After living in Amsterdam for over two and a half years, I was surprised how many questions that I'd get about the cost of living in Amsterdam as an expat. I've broken down our monthly expenses in Amsterdam from rent to phone bills in the Netherlands, so hopefully this will help you decide if living in Amsterdam is for you.
Costs included in this breakdown of costs of living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands as of 2017....
How much does rent in Amsterdam cost?
That's a complicated question as the rent in Amsterdam depends on a few factors: your preferences, your personal network, and your income. There are a lot of expats living in Amsterdam and the higher the income, the easier it is to find an apartment. However, finding an apartment in Amsterdam is not easy, and the best places (including one of my former apartments that was canal-side in a historic building!) never go on the open market. These apartments are passed between acquaintances/friends, so the better your network, the more likely that you'll get a steal on an apartment.
We paid about 1250 (per month) for a two bedroom apartment in an up-and-coming, but good, part of Amsterdam close to Westerpark. This was inclusive of electricity, internet, and gas and it's a reasonable price for an apartment in Amsterdam that is a two bedroom. That said, we had a one year lease, and we were forced to pay a makelaar (a real estate agency) too much money for their "fee." You don't need to go through a real estate agency, but if you don't speak Dutch OR if your income is from freelance sources, you might want to look into this option.
Our second apartment was in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Amsterdam in the city center. We paid 1000 euros for a 45 square meter studio apartment with private bike shed, canal-side views, and canal-side private garden in a Rijksmonument building that I got from an acquaintance. I know, insane. Technically this apartment was "unfurnished," but we had bought some furniture and floors from the previous owner. As it was unfurnished, this price does not include the cost of utilities, water, and internet. I watched a LOT of House Hunters International, and I never thought that I'd live in a beautiful house like this, even in my wildest dreams. Anyways, don't expect this.
Expect to pay at least 1100 euros for a one bedroom apartment (more for a two bedroom apartment) If you're new to the Netherlands, you can prepare yourself for the insane housing market in Amsterdam by reading my article on how to get an apartment in Amsterdam.
If you're coming to Amsterdam to do the digital nomad thing and you don't have any contracts, expect to pay at least 1300-1600+ euros per month for a one bedroom apartment that would be considerably cheaper otherwise. Airbnb is highly regulated in Amsterdam, so you won't find many places able to rent to you long-term and the rates will be high
How much do bills cost in Amsterdam?
It varies. For household utilities (not inclusive), it was about 150 euros per month split by two people. I was a bit nervous about taking care of my own utilities with the level of Dutch that I had when we first moved to the Netherlands, however you'll save a lot per month if you pay for your own utilities compared to many furnished apartments where utilities are included for about 300 extra per month. You can do better than that (unless you're a large family).
The water bill from Waternet comes in once a year as long as you're registered at the address. You'll need to pay it with a Dutch bank account. They typically estimate the cost of water based on the previous months, and you pay it at once with getting a refund if you use less than they expect. Ours was around 250 for the year, which is on the high side for two people.
Our electric and gas bill per month was 108 euros per month, which was the baseline estimate package for two people in our neighborhood. You will typically get your electricity/gas from the same company, but this isn't required. The previous owners apparently spent as low as 60 per month on electricity/gas, which included unplugging the oven and doing some other technical things to shut off all the electricity entirely when they were not home. To me, it was worth paying a bit more rather than needing to deal with the fuses on a daily basis. I felt this was a very fair price for two people. (Air conditioning is very uncommon in the Netherlands.)
Our internet bill was about 30 euros per month for a 40 m/s speed connection through a reputable provider. For a little bit more, you can also get a home telephone or faster internet, but we never bothered with that. Similarly, many providers provide a package of internet, television, and phone for 50-75 euros depending on a few factors (after the discount period is over). We don't have cable television nor have Netflix subscriptions.
How much are groceries in Amsterdam?
The cost of groceries in Amsterdam depend on a lot of factors, including where you're shopping, what kind of meals you're providing, and your ingredients. I typically shop at Albert Heijn, which is the main supermarket of the Netherlands. My husband and I tend to be price conscious, and we typically go daily to go grocery shopping for dinner (as many people do). I'd estimate that we spend about 20 euros per day at the supermarket, for two people, averaging out to 10 euros per day per person for bringing my own lunch and having a nutritious dinner with at last 2 vegetables. This cost also includes household items, the occasional bottle of wine, and a lot of chocolate. Let's say 300 euros for groceries for the month for one person.
How much does it cost to eat out in Amsterdam?
A meal out: We honestly don't eat out in Amsterdam that often although I definitely have a sweet tooth. Expect to pay 2-3 euros for a pastry out although we're not fancy eaters whose idea of a meal out includes 15 euros (including drinks) at a casual dining place or delivery Indonesian. That said, we often splurge for brunch on the weekends, which costs around 12 euros for two large lattes and brunch. I prefer Thuisbezorgd of the delivery apps as it has the most budget and late-night options.
This is on the low end and you can read about our favorite places to eat healthy food with massive portions in Amsterdam on a budget here.
Lunch at work (if you're working full-time) can cost around 3-8 euros. Many Dutch workplaces have a subsidized cafeteria where you can get a filling and good lunch for around five euros typically. If you're thrifty, you can just bring your lunch to save money. A half loaf of bread and a larger container of hummus should cost around 3-4 euros if you get it to go from Albert Heijn. This can last up to 2-3 days for lunch.
How much does transportation cost in Amsterdam?
Well, it's best to have your own bike in Amsterdam. If you buy a nicer used bike (typically around 120 euros from a bike shop) and a good bike lock (I recommend VIRO locks, which cost 40 euros), that's 140 euros. If you have this bike for at least three months with riding it almost everywhere, you've easily made your money back. I had a bike that I bought for only 60 euros (plus a 40 euro bike) that lasted a year before it was stolen. Although I was still angry that my bike got stolen, I definitely got my money's worth! In some cases, it's cheaper to buy a new bike than fix your bike if it breaks although it's always worth investing in a good lock.
If you take the GVB (the public transportation system in Amsterdam), a monthly ticket for the GVB around Amsterdam is 92 euros, which is the cost of a single bike... Although the rain can be terrible, biking can be cheaper.
Most people don't have cars in the city as you'll need to pay for a parking space (which is often done by lottery). It's just expensive, and many people I know with cars in Amsterdam wish that they didn't have one within the city. If you're moving to Amsterdam, don't get a car unless you live out in one of the suburbs. I've heard some crazy figures for parking costs.
Health Insurance in the Netherlands
Health insurance in the Netherlands is required. Expect to pay around 90 euros per month for a good plan, which means that you have unlimited general practitioner visits, all hospitals for non-emergencies are covered, all emergencies are covered, and your deductible is lower (250 euros). If you have a cheaper plan, non-emergency appointments (e.g. after you have an accident) may not be covered at all hospitals.
Dental insurance is not typically included with your health insurance in the Netherlands, but for only about 10 euros extra per month, you can get a dental plan. I'd say that it's worth it if you're prone to dental issues. I paid about 70-100 euros for my yearly dentist visit without insurance.
Other expenses in the Netherlands
Beer: you can expect to pay as low as 1.90 for a smaller glass of house beer up to 4-5 euros for a nicer craft beer in Amsterdam. Expect to pay around 2 euros per bottle at a supermarket. (You can read more about the best craft beer in Amsterdam here.)
Gym Membership: I don't have a gym membership, but my husband has one. Expect to pay about 20 euros per month for a gym membership, not including classes, for a basic membership.
Coffee is important part of Dutch culture, however most people will have their first cup at home. To-go coffee isn't really a thing like in the US (although you can get it to-go), and you can expect to have unlimited free coffee at most Dutch workplaces. If you want a morning coffee, you'll be paying 2-4 euros.
Phone bill costs in Amsterdam. I pay about 13 euros per month for a Dutch phone subscription that started out as a year contract with a phone company here. This phone plan includes 2 hours of calling, roaming within the EU (this is true for all Dutch phone plans), unlimited texting, and 500MB of data. You can expect to pay 25-30+ euros per month for a phone plan that includes unlimited calling and a lot of data (20GB+).
Dutch classes aren't cheap in the Netherlands if you don't get them for free from the government. I taught myself using various free books from the library, the internet, and Duolingo, so $0 per month on Dutch classes. However, expect to pay at least 200 euros per month up to 400+ depending on the intensity of the course. It is possible to learn Dutch in Amsterdam, but it's much harder than elsewhere in the Netherlands as most people switch to English if they suspect you're not Dutch.
Childcare is well-regulated by the Dutch government although instruction will be in Dutch. As someone without children, I cannot help with school costs or childcare costs in the Netherlands. Sorry!
How much do you need to earn to live comfortably in Amsterdam?
It depends on the lifestyle you're used to. If you can't tell, I live a pretty low-key lifestyle with minimal shopping and going out. I personally think that you can live on 30,000 per year per person in Amsterdam (before taxes) very comfortably if you're not supporting anyone else on your salary. Similarly, I think 60,000 euros per year for a couple is a very doable for two people in Amsterdam is working where you can still afford to travel while maintaining a low-key lifestyle in Amsterdam.
Although Amsterdam is one of the most expensive cities in the Netherlands, I hope this helped you figure out if you can afford to live in Amsterdam or if you were just curious how much it costs to live in Amsterdam (as of 2017).
Thanks to Laura from Eternal Expat for the inspiration for this post about the cost of living in Mexico City!
How much does it cost to live where you do? Any other costs you're curious about?
If you found this interesting, I have an article about finding an apartment in Amsterdam that might come in handy if you decide to move to Amsterdam.
You might also enjoy my insider posts about things to do in Amsterdam and cute cities to visit in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam.
Karen & Jacob. American expats and cat lovers from New York City and Kentucky who lived in Amsterdam.... Then, Paris. (Confusing, we know!) Now, we're back living in The Hague, the Netherlands.
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