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A guide to living costs in Amsterdam for British expats17 January 2013, by IamExpat Spotter
If you're considering moving to Amsterdam, one of your main priorities will be working out how much everything costs so you can keep to your budget. While you might think the city is likely to be extremely expensive, Amsterdam is actually ranked 50th by Lloyds TSB in its World Cost of Living Index out of 50 cities around the world.
So, you could save money simply by moving out here from somewhere like London, which is the 26th most expensive city to live in. Despite this, there are still some other ways you can save money when living in Amsterdam. Read on for some tips on how to do so.
› Pick somewhere inexpensive to live
One of the biggest areas you can save money on is your property costs. Whether you are renting or buying, there are ways you can cut the amount of cash you spend simply by being selective over what area you live in. If you choose to move to the old centre of Amsterdam near its canals and 17th century houses, you are likely to experience high rental fees. However, there are many other destinations around the city that offer far lower costs.
The best thing to do is to look a little further out of the city centre (such as in Amstelveen and Diemen, which are municipalities in themselves, but still part of the Amsterdam metropolitan area) for cheaper properties, as most people choose to reside in the heart of Amsterdam, pushing up demand and, subsequently, rental costs. Ask your colleagues in your new job for advice - if anyone's likely to know where the best places to live are, it's the locals!
While it might seem like a good idea to sign up with an agency, as it will be able to find the best accommodation for you at a price you can afford, bear in mind that doing so can be costly thanks to the fees charged. It's also worth remembering that to use one of these, you have to fulfil certain criteria, such as prove you have a permanent income.
› Saving cash when buying food
Despite being a very cost-effective place to live, the cost of eating out in Amsterdam can quickly add up. Typically, lunches can add up to more than 15 pounds in the business district, which is 63 percent more than in London. If you want to dine out with someone else in a pub, you can also expect to spend more than 30 pounds for the pair of you - this is still higher than the English capital, being 22 percent more expensive compared with London.
So, any way you can save cash on eating out will surely be appreciated. Street food is certainly a popular alternative to dining in restaurants in the city, and you'll find a range of options to suit a tight budget, with the likes of pizza, toasted sandwiches and international snacks being served in the city centre at various stalls.
Photo by Flickr user Photo_Robson
Lots of people also favour going for a picnic instead of having a fancy meal in a restaurant in Amsterdam, so if you fill up your basket at a local supermarket and head to a park or sit by the canal with your treats, you won't be the only one with the same plan. In the summertime, this can be one of the nicest ways to enjoy eating out in Amsterdam!
There are a number of inexpensive supermarkets available in Amsterdam where you can buy your weekly shop without spending a fortune. You will be familiar with Aldi and Lidl from the UK, with these stores also found in the Netherlands. Another shop that is popular for budget shoppers is Dirk van den Broek.
Try to shop at local markets where you can, as the quality of the produce is better than in supermarkets, and can also be more cost-effective. The farmers market on the Noordermarkt is popular for its excellent goods, while the Dappermarkt on Dapperstraat is the place to go for cheap food.
› Getting around
Another way you can cut your costs when living in Amsterdam is by changing how you get around. In the UK, you might be used to travelling from place to place in your car. However, in the Netherlands, the best - and cheapest - way to move around is by bike, thanks to the high taxes on petrol (although it's worth remembering that the Dutch are big on efficient motors!).
Public transport is also a purse-friendly option, as long as you take advantage of discounts for passes if you're going to travel this way quite often, rather than buying tickets for each journey. The tram, bus and metro are most commonly used for travel within Amsterdam, while the train is only really for trips outside of Amsterdam. If you need to cross the river into northern Amsterdam, the ferry behind Central Station helps you do just that - for free.
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