A Year As An Expat in Amsterdam

It’s been just over a year since Kevin and I packed up our lives from California, the only place we’ve ever lived. And moved halfway across the world to the Netherlands. As a kid I was fortunate enough that my parents could take me on trips almost every summer, so I guess my love of travel was instilled in me at an early age. Little did I know that would lead me to living the expat life. If you read my 3 month update blog post you know that the expat life was a more “realistic” way for us to experience living abroad compared to living a nomad life. You can read more about it on my blog post here. It’s crazy to think of how fast the past year has gone by and all the changes that came with it.

Amsterdam Expat couple
Life is different now.

Since my last update with you all, everything has been such a blur that I wasn’t able to blog as much as I would have liked. Over the last 9 months – I got married, got a job and pregnant! (JK sorry mom bad joke) I’m a happy dog mom for now. But yes, you read right – I got a job. 8 months after the move, I decided to apply and look for a job seriously and was lucky to find the role I’m in now, doing what I love! As a visual designer for a start up.

I think that working for the past 4 months has given me a better insight into Dutch culture and people – which has been so fun! It’s my first job in the Netherlands and also my first role at a startup. It’s been a constant state of learning for sure. The people here are very direct and upfront in their personal life, as well as at work. Which is so refreshing! Nothing was more annoying than the political b*****it at companies back home. Here’s a quick pros and cons of working as an expat so far for those of you who are considering the move!

Before starting this role, I didn’t really have any interactions with Dutch people since most of the people I met were also expats. It’s a bit hard to break into Dutch circles unless you already know somebody here before moving since they all have friends they’ve known for years. Luckily my colleagues are so friendly and hilarious – I love my team. It is definitely the biggest expat change since my last update with you all.

But still the same…

And as for getting married – I’m not sure if it’s really hit me yet. (You can peep the recap post here). It doesn’t feel different honestly, and to me that’s exactly how it should be. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can slack on working on your relationship. Kevin and I have fought for and worked hard on our relationship every day, and that continues – even after marriage.

expat couple Amsterdam

With all these big life changes after the move. You would think that life is super exciting and different. Which it is! But if you are considering the expat life – it is still life, just in a different city. Just as in all aspects of life, for all the exciting moments of adventure and inspiration. There is a side that is “boring” and stuff that just needs to get done. What I mean by that is that life anywhere is still life and eventually it always falls into a rhythm. And after a year into this part of our lives, we have finally found ours.

For us, even though we’re essentially doing the same things as we were when we lived in California 80% of the time. Working a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 tech job. The 20% of time when we get to experience new things are worth it to us.

What we sacrifice to be expats

Kevin always urges me to use this blog as a place to not only post travel inspiration, but also about the harsh times that happen in life. That being said – there are some harder realities that come with expat life. Would you believe me if I said that when the opportunity came to move to Amsterdam, I was immediately in and wasn’t scared at all? One of my best and worst traits is always chasing adventures – sometimes not taking the time to think it through. Luckily Kevin was the voice of reason this time. And even though our move was carefully planned, one year in I am finally starting to realise all the things we’ve sacrificed to be here.

I think the biggest sacrifice we made is time. Time with our family and time with our friends. This past year I only saw my mom once – and that was at my wedding. From being an only child and always living within close distance to her, to seeing her once. It was harder than I expected. Big moments we’ve missed. From the birthdays, to the engagements. The fact of the matter is, no matter how hard you try to be there for everything, it won’t happen. And after awhile it gets tough.

What we’ve gained!

Alright, enough of the negatives. As much as it is important to be well informed of the cons – the pros are equally as important. With the obvious being that we get to do what we love! Adventuring together has always been a building block in the foundation of our relationship. We went to Japan together after only 2 months of dating! And living in Amsterdam allows us to continue to do so with ease. We visited 13 or 14 countries this year – and some of them multiple times (Germany, France, Switzerland). There are so many memories we created this past year to remember for the rest of our lives!

And although we do miss our family and friends at home, we’ve met and made new friends who are just as amazing. And I love that everyone I meet here is so unique and offers such a different perspective on life. Back in the Bay Area, a lot of the people I hung out with were like me. Bay Area born and raised. In Amsterdam we’ve been fortunate to learn and be inspired by the people we’ve met from all over the world. Starting life from scratch somewhere you don’t know anyone isn’t easy – but it’s taught us to learn to have each others backs and also to step outside of our comfort zones to make new friends. To keep an open mind and roll with the punches.

If you’ve made it all the way to the bottom, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING ALL OF THIS! I hope this helps if you’ve been considering moving away from wherever you’re from. It’s not for everyone, but it’s been amazing for us 🙂

Till next time!


  1. SB
    November 23, 2020 / 9:28 pm

    Hi there!

    My wife and I are fellow bay area residents with a dream to move to Amsterdam. She’s in consulting and I’m in healthcare administration (not a nurse or doctor). We’re so glad we stumbled across your blog! One area of concern is getting residency and finding a job. Can you share more about that?

    • raych0w7
      January 26, 2021 / 5:36 am

      Hi! Sorry for the late reply!
      My friend actually worked for Bain here and they had residence permits that had to be renewed every year. Regarding the healthcare, I’m not as certain about since I work in Design. There are definitely less job opportunities here than in the Bay Area, however once you find a company to sponsor you, it will either be a 1 year residence permit or a 5 year depending on the type of employment you get (full-time or contract). Hope this helps! 🙂

  2. February 16, 2021 / 11:32 am

    Hi Rachel!

    I absolutely loved reading your blog post! So helpful and your tips are amazing 🙂


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