At least give me a garden, please

A buddy of mine talked to me recently about the crazy housing prices in the Netherlands. They’re in the process of buying, and well, on the one hand they benefit from a steep profit on the sale of their current home, but on the other they also suffer from having to spend probably twice their profit on the increased prices of the new place. Now I live near Munich, which is among the priciest regions to live in Germany. I’m used to high rental costs, and an absolutely unaffordable marketplace when it comes to any form of real estate. I checked options here when we moved here two years ago, and quickly stopped, soon after I started, when I found out that a 35 sqm. studio apartment cost about 350.000 euros, and that prices like this were normal. I’d rather live under a bridge, to be honest. Apparently, the Netherlands are following Bavaria in the process of achieving soaring housing costs.

The Netherlands do rank fairly high on places I want to live again some day in the future, when my mission here – not completely sure which one – comes to an end. Heike and I already discussed that upon our return it would probably be a good investment to buy a house that we like to live in for a longer time – assuming we both find steady jobs that would allow us to achieve this. Now that these house prices are through the roof, I’m not that sure anymore. But we’ll see.

Because I was curious, I just went on a crazy house search online earlier this week, in the area that we lived in previously.

Two things stood out.

First. Fuck! Those prices did increase by a lot!

Second, a more worrisome thing even. I probably scanned and looked at pictures of forty or so places. That was not the problem. Enough houses available. However, literally two-thirds of these places, if not more than that, had ‘maintenance-friendly’ gardens. Bloody concrete dead zones! A pot in a corner if you’re lucky… Nearly all houses built in the eighties or after have a wasteland a garden.

This is a serious problem. Studies indicate that biodiversity is not doing too well, and that we may want to start thinking about solutions to mitigate the problems. I see two main threats that interfere with biodiversity, being urban areas, and agricultural land. Now I don’t see any plausible way that agriculturalists will give up the required 30% of land to form a nice ecological matrix (although I’d support it). Nor will they easily give up their practices. The world is too scared to lose any yield, so farmers will keep running their business as usual. Forever! The urban areas, on the other hand, we can largely decide for ourselves, isn’t it. Urban areas are horrible and dead, mostly by choice. A bad choice, but a choice nonetheless. What we do with this urban land is literally our own decision. This is where every individual can make an impact. Small actions, in your backyard, or even on your balcony, can and will matter! Can’t we just create maintenance-friendly gardens filled with cheap native plants, without a trimmed lawn, and including some wonderful shrubbery, to support all insect, and vertebrate life that our gardens could potentially host?

I don’t mind paying top dollar (or well, euro) for a house, but at the very least give me a good garden in return!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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