This week we heard from Jessica over at A Wanderlust for Life all about expat life in Amsterdam. We’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in Amsterdam, so we were excited to get an insiders perspective with this Amsterdam Expat Interview.

Now for what Jessica had to say……

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Amsterdam Expat Interview- Please give a few sentences of background info. Who are you? Where are you from? Fun facts about you?

Hi ya! I’m Jessica and I’m from Virginia in the United States. Until I moved to another country, the farthest I’ve been from the family was a one hour drive. That was a shock!
Hmmm…some fun facts might be: I took a Backstreet Boys cruise from Barcelona last year. Shockingly some people didn’t know they were still around! I had the time of my life meeting them! Oh! And I’m a big Doctor Who fan : )

Amsterdam Expat Interview- Why did you decide to move to the Netherlands?

My husband, Sean, and I have dreamed of living in Europe ever since a college trip we took together as a class. With his heritage, he was able to get a passport in the European Union and that enabled us to move to any E.U. country. Based on his work skills, we knew it would be easy for him to find a job in Amsterdam or just outside London…and we just fell head-over-heels in love with Amsterdam! So it was an easy choice.


Amsterdam Expat Interview- What do you love about living in Amsterdam?

Quality of life, the variety of activities, easy airport access, big city amenities with a small town feel.
I’m from the mountains and a small town, so London was just too big. I love to visit, but Amsterdam feels so small and yet it has absolutely everything you could need. It’s friendly, easy to get around, lots of festivals, and other events, and just a great atmosphere. We get movie premieres and big concerts, along with weird events like a onesie walk where you walk in your onesie from one part of town to another. Oh, yeah…and it’s pretty nice to look at too.

Amsterdam Expat Interview- What is not so great about living there?

I chuckled when I read this question. Isn’t it obvious? The weather! It’s cloudy a lot. It likes to rain too. And the wind and hail can be brutal.
But when it’s sunny, it’s the best thing ever in the best place. People light up with the smiles, kids are playing in water features around the city, and everyone is out and about. It’s wonderful.


Amsterdam Expat Interview- What do you do for a living there & what was the job search process like?

I work in an office of an international company. Since my Dutch is still echt slecht (really bad) I couldn’t get a job in a Dutch company. I’m in marketing and support, so nothing exciting, but I do love working with so many international people!
My job search was unconventional. My first job was with a start-up and they pay next to nothing (literally–not being dramatic here). But I needed to do something and build up my resume in Amsterdam. I got my current job because I started as a temp at the place my husband worked. Having an “in” really helped here. They liked me enough to keep me!


Amsterdam Expat Interview- How was the visa process?

My husband has citizenship within the European Union, so the visa process was this: Does he have a job and can support you? Yes? Welcome to the Netherlands!


Amsterdam Expat Interview- What is the cost of living like?

This is hard. I don’t think about it much, to be honest. Rent was almost twice what we paid in the U.S. and we got a good deal on a place. Cocktails are pretty high in price while wine (a bottle in a store) is pretty low.

In general, I guess it’s pretty high. Income tax is about 40% but considering what I pay in health insurance that covers almost everything I would want, good public transit, a clean city, and loads of cops, I feel it’s a bargain. Oh, and houses are expensive, too. But a mortgage is almost always going to be less than rent!


Amsterdam Expat Interview- Would you like to stay there long term?

Yes. It’s home. I love it with all my heart. We own a house and are looking forward to making it as “us” as possible. It will take time but be super rewarding. Just another reason I love this place.


Amsterdam Expat Interview- What are your fave traditional foods that we should definitely try if we go?

Stroopwafels freshly made- My favorite is on the Albert Cuyp market.
Good bitterballen- The Hotel Krasnapolsky cafe has excellent ones.
Poffertjes- Most markets and festivals will have them. Again, fresh is key here.

Amsterdam Expat Interview- What are some places we should definitely visit?

I’m not going to tell you what you already know about Amsterdam. So, I’m going to say Amsterdam north. Take a free ferry behind central station and enjoy lunch at any of the waterside restaurants for a great view in the sunshine.
Go up the public library by Central Station for great views of the city. Then the Kalvertoren (a mini shopping mall) to Cafe Blue for another, different great view.


Amsterdam Expat Interview- What are some things about the culture we should know before going?

If you want service, ask for it. At restaurants, it’s unlikely you will be checked on constantly, just find any of the servers and ask for what you want.

The Dutch have a reputation for being rude. It’s not true. They are direct, not rude. But coming from the south of the U.S., I can understand the perception.

Bikes rule and you don’t want to walk in the red lanes. Those are for bikes!


Amsterdam Expat Interview- Would you recommend Amsterdam to other people who are interested in moving abroad?

Absolutely! But as with anywhere you move to, you need to be open to change and understand that people can live differently than you do and that’s okay. The Dutch are known for you just doing you with no judgment, that’s also expected in return.


Be sure to check out Jessica’s blog A Wanderlust for Life. She has a full section devoted to expat life on there. Also, follow her on her various social media channels if you’d like to know more about life in Amsterdam (which I’m sure you do). 🙂 Her Instagram is filled with amazing pictures of pretty Amsterdam, so definitely check that out!

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Want to be interviewed for our Expat Interview series? You can find out more here!