What’s going for it? Yes, Rotterdam. Were you expecting somewhere hot? Perhaps more glam, more city break, less drizzly. Some kool neighbourhood in Lisbon or Helsinki.
Hear me out. I’m being practical. You might dream of relocating somewhere more superficially romantic, but Rotterdam is affordable (for northern Europe), prosperous, progressive and fantastically well-connected. The Dutch speak English better than me. The Netherlands consistently scores high in happiness and progressiveness indices. Rotterdam is big, alive, city-ish, but the big skies of the vast harbour and copious parks make it breathable. And for those still in mourning, Rotterdam is gloriously EUropean. It’s even hosting thein May. It feels possible to move to Rotterdam, have a nice life and not lose touch with family and friends, while not being a slave to low-budget airlines. It’s also cool, with a vast music and design scene, and an under-the-radar swagger. And don’t get me going about the bitterballen.
The case against Heavy leaden skies, and Dutch mist (drizzle) that gets into your bones. Those who like beauty of a more conventional ilk might find it challenging.
Well connected? It’s the Netherlands, so, bikes, yeah? Also: a fully integrated, affordable and generally brilliant (by UK standards) public transport system (trams, metro, trains, buses) make everywhere in the city more or less reachable. Trains: to The Hague (18 mins), Amsterdam (38 mins), with a change to London (quickest 4hrs), with three direct ones back (3hrs 13mins).
Schools Teaching is in Dutch, of course, though the government’s tweetalig onderwijs policy of introducing bilingual schools into mainstream education is developing, with one primary () and one secondary ( ) in Rotterdam. Not free, but cheaper than the other option – international schools such as or .
Hang out at… The fish counters in Markthal, for raw herring and a beer perched on a stool. Or try it cooked at the romantic harbourside brasserie, Hotel New York. Great Indonesian and Surinamese places, too. Fenix Food Factory for the foodies.
Where to live Rotterdam has a very fine heritage of quality modernist (largely social) housing in very good nick by UK standards. Old bits remain, too, in the Maritime Quarter, say, or Delfshaven, or east in Kralingen. Plenty of “regeneration” around the vast harbour, centred on Rijnhaven and Sint-Jobshaven. Sales: one room, €120,000-€350,000. Two rooms, €120,000-€475,000. Three rooms, €125,000-€825,000. Four rooms, €140,000-€1.6m. Five+ rooms, €180,000-€3.5m. Rentals: one room, €700-€1,600pcm. Two rooms, €700-€2,700pcm. Three rooms, €750-€3,200pcm. Four rooms, €800-€3,500pcm. Five+ rooms, €1,000-€4,000pcm.
Bargain of the week This is what I’m talking about: roomy three-bedroom 1930s apartment close to the centre and the harbour, €175,000, with the brilliant.
From the streets
Wouter Vanstiphout ‘Rotterdam West, a 19th-century workers district: amazingly diverse. Art, architecture, film and poetry are a real force.’
Chantal Schoenmakers ‘: all ingredients are foraged from around the city.’