Moving to Amsterdam has truly been an adventure. We’ve only lived here for about a month (crazy, right?) and we’ve already visited London, Paris, and Barcelona. In between all the traveling, we’ve also been getting settled into our new lives in the Netherlands.
After a visit to the nearest Ikea, our apartment is as homey as it can be without our pets, Charles and Angus. There’s a local Albert Heijn grocery store just a few blocks away that I already know like the back of my hand because I’m there at least every other day. I finally figured out which day is trash day on our block. Overall, I’d say we’re doing pretty good.
Not everything has been easy though. I like learning new things, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been a few challenges. It’s all part of the fun of living in a foreign country. In case you ever move to the Netherlands, you’ll be well prepared for some of the nuances of living here after reading this.
We are lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in our apartment, but I had no idea that European washers and dryers were so slow. It takes three hours to wash and dry a single small load of laundry. We have a front-loading combination machine that does both the washing and drying, which in theory, sounds convenient, but there’s a catch—you can only dry half as much as you wash. Most of the time, I’ll just line-dry everything on a rack, so I can start washing the next load of dirty clothes. The fastest cycle washes in about an hour and 10 minutes. It’s a good thing I happen to have all day to do laundry.
There are also way more settings and cycle options than I’ve ever seen before. All the words on the machine are in Dutch, but I found an English manual with questionably translated instructions. Yesterday, I managed to activate the child-lock on the machine, which truthfully told, should just be called a lock because it also managed to keep me locked out for about an hour.
When I saw my first set of Dutch stairs, I thought they were a joke. Some of the staircases I’ve seen here look like they belong in a dollhouse. And yesterday, I think I climbed down a bunk bed ladder to get to the bottom floor of a vintage clothing store.
Apparently many years ago, and I do not know the legitimacy of this, Dutch homes used to be taxed based on their width. This resulted in some very narrow buildings with super steep, tiny steps that aren’t even big enough for your whole foot. Our apartment is quite narrow and technically has four floors: the front door opens on the ground floor, our bedroom is on the second floor, the kitchen, living room, and guest bathroom are all on the third floor, and the fourth floor is a loft with a balcony. Even though we’ve already been living here for a few weeks, I still hold the hand rail going up and down every step. Dutch steps are no joke.
The tram system in Amsterdam is very convenient and walking is always a reliable option, but biking is definitely the most efficient way to get around. Matt and I both bought secondhand bikes from nearby markets and now Amsterdam feels as small as a town. Although biking in Amsterdam is pretty easy, theree are a few key things I wish I’d known before hopping on my bike.
- Never stop in a bike path. The other cyclists are going so fast that if you stop in the path, someone will ram right into you.
- Cross the tram rails at an angle so your tire doesn’t get stuck in the rail. Yeah, I learned that one the hard way.
- Biking in Amsterdam in not for the faint of heart. It’s important to constantly be aware of everything around you including all the other bikers, people walking, trams cars, and motorcycles.
Here’s a pretty funny yet informative video about biking in Amsterdam.