How Much I Spent Living in Amsterdam This Autumn

As Christmas music plays in the background and mist descends over the boat-lined canal in front of my window, I think it’s a good time to do a tally of my autumn (and part of winter) spending. Each month passes by so quickly that a monthly expense report has been much more difficult to do, so I will do a report in bulk, just like I did for the summer.

Related: How Much I Spent Living in Amsterdam This Summer. 

I have four months of expenses to catch up on, from September through December. Then I’ll be able to figure out how much I spent in all of 2021 for a future post. I’m extremely interested in finding out this number given my attempts to spend more and moving somewhere that is much more expensive. It will likely affect my overall FIRE plans, so it will be a good year to do some more planning around that.

Anyway, I’m eager to look back at the last few months to see how my anti-frugality experiment affected my numbers! Here’s a speedy review of the last four months of the year, complete with lots of pictures.

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, which means I receive a commission if you click through to these sites, at no extra cost to you.

September – The Wedding

In September I flew home to go to a friend’s wedding in the gorgeous Colorado town of Buena Vista. I took the opportunity while I was home to stock up on Trader Joe’s goodies, see my folks, and cheer on my friend as she walked down the aisle.

September Expenses

Note: This is the spending for just me. I report expenses when I pay them, so you may not see insurance or other bills until the month that I pay them. 

ItemEuroDollarMechanic Musings
Rent€1,675$1,893 
Shopping€175$198Dutch water bottle, slippers, flowers
Takeaway€98$111I split out takeaway from the restaurant bill because I was curious how much I was eating out vs. in. Looks like it’s majority ordering takeaway this month!
Gas & Electric€98$111 
Groceries€96$108 
Massage€80$90 
Restaurant€69$78 
Uber€47 $53 
Driver License Fee €39 $44Health declaration form in order to apply for a Dutch driver’s license
Internet€35$40 
Gym€33$37 
Cellphone€21$247GB + 150 min/text + International calls and texts to 44 countries + 75 Mbps
Water bill€15$17 
Passport photos€14$16For my driver’s license
Entertainment€10$11Tickets to IJ-Hallen, an outdoor market
Bank fee€3$3 
Total€2,508$2,833 

In September, I also received news that one of my articles won All Star Money‘s article of the month award! So they sent a bobblehead of me, that was pretty cool.

October – Jam-Packed Adventures and A Sad Farewell

The Netherlands removed restrictions in October which was convenient as I had a couple of friends visiting from the states. This meant museum visits, a comedy show, and visiting more cities. 

Amersfoort

Tile Painting in Delft

a tile painted in black
Painting a tile in Delft. The example is on the left, the tile is my attempt. The black turns blue in processing!

Den Haag / Scheveningen

Visited the famous Madurodam, hit the windy beach, and did a jenever (A dutch liquor) tasting at the famous Van Kleef distillery.

Leiden

On the way to Delft, made a quick pit stop to visit the beautiful city of Leiden.

October Expenses

ItemEuroDollarMechanic Musings
Rent€1,675$1,893 
Restaurants€145$164 
New Bike€100$113I bought a second bike because the first I got was just a tad too tall for me. Eventually I sold the first bike (I’m getting better at this), which I bought for €50 when I first got here, for €210.
Gas & Electric€98$111 
Groceries€8$9I triple checked this number, but it looks like I somehow didn’t do any grocery shopping in October? I think this was due to spending a lot of time away from home. In addition to the trips above, I also took a work-related trip to Brussels, so I wasn’t home much. For the times I was home, takeaway food must have stretched.
Health & Beauty€32$36 
Travel€50$57Train and bus tickets
Internet€35$40 
Gym€33$37 
Entertainment€36$41Went to see a film! Bought a book as well.
Cellphone€21$24 
Water bill€15$17 
Bank fee€3$3 
Total€2,250$2,543Seems like a relatively average month!

Some Sad News At The End of October

On the very last day of the adventures, I received a call that a cat sitter visiting the house saw MechaniCat fall over and stop breathing. They took him to an emergency vet, but it was confirmed that he had died suddenly, likely of a heart condition. He was only two years old, so this news was a shock and heartbreaking. I don’t think I will be getting a new cat for a while, and have opened my home to cat sitting and fostering, but I really miss MechaniCat’s morning chirps when the coffee was ready (he knew he’d get a dab of cream) and afternoons reading on the couch.

I miss this sweet boy.

With that end of the month, November ushered in mourning as the leaves started turning, reminding me that everything has its season.

November – Colours of Amsterdam

Amsterdam in November was all orange and golds and pinks. I got to see friends from the states, friends from Spain, and family for Thanksgiving. 

canal lined with boats and tower at the end with fall colours
On my way to trade in my U.S. Driver’s License for a Dutch one, I had to stop to take this photo on the way
Canal in Utrecht with buildings and shimmering night lights
I stayed in Utrecht to take care of my friend’s cat
sunset over amsterdam houses and bustling market
The Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam

November Expenses

ItemEuroDollarMechanic Musings
Rent€1,700$1,921Rent went up for the year. The housing market in Amsterdam is booming, and many people are having trouble finding a place to live. I’m happy with my place so I signed a contract for another year.
Restaurants€170$192One meal was a €107 adventure to a really fancy restaurant downtown, and I picked up the bill for the table. Given that single large expense, I’m impressed the total isn’t higher.
Groceries€127$143Making up for October’s low grocery cost, I went multiple times in the beginning of the month and also spent a decent amount on Thanksgiving supplies.
Gas & Electric€98$111 
Shopping€75$85Aroma diffuser and Christmas decorations for the tree
Travel€50$57I took a bus through Belgium and saw some really cool sites from the front seat like this one:

Health & Beauty€31$35Vitamin D and C
Internet€35$40 
Gym€33$37Started doing lots of hot yoga as the weather gets colder.
Flowers€22$25 
Cellphone€21$24 
Water bill€15$17 
Entertainment€5$6Bought a movie through Apple+, though it ended up not having English subtitles, whoops.
Bank Fee€3$3 
Total€2,386$2,696 

December – The Month of The Lights

I loved December in The Netherlands. The streets are lit cozily, and there are Christmas markets to see. Admittedly, it was a bit trickier because COVID-19 resurged and lots of things started shutting down again. My folks managed to make it over for Sinterklaas (a Dutch Christmas, where Sinterklaas brings gifts for the children when they leave their shoes by the door). We took a short trip to Maastricht to go to the famous Christmas market there and they all got to try poffertjes, mini Dutch pancakes, for the first time. It was really fun to introduce my family to some Dutch traditions, and then when I got home I found another Dutch Sinterklaas treat on my doorway, a chocolate letter!

My neighbors left me this Sinterklaas surprise!

There were also several events like the Amsterdam Lights Festival, skating around the rink at the Rijksmuseum, and stands selling Glühwein (mulled wine). 

lit up trees with the rijksmuseum
Amsterdam lights up at night in December.

December Expenses

ItemEuroDollarMechanic Musings
Rent€1,700$1,921 
Gifts€369$417I went big on gifts this year. Since it was just going to be me and my sister, I felt like it was our opportunity to make the holiday our own. Usually we go to a large gathering with family, friends, and a chaotic white elephant gift trade-off, but with COVID and living abroad our holiday was much smaller. I made sure to get the tree, decorate it with lights, pick up stockings (I got fluffy socks we could reuse), and fill them with little gifts. 

In previous years I would hand-make gifts, but since shipping and import costs are so high, this year I went with buying something local to the person and shipping their gift to them. And even though I bought presents for fewer people, I bought higher quality gifts.

Groceries€280$316 
Restaurants€223$252My sister stayed for the holidays and we ordered in a lot, and ate lots of the Dutch treat Oliebollen.

Oliebollen are sort of like a donut covered in sugar
Shopping€123$140I tried out Scrivener, a software for writing, and decided I enjoyed it enough to pay for a year’s subscription. I also bought Bombas socks for myself which are the best socks I’ve ever owned. If you’re interested in trying them, you can buy them using this link and get 25% off.

Gas & Electric€98$111 
Travel€60$68 
Flowers€51$58 
Internet€35$40 
Gym€33$37 
Health & Beauty€29$33 
Cellphone€21$24 
Water bill€15$17 
Cat supplies€15$17In December I started fostering two kittens, I pay for their food and litter and other supplies. Most of this is in the grocery category this month, but this was a separate expense for nail clippers and a toy.

Entertainment€4$5 
Bank Fee€3$3 
Total€3,061$3,459Wow! This was a pricey month. I didn’t hold back with gifts and food this month, and it showed in my spending.

Autumn in Amsterdam Reflections

As we crest into the New Year, it’s nice to look back at the last four months and see how much happened. I feel like time is flying by, and it’s evidenced by the fact that I somehow missed four expense reports in a row. Next year I hope to get back on track with these. 

On average, I spent 2.551, or $2,883 per month. I notice a definite spike in food costs recently, and think that in the new year I might go back to cooking more frequently. Ordering in is nice, but it should be more of a treat than a go-to option.

I also have my fingers crossed that next year there will be more opportunities to travel. I cancelled my trip to Berlin and have mostly been travelling inter-country due to the pandemic. That’s just how things are, but I still hope that soon I will be able to take advantage of the fact that I live in a major European hub for travel. 

However, I don’t think this will change my overall spending much as most of my money is going towards high housing costs. Moving out of the city would be the fastest way to cut costs in the future. For now, I accept that higher spending is potentially a new normal

What about you?

What are your money goals in 2022?

How do you manage gift spending?

I think my food costs are ridiculously high– do you agree?

Share in the comments below!

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6 Comments

  1. So sorry to hear about MechaniCat. Losing a pet is one of the worst tragedies, sending much love your way. I remember reading about when you were first fostering him and knew he was going to be a foster fail haha.

    I missed your monthly expense reports so I was excited to see this post!

    1. Thanks for letting me know you like them! Always good to know what people enjoy. It’s funny reading the first post where I said, “We are not going to foster fail!” and well… we know how that went.

  2. I also enjoy the expense reports! I don’t think your grocery bill is shockingly high. So sorry to hear about MechaniCat.

  3. Amsterdam looks so beautiful – the view down the canal with the autumn leaves and the Christmas lights are glorious.

    I’m so, so sorry to hear about MechaniCat. Pets are family and losing one is like losing a child. 🙁

    1. It’s such a gorgeous city, I can’t believe I live here sometimes. Thanks for the condolences, I was surprised by how hard it was.

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