News - April 12, 2016

Blog: A charming old house

Finding a family house in Wageningen from abroad can be tricky, and you might even have no choices at all. Blogger Nadya Karimasari shares her experience.

Dutch people understand the special charm of an old house. The family house that I am renting is more than a century old. I am sitting in the living room, facing a round wooden table. The fireplace provides a light sizzling sound in the background. The floor is also made from wood and three wide windows face the street.

My landlord is a former sailor and a handyman. He can make a lot of furniture or housing parts by his own hand. So it is no surprise that his house is brimming with characteristics and functionality. His wife is a librarian at WUR, who uses the word “free” a lot during our housewarming dinner. They defy the stereotypes of Dutch being highly penny-pinching people. When we arrived, they picked us up at Ede-Wageningen station. In the house they already provided the little things, all furniture, all cleaning and cooking utilities, including bread, margarine, milk, yogurt, homemade berry jam, coffee and tea, among others. They have been living approximately 30 steps away from this house for 25 years, complete with two dogs, a lot of sheep grazing on their large lawn, chickens, and a small “hideaway” self-contained room in front of a nice pond when they want to take a break from their house. With the spring looming, we are going to join them cultivating onions and potatoes, as part of our “integration” into the true rural feel of this place. It is located in an area known to be the only hilly parts of the Netherlands, 30 minutes biking from WUR.

Why can’t this process of finding a family house be made easier for students? Isn’t the Netherlands a family-friendly country?

House-hunting can be frustrating, especially for students who bring family. I found this house through another student who formerly stayed here. Family housing is quite rare on offer. The first time I went to the old housing website of WUR, I read that to rent a family house, you have to apply to Idealis and they will put you into a waiting list that is two years long. Other students who brought their family used different ways, including repeatedly calling Idealis from abroad to give priority because they can’t wait for too long. Another student get a house that only contains one room and one living room for a family of four, but he has no choice. Checking the Wageningen Facebook page does not help because most rooms on offer are for singles. Private housing is another option, but I must say that luck is playing a huge role, with constant clicking on different websites only to find out that the house on offer are already taken. And when you are students under a lot of financial pressure, paying an agent might not be a budget-wise decision.

Why can’t this process of finding a family house be made easier for students? Isn’t the Netherlands a family-friendly country?