Honest feedback from 1 year living as an expat in Amsterdam
So, it's been almost 1 year since I moved from São Paulo to Amsterdam, which I wrote a bit about back in March 2016.
A lot has changed on my personal point of view, goals, behaviors, and I believe an update is worth doing.
I'll start with the things I didn't have any feedback at the time, and then follow the same structure as the original.
So, my closest friends have already heard that one of the things I miss from Brazil is the food quality. We're spoiled by having most of the food quite adapted to our taste and a huge variety for any taste.
With that, my first impressions on food here were not that good. I felt a lack of some simple things from back home, and specially hard to find good meat here, and it took me a while to understand why. It's all about the cut:
But of course, meat is not the only thing I eat, and then I started to learn a bit more about Amsterdam specifically:
- People are not that much into eating out here, so most of the restaurants I've been initially were kind of tourist traps, taking my 1st impression to a really low standard.
- When you get over that, they have plenty of good restaurants here, like: Cannibale Royale, Ciel Bleu (2 Michelin Stars), Wild Boar, Happy Happy Joy Joy, Kantjil & Tiger, Renato's Osteria, and many many more.
And to some extra, they have really good typical food, like the Bitterballen, Stroopwafel, Oliebollen, and of course the cheese (article below).
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Some points lost due to their love for liquorice. Sorry, I clearly don't like that.
I'm not here to compare Amsterdam with any other city in the world, but the quantity and quality of museums here is great.
With about 60 Euros you can grab a MuseumKaart, which allows you to visit about 400 museums in the Netherlands and about 40 of them in Amsterdam. If you visit at least 2 or 3 places a year, it's totally worth it.
Some of the most popular museums here are quite famous, attracting people from all around the world:
Van Gogh Museum:
In a modern building on Museumplein area, the museum brings a lot of details into the painter's life, from the humble beginning until insanity. They don't display only his paintings, but also some of the letters he wrote to friends and family.
Beside the permanent collection, the museum also brings great temporary collections and every friday they have special programs at night.
Anne Frank's House:
Some of you might have already heard about the diary of a girl (Anne Frank) and his family that hid behind her father's company, on a really tiny space for almost 2 years while Germany was invading the Netherlands.
It is a really sad story, but worth knowing to everyone.
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I have no complains of the weather here as I was never into the hot weather from São Paulo.
Although, it's a bit difficult when you just move, as you never know when it's going to rain, have strong winds or sun. With time you get used to the fact that all the situations can occur on the same day, and usually you'll be using one of the apps like the BuienAlarm, which tell you the exact time that it's going to rain and the strength of it.
And I first saw snow in my 29 years, which was quite interesting, even though it snowed just 3 or 4 days in total.
I won't get into details on this topic, but I must say that almost everything I wanted to shop I was able to find, either on the streets, or online.
Amsterdam has plenty of streets filled with shops on many different brands, from the big chains to the local ones, markets in the whole city, and online shopping here works quite well, with fast delivery and fair prices, plus Amazon shipping form UK, Germany or Spain.
Only possible “issue” I found when I moved is that mostly all the shops close relatively early (6pm), so if you don’t prepare for it or go on thursdays (they close around 21), it can become an issue. Took me a while, but now it’s fine.
I am completely biased from the fact that I came from one of the most violent cities in the world (14,2 homicides per 100.000 habitants), I feel completely safe here in Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole, even on the so called "Dangerous Neighborhoods".
You barely see the Dutch Police around the city, except on the more central areas, which usually have more tourists and therefore more pickpockets. I never heard of someone here being robbed at gun point or anything similar.
You can walk completely fine with your phone in your hands no matter what time of the day, open you computer while resting at a park or in the public transport. I even forgot my backpack more than once in a really crowded bar on a friday night, and when I came back, it was exactly where I left it.
Housing Market 2/10:
The housing market here is in a really crazy situation, with houses having their values increased by almost 35% and an insane competition both for rent or buying a house in Amsterdam. That's also starting to happen in the nearby cities too. Part of it has a clear relation with the taxes being really low for getting a mortgage (around 2/3%), and the big amount of expats coming (sorry).
It's not a huge deal once you find the place, as the quality of the houses or apartments here are quite good, and usually have enough space, but it can be quite stressful to find and close a deal.
That sums up the new things I wanted to add so far, and below a bit more into the ones I mentioned on my previous post:
Public Transport (9/10):
I'm adding an extra point here based on my experiences added from trains and metro. Even though I didn't need to use them that much, every time it was a really easy experience. Plus the trains take you anywhere really fast here and are almost always on time (keep in mind that I don't commute with them).
I took one point on this topic due to the fact that it starts to get a bit annoying with so many tourists coming only for that and acting a bit disrespectful with the rest of the people. Other than that, no changes here.
As a fact, you don't need to speak dutch to live here in Amsterdam. Almost everyone here speaks english and really well.
But still, some communication you'll have, both written or spoken will still be in dutch and that sometimes make life a bit complicated, specially when it involves money or you're in a rush. It's not something I could say that it's a problem, but make a little more difficult to solve some issues.
An example I can give is if you need to read a printed contract, or you receive a tax to pay from the mayor hall.
I still want to learn dutch, but that's also a small problem here, for a few points:
- Dutch is a hard language for a Brazilian: there's nothing we can relate, to find an extra resource
- Pronunciation is really specific. Some letters have really different sounds from what we're used to in English or Portuguese, like the G (Wikipedia article)
- Dutch people have low tolerance on broken dutch: They switch to english almost immediately when they see that you struggle, which makes it more difficult to practice.
As I could notice from my 1st week, they have lots of parks here, and this is a really good thing.
Beside the already mentioned fact of the cleanliness, it was really interesting to see that many parks here are open 24 hours and are pretty safe. I've heard a few weird stories of some people at night, but never saw happening.
Vondelpark was the 1st one I visited, and as a matter of fact is a really good park, lots of space, areas for barbecues, but might get a bit crowded on sunny days.
For that I started going to some other parks, like the Rembrantpark, Amsterdamse Bos or the Westerpark, but here are plenty more:
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Some of the other topics didn't change at all: