Is it still fun to live in Amsterdam as a local?

Last Friday was King’s Day, a national holiday and a day of celebration. People go outside to party dressed in orange, sell and buy stuff on the streets, or go on a boat ride along the Amsterdam canals. I chose to stay home with my husband to cocoon. I admit it: I hate crowds.

This weekend, I also heard about a neighbor moving to a village outside of Amsterdam. Many locals are leaving the city, for various reasons. The housing market is really tough at the moment, and Amsterdam is suffering from over-tourism. Over the Easter weekend, 800,000 people visited Amsterdam: almost as many as there are inhabitants. Insanity!

So, it got me thinking. Do I still love Amsterdam? Have I ever loved Amsterdam? I even had a bit of an emotional crisis. Tears were shed. Am I even a city girl? What are the benefits of living in Amsterdam versus the disadvantages? As every Virgo in her right mind would do, I decided to make a list.

Pros of living in Amsterdam:

  • Access to all the essential facilities nearby: doctor, pharmacy, hairdresser, beautician.
  • Availability of all the foods: grocery stores, markets, health stores, hippie shops, exotic tokos, restaurants of all sorts and ethnicities.
  • World class museums at my doorstep: from the most popular ones (Van Gogh Museum) to the more obscure (Biblical museum).
  • All the shops: high street brands, boutiques, quirky independent stores.
  • Many people are non-judgmental and tolerant.
  • People are kind: if you fall off your bike or drop your groceries, people will help.
  • There are many intelligent and socially engaged people in Amsterdam, which makes for interesting discussions in the café as well as lots of activities like debate nights.
  • Tons of gyms and yoga studios to choose from.
  • Many parks and trees lining the streets and canals. The countryside and recreation areas are just outside of the city.
  • Top notch culture: cinemas of all kinds and many big and small concert halls catering to all types of music
  • Public libraries with a massive joint collection: I can find almost anything I like.
  • Beauty and romance: nothing beats walking hand in hand with your lover along the canals at dusk.
  • For singles – tons of dating potential due to the sheer volume of men and women of all persuasions.
  • You can find like-minded people for any kind of hobby, be it hula hooping or rock ‘n roll dancing.

Cons of living in Amsterdam:

  • The crowds. Especially on weekends, it is just not relaxed to go into the city center anymore and I stopped doing it.
  • (Micro) aggression. People get edgy when their personal space is invaded.
  • Egocentrism: many people don’t seem to realize the world does not revolve around them.
  • Some people are just too bloody assertive. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.


It seems the list of pros is still much longer than the cons. Hooray! Since my little meltdown this weekend, I have calmed down and decided to look ahead and focus on the positive sides of living in Amsterdam. There are many, as the list shows. Also, how one experiences crowds is highly personal. Go to Japan and people respect each other’s personal space. Compared to a city like New Delhi or Hong Kong, Amsterdam is a tiny village.

What do you think? Do you love or loathe Amsterdam? Did I forget anything on the list? Let me know!

Also of interest: more on Amsterdam. 

2 Responses

  1. Come in Paris during a business week and then back to Amsterdam it’d seem to be quiet! 😉
    This list can be applied to any big city I assume. I was wondering about staying in Paris as well but Pro’s are still wining so far. My tips are :
    – to spend time alone at home to relax before going outside
    – leaving on the country side during the week-end. I understand now why Parisians run away every week-end!

  2. Yes, I totally agree! Especially your point about going away for the weekend. We went cycling in the countryside last Saturday. And of course, the French countryside is amazing too, so completely understandable to enjoy it. 🙂

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