|“Charming 2BR with balcony
near Central Station”?
“Shady building with fitness centre and canal view”?
Housing is notoriously tight in the most popular parts of this crowded
country, and that goes double for Amsterdam. People who want to live in
the less popular suburbs or small towns have an easier time. Between real
estate agencies and newspaper ads, they’ll likely find something.
But those with their hearts set on the choicest parts of the Randstad
are likely to be in for a nightmare. The demand for rental housing in the
Randstad’s best neighbourhoods – and all of Amsterdam except the unpopular
southeastern suburbs – simply exceeds the supply, especially in the lower
Bou Maurits, an agent from BmB in Amsterdam, which serves many foreign
clients, says she has no magic tips. Her best advice: "Start early. It's
Agencies: a well-heeled foreigner’s first stop
Using an agency – as relocation agencies do for their clients – is the
best bet. Look in Google or other Search engines under “furnished
apartments amsterdam, netherlands”
In theory, they’ll show you a selection of properties that meet your
criteria. But finding something can sometimes take a while – "especially,
of course, if you're in the vicinity of Amsterdam,” Bou says. “Everyone
wants to be in Amsterdam or nearby Amsterdam. (But) Rotterdam has the
harbour, and a lot of people go to work there, and the Hague is the
government centre,” so finding a place in those cities is hard too.
When you accept a place, you pay the agency a fee, usually equivalent
to about one to two month’s rent. And that’ll probably be four digits -
agencies often don’t have much to offer at the low end of the spectrum.
And although the apartments they find for you are, in general, at least
ones you’re legally allowed to live in, that’s not always the case.
“When I moved in I didn't know the system,” says one Internet engineer
who rents a flat in Amsterdam’s red light district. “I assumed that any
contract I signed, especially one arranged through an agent, would be
fully above board. I didn't know anything about the subsidized housing
system and waiting lists.”
But the person he rents his place from kept himself on file with the
city as the legal resident of that address. Now that the landlord has
decided he wants to move back in, the tenant – in fact, a subletter – has
little legal recourse.
The way to save yourself that kind of hassle, Bou says, is to go to an
agency, like myself at BmB
Agencies are often geared to people with relatively generous budgets -
like corporate transfers whose companies willingly shell out for washing
machines, bathtubs and other luxuries to keep them feeling at home.
An exception is Students for Students, which specializes in cheap
student rooms and has branches in Utrecht, Leiden and Amsterdam.
Even they admit that for those on a low budget, the outlook is grim.
Students for Students’s Niels Brandsma confirms that finding cheap
housing is "extremely difficult at the moment" in all three cities. "It's
hard when lots of students come at once starting a new year."
Woningcorporaties: if you have five years
Many of the cheapest places – below about EUR 700 a month – are in the
hands of woningcorporaties (housing corporations). That means if you’re
Dutch or have a residence permit you can register to get a house through
And then – if you’re applying for a choice place, such as one in the
centre of Amsterdam – forget about it for a few years. The Stedelijke
Woningdienst Amsterdam (the city’s housing service) says registrants can
expect to wait more than five years before they accumulate enough
seniority to be first in line for a place. The exceptions are people
willing to live in the infamous Zuidoost (southeast), where there’s less
Much public housing is restricted according to income, household size
and other criteria, which means the owner has to apply for a permit for
you - if you qualify. Tenants in Zuidoost can skip this step, unlike those
in the rest of Amsterdam.
Newspapers, bulletin boards, and the informal circuit
In the short and medium term, people on low budgets in popular cities
are pretty much stuck trying their luck on the informal circuit.
"I suggest they tell everyone they're looking, maybe put up an
advertisement in the newspaper, at supermarkets, in the Via Via," Brandsma
"People who are not students usually want more than a room, and in
Amsterdam it is extremely, extremely difficult" to find a cheap apartment
at all without the six- or seven-year city waiting list, he says. "I don't
know what to tell them."
There are some privately owned low-priced apartments, but they’re
subject to the same restrictions as the ones owned by institutions – and
if the authorities catch you living in one you don’t qualify for, there’s
a good chance they’ll kick you out.
Prospective tenants not going through registered agencies should ask at
city hall whether they're allowed to live at a certain address before
“If the government or Stedelijke Woningdienst finds out you’re renting
a place you’re not qualified for, you will be evicted, in a matter of
weeks or months, and sometimes there are some legal actions," says Bou.
The owner will likely be in more legal trouble than you are, but you'll be
out of a house.
As one Brit said, “Having the nicest properties in the city centre as
subsidized accommodation takes a whole chunk of the rental price scale out
of the market and makes it impossible to find anywhere. It's also wide
open to abuse and extremely confusing. Subsidized accommodation should be
to help poorer people, not to give rich people a cheap apartment they can
rent out for a huge markup.”
And on the private market, there are no guarantees of what you’re
getting into. “In Amsterdam the relocation company showed me outrageously
expensive or scarily claustrophobic flats,” said Virginia Lowes from the
UK. “Via Via had cheaper places, but of course no one has checked them out
first. Some old guy with hats on the walls and an odor of rotting fish
locked the door behind me when I went into his flat. When I told him over
the phone that I didn’t want to take the flat for six months, he screamed
down the phone that I couldn’t do that, and he wanted me. And there was a
stinky old stoned guy whose flat looked like a bunch of rats had been
Word of mouth: The local way
In the end, the way most people find housing in the tightest markets is
tired but true: by asking around.
“I traded,” says one Dutch multimedia producer. “It’s a really good way
to find a house.” People moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or
facing a new financial situation because of a job change, often want to
trade, transfer or sublet their apartments.
“In my case, the landlord was the father of the girl who lived in the
house, and she had a big argument with her father,” she says. “He wouldn’t
give her permission to trade.” So she took her father to court. In court,
the producer agreed to pay above the coveted EUR 200 monthly rent provided
repairs were made. “I had to invest a lot of time, but now I have a really
nice apartment in a really nice neighborhood.”
In short, deciding to live in Amsterdam – or indeed, any place in the
world that so many people find so charming – is not for the faint of
heart, and not for the casual visitor. Heavy housing-market dues must be
paid. Eventually, most people find something, but not before racking up
plenty of war stories.
So steel yourself for a long wait and many moves, possibly from hotel
to housesit to someone’s couch. And arm yourself with information from
your city’s housing department about what options they recommend in your
city, and ask them what your rights are. For instance, no landlord can
kick you out on the spot – you have to be several months behind on rent
before they can file for an eviction. This kind of thing is important to
know, because a timeworn tactic of Dutch landlords is sending groups of
toughs around to scare unwanted tenants away.
The housing market in the
Netherlands is comparable to other European countries. Rent of apartments
and houses in Holland is no easy matter. Expiates are advised to look at
serious brokers. Amsterdam in particular has shortage in housing. Canals
in Amsterdam. Houses in Amstelveen. Apartments in Holland.. Real estate in
the Netherlands. Rent or buy. Travel freely through meadows and pastries.
Large living and bath and shower. spacious bedrooms. Large master bedroom.
Unobstructed view. Balcony. Terrace. Lake and sea view available. Lodgment
and temporary dwellings.
is one of the greatest small cities in the world. From its canals to
world-famous museums and historical sights, Amsterdam is one of the most
romantic and beautiful cities in Europe.
Amsterdam is a city of tolerance and diversity. It has all the advantages
of a big city: culture, history, entertainment, good transport - but is
relatively small, quiet, and largely thanks to its canals, has a little
road traffic. In Amsterdam your destination is never far away.
Amsterdam quick facts:
Time zone: CET (UTC +1 hour)
Telephone area code: +20
Country: The Netherlands (also known as Holland)
Amsterdam tourist attractions:
Museums are the main tourist attraction in Amsterdam. Everyone knows the
Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum, but there is much more.
Amsterdam has over fifty museums which attract millions of visitors each
Coffeeshops in Holland are allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis and
are strictly regulated and taxed. Furthermore, coffeeshops must not sell
to anyone under 18 and they must not sell more than 5g to any customer.
Hard drugs are strictly prohibited. Pictures of coffee shops
Hotels in Amsterdam
Our hotel guide offers the most convenient reservation service for
Amsterdam. The selection of hotels include over 310 accommodation
properties that you can book online. No fees, no advance charges, but
human hotel reservation support 24/7. Direct reservation for youth hostels
Holland’s Quartier Latin
De Pijp district goes back a long way. During the second half of the 19th
century the population of Amsterdam increased sharply. These people needed
homes, quite a few of which were built in this area. Unfortunately, a
number of inns and country houses had to make way for the houses. The old,
one-story high, polder homes also had to yield to the developers.
Around 1900 De Pijp was a densely populated but classy area. The rent for
an apartment was NLG 3 to 4 per week. Skilled laborers earned an average
of NLG 10 per week! For this reason, most house-owners rented out their
houses by the room. Many students and artists were attracted to these.
Slowly, the area developed into the Amsterdam equivalent of the Paris
Around 1950 the working-class district was in sore need of improvement.
The houses were no longer up to the standards of the period and
dilapidated. The Amsterdam city council had drastic plans for a modern
suburb with huge office blocks and better road infrastructure. The local
people were dead against the plans. The last thing they need is more
traffic through their area; they wanted better facilities for the local
people. Some years later De Pijp developed into a veritable squatters’
delight. Whole streets were taken over by squatters and the area
experienced a revival. The old and new inhabitants jointly campaigned
against the council’s demolition plans.
In the 1980s the many squatters were removed firmly by the police. Riot
after riot made the headlines in the national press. Finally the council
and the locals reached agreement. Some small-scale renovation projects
went go ahead, however, most of the area was left alone. The Heineken
grounds are a separate story altogether. After the Heineken Brewery closed
its doors on January 1, 1988, its owner/managing director Freddy Heineken
laid the first stone in 1990 for the Heineken Square. Spacious,
arch-shaped Heineken Square was developed in the grounds, with houses, a
parking garage, shops and offices.
De Pijp has developed into a multicultural estate. The Sarphati Park is a
pleasant place to relax in. Holland’s best-known market, the Albert Cuyp,
and its 20,000 (!) daily visitors contribute to the hustle and bustle of
the district. The area boasts pleasant pubs and ample cultural facilities
and people truly like living here. De Pijp district is still the Quartier
Latin of Amsterdam!
More about De Pijp
To the other quaint quarters
Leidseplein Square and Rembrandt Square are the main entertainment areas
of Amsterdam. Small wonder; Leidseplein offers a wide range of options for
a great night out. Cinemas, discos, theaters and a casino are located
right on the square or within easy walking distance.
Leidseplein offers great entertainment during the summer months. While you
enjoy a drink in the sun, musicians, jugglers and mime players entertain
you. As you expected, after they finish their act they come and ask you
for some small change. For real theater you can visit the Stadsschouwburg
Theater at the corner of Marnixstraat and Leidseplein. A very impressive
building indeed. Dutch football club Ajax thinks so too. Whenever its
first team becomes champion of the Dutch football league, the players
stand on the balcony of this theater to be cheered at by rejoicing
Opposite the Stadsschouwburg lies the American Hotel. It boasts famous pub
and restaurant Americain. If you enjoy a cup of coffee in stylish
surroundings do come and order one here. The original art nouveau/art deco
interior is almost fully intact.
Three grand canals
‘Must see’ ingredient of a great day out in Amsterdam is a visit to the
canals. There is just so much to see here.
The section of this canal which runs from Leidsestraat to Vijzelstraat is
known as the ‘Golden Bend’. The most beautiful and most magnificent of all
canal houses are located in this bend of the canal. A lovely example is
the house on the corner with Leidsegracht. It features a beautiful Dutch
classicist clock gable. The house is named after the plaque featuring four
knights on horseback (Vier Heemskinderen). Several of the other houses
sport family coats of arms.
Some of the houses on this canal are very old indeed. The Papeneiland pub
at number 2 dates from the 17th century! Holland’s first professional
school for nurses, the Prinsengracht Hospital, is also located along this
canal. The Wallon Orphanage stands at the corner with Vijzelgracht. The
building’s wing on Prinsengracht dates from 1726.
The Prinsengracht also boasts a church, the St. Willibrord Church. It is
better known as De Duif (The Pigeon). Number 808 features a porcelain tile
with an advertisement for an insurance company. Reckless people meet with
misfortune while the more cautious types – predictably – find fortune.
From number 40 Keizersgracht you see four warehouses where once 100,000
liters of cod liver oil were stored. Behind number 100 you see Cultural
Center De Rode Hoed (The Red Hat). Number 123 is the ‘House with the
Heads’. Legend has it that the maid caught six burglars red-handed and
beheaded them with an axe. Number 546 boasts one of Amsterdam’s most
beautiful clock gables.
A plaque in the wall of number 560 reminds us of the fact that
writer/lawyer Jacob van Lennep lived here from 1830 until his death in
1868. Van Lennep is responsible for supplying the city with clean drinking
water from the dunes. As a result, the poor people no longer had to drink
the polluted water from the canals.
If you enjoy visiting museums, you will just love the canal district.
Especially if you like exhibitions that are a little out of the ordinary.
In Leidsestraat, for example, you can visit the Instruments of Torture
MUSEUM VAN LOON
Museum Van Loon is located at number 672-674. In 1884 the Van Loon family
bought this property. Now a museum, the 18th-century period rooms present
50 portraits of members of this rich family of regents plus some 30
portraits of other people.
Korsjespoortsteeg 20 has an interesting museum and a library which are
completely devoted to Dutch writer Eduard Douwes Dekker(1820-1887). Public
servant Dekker wrote under the synonym of Multatuli (‘I have suffered
greatly’). His most famous work is the novel ‘Max Havelaar, or the Coffee
Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company’, which was published in 1860. The
book recounts the experiences of Havelaar, an idealistic Dutch colonial
official on Java. He rebels against the system of forced cultivation which
the Dutch government imposed on Indonesia's peasants.
The Theater Museum is located along Herengracht. You can admire costumes
and photos of artists and divas from the 1930s here. Architect Hendrick de
Keysers built the house in 1617. The owner was immensely rich and one of
the governors of the West Indian Company. His name was Van den Heuvel.
This is quite a common Dutch name which he did not find quite elegant
enough. He therefore added his Italian father-in-law’s name Bartolotti.
This is why the house is called Huis Bartolotti.
A little further on at Herengracht 366 stands the Biblical Museum. The
section Herengracht 364 to 370 is named after the original owner Jacob
Cromhout. It is a wonderful architectural tour de force. You see this
style reflected in the Biblical Museum. The museum’s sumptuous interior
boasts an impressive ceiling painting by Jacob de Wit. As the name says,
the museum specializes in bibles. It owns various manuscripts and editions
of the Holy Book. The museum is the proud owner of the Delft Bible, the
first bible to be printed in the Low Countries in 1477.
A double-fronted house on Herengracht 468 is a ‘must see’ for lovers of
cats! For centuries the house was owned by rich merchant families until it
became the property of a man of independent means. This somewhat eccentric
character had a cat called John Pierpont Morgan III. He died in 1984. In
loving memory of John Pierpont Morgan III, the house now features a
cat-related collection. Changing expositions are presented in the dining
Attractive working-class area
The Jordaan district is a maze of alleyways and narrow canals. Most of the
canals have been filled up. The district was established in the 17th
century, as Amsterdam sorely needed to expand. The district was
constructed along the pattern of the paths and ditches already there. This
did not prove a good move, as it isolated the area from the rest of the
city. No major roads ran through this area. Not until 1924 did an electric
tram provide a regular connection with the city center.
Many laborers and craftsmen chose to live in this new area. Because of
strict noise pollution and noxious smells regulations they were not
allowed to settle in the city center. Many immigrants who were persecuted
because of their political or religious beliefs found a new home in the
Jordaan. The low rents, as well as the pleasant atmosphere of the quarter,
attracted many artists and intellectuals at a later stage. Around 1900
some 77,000 people lived here. However, many houses were pulled down and
the area only has some 20,000 inhabitants now.
Very few of the original 17th-century houses have been preserved. The
industrialization in the 19th century resulted in a growing need for
houses. As not sufficient houses were available, whole families had to
share one room or live in cellars. This situation was remedied around 1850
and the first laborer’s cottages were built. More than 800 premises in the
district are on the National Heritage list. Most of these were built in
the 19th century.
In 1920 more people lived in the Jordaan quarter than anywhere else in
Amsterdam. Alcohol use was also higher in this quarter than anywhere else.
In 1934, as a result of the economic world crisis, the unemployment
benefits were cut by more than 10 percent. All hell broke loose in the
Jordaan. Riot after riot erupted in the long and hot summer of 1934.
During the infamous Jordaan Riot in July six people died, more than 30
people were injured and numerous people were arrested. The cobblestones
that were thrown at the police were replaced by asphalt.
One of the reasons for the growing fame of this area were the sentimental
songs by a number of local singers. These songs contributed to the
attractive image of the area. Various local pubs still feature live
singers who sing about the area. But, inevitably, things are changing
slowly. Many of the original inhabitants in the southern part of the
quarter have left. Students and young couples have replaced them. To cater
to them the area boasts great little shops with unusual merchandise and
restaurants with exotic dishes. Do come and take a look around the Jordaan.
We are sure you will feel at home here.
Westerkerk and its famous tower
The Westerkerk church with its Wester Tower is one of the best-known
churches of Amsterdam. As is the custom with Protestant churches, it bears
the name of the point of the compass where it stands, not that of a saint.
The design of the church has very few Protestant elements, apart from the
fact that it has no decorations at all.
The Westerkerk held its first service during Pentecost in 1631. The church
tower stands well over 85 meters tall. It proudly bears the imperial crown
with the city arms of Maximilian of Austria.
The crown was a thank-you present to the city of Amsterdam for supporting
the Austrian – Burgundy monarchs. Maximilian’s son, Philip the Fair, did
not recognize the crown until 1497. In 1992 there was another controversy
around the crown. As the Pope did not crown Maximilian he was not
officially an Emperor. For this reason he was not entitled to give away an
imperial crown! Some people claim it is an imperial crowned indeed, but
one given by Rudolph II.
During the summer months you can climb the Wester Tower. Warmly
recommended as even from the first balcony you have splendid views over
the city. This tower is the highest monument in Amsterdam. From the top
you can clearly see the difference between the pattern of streets in the
Jordaan area and that of the area within the concentric canals.
on the water
Would you like to know what it is like to live in a houseboat? Do go and
visit the Houseboat Museum. Here you will see all the advantages and
disadvantages of life on an Amsterdam canal.
ORIGINAL BOX BED
The Houseboat Museum is located in an old houseboat. Some antique parts of
this boat have been preserved. The deckhouse, for instance, where the
skipper and his family used to live is still there, as is the original box
bed. The former cargo space is now a cozy living room with all mod cons.
Scale models of ships, photos and a slide presentation tell you even more
about life on board. The museum shop sells souvenirs and refreshments.
Dam Square, Amsterdam’s beating heart
Dam Square has had a turbulent history. Around 1270 a damn was constructed
in this spot in the river Amstel. Dam Square was once the central
marketplace of Amsterdam where literally everything under the moon was
VIOLENCE AND PROTESTS
In 1535 the square was the scene of the Anabaptists’ riots. Less than a
century later the loot of the silver fleet was the reason for a revolt.
The troubles that erupted because the employment benefits were decreased
in 1935, also focused on this square. Towards the end of the Second World
War German soldiers killed innocent citizens here during a gruesome
shoot-out. In the 1960s and the 1970s students protests took place here,
as did the demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. It has been quiet on
Dam Square in the past few decades. The latest riots were as long ago as
1980 on the occasion of HRH Queen Beatrix’ investiture in Nieuwe Kerk.
The National Monument on Dam Square was unveiled on 4 May 1956. It was
erected in remembrance of those who died during World War II. Each year on
4 May many dignitaries, including representatives of the royal family,
commemorate the victims of the Second World War here.
There has been quite a lot of debate over this but the narrowest house in
the world is actually near Dam Square! The house on Singel 7 is officially
on record as the narrowest house in the world. It is only 101 centimeters
wide! However, it is the back entrance to a house which tapers and which
has standard dimensions at the front. So really, the house only has the
narrowest façade in the world.
The narrowest house of Europe, however, is definitely located in
Amsterdam. The address is Oude Hoogstraat 22, between Dam Square and
Kloveniersbugwal. The house is only 2.02 meters wide and has a beautiful
When you walk in the direction of Spui, you will see Magna Plaza, just
behind Nieuwe Kerk. This magnificent, 19th-century monument used to be the
city’s General Post Office. Now it is a beautiful shopping mall which is
open seven days a week. The building houses more than 40 shops and two
restaurants which are clustered around a spacious hall. The shops sell
mainly fashion, deluxe articles and gifts.
Beurs van Berlage
The history of the Amsterdam Bourse goes back a long time. Trade in
Holland developed nicely as long ago as the Middle Ages. Merchants liked
to meet in person to do business and they selected a strategic location.
The harbor was such a location. Most meetings took place outdoors. In
inclement weather the merchants had to duck under the awnings of nearby
In the 16th century cities such as London and Antwerp did business in a
much more modern way. They built actual stock exchange buildings. Dutch
architect Hendrick de Keyzer was sent to England to learn from his
colleagues. He designed the stock exchange building for Amsterdam which
was constructed at Rokin in 1608. This building was pulled down in 1835.
Ten years later, Jan David Zocher built a new exchange building.
Unfortunately, this building was not up to its task. At the end of the
same century, H.P. Berlage came up with a new design.
In 2000 the International Union of Architecture (UIP) put together a list
of the 1,000 most important 20th-century buildings in the world. This
prestigious list boasts no less than 13 buildings in Holland, four of
which are located in Amsterdam: the former orphanage, the Open-Air School,
the Spaarndammer Park and the Beurs van Berlage.
accommodation in Amsterdam sometimes seems an impossible task. Generally
speaking you should expect a waiting time of over 5 years. More than half
of all homes in Amsterdam are administered by the housing corporations. In
addition, it is also a good idea to try private landlords, who rent about
a third of the housing market. You can contact private landlords directly.
You have to apply for a residence permit if you intend on staying in the
Netherlands for over three months and:
you are not an European Union (EU) citizen
or you come from:
or the United States of America.
You can apply for one at the Aliens Police when you arrive in the
Temporary residence permit
If you are from another country then the before mentioned, and intend on
staying in the Netherlands for over three months, you have to apply for a
temporary residence permit.
This is available at the Dutch Embassy in your own country. Without the
temporary residence permit, you will be sent back to you country of origin
The Dutch government will not allow you to work in order to cover the
costs of your study porgramme or your living expenses (for EU-residents
there may be exceptions). Neither will they give you the opportunity to
receive benefit from the Dutch Social Services.
If you intend to apply for a work permit and want to know more about the
procedure, information can be obtained from your local employment office
or CWI, or from the Work Permits department of the National Employment
Office, Telephone: +31 79-371 2903.
Information on general questions on legislation and regulations relating
to the WAV is available from the Information department of the Ministry of
Social Affairs and Employment, Telephone +31 70 3334455.
Amsterdam has some 367,000 dwellings (for a population of 727,000
inhabitants). A few thousand new dwellings are built each year. A great
deal of information can be found on the Internet on renting and buying
dwellings. You can also find information on rent subsidy, housing
associations, rules for assignment of dwellings etc.