Three weeks before we moved to the Netherlands for my PhD, I arrived here to look for housing for our small family (two parents, one child and a dog). Hesitating before making a decision, I called home to discuss it together.
illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
‘Honey, I'm in an apartment that I've found for us.’ ‘Really? That's great! What does it look like?’ ‘Well, it's a one-floor apartment on the ground floor. It's charming, has a small garden, some furniture, large windows. Lots of light inside. The neighbourhood seems to be nice. But it doesn't have a floor.’ ‘Doesn't have a floor?! So what are you standing on?’ ‘Well, on the floor, but... there is nothing on it. No carpet, floorboards or laminate.’
Apparently, an apartment or a house in the Netherlands can be offered for rent with an oven, stove, fridge, dishwasher, some cupboards, but... no flooring. I find it weird – and inefficient, and unsustainable – that tenants who are not lucky enough to meet the previous tenants and take over their flooring, often have to put new flooring in a rented property. When they leave, they must – yes must – remove the flooring. As if the chances that the next tenants would also need flooring were very low. So far I haven't met any Dutch person who could explain this strange phenomenon. Maybe I will solve the riddle by the time I graduate.
Efrat Gommeh, a PhD candidate in the Public Administration and Policy group, from Israel
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