We are six months away from our move.
Jake and I are moving to Amsterdam! Though we consider it to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, that is only part of the reason we’ve decided to uproot our life, sell just about everything, and head to the other side of the world.
It started with our first trip to Europe in June 2013. My husband Jake and I had never been to Europe before, and we decided that we were going to take a month off, visit Jake’s sister and family in Berlin, and see a few major capital cities including Paris and Barcelona. A few years earlier, a good friend of ours had moved to Amsterdam for school and encouraged us to visit that city as well.
To be completely honest, Amsterdam was near the top of our list to visit but probably wouldn’t have made the cut for our first trip to Europe. The deciding factor was that we really wanted to see our friend again, and we even had a place to stay while we were there. Kind of a no-brainer, right? Amsterdam was quickly added to the list.
We flew into Berlin Tegel; after a week or so seeing our family and hanging out with the kids, our plan was to take a train to Amsterdam for three days, head south to Paris for a week, hop on a quick flight from Paris to Barcelona, and then complete our European journey for a few days again in Berlin. Within just a few hours after our rickety Deutsche Bahn train ride to Amsterdam, though, we knew we were in a special place.
I’ll admit to being somewhat of an urban planning nerd. Growing up in Los Angeles meant that autos have priority just about everywhere. It’s unquestioned here, even in the very few instances of forward progress that this city makes — for example, the paid bike lockers at Metro stations next to acres and acres of free car parking, or the LAPD’s jaywalking stings at the very crosswalks where drivers are blocking pedestrian movement.
But here I was in the city of bikes, having a beer at a cafe on the river Amstel, and I could not help but notice just how quiet this place is. When safe cycling is the most important pillar of your city’s transportation strategy, the din of daily life is entirely different from what we’re used to in urban California. Your partner can hear you speaking without raising your voice, and car horns are replaced by an occasional ding of a bike bell. Hint: The red pavement is not a sidewalk; it’s a bike lane!
Going back to Los Angeles after our trip and then sitting on the 405 freeway to get home — the most congested in the U.S. — we knew we that something had changed in us. From that point forward, we knew we would have to return to Amsterdam soon, but it wasn’t until I came across information about the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) that the idea of actually moving abroad became real.
As we get closer to our moving date, we’ll write more about our experience with the treaty and how easy (or difficult) it can be to move to the Netherlands as an American citizen. There will be lots of other fun facts and tips too. Cheers!