Van Albada was director of the Bosscha Observatory on Java from May 1949 to July 1958. On August 1, 1950 he married the astronomer Dr. Elsa van Dien (Paramaribo, 12 July 1914 - Amsterdam, 15 October 2007) who was working at the Bosscha Observatory at the time. The couple had three children, one of whom became an astronomer.
Because of the political situation[clarification needed] the family had to leave Java in July 1958. In 1960, Van Albada succeeded Herman Zanstra as head of the department of astronomy at the University of Amsterdam.