Exams are coming – and so is, slowly but steady, winter. What might sound like Game of Thrones, is actually the reality of October coming to an end. And with the end of October, another thing besides standardised tests, Halloween and Christmas is approaching. Because after living for more than two years in the same place in Nijmegen, it’s time for me to move into a new flat. And while the introduction was not meant to pay tribute to Game of Thrones, house hunting in Nijmegen definitely does.
Being anything remotely close to a grown-up can be quite the adventure, but the world of real estate and rental agreements is the adventure no-one has asked for. Nijmegen’s market for student housing is overcrowded and especially international students with limited Dutch-skills have a hard time finding a place. And even if you are able to get hold of a decent place, changes are that you will pay a lot of money for it.
Buying a house in the Netherlands has become increasingly expensive, especially in cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, Den Bosch and, yes, our very own Nijmegen. The natural consequence of those increased housing prices is that rents are increasing as well. And while that might be good news for everyone trying to sell a place – it’s horrible news for everyone trying to find a new one. Whether as rented or bought property.
There is always the possibility to find a decent apartment for a decent price – even in Nijmegen. Because you may know someone who knows someone who looks for someone taking over his old apartment. But those places are highly contested and very rare.
The reality we are facing at the moment is that we have long passed the threshold of a fair price/performance ratio when it comes to rental prices. It is not normal to live in a 12-square-meter-room with a dysfunctional heating system for almost 400€ and being considered ’lucky.’ Call me nostalgic, but that used to be cheaper, right? And, if you must, call me a communist, but I believe in the basic idea of living somewhere without the need to sell your soul.
Those problems existed when I moved to Nijmegen two years ago and they just worsened over time. And while SSHN-places at least partially offer a decent price, especially at the beginning of the study year, they do not offer enough room for all students who would need it. I dare to ask the officials to take action in this regard and to attempt a de-escalation of the housing situation. Because until then, whether you are an international or a local student, housing will continue to be an issue – and will affect, sooner or later, all of us.
Every two weeks, Antonia will add the songs she writes about to the Spotify playlist below. This way, she creates a soundtrack to her time in Nijmegen. Click left and right for more songs.