13 December 2016

Camilla Riis - Expat in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Camilla Riis - Expat in Amsterdam, Netherlands

We’ve had the chance to talk to Camilla Riis, 24, a Danish expat who has moved to Amsterdam with her boyfriend. Miss Riis who has been living there for almost six months, now works as a travel blogger at cammi.dk and web editor.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I am originally from Denmark


Q: What made you move out of Denmark?

A: In 2013 I studied in the US and was lucky enough to fall in love with a French boy, who studied at the same college. After returning to our home universities the same year, we decided to be in a long-distance relationship until we both had graduated from uni. That happened this summer. I decided to move out of Denmark simply to be with my boyfriend and because it was an awesome chance to live in a new country.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I moved to Amsterdam the same week that I graduated from university in Denmark back in July. The choice of Amsterdam as my future home was actually quite simple. Since 2013 I have been dating Olivier, who’s French, and who I met when I studied in the US three years ago. Since we both graduated from our master’s degrees in Denmark and France  this summer, we obviously wanted to move in together after having been in a long distance relationship for three years. Since we didn’t want to upset any of our families by choosing one country over the other, we decided to find a country right in the middle, where they would speak well English. Being located exactly 9 ½ hours from both of our hometowns, Amsterdam turned out to be the best choice.


Q: How long have you been living in the Netherlands?

A: I have been living in Amsterdam since the beginning of July this year.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I am living with my French boyfriend. Although he absolutely loves Amsterdam, adjusting to our life here is rather difficult for him. He’s still working on his master’s thesis while looking for a job, which means that he doesn’t get to meet any new people. This definitely makes the adjustment a bit more difficult than it was for me since I had a job before I even moved here.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Absolutely! Many people believe that I hate Denmark whenever they realize how much I spend away from there. But truth is that it’s my absolute favorite place on earth, and I miss it every day. Luckily it’s quite close to the Netherlands, so I get to visit quite often. A great help is also the internet, which means that I get to talk to my parents and my sister every single day.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Danish and Dutch people are actually very much alike, so on an everyday basis I honestly don’t even realize that I am in another country. Of course except the fact that I don’t speak a word Dutch. But people here are great! Always happy and smiling, which from a Danes’ perspective should say something, considering that Danes are supposed to be the happiest people in the world. I believe that’s wrong - the Dutch are!


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in the Netherlands? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: For me was incredibly easy, considering that I started working only one week after arriving in Amsterdam. I work in a very young company, where there’s an amazing team spirit and always events going on, which made is super easy to find my own social circle. However, I do not see many people outside of work, but I do know that there are many expats groups, where you get to meet up with like-minded people. I primarily see other expats.


Q: How does the cost of living in the Netherlands compare to your home?

A: Although the rent is significantly higher than what I’m used to in Denmark, pretty much everything else is slightly cheaper than at home. 

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 2.50-3 €.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: 15€.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: 30€.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: 6€ in the grocery store. No idea about cigarettes!


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in the Netherlands?

A: If your workplace has an agreement with a bank, definitely make use of it!


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: As a European citizen, this part was probably the easiest. I just had to make an appointment at the city hall, bring my passport and rental contract, and a few days later I received my personal identification number and was registered as a citizen in Amsterdam.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in the Netherlands is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: No idea about that yet.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in Denmark or the Netherlands? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: In the Netherlands, it is mandatory to have a Dutch health insurance. I pay 92€ for a basic plan through my workplace.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to the Netherlands? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I am fortunate enough to have amazing parents, who actually decided to move all my belongings for me to Amsterdam. I arrived in Amsterdam on a Monday and received the keys to my apartment and did all the boring paperwork. Thursday evening, my parents arrived from Denmark with a trailer full of all my stuff.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: The rental market in Amsterdam is insane and has to be the biggest challenge for any person moving here! We were lucky enough to have a friend, who did the apartment viewings for us and secured an apartment five days before I arrived in the Netherlands, but I know that many people spend several months before they find a place to live.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in the Netherlands?

A: The best part about living in the Netherlands, and especially Amsterdam, has to be the beautiful buildings all over the city. The worst part gotta be the tourists!


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Canal cruises might seem super lame and touristy, but for me, this was actually the best way to get an overview of the city, and also learn a bunch of historical facts that I would never have known otherwise. So definitely do that the first week in Amsterdam!


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Probably. The Netherlands was not intended to be the end station for us, and we’d definitely love to live other places around the world, and eventually move back to Denmark one day. Currently, we’re planning a 1-year trip around the world in about two years’ time.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Get yourself a bike! I might sound like quite a cliche, but it will truly become your best friend if you move to the Netherlands.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about the Netherlands?

A: I love the blog wander-lust, which gives great tips on restaurants and events to experience in Amsterdam. As for the Netherlands in general, I’m afraid I don’t know any websites.