It is well-known that Amsterdam is not the cheapest destination. But how much does it actually cost to live here? By reading this article you will get a better idea of how much it costs to live in Amsterdam as a student as well as what expenses you have to consider before moving here.
The average cost of living for a student in Amsterdam is roughly 1000€ a month, excluding tuition fee. Rent is the highest expense: you can expect to spend 400-800€ per month. Besides that, you have to consider Living Expenses (350-500€), Insurance (100€) and Books (30-100€) among others.
Most universities offer an estimate of costs for international students to have a referent to look at and to keep in mind what they should consider when enrolling at the university, but there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account.
What is The Cost of Living For a Student in Amsterdam?
A few years ago, I decided to come study to this country and one of my biggest concerns was if I was going to be able to cover most of my expenses. After living in Spain for almost a decade, and comparing the prices between my Mediterranean home for the past few years and the prices of this cosmopolitan city, it felt right to change my mindset and figure out if I could live on my budget. Here it is what you should take into consideration:
Accommodation, Living Expenses, Insurance, Books and Study Materials, Visa and Permits, Transportation and other Contingencies
Expenses per month
|Book / Study Materials
|Visa and Permits
Rent is by far the biggest expense in Amsterdam and besides being able to receive help from most universities for housing, it is also one of the hardest things to do. The biggest part of your budget should be allocated to the rent, taking approximately 30-50% of your budget.
Aside from the fact that it is almost impossible to find a place to live in this city -and I am not even exaggerating-, it is also quite expensive compared to most European cities. If you are lucky enough to find a studio, it will never be under 1000 euros.
Most Dutch universities talk about 400-800 euros per month just for the rent. This is the estimate price based on a rented room on a shared apartment, either on the private sector or belonging to the university.
On a positive note, most places are furnished and most of them also include utilities in the price -so you won’t have you worry much about having the heating on during the cold months of the Dutch winter.
I have been to several Asian countries where eating at the university’s cafeteria or at inexpensive restaurants is cheaper than preparing your own food. Well, this is definitely not the case.
A cup of coffee is never cheaper than 2,50 euros and a meal is always more than 10 euros. There are several good restaurants in this city, that is for sure, but definitely something to save for a treat night rather than making it a habit.
Living expenses including personal services, food and clothes vary a lot from person to person
You may want to take into consideration if you are planning on getting a gym membership (20-30€), if you go to the hairdresser often (30-50€), if you are into buying clothes or if you have a soft spot for good coffee. The problem of living in an awesome city with a lot of shops, entertainment and amazing options to choose from, is that it may end up being harmful to your bank account.
The estimate cost would be between 350-500€ per month, but it really does depend on you. A regular trip to the supermarket to get some groceries for the week may end up being over 50€.
You need one, even if it is for a couple of months. If you are planning on having a short stay in the Netherlands, you may want to consider getting travel insurance from your homeland. When I was doing my Erasmus here that was the way I did it: it is cheaper and just as efficient.
If you are considering a longer stay or if you want to have a part-time job while studying in Amsterdam, you need to get your hands on some Dutch health insurance. so-called is relatively expensive, at least in comparison to other European countries. The cheapest options are around 100€.
I would recommend you to check zorgwijzer, a website that compares all the offers out in the market and you can do this in English.
Book / Study materials
Evert Bachelor and every Master programme is a different world. If your major is on literature or you are studying fine art, the costs are going to skyrocket. For an average student, every so-called block– the school year consists of 4 blocks of 8 weeks each- will demand new material. The estimated cost of each textbook goes from 30 to 100 euros.
But don’t worry too much! Most university libraries have several copies of the textbook you have to buy and being a student will allow you to have free access to it. Not a bad solution, if you ask me.
Visa and Permits
This point may or may not be of your interest, but I wanted to mention it because if you come from a country outside the EU, I recommend you to check if you need a permit to either study and/or work in the Netherlands on their official website IND.
This is going to be some extra hundreds of euros, depending on the policies, but at least it will be a one-time expense.
Since this is starting to look like a comprehensive breakdown, I may as well take into consideration some of the possible circumstances that I had during my first years as a student in the Netherlands.
These contingencies are likely to be a onetime thing as well as the residence permit, but it will help you to make a more accurate calculation of the expenses:
- Bicycle: this is going to be your best friend, don’t forget it. As you may know, Dutch people are the number 1 cyclists in the whole world, so bear in mind that you have to get hold of a bike as soon as you land in this country.
On one of the thousands of bike shops you will find second-hand bikes for around 100-200 euros plus a little more for a good lock and lights, we don’t your brand new bike to be stolen on its first week with you, neither we want you to get a fine for not using lights at night.
- IKEA run: let’s face it, if we are talking about students on a budget, we are talking about IKEA. One of the expenses one has to take into account are all the basic items your rented room may not have: towels, proper pillows, maybe some blankets and some personal kitchen tools, among other things. It is true, as I said, that rooms and studios tend to be furnished, but you have into account that they are not likely to have all of these items that you are going to need.
This is totally optional and a very variable amount, but since there is an IKEA outside Amsterdam, I think it is worth mentioning.
Out of my personal experience, I would say that one can easily spend 50-100 euros on getting the most basic items to keep starting.
- Phone bills: it probably is a good idea to get your hands on a Dutch sim card with a Dutch phone number. This will make it all easier for you. There are two options: the cheapest one is to get yourself a prepaid sim card and the most expensive one, unlimited data.
If you go for a cheap prepaid sim card, you will pay for what you use. This is a good option at least to start with: for 5-10 euros you can get a Dutch phone number and get going.
The expensive option varies from 15-45 euros per month, and probably a bit more in the first month: KPN, Vodafone, Telford, T-Mobile and Tele2 are some of the most famous ones. You will find all the information you need, either online or on one of the stores here in Amsterdam.
- Rain clothes: yes, you may want to laugh at me now, but wait and see, you will thank me.
Either if you come to Amsterdam during the summer or in the middle of the winter, you are going to need some waterproof garments: a proper raincoat (with a hood, don’t forget that part) and some waterproof shoes could be your lifesaver.
If you want to go all the way in, Amsterdamers would also wear a matching coat and trousers from HEMA, but if I were you I would invest in some of these pieces: approx. 50-100€.
As a little tip, my first waterproof coat was from one of the cute vintage shops that you can find in Amsterdam. It definitely served me well, I can tell you.