Living in Haarlem

Haarlem is a beautiful old city, close to the beach, and only 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station. It's increasingly popular by Amsterdam locals as it is ideally located and offers a quality of life some prefer above the city buzz of Amsterdam.
Within the greater Haarlem area are included the neighbourhoods of Bloemendaal (beach), Aerdenhout, Bentveld, Heemstede, Overveen, Santpoort, and Zandvoort (the beach). The population count increases to about 215,000 in this area. When you’ve lived in large cities like London or Frankfurt one would consider Haarlem to be merely a suburb of Amsterdam but that would be unfair as it has its own vibe. A pleasant one.

Beautiful and vibrant old city

Haarlem, as the historical centre of the tulip bulb growing district, is also known as the Bloemenstad, translated as flower city.  The Spaarne River winds its way through the city, which was once a port town exporting local chocolate, beer, linen and silk. The famous “pub-in-church” Jopenkerk refers to this era.

For the past 700 years, weekly markets have been held in the Grote Markt, in the foregrounds of the impressive cathedral, the Grote Kerk.  Ten streets converge onto this central market place, and each street is worth wandering along just to look at the beautiful facades – often a mix of local homes, quaint shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. The Grote Markt hosts an assortment of music concerts and fairs throughout the year, and on any day is just a great place to relax over a drink and watch the world go by.


On a sunny day, cycling the 20 minutes to the beach at Zandvoort or Bloemendaal aan Zee is popular. Walking, running and cycling in the dunes and local parklands are yearlong favourites. Haarlem hosts many sporting clubs with something for everyone including climbing walls, cricket, outside swimming pools and honkball. Both hockey and football fans are well catered for, with numerous clubs located within the area. 

Arts and culture

For art and culture lovers, the Teylers museum is one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands with art, science and natural history exhibitions. Painting by the Dutch masters can be found at the Frans Hals museum, with more modern work located in De Hallen. Definitely worth a visit is Het Dolhuys – a museum for psychiatry, close to Central Station. Haarlem also hosts many music events including the annual Haarlem Jazzstad (jazz music festival), Haarlemhoutfestival (music and theatre) and Bevrijdingspop (May 5).

Getting around

Haarlem is relatively small for a Dutch city and is easy to navigate on foot or bicycle. To access the surrounding areas there are regular Connexxion bus services (line 300-346). Similarly taking the bus to Schipol and Amsterdam is generally faster and cheaper than going by car. The train service to Amsterdam leaves around every 10 minutes and will get you there in 15 minutes. There is a direct train service to Den Haag, Rotterdam, Leiden and Dordrecht. Local trains to Bloemendaal, Zandvoort, Heemstede-Aerdenhout leave regularly.

Where to live in and around Haarlem

Haarlem offers varied accommodation and is more costly in the city centre. Living in the old city centre is popular, although houses tend to be smaller and less viable for families. Popular areas for families due to space and location of schools include Kleverparkbuurt, Leidsebuurt, Garenkokerskwartier, Bosch en Vaart, Bomenbuurt and Koninginnebuurt. The surrounding towns of Bloemendaal, Heemstede and Aerdenhout are also popular, although usually more pricey choices.

Haarlem facts and links

  • Population: 151.841, including 25.7 percent from foreign extraction
  • International Schools: No, but most secondary schools offer an english curriculum
  • English speaking group for children and adult social activities, information, and support:
  • Local Council Information:

RelocateMe HQ

Located alongside the central station at a spot convenient to travellers you will find our main office. You can meet with your field consultant, signing sessions are planned here aswell as Club Relocate activities.