Thoughts on Amsterdam after 5 years.

Five years have passed by in Amsterdam and it is time to seek for another adventure. I have checked off graduating University on my life list, learned some languages, met so many interesting people and discovered myself. I cannot be more happy about my decision to study in Amsterdam. I feel like I have grown so much wiser, gained so much experience in all sorts of areas and am so much more open than I used to be. Even though I am happy i have lived here, I do think the city is not for me to settle down.

I decided to write some thoughts on Amsterdam, some prettier and some not so pretty, before leaving.

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The good stuff. 


It’s one hell of a culture pot.

This is probably the one thing I like the most about Amsterdam. There are so many different people living here and I think it is wonderful. It really opens your mind to see how other people think and see the world. One thing is that there are so many nationalities, but also so many colourful people with crazy life stories or lifestyles that I could not even imagine before. Amsterdam is kind of freeing and letting you be who you are.

The streets are a free flea market

The Dutch generously give away their used things that are in perfect condition. In little less developed countries, people would never be so generous and would just sell their old stuff. Here a perfect cupboard, super comfy couch or a beautiful dining table is no biggie to just give away. They just put it on the street and anybody can take it. According to my friend somebody has also left a MacBook, jeans with 100 euros and a kilo of marijuana. Not sure if that is kindness or just certain level of highness.

Need a job?

I can say it is not so difficult to find a job in Amsterdam if you don’t speak the local language unless you have really high standards. There are also many organisations helping people with finding a job. Statistics say that the Netherlands unemployment rate has decreased to 6% this year. And if nothing works out for you, you can always be a freelance bike stealer, drug dealer or just turn to the red lights.

Let’s go for a walk!

Walking around in Amsterdam is always interesting. Even if you lived here for a long time you still discover things that you have not seen before. I just recently discovered that there is an entire shop just selling rubber ducks and another one selling “The Pussy Pendant’s”, necklaces that look like women’s private parts. I haven’t seen anyone wear the last one, though.

Plus the city is just beautiful. You never get tired of the canals and the houses on them.


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The not so good stuff but possibly can laugh about later? 


Bikes come, bikes go.

I think I have bought around 6 bikes during my stay here. I might be even one of the lucky ones. Some people buy multiple bikes in a month. The first bike I bought was via a market website but the rest of them I bought through a bike junky. Since they are getting stolen so often it’s not worth to invest a lot of money on it. Often the bike locks cost more than the bike itself, trying to avoid getting your rusty piece of metal stolen.

My friend managed to keep the same bike for five years, though. It’s coloured bright red and just recently I thought that what a dumbass I have been that I have not painted my bike into some crazy colours because junkies don’t usually steal bikes that you can already notice from hundred meters. It’s much harder to sell them too. If you buy a stolen bike that’s painted neon green with some purple dots on it, for instance, the owner will right away notice it if you happen to run into him or her. Or you have to buy a paint and start repainting with takes more effort than just getting one with dull colours. So here’s a life lesson for living in Amsterdam. Make your bike look super sassy.

Biking in Amsterdam is a headache for the locals. Being pretty much a local person (could already get a citizenship), I have almost killed a dozen of tourists on my way or ringed my bell till my finger falls off. If you are a tourist and you come to Amsterdam you do need to look all the time where are the bike lanes. And also look both sides before crossing the road. And look once more just in case. And if you see a bike is coming exactly towards you and the biker is stressfully ringing the bell, please step aside you are clearly strolling on the bike bath.

Customer service to the max

When it comes to customer service in Amsterdam, it definitely needs improvement. A lot of tourists have been happy for their services and have told me that everybody in Amsterdam is so friendly. That’s actually true if you are a tourist and only encounter the people in the restaurants, hotels, small shops and so on. Many workers are not even Dutch but coming from much warmer countries and will naturally greet you with their warm smiles.

If you live here and don’t speak fluent Dutch you can expect a certain level of racism. In that case, the Dutch are pretty lazy to serve you. I had a kidney infection, it hurt like hell and the fever did not want to go down. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend’s kickass medicine cabinet and he’s care I would be doomed. I went to the hospital for help and the doctor claimed that I probably have a kidney infection. We already established that earlier thanks to google and some acquaintances. In order to make sure of my illness and find out which medication do I need specifically, I needed to take a urine sample, but the doctor could not find a cup. Not a single cup in the whole hospital???? Yeah, sure…

My friend went to the doctor and then the doctor started to google in front of him the possible diagnostics. Also whatever you have, just keep taking paracetamol, no worries.

90% chance to be homeless.

Finding a place to live is the most difficult thing in Amsterdam. Finding a place you actually like to live in is almost impossible. I have already written about this before that the demand is so much higher than the offer and unless you are a millionaire you have a huge disadvantage with finding a place. If you need a place start looking many many many many months in advance and watch out for scammers.

Obvious scammer alert: I am sorry, my dog died and so I am not in the country, but the apartment is very good so you can send me the money and I send you the keys.  Not so obvious scam, but a true story: You visit the apartment a couple of times. You decide you like it. You sign a contract, receive the keys and finally turns out the keys only open the front door of the building but not the door for the apartment. And like magic the owner has disappeared. And since you don’t speak fluent Dutch the police is a little “busy” tonight.

Processed food.

In my opinion, the food is pretty bad here. All processed and nothing tastes fresh. This is probably why I started losing hair like a cancer patient and developed anaemia and most likely am missing five more very important ingredients from my body.  The chicken tastes like it had diabetes, the cow smoked too much and the little piggy went to the wrong market. Finding good meat was the most challenging for me.

BUT!  There are cheese and stroopwafels. Yummy, yummy in my tummy.


I will miss the city for sure, not every aspect of it, but it was still a nice experience. I’m glad I met Amsterdam!

Thoughts On Amsterdam

38 thoughts on “Thoughts on Amsterdam after 5 years.

  1. Brilliant post. These are the facts that I would have never known.The bad things are something to be careful about. I have seen photos of Amsterdam and it looks like a great place. Someday I will visit it too 🙂

  2. Wow..what a reflection.. as tourist we only tend to see the bright side most of the time. Your post gives an insight to even the sides that we often dont get to see..

  3. Wow!! Another expat blogger living in Amsterdam. Great read, and most importantly I like how you added insights on every aspect. The job scenario is indeed much better than in any another city I have lived in Europe so far. Orelse, as you said, red lights huh!! hahahaha..Good humor 😉

  4. Great post, made me laugh and thanks for the honesty! I LOVE the rainbow bike, imagine if everyone painted their bikes so brightly, how cool the city would look with bright rainbow bikes shooting around! Too bad about the processed food though, ick. I’m in Costa Rica right now and living on fresh fruit is amazing!

    1. Thank you, i’m glad you liked my post. Rainbow bikes everywhere would be indeed a fun sight. Let’s hope this bike fashion will catch on ! Ooh how I would like to live on the fresh fruit too. Enjoy !

  5. LOL! I lived in New Zealand for nearly 7 years and service there is pretty bad too. Not because of the language (that I know of) but people just never show up. You’re waiting at the hospital, the doctor says he’ll see you next, but 1 hour later, he’s left for the day. Or people say they’ll come to install your super expensive air conditioning system and tomorrow and you can probably expect them for nest week. But I loved it! I think I’ll like Amsterdam!

    1. Haha! It’s good to know all these facts so you can lower your expectations and be prepared to be patient in some situations. Amsterdam is still a nice city, highly recommend to visit no matter what 🙂

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head in your first paragraph. The culture pot. Amsterdam is filled with students and tourists and expats and locals with all kinds of heritage.

    Amsterdam does have a tendency to attract people, I, myself have friends who chose to study in the city. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks 🙂 That really is my favorite thing about Amsterdam and I think many people feel the same way too. It is much easier to blend in and find your way in the city where everyone is different!

  7. Great reflection! I love to know what locals find annoying about tourists so I can try harder to be respectful of their home turf! Every city has its pluses & minuses. Glad you were able to take the good with the bad. Where are you moving?

    1. Thank you! Yes, it is always good to know how the locals feel to keep a good relationship.
      I moved to Romania to see the country and will see where life takes next 🙂

  8. Easy to get a job!? You must be joking (unless we are talking about horeca and you are fluent in Dutch). I have a Master’s degree from a good Dutch uni, my Dutch skills are decent, yet I spent a whole year looking for work and must have sent out thousands of applications and cover letters. Only survived off freelancing. Nope, Amsterdam is hell if you are a recent grad.

    Other than that, I believe it is the best city in the world.

    1. Well I am speaking from my experience and from other people I know . But as I mentioned it also depends on your standards. Popular positions with great career building opportunities and high pay are of course harder to get. But from what I experienced if you really need something quickly you can easily get a job in a restaurant, different types of shops, hotels or very popular – A person I know found a new job every week. His problem was staying there 😀
      I hope you find something that you like soon!

    1. That will be a great experience for you 🙂 Yes, especially in the tourism sector you do not need Dutch, though if you speak it you have more choices.

  9. Hmmm freelance bike stealer seems good. Do they offer apprenticeships.
    In all honestly, great post and a fascinating insight into Amsterdam. It seems the positives outweigh the negatives, which is always a good thing.
    Good luck in your next adventure.

  10. I like the humor in your post. I have considered/ considering the Dam for my Masters in the future. I am rather surprised to hear that the food is not fresh. I would have thought with EU standards there would be less processed foods and more natural wholesome. I was also surprised to hear about the lack of equipment in the hospital and the housing market. Sounds like London.
    Thanks for the read

    1. I would recommend studying here. It’s a great experience despite some negative things I mentioned. Food wise you need to make an effort to find it with better quality, like buying from the markets. Also if you learn Dutch, the locals will serve you better 🙂

  11. Congrats on hitting the 5 year mark! I’ve heard similar complaints about Amsterdam – hard to find an apartment, bikes getting stolen left right and center, but everyone I’ve met just LOVES it there. I visited over a weekend a few years ago, but it was so cold that I vowed to go back one day in the summer or spring!

    1. It’s true, there are some bad things but overall it’s fantastic. I have no regrets on studying there. And if you ever plan to go back, spring is indeed the best time to visit 🙂

  12. This post is really insightful – thank you. So much to experience in Amsterdam. At least you had 5 years to explore it. I will hopefully do just a bit of it in the little time I expect to have there soon.

  13. Such a great post, I always appreciate when people give both the pros and cons of a place. I have only ever visited Amsterdam a couple of times so I only really saw the positive side to things but it is always different when you live somewhere! Thanks for sharing.

  14. That’s a very interesting post !! Really like the job opportunities xD
    I live in Paris and I’ve never been to Amsterdam which is a shame, because it’s so close !
    I do not bike because I had an accident as a kid, are there good alternatives as public transports ?

    1. Sorry to hear about your accident. It’s very crazy to bike in Amsterdam already when you are not afraid. But there are plenty of other transportation methods like trams, buses, and metros that can take you everywhere.

  15. Hahaa…this post was amazing! Freelance bike stealer? Love it! I like that you detail the good and not so good parts. I’ve considered moving to the Netherlands. Even the not so good parts, I think it would still be worth it.

    1. Thank you 🙂 It is definitely worth it, even if not everything is glitter and gold. It is one of a kind experience for sure.

  16. Loved reading your post. Not a single cup in the entire hospital sounds scary, hope there are doctors available on demand in Amsterdam. Amsterdam seems to be a lovely place to walk and chill and glad there are enough jobs too 🙂

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