June 1, 2021

Single mother turns to crowdfunding for house

Filed under: General,Online,Weird by Orangemaster @ 4:15 pm

It’s only getting tougher to find a house to buy in The Netherlands. There’s a lack of affordable houses, often bought up at hundreds of thousands of euro above the asking price (according to Dutch news show Nieuwsuur on 31 May 2021), more often than not by investors who will subdivided the houses into small and make tons off renting them. By the way, this practice should be heavily restricted in 2022 if all goes as planned.

Nathalie, 40, lives alone with her daughter, a dog and a bunny in 46 square metres and pays €950 in rent before utilities. She pays more than most, and less than some. However, she is unable to put money aside to buy a house and cannot get social housing because her salary is often just above the limit. Many people are in similar situations.

Since she cannot find a house, she has decided to try her hand at crowdfunding to raise €1 million from 1 million people. “If everyone sends a euro, I’ll soon have my dream house.” Of course, social media has made mince meat of her cry for help, but I’ll give her points for trying and being honest about it. As I write this, she has raised €7.530, with about a year to go for the rest.

Back in 2005, Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald bartered his way from a single red paperclip to a house in a series of fourteen online trades over the course of a year and everybody through he was brilliant, just saying.

(Link: waarmaarraar.nl, Photo: designboom.com)

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July 23, 2019

Coloured flats for students ready to rent in August

Filed under: Architecture by Orangemaster @ 9:50 pm

Pointed out to us on Twitter and for rent on Funda.nl, these colourful flats in Almere are meant for students. They consist of one room of 18 square metres of living space with everything in it and rent is 398 euro a month, excluding service costs.

The flats are nicknamed ‘space boxes’, a fitting name for housing in general these days, and should be ready to rent mid August. Students can only rent a flat for a maximum of eight years and need to get out six months after you finish your studies.

In the meantime, from various sources, international students are still flatly being discriminated against because they don’t speak Dutch, are not Dutch or people renting out rooms to them are bigots. Here’s what we wrote about that back in 2018.

(Link and photo: funda.nl)

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March 22, 2019

Free housing in exchange for all your data in Helmond

Filed under: Dutch first,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:09 am

Binary code

In Helmond, Noord Brabant, there are plans to build a neighbourhood, called Living Lab, where people will be able to live for free, but there’s a catch: they’ll have to give up all their data.

Part of the Brainport Smart District, Living Lab will be the ‘smartest neighbourhood in the Netherlands’ with 1500 homes where 4000 people are expected to live. Their behaviour will generate a huge flow of data and that’s the goal. Basically, you’d be a guinea pig with free housing. Sensors will measure what you do, how you sleep, what you do online and whatever else companies will pay to find out.

Free living for only a year is not very practical, but considering how difficult it is to find a place in this country, I’m sure they will find 4000 people ready to give up their privacy, which is a bit sad in a way.

Toronto, Canada was the location of a similar project called Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. The difference is that this project hit a brick wall when it came to privacy and proprietary rights of the data.

Living Lab is on the edge of what is actually acceptable, which means it’s not out of the woods yet. But again, in a country where corruption is common in the housing market, having a free space to live that’s nice will have people willing to give up quite a bit of their lives. Let us not forget that social media seems free, but many of us are giving away our data there as well.

(Link: Bright)

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January 5, 2019

Sexing up Amsterdam real estate with French names

Filed under: Architecture,Weird by Orangemaster @ 12:59 pm

Amsterdam real estate is in the hands of a selected few, including Prince Bernhard who owns a staggering 349 buildings in Amsterdam.

In the neighbourhood of ‘Bos en Lommer’ (aka Bolo, where 24HQ is located), a bunch of tall flat buildings are coming and will be sold to whomever can afford them: either rich Dutch folks or rich foreigners, the latter being bashed for buying houses that Dutch people in Amsterdam cannot afford, as if that was a new thing. And if rich Dutch people buy them, there’s much less bashing somehow.

And selling nice houses in a good neighbourhood needs a sexy name, n’est-ce pas? The brochure that is doing the rounds and making people laugh out loud swaps out ‘Bos en Lommer’ for a poor French translation, ’Bois & Lombre’ (‘Bois’ like ‘Bos’ means either woods, wood or forest and ‘Lombre’, meaning ‘shadow’ should be spelled ‘l’ombre’. And ‘Bos’ in Amsterdam usually refers to a park with lots of trees because we don’t have forests, a prime example of a sexed up term.

There’s a beautiful Dutch word that describes when someone uses English to make a Dutch word sounds sexier: ‘aandikengels’ (roughly, ‘thickening English’, thickening as in pouring it on thick).

We’re calling it, as a new Dutch word is born: ‘aandikfrans’ (‘thickening French’), which has no Google hits as I write this.

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November 30, 2018

Dutch massively encroach on municipal ground

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 4:40 pm

According to research conducted and recently published by the University of Groningen, some 100,000 Dutch folks are guilty of ‘stealing’ (‘encroaching on’) municipal ground when they build extensions to their gardens, driveways and houses.

The research looked at five municipalities: four of them had folks doing some serious encroachment, on average 20 to 40 square metres, with a few whoppers of more than 400 square metres.

When the city comes asking for its ground back, it often leads to court cases and claims that there’s a statute of limitations, with people getting away with the ‘theft’. The idea is to modify the law, so that cities can ask for their land back at any time, which I imagine would deter people from stealing it in the first place. In the case of an entire house partially built on municipal ground, that’s going to be difficult to rectify.

(Link: rtvnoord.nl)

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September 21, 2018

Lottery pick nears for 102 affordable flats in Amsterdam

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 3:57 pm


At 5pm today, people will find out if they will get brand new, affordable rental apartments of 50 square metres each in the up-and-coming Amstelkwartier in Amsterdam. However, some 5,500 people have signed up to try and score one these rarities, which means fingers and toes crossed.

And instead of paying the insane four digits a month rents many new arrivals to the city must pay, these ‘ordinary Amsterdam residents’ will get one for ‘a mere’ 725 euro a month, which is quite close to what we would consider normal these days.

The building in question, called The State, is 70 metres high, with 22 stories. The penthouse has already been sold for a million euro. Much of the building is being sold, but 102 flats are rental flats, which is actually rare nowadays, considering the real estate bubble Amsterdam is stuck in.

This type of lottery is nothing new, either. Even for plots where entire family houses will be built outside of bigger cities or in smaller villages, people enter a lottery just to hope to be able to buy a house that is not yet built on plots that don’t even have construction equipment on them yet.

(Link: at5.nl, Photo by Flickr user Taver, some rights reserved)

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August 16, 2018

International students flatly turned down for housing

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 5:18 pm

According to RTVUtrecht, tons of advertisements for student housing (usually rooms in a house that has been subdivided for that purpose; they don’t live on campus), are flatly and illegally turning down internationals. It’s also not news that this group, maybe more than the Dutch, are also falling prey to dodgy landlords.

In this Dutch video, the chairman of a student rights association explains that international students should not be turned away, but quickly adds that he understands why this is done since it is so difficult for the Dutch to find housing, and that ‘there is a language barrier and many obstacles to be able to live with an international student’.

The thing is, major universities have been encouraging foreign students to enrol at their establishments to make money, but have no plans to deal with the strain that this causes on society, which in turn is then becomes the government’s problem. And since there’s a constant state of housing shortage that has existed at least in the big Dutch cities such as Utrecht for decades, it seems to be nobody’s responsibility, leading to this kind of self-protecting behaviour.

The chairman in the video blames the government and the universities and not the international students for the problem. A quick Internet search has students living on camping sites, caravans, hostels, refugee centers and even their cars for a bit until some of them get lucky, find a couch, or actually give up their studies. People are still willing to pay just more than regular people renting an entire flat to get a room because they don’t have many options.

This article is from last year, but paints a picture of what internationals go through here to try and find a room to live in.

And we wrote about students living in containers in Amsterdam a few years back.

(Link: rtvutrecht.nl, Photo of Multi-storey container housing by Rory Hyde, some rights reserved)

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July 20, 2016

A house that splits in two for the divorced

Filed under: Architecture by Orangemaster @ 4:07 pm


Getting divorced? Now you can split your house in half instead of inconveniencing all your friends and family with the gamble you took on a major life decision in the first place. Amsterdam’s Studio OBA’s ‘Prenuptial Housing’ offers a solution for marriages that end up in divorce.

The design consists of two prefabricated units that look like one – a bit like your marriage at some point. The building is made from lightweight carbon fibre elements and a semi-transparent wooden layer that enhances the unity – a bit like your marriage at some point. When couples feel they are drifting apart, the house initiates a ‘break up’ by detaching the two units which then go solo on the water – a bit like your divorce.

Remember, in the Netherlands, prenuptial agreements were being discussed in 2010, as community property (joint ownership) is still the norm. In fact, the term ‘prenup’ is something most people know from watching American televisions programs.

(Link and photo: www.studio)

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January 13, 2014

Dutch housing prices are historically high

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:35 pm

The Economist has been keeping track of the development of house prices for a while now and this recent graph neatly shows the house price bubble the world is slowly getting out of.

What may surprise you to know is that the Netherlands, typically known as an economically stable country, is one of the worst offenders when it comes to driving up prices to insanity level 11. What is worse, is that unlike most of the world’s nations, the country will see only little decrease of house prices in the near future.

Hendrik Oude Nijhuis looks even further back than The Economist in an article for Z24. He points out that in the past 400 years, house prices in the Netherlands have always followed inflation. Sometimes they rose more quickly than inflation would dictate and sometimes they would lag behind inflation, but they would always go back to a happy medium. Houses in the Netherlands are now 75% more expensive than the historic average, which is a record.

House prices have been decreasing slowly since 2008, but as you can see in the first chart, the process is slow. One giant brake on the current housing market is that the current generation of first-time homeowners is in a bad fix. On the one hand, these young house owners got in when the prices soared, meaning they bought expensive houses, and on the other, they took out mortgage loans that they are not paying off. The result is what Oude Nijhuis calls ‘submarine mortgages’, loans where the collateral is worth way less than the amount owed. This generation (Oude Nijhuis says there are 1.7 million of these submarine loans against 4.3 million privately owned houses) is unable to move on even if it wanted to. Home owners cannot afford new houses and yet if they buy one, they will take a loss on the old one.

Add to this toxic mix the fact that politicians don’t want to be seen touching interest deductions and you have the recipe for an unhealthy housing market for years to come.

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August 25, 2013

Dutch house owners spend their holiday bonuses on mortgage payments

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 4:11 pm

ABN Amro’s mortgage portfolio has decreased by 0.3 billion euro because house owners have been making extra payments using their holiday bonuses, the troubled bank writes in its interim financial report for 2013 (PDF, page 41).

Z24 discovered this titbit and adds that according to TNS Nipo (a polling company) 1 in 5 home owners would like to make extra mortgage payments. Dutch banks generally penalize extra payments above a threshold of 10% to 15% of the loan.

Dutch employees have a right to a holiday bonus of 8% of their annual salary. Employers usually pay this bonus in May before the summer holidays start.

House prices in the Netherlands have been declining for a couple of years now, resulting in a negative balance: home owners, especially young ones, owe the bank more money than their home is worth. Z24 says that home owners use their holiday bonuses to help pay off their mortgages partially because the interest on savings accounts is at a very low point. These extra payments are not enough, the financial news site says, to counter the declining house prices.

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