are also hybrid cafe/workspace options like Zoku, which offer the choice of renting space by the hour rather than with a monthly membership.
Suitable Level for Digital NomadsThe cost of living in Amsterdam is high. You’ll want a monthly income of around 2,500 Euros (3,000 USD) to live comfortably here, which can be a concern for remote workers and freelancers who are just starting out. Costs aside, though, the standard of living is high, with tons of entertainment options and green space to relax in. The city’s energy is especially appealing for creative nomads and young professionals, who will appreciate both the thriving economy and the lively art and nightlife scenes.
Visa RequirementsThe Netherlands is part of the Schengen Agreement, whose rules allow citizens of many nations to stay for up to 90 days without a visa. This includes citizens from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the EU, among many others. A residence permit is required if you want to stay for longer than 90 days. You should also apply for a long-stay visa, also referred to as an authorization for temporary stay or MVV. The exact requirements vary depending on your nationality and the length and purpose of your stay. You should check with the Netherlands consulate or embassy in your country for more details before you plan your trip to find out what’s required.
Food and Drink in Amsterdam
Dutch cuisine historically hasn’t been regarded very highly, but you’d never know it from the restaurant scene in Amsterdam. To get a sample of the city’s offerings, head to Foodhallen, an indoor food market in an old tram depot that will blow away all your preconceptions about food courts. If you’re looking for a more peaceful vibe, head to De Kas, where you’ll enjoy plant-based fine dining and sustainable wines inside a greenhouse. For a modern take on traditional dishes, Bak Restaurant (Houthavens) and Cafe Modern (Noord) are local favorites. Choux is another favorite, especially for those who want vegan or vegetarian options. Fresh seafood is a staple of the local fare, and Cafe-Restaurant Stork on the River Ij is one of the most popular spots to get it. Amsterdam is a beer-loving city, and Heineken is definitely not the only name in town. Brouwerij ‘t Ij is one of the oldest craft breweries in the city, and definitely worth a visit for their seasonal brews. The tap room at Butcher’s Tears in Zuid often hosts movie nights and concerts, if you want some entertainment while you drink. Oedipus Brewery (Noord) and Brouwerij de Prael (De Wallen) are great places to grab a meal and some beers, with unique and experimental brews alongside the traditional styles.
Top 6 Things To Do in Amsterdam
The first thing you’ll want to do is walk around the city. From the canals to the Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s streets and parks have plenty to discover. For indoor entertainment, the museums are a good place to start. See classic art at the Rijksmuseum, learn some history at the Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum), or get hands-on at the NEMO Science Museum. Brewery tours are another popular local pastime, and the Heineken Experience takes this to another level with rides and tasting built into the tour. Those looking for a live show will have their pick of styles and venues, with 900 shows a year taking place at the Concertgebouw alone.
Ripley's Believe It or Not
Dam 21, Amsterdam
Amstel 51, Amsterdam
Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic Museum)
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, Amsterdam
Honthorststraat 20, Amsterdam
Plantage Kerklaan 38-40, Amsterdam
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Museumplein 10, Amsterdam