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Amsterdam Best Town To Live In Despite Top Crime Rate

In terms of crime, Amsterdam is the most dangerous city in the Netherlands. Nonetheless, the capital remains the most attractive city in Holland to live in, according to the 15th edition of the Atlas for Municipalities.1

Each year the Foundation Atlas for Municipalities compares the country’s 50 largest municipalities on 50 indicators, such as crime figures, poverty, cultural offerings, infrastructure and accessibility.
Kromme Waal, Amsterdam

In its 2013 edition (the 2014 edition is due in early June), Amsterdam tops the ‘Most Attractive’ list in spite of negative points in such areas as poverty, the percentage of residents on welfare, and safety.

In fact, according to the annual Crime Meter2 published in May, 2013 by Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, Amsterdam is the country’s least safe city.

The paper attributed this assessment mainly to the large number of burglars and pickpockets operating in the city — and it says tourism is partly to blame because the presence of tourists brings an increase in pickpocketing and nightlife-related violence.

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In the paper’s 2014 edition of the Crime Meter, published April 12, Amsterdam again is the least safe place in the Netherlands. This time that’s because — going against a nationwide trend — Amsterdam saw an increase in burglaries and robberies.

The figures, from 2013, show that burglaries of private residences rose by 10 per cent compared to the year before. The number of Robberies rose by 19 per cent.

Pickpocketing saw a sharp increase, with nearly 25 per cent more people reporting a loss to police — 10.833 incidents (and that is not counting the many people who simply do not report their loss).

What makes Amsterdam so desirable?

But what makes Amsterdam so desirable to live in?

According to the Atlas, the combination of an interesting city center, extensive cultural and culinary offerings, and the steady supply of work opportunities contributes to the city’s popularity.

In previous years Amsterdam also ranked at the top of the list, despite its relative inaccessibility at the time — with many street re-construction projects as well as the building work surround the new metro line playing havoc with traffic.

But here is where this year the city made great strides.

In the Atlas’ Top Ten of cities that made the greatest improvement in accessibility, Amsterdam takes second place, just after Amstelveen — a municipality in the city’s metropolitan area.


In 2012 Amsterdam ranked fourth in a list of European capitals with the highest per capita number of murders and other unnatural deaths, according to report by Eurostat, the statistics service of the European Union.

getting a traffic  ticket in Amsterdam

Man argues with Amsterdam police officer over a traffic ticket. The horse more interested than the cop.

But according to Eurostat, it counted as homicide not just death by violent crime, but also death as the result of dangerous driving, abortion and help with suicide.3

It addition, over the past decade or so many homicides took place in the criminal circuit — with criminals killing other criminals in turf wars or acts of revenge.

Overall, Amsterdam is relatively safe, even for women traveling together or alone.

Worldwide: 11th Most Livable City

In the 2014 version of its annual Quality of Living survey, Mercer Consulting ranked Amsterdam at number 11 — one position higher than in 2013.

The step up is due to improvements in the city’s infrastructure, as well as its cultural offerings (what with top destinations such as the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum re-opening after years of remodeling).

Mercer’s analysis is based on an evaluation of 39 quality-of-living criteria for each of 460 cities worldwide — including such indicators as political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and other public services.


  1. Dutch: Atlas voor Gemeenten
  2. Dutch: Misdaadmeter
  3. Eurostat says, “Homicide is a type of violent crime, and is defined as the intentional killing of a person, including murder, manslaughter, euthanasia and infanticide. It excludes death by dangerous driving, abortion and help with suicide.”
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This post was last updated: Dec. 14, 2014    

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