One local group wants to change that with ‘tiny houses’
Translated by Thomas Ansell
The Friesch Dagblad spoke with Luko Reinders (23), and asked him where he would like to live after graduating from the University of Groningen. The answer came easily to him: Makkinga, where he was born and the village he has always felt at home in. “Student life in Groningen was awesome, but now I want something for myself”, he says.
Now that he’s graduating from his Civil Engineering degree, Reinders is living at his parents house. Finding his own place is turning out to be easier said than done; “in Makkinga there’s nothing to buy or rent as a starter. I can get a mortgage of 125,000 euros, but you won’t find anything in the village for that”, he says.
Reinders isn’t in the minority, either. In his friendship group there’s several more young people that would like to move into Makkinga or another village in the Ooststellingwerf municipality; but they’re all now either staying with their parents, or in their student houses. Makkinga is noted as a krimpdorp or ‘shortage village’, and the Dutch government has a legitimate fear that it will lie empty in a few generations.
Kees Gorter, chair of the Dorpsbelang Makkinga local community group, says that more importance needs to be placed on housebuilding in the area. “It’s attractive to live here, but there’s only properties for sale that suit the large wallet. Young people have no chance.”
Gorter is also aware of the ‘greying’ of the village: “shops that we had for ages are no longer able to operate, but we still have a doctors surgery and a school. We need more young people anyway, in order to maintain our services”, he says. Along with two other businesspeople, Gorter has begun the Blijf Hier Wonen campaign to try and get more eco-friendly and affordable housing built.
The idea is to build ‘tiny houses’: “in the near future we’ll have 10 new tiny houses, that will be hired out and sold through a ‘savings mortgage’ system. Residents will be able to buy their properties after ten years from a residents association. In the middle of the houses there will be a communal services house, with washing machines, and charging points for e-bikes and electric cars.”
The groups first talks with both the local gemeente and the Province of Friesland led to enthusiastic reactions: “but first we want to create a detailed plan of what we’ll offer”, say Luko Reinders, who is also part of Blijf Hier Wonen.
More information can be found on the campaign’s website.