A beautiful city center full of history, more affordable housing and some of the Netherland’s best nature as your backyard. Amersfoort is a popular hometown for expats looking for a quieter (and cheaper) alternative to Amsterdam or Utrecht.
As a new expat first arriving in the Netherlands, you might go straight to Amsterdam or to one of the other big cities to find a place to live. While the capital is one of the best places for culture and nightlife, it is also one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in and very busy. If you are looking for a more affordable and quieter place to settle down in the Netherlands, Amersfoort might just be the place.
Quiet, convenient location
With a population of 150,000, Amersfoort is the second-biggest city in the province of Utrecht, but still relatively small. The city is located right in the middle of the country, which makes it super easy to commute to nearby cities. Amsterdam is just a 30-minute train ride away and it only takes you 15 minutes to get to Utrecht. Fancy a weekend getaway? You can get a train to Berlin directly from Amersfoort as well.
Vishvendra Singh moved from India to Amersfoort in March of 2020 to join his wife who was already working in the city. While the COVID lockdowns made it hard to enjoy the city at first, he grew to like living in Amersfoort once all the restrictions were lifted. “I feel Amersfoort gives you the feeling of living in the countryside as well as the feeling of living in a city. It is peaceful, clean and it has a lot of options for going out for a family dinner and shopping, Vishvendra says. “Also, renting a house in Amersfoort is cheaper compared to other cities.
“I feel this is a good place to live if you want to get away from the noises, traffic, and chaos of big cities.”
The (slightly more) affordable housing is one of the reasons people chose Amersfoort as their home base. Finding a place to rent or buy for a reasonable price is a challenge almost everywhere these days, but Amersfoort has more affordable options than its close neighbors.
Numbers from the government statistics bureau CBS show that the average price of a house in Amersfoort in 2021 was about 416,000 euros, compared to 470,000 euros in Utrecht and 570,000 euros in Amsterdam.
Lorenzo Amadei, who lived in Groningen for multiple years before moving to Amersfoort, thinks the city is a great place to settle down for expats who are a bit older. “As a single man and young professional from abroad, I would pick Utrecht, Rotterdam or Amsterdam, budget allowing. For a married middle-aged person, Amersfoort has everything I need to live happily and comfortably,” Lorenzo said. “It is a really cozy and welcoming city, it’s really well connected and the architecture is beautiful.”
The historical city center, with architecture and monuments that date back to the Middle Ages, is one of the major highlights of Amersfoort. It’s a beautiful city, and a popular day trip destination in the Netherlands, but still nowhere near as busy as nearby Utrecht and Amsterdam.
“Amersfoort is not the most cosmopolitan place, it can be like living in a small town where everyone is involved in everyone else’s business”, says Levon Nathan, who moved to Amersfoort in 2021. “It is a little slow moving at times, but we would hate to live in or near Amsterdam, which is too busy.”
Most active city in the Netherlands
For those who enjoy an active lifestyle, Amersfoort is a good choice. A couple of years ago, research from Atlas voor Gemeenten showed that Amersfoort is the most active city in the Netherlands. The citizens of Amersfoort are often involved in sport clubs and enjoy exercising in and around the town.
Park Schothorst and Den Treek feature some great running courses very close to the city. Those interested in cycling, mountain biking or walking will love the Soesterduinen and the Utrechtse Heuvelrug.
On a hot summer day, many locals cycle to the nearby Henschotermeer for a swim or go stand-up paddling on the Eem river. And if you get really lucky, you might be able to go iice skating on the city canals in winter.
It doesn’t happen often, but when the canals freeze over, Amersfoort looks truly magical.
You can get more data about Amersfoort here on the website of the Gemeente, or city government.
Read more of Willeke’s post here in Dispatches’ archives.
Willeke van Doorn
Willeke van Doorn is a Dutch journalist and graduate of Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Tilburg, Netherlands. Her experience includes an internship at National Geographic Traveler in Amsterdam.
Willeke has lived in the U.S. and Australia and loves to travel the world. She was an early Dispatches contributor as a student.