cars - driving
cost of living
cars - parking
getting a job
studying from abroad
|a'dam traffic hazards
policy on drugs
Cost Of Living
Finding a way to compare cost of living is the subject of many a graduate thesis. Since that's not the issue here, we'll keep it simple: in Amsterdam a Big Mac will currently set you back €3.50. Take what you would normally spend vacationing in your own country and, wether you like them or not, correct it for the price difference between our Big Mac and your Big Mac. Voila!
Getting A Job
Getting a - temporary - job means getting a work permit first, see below. After that the usual route is through a temp agency. Especially in the IT field it seems relatively easy to find something. Usually the forum has some current threads on this topic, try a forum search on 'job'.
Public transportation is well organized. The center has a dense tram network, which will pretty much get you anywhere. Trams are a place to keep a hand on your money since especially during the tourist season they attract pickpockets. Another good way to take in the sights is to rent a bike. You could also take the Canal Bus (sponsored page), which allows you to explore the city while sampling some great canal views at the same time. Amsterdam has a metro line as well, running North-South through the city, but with only a few stops in the center this has limited value for visitors.
The ticket system is currently going through a major change: the old-style 'strippenkaart' is phased out in favor of the 'OV Chip Card'. You can buy disposable 1, 2 and 3-hour tickets from bus drivers or tram conductors. Alternatively you can buy a rechargeable Chip Card at most tobacco shops, which comes preloaded with an Euro amount of your choice. With this card you need to check-in upon entering tram, bus, or metro, by swiping the card along a check-in pad, and of course you need to check-out again in the same manner. After each journey the travel cost is deducted from the card's amount.
For a limited time the old-style 'strippenkaart' can still be bought in advance at the post office or tobacco shops. You first determine through how much 'zones' your trip will take you, using the map on display at every tram/bus stop. You then want to stamp the strippenkaart the number of zones you're traveling through PLUS one. Usually a tram ride in Amsterdam center is within 1 zone, so that means 2 'strips' have to be stamped. You either stamp the card yourself (metro and some trams), or have it stamped by the bus driver or tram conductor. Several people can travel on the same card, as long as the correct number of strips is stamped.
From the age of 16 you're legally allowed to buy beer and wine. To buy liquor you must be 18 years old. Alcoholic beverages are for sale at liquor stores and supermarkets. Supermarkets only sell beer, wine and alcoholic beverages with an alcohol percentage up to 13 percent. Drinking and driving: it is prohibited to drive if your blood-alcohol ratio is higher than 0.5 promille. This applies to driving a car and riding a motor bike, scooter, moped or bicycle. Driving under influence is considered a criminal offense; you risk high fines, and your drivers license may - temporarily - be revoked.
The currency used is the Euro, symbol '€'. Here's a currency converter. Read more about the Euro. Paying in cash is still common practice, but nowadays plastic is becoming more widely accepted for anything above €10. Note however that especially restaurants sometimes do not accept credit cards, however high the bill may be! Cash machines can be found troughout the center, and most of them accept the major credit cards. Also there are a lot of small 'change' offices in the center, which will happily convert your foreign bills or traveller checks into Dutch guilders, for a small fee of course. Tipping is common in restaurants, in bars and when paying for taxi's. As a general rule tipping between 5 - 10% should be OK.
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