In the Centrum itself these often exist most commonly as part of subdivided houses, but in some cases are privately owned. Typically, apartments are rented, and many are sub-letted. At the fringes of the city, and in the suburbs, there are some more modern apartment developments of varying scale. Apartments in the city centre are often very cramped, inside and outside, and they offer little privacy. As you move further out of the centre, you will recognise there is more space available, and apartments are larger and less closely situated. Nonetheless, it is common to hear people in Amsterdam express the feeling that they always know what is going on around, above and below them, due to the close conditions that they live in, in the apartments that are most common in the city.
Normally canal houses are the typical three or four story houses found on the residential canals in Amsterdam. You will also see some slightly more modern versions on the south side of the city in De Pijp, the Museumkwartier or Oud-Zuid. They may or may not be located beside a canal in those locations.
Typically the houses are divided into a larger ground floor apartment often split into two levels with a rear garden, and three or four apartments on the levels above. There is no space between houses, and generally yards and the houses themselves are overlooked by other houses. Like other apartments, these are known for their tightly packed spaces and their positions literally on top of each other. It is worth noting that even the ground floor apartments that have a garden are rarely private, since they usually are situated right next to others and directly beneath the other residences, on the floors above.
Their condition is often not well maintained, since they mainly consist of old buildings. Sound isolation is mediocre, due to wooden walls and floors. They rarely have facilities such as elevators, and stairs are usually steep making your way up quite similar to climbing. All these, however, are counter-balanced by the peaceful view of the canals.
These are modern semi-detached flats, often two stories, that are commonly found in the outer city areas and suburban areas such as Slotervaart and Amstelveen. There is no space between houses. For families, these might provide a more spacious and less expensive alternative to the cramped apartments and canal houses located within the city.
On the canals of central Amsterdam, you will see houseboats, upon which residents of the city live. These are floating apartments, which are another option, given the vast amount of real estate potential offered by the canals in Amsterdam. These are generally not suitable for large families, but they have the benefit of privacy that is not offered from the other kinds of shared accommodations that are most prevalent in the city. When buying a houseboat, remember you need a mooring permit!