Districts of Amsterdam

In order to get a clear and more structured view of the city of Amsterdam, where you can find some more information about how the city is geographically organized. To get an overview, let’s divide Amsterdam into several districts: Centre, North, South, West, East, South-East, New-West, and Westpoort.

In the center of Amsterdam, you will find canals, many tourists, beautiful churches, most museums, and other cultural hotspots. In the north of the center lies Central Station, from where you can travel to every city in the country, but from here you can also easily travel from one district in the city to another.

Amsterdam North (Noord) is amongst other things home to the NDSM area, an area with sheds where many artists work, trendy cafes can be found, and where quite a lot of students live. Furthermore, North has some of the greenest parts of Amsterdam and is home to many suburban families. Last but not least, various cultures disperse across the streets and therefore there are many shops offering various cultural products. North is gradually becoming more and more booming with trendy places. 

South (Zuid) is known for its parks and business center called the Zuidas. In this beautiful part of the city live the generally more affluent people. If you like architecture you can see the beautiful architecture style of the Amsterdamse School here. The neighborhood de Pijp is also part of Amsterdam-Zuid. Here you can find trendy cafes, shops, and restaurants.

Amsterdam West (West) is home to the classic ‘Amsterdammer’. Residents with a somewhat modal income live mostly in this part of the city. But also here the diversity in culture is very much to be found, which gives the West a cozy and convivial atmosphere. In Amsterdam West, quiet, beautiful residential areas alternate with busy, pleasant shopping streets. If you’re looking for a place of tranquillity or busy summer days, do visit Westerpark! A great place to go for a walk or a coffee in a diverse cultural area is for example the Kinkerstraat, Jan van Galenstraat, and the Jan Evertsenstraat.

In Amsterdam East (Oost) you will find the Roeterseilandcampus, where you will be spending most of your time studying. But Science Park is also located in this district. Furthermore, Oost is mainly known for the many students that are housed here, but also for the Young Urban Professionals, the many canals, and multicultural shopping streets, like the Dappermarket!

South East (Zuidoost) is a bit further away from the center of Amsterdam. Most people who live in this area earn a little bit less than average. That is why many family homes, flats, and industrial estates are located here. If you like football: The Johan Cruijff Arena, the football stadium of AFC Ajax is also located in this area. Finally, there is a good chance that your exams will take place in the Southeast. 

New-West (Nieuw-West) is mainly dominated by green parks, houses, and hip, more alternative coffee places. However, on the other side, the area is also known by its many multicultural flats and single-family houses. South of New-West is the airport Schiphol located. 

Last but not least, Westpoort consists mainly of the port and industrial estates. However, new, modern residential complexes are also being built here on the border of this area, lying close to Amsterdam West. In principle, Westpoort is not really interesting to visit, but mainly a place for people to go to their work.


Furniture and Homeware

Second hand:

Here is a website with an overview of all the second-hand stores in Amsterdam.

The IJhallen is a flea market where you can basically get anything. It is held twice a month during the weekend. More details can be found on their website.

Another way to get second-hand stuff is Marktplaats. It is a platform to buy and sell second-hand stuff. It is very handy if you want to buy budget-friendly homeware, bikes, clothes, or anything else that you can think of. Additionally, you can also sell your stuff if you would like to make some extra money! It is important to always pay attention to not get scammed.

New stuff:

IKEA has everything! Loads of students buy their homeware at IKEA. You can also look at second-hand or thrift stores. Other practical stores to get homeware are the Action, the Xenos, the Hemma, and the Blokker. Action is probably the cheapest store, Xenos has all sorts of tableware,

Real Estate Agents

For those who have the budget for it and prefer convenience and security above all, there is the option to contact a real estate agent who will actively look for a suitable living space for you. Be sure to check this link for an overview of real estate agents that are specialized in helping out internationals.

Room via Facebook

Become a member of Facebook groups:

  • Kamer Te Huur Amsterdam (VIV Enterprise) (English translation: Room for Rent Amsterdam (VIV Enterprise))
  • Zoekt kamer in Amsterdam Community (English translation: Looking for room in Amsterdam Community)
  • Woonruimte Aangeboden/Gezocht (Amsterdam) (English translation: Living Space Offered/Wanted (Amsterdam))
  • Kamer Gezocht/Aangeboden (English translation: Room Wanted/Offered)

Loads of available rooms are posted there, and you should send an email to a room you are interested in. In the Netherlands we work with hosting evenings, where a few people interested are invited to view the room. This evening is for the people hosting a moment to see who you are and if you are suitable as a roommate for them. The key is, be patient. And keep sending emails and keep replying. You definitely won’t be invited to all the rooms you are interested in. And it will probably take you some time to find a room, so start in time. Lastly, the best way to get a room is via your network. A study association such as VSPA can help you meet new people and expand your network.

Other Housing Websites

There are other very handy websites that you can make use of while searching for an apartment. 


Funda is a website where you can search for apartments and studios. It showcases houses for every budget range. Always read the descriptions very carefully to see if the house is suitable for students because some house owners do not want students renting their properties. You cannot apply for a house directly through the website, however, you can arrange viewings, which are always recommended to have before applying for the house! You do not need to pay any money to use this website


Pararius is a website very similar to Funda. The only difference is that Pararius has more advanced filters that come in handy especially if you are searching for a house for more than 2 people. Many houses in the Netherlands do not allow 3 people to register at the same time unless they are a family. On pararius you can see whether registration is possible through the filters and the descriptions of the houses. If you want to find an apartment/studio, check out their website.


Kamernet is a website that lets you rent a room in an apartment. If you are struggling to find roommates, Kamernet might be the best option for you! You can directly apply for a room through their website, however, you need to pay to have a premium account. Without a premium account you cannot apply for the houses, nor can you schedule a viewing. The monthly fee for the subscription is €34 but there are other subscription options as well. To get a more clear picture, check out their website

UvA Housing

The University of Amsterdam itself also offers help to link students to a house. Throughout the city there are buildings with only UvA student rooms. So you will also be surrounded by fellow students. There are four different types of rooms with their own price range. This site explains everything very clearly, so be sure to take a look!

The UvA has reserved a certain amount of student rooms with different housing providers and can accommodate roughly half of the newly incoming (1st-year Bachelors or Masters) international students. If they cannot offer you a room, you will have to find accommodation on your own (check out the section RentSlam and other housing websites). We advise you to apply for student housing as soon as you can, as Amsterdam is experiencing a significant housing crisis and there is a considerable shortage.

BSN Social Services

The BSN (burgerservicenummer) social services number (or what was called the Sofi or Social-Fiscal number) is a very important personal code and with that a bureaucratic issue that internationals in the Netherlands have to deal with.

A BSN (burgerservicenummer) literally translates to ‘citizen service number’, a unique registration number for everyone who lives in the Netherlands. The BSN will facilitate any interaction with the Dutch authorities: starting a job, opening a bank account, deducting your taxes and social security contributions, using the healthcare system, applying for benefits, announcing a change of address etc. It is also used to combat identity fraud and misspelled names.

How to apply for a citizen service number?

You will receive your BSN when you register with the municipality (gemeente) of the area you will live in. Everyone who lives in the Netherlands, either for all or a significant part of the time, needs to register with their municipality within five days if they are planning to stay for more than four months.

When registering and thus receiving your BSN, EU citizens will need to provide a valid proof of identity (such as a passport, not a driver’s licence) and their address to be registered, while for non-EU expats other documents (such as your residence permit and employment contract etc.) have to be presented too.

What do you do if you have lost your BSN?

Lost your BSN number? No worries, you can find your number on a number of official documents, such as:

-Tax assessments or return letters sent to you by the Dutch Tax Office

-Your Dutch identity card / passport

-Your Dutch driver’s licence

If your identity document does not state your BSN number, simply go to the Dutch municipality where you are registered and request your BSN number there.

For more information, check out the website of I Amsterdam!

Register with the Municipality of Amsterdam

When you finally move to Amsterdam it is important to register immediately with the Municipality of Amsterdam. This registration is an official confirmation for living in Amsterdam. If you are going to live in Diemen, for example, you have to register with the municipality of Diemen. It is of utmost importance to arrange your registration within a week after your arrival by going to one of the town halls in your neighborhood.

Register with the Municipality of Amsterdam

As a tenant of accommodation in Amsterdam, you are legally obliged to be registered with the municipality in which you live. You must therefore be registered at the address where you actually live. The municipality regularly checks whether the registrations still correspond with the actual residential addresses. If this is not correct or if you live illegally, the municipality has the possibility to hand out penalties. 

You need the registration for the following services

  • Creating a passport, an identity card, or a driving license. 
  • Voting in the elections
  • Provision of allowances
  • Collecting taxes
  • It is important for the police, ambulance, and fire brigade to have an overview of the household when they have to act in case of an emergency. 

Students can drop in to register as a resident at any City Office within 5 days of arrival, Monday to Friday from 08.00 to 18.00. Thursday from 08.00 to 20.00. Contact the City within 5 days of arrival to schedule an appointment. Call the City of Amsterdam’s information line 14 020. Monday to Friday from 08.00 to 18.00.  (From abroad: +31 20 624 1111)

What you need to bring to the municipality:

  • A valid proof of identity: a passport or an ID card (not a driver’s licence).
  • Proof of an Amsterdam address. For example the rental contract, or an Address registration permission form (PDF) signed by the main occupant and a copy of his or her proof of identity.
  • Proof that you are a student at a Dutch school or university: a student card (studentenkaart) or proof of registration (bewijs van inschrijving).

Depending on your housing situation, you need to bring:

  • If you own your own house: the proof of purchase (koopcontract).
  • If you rent your home: the rental contract (huurcontract), or an Address registration permission form (PDF) signed by the main occupant and a copy of his or her proof of identity, such as a passport or an ID card.
  • If you live in an institution, for example a nursing home: an Address registration permission form (PDF; in Dutch) signed by the institution.
  • If you do not have a home address, for a postal address (briefadres): an Address registration permission form (in Dutch) signed by the main occupant and a copy of his or her proof of identity, such as a passport or an ID card. A postal address enables you to temporarily receive mail at the address of someone you know.
  • If you do not have a European nationality: proof that the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has approved your stay.

For more information about supplies and services in Amsterdam and other opportunities in this beautiful city, check out the following website.


Student housing in the Netherlands is scarce. In Amsterdam, it sometimes takes years before you find a room. That’s why it’s important to arrange housing as soon as possible.

Renting a house in Amsterdam can be quite a challenge. That is why RentSlam has built a tool where you can easily and quickly find a rental home, apartment or studio in Amsterdam. They scan more than 400 sites every 10 minutes, so you never have to wait long to respond. VSPA members get 20% off RentSlam membership with the code VSPA20. No broker is involved, so no commission or brokerage costs. If you want to find a new home in Amsterdam, check out their website.
Join RentSlam and you will get:
  • More rentals than any other service
    in addition to the best-known websites, we use many less-familiar ones that often have great rental listings that you would otherwise never find.
  • Fastest service available
    we actively monitor 300+ sources every minute, which is virtually impossible for anyone to do, so you have a clear advantage by responding before everyone else can.
  • Superb customer service
    we will answer all your questions personally. You can e-mail or call us for help and advice at any time.

Why is their service not free?
In RentSlam’s words; if we could, we would make RentSlam free for everyone to use. However:

  1. We work very hard to make the service work so well, and the tools we use to get those great rentals to you so fast, cost money.
  2. On top, we also have the strange habit of needing food and shelter ourselves, so we can continue to give you this great service.
  3. Also, if it were free, everyone would use RentSlam and your competitive advantage would be much smaller. So it is in your best interest that we charge a small fee.

I want to use RentSlam, but I don’t want to pay for it.
If you are truly against paying for online services, but you have another way you can contribute, please contact us and let us know what you can do in exchange for a free RentSlam account (please don’t send us indecent proposals).

In the end, if you don’t end up finding a place through RentSlam they are also always willing to give you a refund as they are a super student-budget friendly company!