Amsterdam: Finding the Perfect Neighborhood


Updated on Aug 13 • 5 minute read

When you’re thinking about where to stay when you move to Amsterdam, there are going to be a lot of things to consider. Do you want your own place, or are you hoping to share with friends, classmates or co-workers? You can rent a private room, or you can split up an apartment and share the expenses.

Keep in mind that accommodation in Amsterdam can be scarce, and if you’re looking in the wrong spots, you can expect to pay a premium for a place close to a university or in the business district. Once you have everything set for living in the Netherlands, you should start looking for housing at least three to six months before your move — maybe even longer if you have very specific preferences.

Properties can rent out almost as soon as they are listed, so it’s best to work with a trusted housing platform to make sure you’re not met with the reality of couch surfing in a strange city, or signing up for endless waiting lists. It definitely takes away some of the stress to know that you can put a little faith in your landlord and not have to worry about being scammed, which is, unfortunately, becoming more and more common these days.

When thinking about where to live, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions.

  • Do you want to live in the center of the action and have the budget to pay for it?
  • Do you want to stay a little out of the city center so that you can have a little quiet and save some money, while you’re at it?
  • Do you plan on using public transportation, or riding a bike?
  • Do you HAVE to have canal views?
  • Do you mind saving money by renting an unfurnished space?
  • Do you mind sharing a space with a few new friends to cut down on living costs?

Being willing to purchase furniture at a second-hand store or joining a few Facebook groups to connect with other young people willing to share an apartment or a house can make your search much easier, and it could be less expensive.

But first, let’s take a look at some of the best neighborhoods to live in while you’re staying in Amsterdam! Each neighborhood offers unique qualities, so it’s easy to find the right area for your individual tastes and preferences.

The City Center

As with any city, the center (or Centrum) is in the middle of all the action. It’s usually full of tourists, which means tourist pricing, so keep that in mind. However, if your budget allows it, and you enjoy the vibrancy, then this could be the ideal area for you to find housing. You’ll find that this area has mostly apartments available for rental.

Transportation won’t be much of an issue in the City Center, especially if you decide to rent or purchase a bicycle, as is the way of the Dutch people. If you need to travel anywhere out of the area, you’ll be just steps away from Central Station, which is the main hub in Amsterdam for trains, buses and trams.

Of course, you’ll find everything that you need in this area, including some of the city’s best nightclubs, theaters and museums. In fact, one of the top-rated, the Van Gogh Museum, is a must-see, especially when you’re within walking distance.


Everything about this neighborhood is trendy, down to the nightclubs, shopping and even the dining. However, even though this is a favorite area amongst students and young professionals, not many can afford to live here, with rent prices at a premium.

Actually a district within the vicinity of the City Center, you can walk or bike just about anywhere. Since you’re so close to Central Station, you can also hop on a train to take you to places that your legs can’t.

Its narrow streets lead to eccentric outlets for shopping, including some of the city’s most premier markets. Be sure to check out the one at Noordermarkt square, along with Antiques Centre Amsterdam.

Amsterdam West (Ouid-West)

If you like the notion of staying in the City Center, but the pricing just won’t fit into your budget, don’t worry! There are plenty of options that will still provide easy access to the attractions, shopping and dining in the heart of Amsterdam. Plus, if you like the idea of meeting inhabitants of over 180 different nationalities, then you’ve found the true melting pot of the city. With the lower pricing of accommodation, there are also some properties that offer allotments based on income.

If you’ve decided to buy or rent a bicycle, you can easily bike into the City Center or to a handful of universities. If you prefer using public transportation, there are several connections that can get you where you need to go in a matter of minutes.

As that this neighborhood is quite popular with students and artists, you’ll find a bohemian vibe that mixes well with the eclectic array of shops and local eateries. When you visit a local bar, you’re likely to hear at least five different languages being spoken at any given moment.

Amsterdam Southeast (Oud-Zuid)

Situated just about 10 km from the City Center, you’re just close enough to be convenient, but just far enough away to find housing at a more affordable rate. This is a popular area for renting two-bedroom houses and sharing the costs with roommates, which means that you can even split the responsibilities of cooking meals and household chores.

Again, this is another neighborhood that is close enough to bike into the center in a short time. There are also several links to modes of public transportation.

This area is perfect for young people who like to stay active. You’ll be close to Vondelpark, where you can take advantage of the walking and jogging trails in a beautiful green space. If you’re a sporting fan, the Southeast area is also home to the Amsterdam Arena, also known as the Johan Cruijff Arena, where you can take a stadium tour or watch a football game.

Amsterdam North (Noord)

Set northeast from the City Center, the northern neighborhoods of Amsterdam supply a nice mix of both historical and modern housing, with reasonably priced apartments for rent in the industrial and shipyard areas. It’s also known for its housing set in shipping containers.

This bustling neighborhood is just across the harbor from the City Center, and you can take a ferry for transportation, as well as one of the trains. In mere minutes, you’ll be at the front doors of several universities and primary businesses.

Many festivals and events are held in this area, especially at the busy Volewijkspark, with its swimming pool and other recreational attractions. You can also expect to find lots of opportunities to hear live music. Paradiso is a favorite venue amongst Amsterdam’s younger population.

Amsterdam East (Oost)

This area’s best claim to fame is that it home to the University of Amsterdam, making it very popular with students. In fact, it is almost something of a “student city” within a city. Housing can be a bit on the expensive side, but not as pricey as the City Center, and some apartments have lovely water views.

Set just east of the center, you can easily bike or even walk to many area attractions, universities, and local businesses. Of course, on a rainy day, you can easily hop on a bus or tram to reach your destination.

There’s also an abundance of nightlife and dining options, as well as supermarkets so you can save a little money by eating a few meals at home. If you’re into watersports, you’re also in luck.


This neighborhood is a little distance from the center of Amsterdam, but students love it due to its close proximity to VU Amsterdam. It’s also popular amongst young professionals and interns due to its high volume of younger residents.

Amstelveen is about a 25-minute tram ride into the City Center, so the savings in housing costs are well-worth the commute. Plus, there’s an energetic air to this neighborhood, which makes it a fun place to live.

Close to the Amsterdam Forest, you can easily spend the day swimming and kayaking in its ponds and streams. In the summer months, there are countless theatrical events and festivals on the calendar.

If you have a chance, try to get a feel of a neighbourhood you're considering moving into. Gamified discovery walks by Secret City Trails are a fun and flexible way to experience Amsterdam like a local.

Now that you have an idea of the neighborhood that you’d like to live in, you’ve really taken a big leap toward moving to Amsterdam. Soon, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful canals, friendly people and some of the best nightlife in the Netherlands. Pack your bags and prepare for adventure!

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