“This is one of the most kids-friendly places to live”
The story of Anne and Sue began in 1997, when they met as medical students at the University of Edinburgh. Now happily living in the bustling De Baarsjes with their two children, 6 and 8, this Dutch-British couple - Anne hails from Delft, while Sue grew up in in the Staffordshire countryside - are thrilled with the city’s work-life balance. “You feel taken seriously as part-time worker”, says Anne who practices medicine as a self-employed GP, doing a few evening and night shifts each week.
Sue, who works as an anaesthesiologist, echoes her sentiment: “I didn’t want the career structure available in Edinburgh, where I had lived for 7 years, nor did I find bigger cities such as London, Manchester or Leeds to be appealing places to live”, adds Sue, who would take Amsterdam’s low-rise architecture over a metropolis any day.
“Amsterdam had a familiar yet slightly different feeling: everyone was outside, on a bike, but the cafe culture, the people and their sense of humour were similar to those back in the UK”, Sue tells of her first Amsterdam experience, which happened during a medical internship after qualifying as a doctor.
Since deciding to make the city their permanent home, Anne and Sue have fully embraced its laid-back character. “This is one of the most kids-friendly places to live in. We bike everywhere”, Anne says, as she and Sue talk about zipping across town as they take the kids town to their football club and swimming pool and enjoy quality family time at the Artis zoo or the city’s many museums and parks.
“We live in a mixed neighbourhood, with lots of children from different cultures and backgrounds. It’s important for our kids to be surrounded by many types of people, that’s very valuable”, Sue concludes.
“Work is only a 10-minute walk away”
James, who grew up in Shrewsbury, had also lived in Canada and loved being abroad. So in 2012, he seized the opportunity to purse an American History masters at the University of Amsterdam. “I had visited the city and loved it. I felt I could just walk around the canals and relax, something harder to do in cities like London”, James says. And he was also convinced by his course’s to tuition fees, which were significantly lower than those of comparable high-quality programmes the UK.
It was in his master’s small group of 15 students that he met Lorieke, who was raised in Enschede and completed her bachelors in Groningen. After graduation, James moved back to the UK to work for a charity in Southwest England, while Lorieke signed on for a three-month gig in her hometown, but they found it easy to visit each other. “You can take a Friday off and make a long weekend out of it”, says Lorieke.
After she also relocated to the UK, where they lived together for 6 months in a small town, it was time to move on. “We wanted to live somewhere bigger and felt we had two options: London or Amsterdam”. They went for the latter and now reside a stone’s throw from the Rijksmuseum and can often be found relaxing at their local brown cafe, De Wetering or putting their Cineville film subscription to good use at the many arthouse movie theatres in town.
After working at Travelbird, an international travel company where he could make new friends, James recently scored a new role, as UX Copywriter at another globally minded travel business, booking.com and now enjoys possibly one of the world’s shortest commutes: “Work is only a 10-minute walk away”, he shares. We should all be so lucky.
“Here you have a lot of respect for your personal time”
“I loved London a lot, not sure if London loved me”, says music supervisor and artist manager Dolf, who met Jharda, a singing harpist and part-time PA, while working in the same music venue in Camden. “I got tired of the London’s super fast pace and felt I wasn’t enjoying it as much anymore”, says Dolf of his rewarding yet intense years as a music promoter in the British capital.
His partner Jharda, who had lived in London for 9 years, also felt like ready for gentler pace. “I had to work so many hours to afford a nice life, I couldn’t see myself buying a house or settling down in London”, Jharda adds. So, after one year of living together in Camden, Dolf felt his native Amsterdam beckoning. Jharda, who had never lived abroad, joined him.
“I was lucky to find an English-speaking job as a PA for Danone, which is based at Schiphol, quite quickly”, Jharda says of her 3-day per week role, which she combines with occasional performances at venues such as the Conservatorium hotel. “Here, you have a lot of respect for your personal time and a better work-life balance. After working so much in London, I got the chance to relax and embrace my passion for cooking vegan food”, she explains.
And thanks to her job in an international company, Jharda found it easy to build friendships amongst the expat community. “As soon as you get a job, you feel like you belong”, she shares, adding that taking a Dutch course also proved helpful for meeting new people.
“Amsterdam is not a metropolitan city, but a metropolitan village. We have everything we want here: bars, restaurants, cinemas”, Dolf says. And an affordable home by the hip Hugo de Grootplein, which they recently purchased. “You also have more of a community feel. There’s always a little street party or neighbour get-together to go to”, Jharda concludes.