I have lived in 6 different countries over 40 years, but when I arrived in Amsterdam I decided this was the place for me to stay. Why do I love it so much?

First, Amsterdam is not a city, it is a global village. It is a European hub where you can get 380 direct connection flights across the globe: you feel in the center of the world, but you can still bike from one corner to the other within a half hour. It is internationally wired and still amazingly small, cozy and connected.  Secondly, its culture has always been, and still is, incredibly open to the world, not only geographically, but also mentally. You can be, love, do what you want, as long as it is respectful of others. It makes me feel free. Responsibly free. And empowered because here women and men share the same responsibilities and pleasures of both family and professional life.

The Netherlands is a country where the openness to new things, to experiment and try without fear of failure is combined with extreme personal accountability. It is a very efficient and productive country, where many multinationals such as Philips, ING, Heineken and more have been born and still succeed. Companies here are respectful of individual identities, enjoyment and life. They also offer flexible employment ranging from working five days a week to one day.  People are rewarded according to merit; personal work/life balance is respected and protected. Management is not done by hierarchy and results are measured on performance, not on working hours. Managers do not sit in a large corner office, but at an unassigned shared desk in the middle of his or her team.

For the last 10 years, personal mobile devices enabled people to work remotely. The local culture allows me to freely choose where, how and when to work. This means that in the past few years co-working spaces have grown tremendously. My favorite one, Spaces, offers a real community and a variety of spaces ranging from formal to informal, personal or collaborative. Droog design, a world famous design hub, turned its traditional store into a community space where people can meet, eat, share, discuss and even sleep in its “one-room bedroom hotel”.  Starbucks turned its business from a place to get a good coffee into a warm third place where people can gather, work, and think. Thanks to the airport hub, Amsterdam business hotels are transforming their core business from places to sleep into places to have effective meetings. Companies sensibly reduce square meters dedicated to assigned desks and instead develop social and collaborative areas, encouraging employees to work from co-working spaces or shared business environments, or home.

That's why I love Amsterdam. Of course, it is not perfect, but it enables me to live at the intersection of work and life in a non-stressful way. To enjoy the tensions of being connected 24/7 instead of feeling exhausted by it. It is a place where I feel encouraged to become who I really am and have the power to choose where and how to work.

To me this is priceless. For the rest… I fly to Italy when it rains too hard.

droog in Amsterdam

A co-working space in Amsterdam

A co-working space in Amsterdam

A co-working space in Amsterdam