Without question, living in Amsterdam is nothing like living in Brooklyn. For one, there’s much more water here. More green, too. The buildings are lower and mostly the same height for as far as the eye can see. There are tram lines and bike lanes built into the roads. Just about all sidewalk (and some roads) are laid stone. Cars are smaller, people are smaller (but much taller).
So on the surface the two aren’t that alike. Then you look at other things. Basically Brooklyn is Amsterdam 2.0 if you look at the structure of some buildings in Brooklyn. Sometimes I walk the streets here and I feel like I’m back home. It’s comforting.
One major difference that you can’t really feel until you’ve been living here for longer than a vacation is this incredible feeling of ease. Dutch quality of life surpasses the US far and wide. Yes, there’s plenty to get used to. Some things you won’t ever get used to, which is fine. But the general feeling that things are just not as bad here definitely washes over you after a while. Disregarding the stresses of moving and that awkward adjustment period that can feel like forever, once you’ve settled—I’ll say 13 months or more in—you definitely can bask in it.
At the top of my list for major game changers: affordable mandatory full health insurance. What is there in that to not love? I’ve been covered since January, visited a few times for checkups and I’m thoroughly pleased. I have my general practitioner, OB-GYN, dentist and my out of pocket costs have literally been less than €20. Since January. On the topic of health, I also greatly enjoy bike riding. That’s something I really learned here. Two falls and one major scar later, it’s my preferred mode of transportation. It makes me want to actually bike ride in other countries. We’ll see if that happens though. The added bonus of lots of parks and general greenery coupled with all the canals and the Amstel River makes breathing a lot easier. I have needed very little medication for my allergies and sinuses since living here.
I’ve been able to really pursue my goal of becoming a writer here in a way I personally didn’t feel comfortable doing in New York. That may have more to do with me than with Amsterdam, but I do feel that it’s a credit to the energy of Amsterdam. I feel like I have less fear living here. I don’t know if that translates well, but I’ve had the tendency to hold myself back when the pond I’m in is over saturated. Here, I feel the exact opposite and it’s giving me the chance to take risks I’ve been wanting to take for years that I didn’t exactly know how to then.
There’s a real gift being able to live in a 3-in-1 city. I see Amsterdam as part super metropolitan/part very residential/part nature. I never had that in Brooklyn. I’m sure I could’ve had it by traveling quite a bit, but how much exactly? My commute to every job I’ve had in Manhattan took on average 90 minutes one way. In 90 minutes, I can be in the south of this country. I really dig that I don’t feel like I’m in the thick of busy city life living in the capitol. When I want that feeling, it’s only 20 minutes away at most.
The concept of time has started to affect me. I now see a 90 minute trip as long instead of necessary. Not always, because if I’m traveling to another country, I get that I’ll be on a train for 3+ hours and it seems super quick. In the same vein, a born and bred walking New Yorker now prefers to bike everywhere. It annoys me to think about how much longer it takes to walk someplace. Bike riding at first was extremely painful, mainly because I stopped walking as much and couped myself up in the house. Then there’s getting over distance riding. Going up and down hills. Once my leg muscles toned up I’ve been good to go. The idea that something is “just down the road” feels quite literal, now.
Every other corner feels like a postcard photo op. I love living here.