What can you expect living in an Amsterdam home? Our housing expert discusses three unique aspects of Amsterdam housing.
Moving anywhere is always an adjustment, but Amsterdam especially has a whole new way of living in store for you. Tall, narrow homes, with an undeniable beauty, will both stun and bewilder you. Whether you opt for the calmer, more family-friendly areas, or the bustling and authentic centre, there is no place like Amsterdam. Here are some things that might initially challenge your family dynamics, but will eventually form a crucial part of your new Amsterdam life.
The Ubiquitous Dutch Staircase
In Amsterdam, you would expect that you and your kids will get good at cycling, learn Dutch, and eat plenty of cheese. But what you would not expect is that your whole family will become professional stair climbers. Both going up and down the steep stairs will be a challenge when first adjusting to your new family home. When we help people find their ideal home, the stairs are frequently an issue at first, but as they look around more they realize stairs are all around Amsterdam (though not in all homes). Don’t let this keep you from choosing your ideal family home. Thankfully it is easy to childproof your house, and your legs will acclimate.
Parking Problems: a Blessing in Disguise
Having a car seems essential to many, especially with young children. Unfortunately, parking in Amsterdam is extremely challenging. There are long waiting lists to receive parking permits in most areas (though Oud-Zuid is sometimes an exception). Luckily, there is ample opportunity for cycling your way around. If you truly want to be an Amsterdam Mama and go Dutch style, then you can try mastering the art of the bakfiets, a bicycle that will fulfill all your family transportation needs. In case of further distance, public transportation in Amsterdam and The Netherlands is great and will (usually) quickly get you to your destination. Trying to make a car-lifestyle happen could potentially cost you your preferred location and home. It might be troubling at first, the thought of not having a car, but you might find it to be a blessing in disguise.
The Lone WC
Sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Whereas you perhaps had 2 (or more) bathrooms previously, the Dutch enjoy their compact and efficient lifestyle. With possibly two sinks in the only bathroom in the house, the extra time waiting for the bathroom can be a big adjustment. In our experience, homes with more than 3 bedrooms tend to have more than one bathroom, but it is rare. Not to worry, your family will master the art of synchronizing with each other. Who knows, it can be quite the unique bonding experience.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city, and it thrives on its uniqueness. However, this eccentricity does come with a price, and can take some getting used to. If you have already been living here for a while, you will probably have forgotten these skills you and your family have acquired. You should be proud! Of course, every time your family and friends come to visit from abroad, you will have to show some compassion when they are astonished by the steep stairs, get impatient for the bathroom, and are bewildered by your car-free lifestyle. In our experience, people always end up loving their life in Amsterdam. So not to worry if some of these struggles still bother you, just give Amsterdam some time to win you over.
About the Author: Joost Luttge has been working at Perfect Housing for a decade and often gives workshops and presentations on family housing. Perfect Housing specializes in assisting expat families with finding their ideal home here in Amsterdam.