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Column Marianne Loof | Costs-of-living allowance

29 February 2016

Amsterdam is booming. The construction cranes have returned, and the coming years the housing production will show numbers of a before-crisis magnitude, or even higher. Caution is warranted when comparing these figures, because the houses we design and build now are much smaller than before the crisis. As a result, the numbers can add up quickly and maybe double.

A studio of 40 square metres can now easily be classified as a house from the popular mid- to high-end segment. In itself, there is nothing wrong with these new single houses. For a long time it was proven impossible to find a small and comfortable apartment in Amsterdam, within the ring road, for people who had outgrown their student-flat. Let alone take up residence in this metropole.

But young, flexible urbanites automatically will become young couples with children. The recent years, our office has been an adequate reflection of the population of home seekers in Amsterdam, and I have witnessed the consequences up close. They would take on every affordable accommodation, moving from a temporary anti-squatting house to a shared apartment or a mini-flat. They would relocate from a neighbourhood in the east to a neighbourhood in the west to be one step ahead of upward price developments within city districts.

But the moment this generation starts living together, starts parenting, and starts looking for a small single-family house or apartment, there is no mid- to high-end segment accommodation available. The result is an outmigration to neighbouring towns such as Bussum and Castricum. This means that people will have to commute to work, apparently with a costs-of-travel allowance, which costs not only a lot of time, but is also very stressful in terms of for example arranging sufficient childcare. Why don’t we have the option for a costs-of-living instead of a costs-of-living allowance for people who stay in the city? Maybe it’s an idea for the tax authorities? It is definitely more sustainable, and it will create a preferable and right mix of people in the city of Amsterdam!

February 2016,