25 August 2016

Melissa Adams - Expat in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Melissa Adams - Expat in Amsterdam, Netherlands

We’ve had the chance to talk to Melissa Adams, 63, an American expat who has moved to Amsterdam alone. Ms Adams who has been living there for five years now works as a freelance writer.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: I was born in Los Angeles and spent most of my adult life in Newport Beach, CA.


Q: What made you move out of the USA?

A: I’d lived in Southern California for a half-century; I needed a change to get my life off auto-pilot and experience another culture. More significantly, I’ve always hated SoCal’s driving culture, the superficiality/materialism of the OC, and living with no seasons.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: Amsterdam, NL


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I fell in love with Amsterdam the minute my feet hit the ground, on a random 2007 vacation. I love its rich history, architectural beauty, diversity and laid-back vibe. Most of all, I appreciate its “connectedness” (the only place in the world I’ve found where it’s perfectly normal to talk to perfect strangers), manageable size and quirky locals. And there’s always something happening!


Q: How long have you been living in Amsterdam, NL?

A: Five years


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Netherlands?

A: Setting up a household knowing no Dutch, and obtaining legal residency.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Netherlands? What was your experience with these?

A: Awful; I hired an expensive American lawyer because he put the fear of God to me about the possibility of being rejected.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: Alone


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

A: I’ve met a handful of friends in bars + coffee shops, but am still looking for a meaningful social circle. Mine mostly consists of couch surfers I host (300+ in the past three years).


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Explore the canals—they’re a free outdoor museum. Get to know different neighborhoods. Learn the language. Find lots of sightseeing tips on my blog, Uncloggedblog.com, and in my AFAR Guide to Amsterdam.


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

A: About the same, although I really don’t know. The quality of life is more important than the cost of living to me. Still, I live on American dollars, which haven’t yet caught up with the euro.

  • How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 2-3 euro

  • How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: 10-15 euro

  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: 75-125 euro

  • How much is a bottle of wine?

A: as little as 3 euro.

  • How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: 5 euro


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in Netherlands?

A: Fascinating, direct, funny, dry, but difficult to get to know and befriend.


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

A: Great healthcare, moderate climate with four seasons, nearly everyone speaks English (which makes communication relatively easy but difficult to practice the language).


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Never


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: If I suffered from it, I’d use Skype + buy lots of airline tickets.


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

A: NO!


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Making Dutch friends; learning the language enough to communicate well.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: Learn the language. Accept cultural differences.


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

A: Confessions of a Shallow Man, Invader Stu, iAmsterdam, Stuff Dutch People Like, and of course my own, UnClogged in Amsterdam: An American Expat Plumbs Holland.