Monday, 17 December 2012

Renting in The Netherlands

The rental property market is quite competitive in The Netherlands at the moment due to the mortgage crisis. Many people, including us, do not want to buy a house just yet because prices are dropping, mortgages are harder to get and the amount you can actually borrow is pathetic).

The rental market can be divided into 2 sub-markets:

i) Sociale Woning
These houses/apartments are subsidised (by the government) rental homes for households earning a maximum of €34 085 euro per year. The maximum rental for these places are €664.66 per month (but most are in the €250-500 range). 10% of subsidised rental homes can go to families with incomes higher than €34 085 BUT no more than just over €40 000. Sadly, we cannot qualify for this as our household income is above that. What's even sadder is, the homes are ALREADY subsidised yet the people who get to live there can also apply for rental benefits from the government.

It can be hard to get a property this way as waiting lists in big cities can be very long (something like 7 years in Amsterdam). If you're homeless or in a terrible position, you can request to be put ahead of other people in the list.

ii) Vrije Sector
Homes are not subsidised and are thus much more expensive than 'sociale woning'. Also, there are not all that many homes which are available for a longer period of time. Most are available until the homes are sold. Moving is expensive plus renters are obliged to allow viewers in the home whenever needed.

What is even more annoying is renters have to earn 50 times (if one income) or 80 times (2 incomes) the monthly rent! That's just crazy because on an annual income of €100 000, you can only rent a place of €1250 which lets face it, will not get you much (depending on where you want to leave). For €1250 per month, one could rent an apartment in a lousy suburb with a high crime rate in Amsterdam.

So we're stuck:( There's no point moving unless we can rent something a little nicer. Or we'll just have to bite the bullet and buy something for the next 5-10 years and move again after that.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Sinterklaas 2012

The Dutchman and I are not romantic. I'd like him to be but he's more likely to do the dishes over buying me a bunch of flowers haha. A few years ago, he surprised me by preparing a 4-course meal all by himself. We had just moved and had barely any furniture. The dining table that evening was a ratty, old desk and the table cloth was a bed sheet. Good times.

We enjoyed it so much that it is now an annual tradition- he cooks for me on Sinterklaas and I try to impress him on Christmas Eve/Day.

Dutchman's menu this year:

Dutch smoked beef sausage with sauerkraut braised in beer, apples and a forest fruit confiture

Poached Scottish smoked salmon stuffed with cod and an apple salad

Ribeye steak

A peach and orange mousse
OK this isn't food but the first time he's ever actually surprised me with a present! HAPPY!
All in all, very tasty! Plus, it only took him a few hours to shop and prepare the meal. I have some ideas for my Christmas dinner but I foresee myself running around like a headless chicken trying to source certain cuts of meat or spending hours in the kitchen just for a single meringue!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Flowers of the Week

I still buy flowers every week-sometimes twice a week- but hadn't bothered taking pictures for some time. Time to revive this weekly feature, don't you think?!