Manifest for more affordable living accommodation

Amsterdam is an expensive city. I’m sure you’re getting tired from how many times I’ve said that. I think everybody agrees that there should be moving living accommodation that’s affordable, but how to do that is another story. For this #Blogvember post I’m sharing a few of my thoughts on this, and ways to combat the overheated real estate market in my little city.

Attributes: Hengelo – Makelaarsbordjes, huizen te koop
editie stock foto Carlo ter Ellen CTE20061020

The world changed, people changed, everything changed

During and after the financial crisis of 2008-2011 there suddenly was an influx of people moving to urban areas. Those were the places that you could get a job. The financial crisis also changed the way people wanted to live. A steady job was no longer an achievable goal, and financial gain is no longer the ultimate dream. It’s more about living a full and exciting life, which is easier to do in cities with all the shops, restaurants and museums they have to offer. The Millennial dream was born, and in The Netherlands there were a few locations that offered the means to accomplish this dream. Amsterdam is the main one.

Why is living in Amsterdam so expensive?

Living in Amsterdam is expensive because of the easy reason that there is a big demand and a small supply. This can in part be attributed by the fact that the city -in square meters- is small and densely built up. The other part is that during the financial crisis drastically less homes were built. We still are dealing with a lack of supply because of this. Other reasons are the obvious socio-economical reasons, the attraction of urban areas and the fact that Amsterdam is also attractive for expats. More demand, same supply = higher price.

What can we do to change this?

I work as an urban planner so I have some knowledge of strategies and policies that municipalities want to put in place in order to create more affordable living accommodations. These are pretty difficult to explain, and the success of them is still uncertain. I’d like to focus on the commercial market, the builders that are in it solely for financial gain. Maybe someday I’ll elaborate on the ways municipalities and social housing corporations can make a change. Let’s get into it!

I’m not interested in luxury amenities

A lot of housing marketed to young professionals are small studio apartments with a luxury finish (high tech kitchens, beautiful bathrooms) and inhouse amenities like a gym, flexible workspace, restaurant, etc. Most times the rent is not extremely high, but the obligatory fee for these extra amenities makes these living spaces unaffordable for a lot of us. I’d be more interested in a bare bones studio space with the bare necessities. I’d make it comfortable and homey on my own.

I’m perfectly happy to share a bathroom

It’s a bit of a secret, but I don’t have my own bathroom. I share it with the neighbour on the same floor. I’d love a space that has its own kitchen and has enough space to make a seperate sleeping and living area, but that shares a bathroom. What I dón’t want is a “community” where it is obligatory to eat together once a week or you have to help others in any way. I’d rather do that on my own accord, when I have time.

I don’t need to live in the best neighbourhood

This one is mostly to clear things up, but I don’t need to live in the perfect neighbourhood. Right now I live in the Oud-Zuid neighbourhood, which is known for being a very rich neighbourhood. Amsterdam is so small that with 30 minutes by bike you can reach almost every part of it. However, I also don’t need to live at the literal outskirts of the city, or in the worst neighbourhood imaginable. Somewhere in between would be amazing.

I’m more than happy to put time, money and energy in a home I don’t own

We Millennials are not all opposed to getting our hands dirty. Hell, I’d love to be able to renovate my home to have it be my own taste. Yes, it’s kind of weird to throw a lot of money into a space you don’t own, but I don’t really mind it if that means I have the perfect home for an extended amount of time. Give me a bare bones cube and I’ll be happy.

Why would commercial firms meet these needs?

I’ve noticed that the housing market is turning a bit. It’s no longer the case that everything will sell; more and more overpriced houses are on the market for longer and longer. If commercial firms want to sell or rent out their buildings quickly, they should meet the needs of their consumers. The fact that the world has changed might not have settled in yet, but it will if they create a new financial crisis by building luxury homes nobody wants.

I’d be interested to know how the situation is in your city, especially if you don’t live in The Netherlands. Let me know on Instagram what you think, and I’ll see you tomorrow for another #Blogvember post!

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