Who says I can't squat?!

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Sanne, Tom and Bo are young and idealistic. And like many of their friends and contemporaries, they can’t afford a home at current Amsterdam prices, so they followed a time honoured Dutch tradition: they found an empty apartment building and with a group of friends, they moved in, fixed it up and claimed it as their own.

Squatters – or krakers, as they’re known – have been a well established feature of Dutch life for decades. They occupied the peculiar Dutch space known as the ‘semi-legal’. A squatter just had to prove that a building had been empty for a year, then move in and call the police to make their claim official.

However, in October 2010, a new anti-squat law came into being that aims to get squatters out of Dutch cities once and for all. For the authorities it’s high time that squatters started paying rents and mortgages like everyone else. But the squatters themselves feel that they’re fighting for more than just their homes: they believe that squatting is a lifestyle choice and a philosophy. And they’re not about to let it go that easily.