Internationals and their perceptions of the Amsterdam area
The research study, conducted in July and August of this year, aimed to better understand the issues facing internationals and their general perceptions of Quality of Life in the Amsterdam area. The research results give a picture of how Amsterdam internationals fare in Amsterdam: how they view Amsterdam, which elements make up their socio-cultural life, how they spend their spare time and whether they feel at home and integrated in their new city.
Quality of life ranking
In general, Amsterdam internationals rated the city with an average score of 8 out of 10. More specifically, 46% rated the city with a 7 or 8, and 40% with an even higher score 9 or 10. Social life in Amsterdam scored slightly lower, with a rating of 7 out of 10. Both results were consistent across age groups and were not affected by the length of time living in the Netherlands.
With regards to feeling welcome, 60% of respondents felt that the city of Amsterdam is “certainly a welcoming city for internationals”, whereas a third believed this statement to be “somewhat true”. A tenth found the statement to be “untrue” or disagreed completely.
Social and cultural life of great importance
The majority of international respondents felt that having an active social and cultural life was of great importance: 43% felt it was “important” and 48% felt it was “very important”. Hobbies, concerts, pubs, clubs and social groups were the most frequently mentioned activities in the socio-cultural life of internationals.
Internationals were found to be actively involved in Amsterdam’s cultural scene; with over three quarters having visited an exhibition, museum or gallery in the last 12 months. 60% of respondents would wish to further participate and/or support networks organised by local cultural institutions.
Friendships, family and integration
For 80% of the internationals surveyed, having friends in Amsterdam was considered to be (very) important. However, the majority (58%) were dissatisfied with the current number of friends they had in Amsterdam. The majority of respondents (59%) noted that their social network was made of primarily of other internationals (non-Dutch).
Missing family and friends from back home was often cited as a disadvantage to living in Amsterdam. 33% of internationals found it “difficult” to integrate into Dutch society, and a further 16% found it “very difficult” to successfully integrate. The majority (57%) believed they were not in fact integrated in the city and an equal 57% did not feel to be a part of the Amsterdam culture.
In total, 510 internationals participated in the research. More than half of the respondents were from Europe (United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, France, etc.) and nearly 20% were from Asia (with over 10% from India). 13% were from Canada and the United States. 8 out of 10 internationals surveyed lived in the Netherlands for less than 5 years with most internationals living in Amsterdam with their partner and without children (44%).
The Expatcenter opened in June 2008 and was one of the first schemes of its kind in the Netherlands to cut the red tape for internationals and assist in the process of settling in. The cities of Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Almere and Haarlemmermeer, together with the Immigration and Naturalisation Services (IND), operate as the Expatcenter. The Expatcenter, situated in the World Trade Center in Amsterdam Zuid, provides a one-stop-shop service for highly-skilled migrants. Expatriates living in Amsterdam can visit the Expatcenter for help with other expat-related issues. Expatcenter staff are ready and able to answer questions, provide information and offer advice on a wide range of topics.