Student - August 26, 2010

Camp, squat or emigrate

There is quite a student housing shortage in Wageningen. Housing corporation Idealis has big plans for the future, but that is cold comfort for this year’s first years. What can you do to help yourself?

 
'To be honest, I thought of Wageningen as a sleepy town', says Biotechnology first year Daan Korstanje. 'I was expecting to find accommodation easily.' Now he is one of the hundreds of new students looking for a room. He has already been registered with Idealis for a couple of months, but he does not expect much to come of that for the time being. 'I am thirtieth in the draw every time.'
Anyone looking for a roof over their heads at the moment needs a bit of luck and a lot of creativity and patience, besides not being too picky. Here are eight tips to help you on your way.
1. Check out what is on offer at the WSO accommodation desk
The WSO negotiates in Wageningen between students and private providers. On www.wso.wur.nl/kamerbalie you can make direct contact with landlords. At the moment demand far outstrips supply; there are only an average of 10 rooms on the site. 'For one room, a landlord is often phoned fifty times', says André Joosten of the WSO. 'We even placed fake ads to test how big the demand was, and within half an hour we had 23 emails from students.' Via adverts in local papers, the WSO and the university are trying to increase local supply. 'That campaign has led to about twenty new landlords', says André. One way or another, the Kamerbalie is a good place to start your search.
2. Surf the internet
In the same vein, there are countless sites you can try. You could register with sites like Kamernet.nl, Studentenkamers.nl, Opmijnkamer.nl, Easykamer.nl, Studentzonderkamer.nl and Marktplaats.nl. Needless to say you can while away hours surfing these sorts of sites. Not good for your conscience? Just keep going! You will find that many of the same rooms appear on all the sites, and that there is really not that much on offer. You might even find more sites offering rooms than there are rooms on offer. Nevertheless, first year Daan Korstanje did find a room by this route. 'A two-room apartment; it looked just great.' Sadly though, the rent of 375 euros was not realistic for him.
3. Make friends
So far these tips may salve your conscience but they won't get you far towards getting a room. If you really want to live in Wageningen soon, your best bet is to make friends fast. Give friendly smiles to fellow students who have rooms, and stand them the odd beer, and you might be able to sleep on their sofa for a while. Watch out though! Don't be too smarmy. Most Wageningers hate creeps.
4. Emigrate
Foreign students are guaranteed a room. Much to the annoyance of the rightwing part the PPV, who asked questions in parliament about Wageningen students being put up in hotels. It is a bit of an effort, but by emigrating you'll be guaranteed a room too. But don't get too excited: the hotel is not as luxurious as the PVV would have us believe, and if you are unlucky you will end up in a holiday chalet in Hoenderloo. One way of getting to travel, I suppose.
5. Transfer to Leeuwarden
VHL Leeuwarden is part of Wageningen UR. Many Wageningen programmes are offered in Leeuwarden too, with a slightly more practical slant to them. On the private market you will find a room in Leeuwarden in no time. And after your BSc you could still come to Wageningen. VHL in Velp has nothing to offer though. The Larenstein student housing organization Stichting Studenthuisvesting has ten rooms to divide among 128 students.
6. Squat
Don't fancy Friesland? Well, Wageningen UR is getting rid of some of its property. Until redevelopment begins, some of these buildings would make great squat locations. It is no longer legal, mind you: the upper house of the Dutch parliament voted for a ban on 1 June. Wageningen town council has said it will be restrained in applying the law though.
7. See a doctor
You can get the stamp 'urgent' with Idealis. Perhaps you have medical problems and can be given priority in the allocation of rooms. Inventing a handicap would be risky though. Not only will doctors see through you, but principled Wageningen will look down its nose at you for the rest of your life.
8. Buy a tent
And finally: extend the holiday feeling and start your university years at a campsite. You won't be the only one. Reservations by students are flooding in at De Wielerbaan campsite, which expects to welcome at least fifty students this year. You can get the grant for students living away from home when you are camping too. And another piece of luck: from September you pay low season prices. You'll have to do without a campers' entertainment programme though.

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