The Housing Crisis That Shifted My Track

The purpose of this blog is very simple: I want to highlight how impossible it is to find accommodation in The Netherlands, and how easy it is to find accommodation in Colombia. 

Originally, I was a GLOCAL going to the Erasmus University of Rotterdam for her last year of the program, as I am highly interested in Creative Industries. My partner looked for a degree for himself there, so that we could all move to The Netherlands and spend a year studying. We bought tickets and had everything ready, except one thing: a place to live.

We thought two months ahead would be enough time to find our sweet new home. Yet, it was impossible. We were both looking for six hours a day, every day, and couldn’t find anything. We even went to Rotterdam — we had already bought the tickets anyway! — to see if that would make things easier. I went to negotiate in-person with two Airbnb landlords. The monthly fee for a studio went down from £2,200 to £2,000 thanks to the visit! It sounds crazy, so, I will explain the reasons why this happened to us:

  1. We are a family with a baby, so student accommodations and anti-squat places wouldn’t accept us.
  2. To rent a flat, landlords ask for a monthly salary 3x the amount of the rent, and you have to work in The Netherlands. In case of having a guarantor, this person should earn 5x the amount of the rent. 
  3. Sharing accommodation with friends is very complicated in The Netherlands, as municipalities have strict rules about how many people can live in one place (tax related, I guess…). So, even if it was a three-bedroom apartment, they would only allow a couple to live in it.
  4. Temporary accommodation, like Airbnb, was unbelievably expensive, being £2,000 the monthly average for a small studio. 

All of this said, Rotterdam became a burden that we couldn’t afford. So, I had to change tracks to go to University of Los Andes, in Colombia, and get everything ready in a couple of weeks. The first thing I checked was the accommodation situation in Bogotá to make sure we were going to be able to find a house. And we did! I found a flat, with lots of space in the living room for our baby to crawl around, and very close to the Uni. It was $500 per month, which is within the range of what is affordable for a GLOCAL scholarship holder. 

Moving continents back and forth with a nine-month-old baby wasn’t the easiest, but GLOCAL staff and UniAndes were very helpful and agile in making it happen. Changing tracks to Bogotá was a difficult decision, but, overall, it was a great experience, and totally worth it. 

Bogota City center accommodation from Airbnb
The living room had a lot of space for baby Luca to crawl around.