How Much I Spent Living in Amsterdam This Summer

woman posed on dutch bike in amsterdam

Summer appears to be rocketing by at light speed. Here in Amsterdam we had a mild summer, with a few nice weeks of sun but still a lot of rain. I packed July and August full of activities, including a vacation to Croatia, Pride Week, dog and cat sitting, kayaking the canals, hosting guests at my apartment, hitting up local museums, and of course holding down a full-time job during the day. With all of those activities in mind, I’m very curious what my spending total is for the summer.

woman posed on dutch bike in amsterdam
Photo of me by Jessica @ A Wanderlust For Life

July: Time To Go On Holiday

One perk of living in Europe is that there are tons of really interesting places to go on holiday. My parents decided to fly over to visit family, but with restrictions in place it ended up being easier to all meet in Croatia. Vacations with my family tend to be more on the “adventure” side, including booking hostels and Airbnbs last minute, mapping the route after already arriving in the country, and in our case spending just 1-2 days in each city in order to see as much as possible. This meant we got to see a lot in a short period of time, and though one picture for each place can barely do it justice, here is my attempt:

Dubrovnik

Korçula

Hvar

Split

Plitvice Lakes National Park

I’m a Bad Influence

My new “Want It? Buy It.” stage of financial comfort this summer has been influencing my entire family. Luckily my parents have their retirement figured out, but they have been frugal for so long it’s embedded in their nature. They visited a financial planner before the trip, who told my mom she could “have a gelato every day” as an understatement for their ability to have a comfortable vacation. They took it one step further and this vacation we spent in private Airbnbs, rather than the usual hostels (yes, our family of four has stayed in our fair share of hostels while travelling).

My parents said it was the most expensive trip they’ve ever taken, but it meant that we each got to order our own entrees off of the menu, a first for us. Of course, this type of spending is only healthy if you can afford to ‘let loose’ once in a while. Even if our letting loose is simply ordering one dish per person. 

four entrees on a table with pizza and grilled squid
Photographic proof that we each got our own entree, even though my dad still stole some grilled squid from my plate

Pride Week In Amsterdam

I wasn’t sure if Pride Week would happen, as it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. However, with high vaccination rates and Amsterdam’s seemingly lax attitude about the virus (mask rate low, but at least vaccination rates are high), Pride Week went ahead as scheduled. I found a Facebook Group of female expats and attended scheduled events all week, from a picnic, to drinks, to a local drag show, to a rooftop cinema viewing sponsored by the Queer & Migrant film festival, and finally culminating in the famous Pride Walk.

Expense Reports for July and August

I’ve been slacking on posting my expense reports every month, so I’m publishing two here, which will cover my summer spending. There are a couple of changes from previous expense reports. One is that my previous partner is now covering therapy expenses, so you will no longer be seeing that line item. Also, you won’t see expenses that I paid for in lump sums to get a discount, except in the month that I paid them. So for example you don’t see healthcare in my summer expenses because I paid the bill up front.

Note: These are expenses for just me

July

ItemEuroDollarMechanic Musings
Rent€ 1,675$ 1,977I absolutely love my apartment, so even though it’s insanely expensive, I plan on renewing my lease for the next 6 months.

A view of my lovely abode, with the view scribbled out for privacy reasons 🙂
Gas & Electric€ 98$ 116 
Restaurants€ 135$ 159 
Takeaway€ 76$ 90 
Drugstore and shopping€ 216$ 255Allergy medicines, magnesium oil, and other random things from the drugstore. Also includes weekly flowers.
Groceries€ 149$ 176My grocery bill feels massive given that I’m also eating out a lot.
Housekeeping€ 45$ 53My landlord had a regular housekeeper come to clean, but she’s been away for the first 6 months. I decided to give it a try when she came back, she did an amazing job and I may be hooked.
Gift€ 34$ 40Brought some Gouda for my parents to try.
Travel€ 12$ 14Trains and buses.
Water bill€ 28$ 33 
Internet€ 35$ 41 
Gym€ 32$ 38 
Cellphone€ 21$ 257GB + 150 min/text + International calls and texts to 44 countries + 75 Mbps
Total€2,556$3,016My spending is still about double what I used to spend in the US. Not to mention that 2 weeks in Croatia was covered by my parents (very grateful for this!). I’m still saving a little less than half of my pay check.

My food spending is astronomical, especially considering that I was out of town for 2 weeks in Croatia during this time. I should probably do some more meal planning and try to bring this number down.

August

I spent the month of August all in Amsterdam.

ItemEuroDollarMechanic Musings
Rent€1,675$1,977 
Airfare€693$818I booked a trip home to the U.S. for a friend’s wedding.
Gas & Electric   
Restaurants€461$544I set a record for eating out expenses. €100 can be attributed to one very fancy outing to a wine bar. I’ve also been picking up the bill whenever I’m out with friends. Maybe it’s about time to go back to splitting, but I had great times this month at a variety of restaurants all over the city. Most of my “entertainment” spending is simply eating. That includes activities like going to two museums (entry free with my Museumkaart) and grabbing meals with my friends afterwards.

White sangria and Korean BBQ chicken sandwich with Jessica
Takeaway€49$58 
Shopping€147$173Weekly flowers, new clothes.
Hair & Beauty€112$132Got my hair touched up and picked up some supplies at the drugstore.
Groceries€208$245 
Gift€43$51Wedding present.
Travel€41$48 I took a trip to Utrecht and one to Gouda!
Water bill€30$35 
Internet€35$41 
Gym€32$38On top of my gym membership I paid 4 euros for climbing shoes to go bouldering.
Phone holder for bike€22$26This is a must-have, my bike trips are 100x faster now that I can see the directions from my handlebars instead of pulling over every time I’m unsure.
Kayaking€20$24Went kayaking with Jessica from A Wanderlust For Life, an American travel blogger living in Amsterdam.

Cellphone€21$25 
Entertainment€14$16Cost for movie night on the rooftop.
Bank fee€3$4It costs money in the Netherlands to have a bank account. I could avoid this fee but then I wouldn’t be able to use Tikkie, the well-known app for splitting bills.
Total€3,704$4,370I admit to grimacing a bit at this total. It’s a bit much for just one person who is used to spending less than $2,000 a month. Luckily, there are some obvious areas where I can cut back. 

Reflections on Summer Spending

A few months ago, I estimated how much my monthly costs would be in my post Budgeting for a Massive Life Change– I’m Moving to Amsterdam! I took a peek at the post to compare my actual spending to my estimated numbers:

 

I hit the mark in July at €2,556, but in August with €3,704, I went a bit over the €2,969 guesstimate by €735. I attribute this to high restaurant spending and of course an expensive flight back to the U.S. Not to mention the fact that my parents paid for our trip to Croatia (except for the flight), which made July expenses look lower than they could have been. However, in general my guess at budgeting seems pretty accurate so far.

More to the point, I had an absolute blast this summer. I never had a dull moment, I made several new friends, spent quality time with my family, explored a new country, and continued to treat myself well. When I look at my spending from that perspective, none of it went to waste. 

Appeltaart with whipped cream when my best friend from kindergarten came to visit me in the city.

What about you?

How were your summer expenses?

Have you ever had a phase of life where your spending went way up?

How do you keep your food costs low?

Share in the comments below!

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Jessica
2 months ago

Sounds like an amazing summer! You deserve to let loose sometimes!!

Gov Worker
2 months ago

Hey Mechanic! I’m glad you’re having such a fun summer and treating yourself. You deserve it! I’m glad you were able to talk your parents into spending more too. Spending more something I’m always telling my parents to do too! Perhaps we had similar family discussions around money. (My sister, parents and I often slept in our sedan on vacation at rest-stops off the interstate)

Josh
2 months ago

My summer expenses have been lower than I expected, which I guess makes sense in my rural Indiana hometown but I also spent 3 weeks road-tripping. I had more gas expenses than hotel costs because of points and helpful friends who let me crash with them!
And my favorite budget stat from August was that giving/charity was my highest line item. More than my mortgage!

Josh
2 months ago

It was definitely something I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to do, since I have 0 income these days.

David @ Filled With Money

What’s great is your “guilty over the top expense” month is people’s “normal spending month” in the United States haha. No shame or guilt whatsoever.

I’m still awed at the $25/month cell phone bill. And very jealous that you can get comfortable with COVID even as cases are rising so rapidly.

I’m trying very hard to change my mindset to be more comfortable and while I do go out and do stuff, it’s not as much as I would like. I wish that I can get comfortable soon because well… I feel so trapped and cooped up. Like someone or something else legally controls me :/ I passionately dislike it.

David @ Filled With Money

I’ve tried MintMobile, yeah. That’s a great point, I haven’t thought to use it again though!

I do follow a budget. I do have a F it fund as well but it’s been such a long time since I tapped into it in any meaningful manner on a consistent basis. I think I spent like $200/month over the past year and a half, when I budget much more than that.

I wanna go out and do more stuff!

Fixitlady
2 months ago

HiFM! Interesting how your anticipated costs of living abroad measure up to reality. It seems that rent is the main item that turned out much more than you thought. Was that first estimate wishful thinking or did you decide to sp!urge once you got there?

I keep my food costs low by ordering food extra spicy. Then I “expand” it. For Indian food that would mean adding plain yogurt to a curry dish. Or adding coconut milk to Thai food. I hope that doesnt sound too crazy or extreme. It is not so much about saving money as much as making yummy food last lomger!

MamaMinou
MamaMinou
2 months ago

Hi FM!
First, let me say that I really enjoy your blog, honesty, and writing style. Second, I have harbored a dream for a while of a long term stay in the Netherlands (I have good friends who moved to Delft, and love it…as did I when visiting). Could I ask if you had to change anything with your US investments when moving overseas? Also, I always look forward to your updates. Thank you for writing !

Grace
Grace
2 months ago

I’m moving to Amsterdam too! Well, that’s the plan. I hope I can also track my expenses! Is there a facebook group for Personal Finance bloggers?