Paul’s Family

Paul, Jeanette and Krisje.

“We’ve been living here for about 15 years, right in the epicentre, between the Bananenbar and Moulin Rouge.

Our home is small but cosy, and we really love it. We have good relations with everyone who lives and works here. Our daughter Krisje has got to know lots of the ladies, and she’s friends with all of them. Unfortunately it’s too busy, so at the most hectic times on Friday and Saturday the emergency services cannot get here quickly. What’s more, some people are rude to the ladies.”


Steven van Couwelaar

I’m called Steven van Couwelaar and I ended up here 40 years ago.

“I was a squatter. In the late 1970s me and a group of friends occupied a printing works in the Red Light District that had been empty for about three years. In 1986 the City Council bought the property and refurbished it. I’ve been a tenant since then, with a great deal of pleasure. I’ll never leave. I’ve seen the neighbourhood change from rough and adventurous to touristy and busy. It’s better like this, because there used to be far too much drug dealing and drug use. Fortunately those days belong to the past.”


Melchior and  Quinten 

Quinten: “My brother and I live here with our dad. I really like the ‘happening’ buzz, and by 2 in the morning when I’m ready to sleep it is quiet outside. If I do hear something like a car window being smashed I go over to see what I can do. One time I saw a man being fished from a canal, he staggered off soaking wet. It was winter. I followed him and alerted the police. He might have frozen to death otherwise. Things happen but I feel very safe. The only thing I worry about are the crowds, if a sudden bang would make people panic it could end badly.”

Melchior: “I love this area. It’s the oldest part of the city. People take Instagram photos on our pretty stairs, for example a Chinese bride and groom, or people sit here eating fries. When we leave the house they say: oh sorry, do you live here? My brother is always doing hero deeds, he sees things I don’t even notice. I feel very safe. One time someone fell and broke Quinten’s door and immediately our neighbour was here to help. Overall it’s a real residential area with families and everything.”


Remco Zut 

“My adolescent daughter and I live in an alley in this fantastic old city. I have been living here for more than 27 years and I’ll probably never leave! We love the little ‘village’ we live in. Everything is nearby and there’s a committed community.

Until the nineties this neighbourhood had drug addicts and taxi riots in the streets. Nowadays we have a different type of junkie: tourists who behave like loose cannons. The former junkies behaved better! 

But maybe you can get used to it. In the heart of the city people almost fall into the canals, that’s how busy it is. That is a pity for the tourists. I don’t know if the ‘We Live Here’ posters really help, but at least it is a fun project.”


David Klein 

Has lived in the Red Light District for 29 years.

“Unfortunately they’re renovating my 18th-century house, so I’ve been forced to live somewhere else temporarily. I can’t wait to get back. I think it’s great in the Red Light District. I love the liveliness, the commotion. And I have no problems with the tourism whatsoever. And most importantly, I feel totally safe here. People help each other here. So if it’s up to me, then I’ll stay here until I die.”


Robert Gans 

Has lived here since 2007.

“I moved from a flat overlooking the greenery of the Sloterplas lake in the west of Amsterdam to the city centre 11 years ago. I’ve always thought it was wonderful to live here, but to be honest it has become markedly busier in recent years. That has dampened the pleasure of living here considerably. The spot itself is unique, as is the building. This property has 24 units and the atmosphere among the residents is excellent: we’re like a commune.”


Yung Carmiggelt

‘Forty years ago no one wanted to live here because of the junkies walking around the neighbourhood. Since then much work has been done, the Red Light District is a lot cleaner. On the other hand tourists make my neighbourhood a lot more crowded. I really hate the boisterous shouting and laughing of drunk visitors. It keeps getting worse.

But I’m not going to move. I’ve got everything I need close to me. The tram is just around the corner and the central station is only a 5 minute walk away. And I like that the Red Light District feel like a small village where the neighbours know each other. I’m never going to give it all up for a home elsewhere, because I won’t feel as save there as I do now.


Omar Emilio & Sanne 

Omar has lived here since he was born; I’ve lived here since 2011.

“We have the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful spots in one of the most beautiful cities in the world! And despite how busy it is outside it’s a fine neighbourhood where everyone knows each other. Once you’ve climbed all nine flights of stairs you end up on our little island, high above everything. We have a panoramic view, of Nam Kee restaurant, the historic Waag weighhouse, the Chinese Temple and Central Station.”


Norinda & Paul 

“We are Paul and Norinda and live together with our cats. We’ve been living together in the Bethaniëndwarsstraat, where Paul has lived for more than 30 years, for more than 25 years.

We’ve become completely integrated into the neighbourhood and feel at home here. That’s why we’re happy to apply ourselves to the liveability in the area. We are really proud of our house, which has a gablestone that dates from 1623 and has never been moved or replaced. Our block of houses is visible even on the oldest maps of Amsterdam. It turns out that sailors used to spend the night here before they set sail for the Far East. The connection with history means that living here is really special for us.”


Sander & Suzanne 

Sander: “We started sharing a house and renting from Stadsgoed 3.5 years ago. My bedroom faces the back of dozens of restaurants which can get smelly. Luckily I don’t experience much noise nuisance coming from the alley at the front side. Overall  I’m positive about living here. Right on our doorstep there are so many picturesque bars and shops, I love the buzz. There is great solidarity amongst neighbours. In an ideal world I’d own a house in the countryside and keep living here in Amsterdam, too. There’s just something about this area.”

Suzanne: “I like living in the historical heart of the city, there’s always something to do. I work in The Hague so it’s convenient to have Central Station so nearby. At times it’s not fun, for example when we find human excrement on our porch or when people keep me awake with their shouting. But on a quiet morning this district is like a beautiful open air museum, I hope visitors also see the beauty of it.”