When Your Neighbourhood Changes: Living Through Gentrification in Amsterdam Oud-West

Sophia Rettberg, Janna Willems


This qualitative study investigates the lived experiences of gentrification for locals in the urban neighbourhood of Oud-West in Amsterdam. A gentrification policy was used to turn this neighbourhood with a relatively low socioeconomic status and limited property investment into an attractive area of reinvestment and economic activity. For locals, this strategy resulted in changes to the urban landscape, such as soaring housing prices, new investment projects, tourism, and a new, transient, young urban professional group of inhabitants. Following this demographic change, the locals that have not been physically displaced nevertheless experience a sense of displacement. By analyzing the concept of ‘transience’, this study shows how the relatively short and less integrated stay of global young urban professionals results in a perceived loss of social cohesion. Moreover, this young urban professional population’s increasing demand for an ‘Airspace’ type of hospitality radically changes local and authentic businesses, resulting in a perceived lack of diversity and authenticity. Furthermore, locals report how they experience new inhabitants to be less tolerant towards ‘big city life’, and have a stronger sense of malleability.


gentrification; Amsterdam; airspace; locals; neighbourhood change; transience

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15273/jue.v9i1.8882


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