The Groningen Housing Black List

This is a review that should help new (and old) students in Groningen find a place to live. We cannot guarantee that the agencies in this list are per se “bad,” but we list those that were predominately mentioned in negative reviews/reports from students. Please remember that it is often unclear if the landlord or the agent is the wrongdoer. We hope to improve both, the process of finding accommodations, and the work of the agencies.
Dear agencies who are on this list: If you are on this list, there is a reason. Maybe stop exploiting desperate students, just a thought.

Alright students of Groningen. We all know at least one person who has made pretty bad experiences with his/her landlord or agent here in Groningen. Overpriced rents are nothing new, and in most cases we can’t do much against it. Of course, we can contact the huurcommissie and hope to get the rent lowered, but even a court rule does not give you your money back easily. To help (new) students find a good landlord/agent we created this list of agencies and landlords to stay away from. (This list is based on reviews from students that we received. Obviously, we will not publish any of the student names that contributed to the list)

1. General Information for internationals: 
No agent is allowed to ask you for 1 month rent as agent’s fee. The landlord has to pay the agent, unless you go to the agent yourself and ask for help. In those cases students will be asked to pay a fee (for the contract etc), but it should NEVER be a whole month rent.

2. Watch out for scammers.

Scammers will try to trick you to make a payment before you have seen the place. If you get messages similar to this stay away from them.
Example message:
“I am out of town to take care of my grandchild and I will be away for a period of time…so i just decided some few days back to rent out the place since I will be staying for a period of time and it would not be nice to leave the rooms empty..so it is not my intention to have the keys here with me so right now it will be impossible for viewing but if you are really interested you can book it and once payment is confirmed, I will ship the keys to you in just a day.”
Never pay anything before you signed a contract and have seen the place!

 

3. The List: Rental Agencies we advise you to stay away from

 

Bakker, Robert (Bakker Kamerbemiddeling/Bakkerhuuradvies)
– Way overpriced rents
– Friendly at first, intimidating later
– Okay service
– Dangerous if you contact the Huurcommissie (Dutch agency that helps you lower your rent)
– We heard of a case where a tenant asked for his deposit and Bakker told the tenant that he has to contact the landlord for that. The landlord then refused to reply.

This one changes his name a lot. He also changes his address a lot. Watch out for this guy!    We advise you to never sign a contract with him or his landlords.
The agent seems nice and friendly when you sign the contract, but we heard reports that he suddenly stood in front of student’s doors and threatened them because they tried to fight for their rights.

Havos Vastgoed:
(This agency is located in Slochteren but they do rent places in Groningen. Sometimes through other agencies)
– We received one negative report in which a tenant had troubles after contacting the Huurcommissie to lower the rent.
– Threats, and illegal methods to remove the tenant from the accommodation
– Too high prices

Kaan:
We received one negative report.
– Errors in contract that lead to a financial disadvantage later.

K&P Makelaars:

– We received a report stating that they illegally charge international students one month rent as agent’s fee.

Maxx Vastgoed:
We received mixed reports about Maxx. We heard cases of tenants that had no problems with them, but we also heard stories of people that had problems with Maxx. Advice: Only consider them if nothing looks like it would need maintenance for the time that you will live there. Otherwise stay away.

– you will have to pay a fee to apply for a room
– overpriced rents (as usual)
– hard to reach
– very likely to increase your rent yearly (quite common in Groningen though)
– not known to be very reactive to service demands (if something is broken etc)

Rental Today
We received report about issues with fees.
– one case reported about intimidation due to legal actions

SSG Vastgoed:
We received mixed reports about SSG.
– Overpriced rents
– Bad services (maintenance, problems with mice etc)
– Bad support if you have problems with neighbors (reported once)

Advice: Only consider them if nothing looks like it would need maintenance for the time that you will live there. Otherwise stay away.

Woldring Verhuur

We received a negative report about this agency. The reports contained these reasons:
– Unauthorized trespassing
– Hidden contract costs
– Threats
– Changing locks

 

3. Student houses that were mentioned in a lot of negative reports (usually because of bad service/ dirty environments)

– Disconessenhuis (SSH Houses) – Van Ketwich Verschuurlaan 82

 

If you’re scared now let me calm your mind: read why Groningen is a Heaven For Students 

If you like to stay updated on my upcoming novel (which takes much inspiration from my life in Groningen) The Blackbird’s Tale :  A Schizophrenic Fable then please follow this blog here on wordpress, and Facebook, and if you like to listen to the audio-book version of my book (including music that I have composed) please press follow on my SOUNDCLOUD

(The list will be updated if we receive more reports – please contact us via the Make Contact button if you wish to send in a report)

 

Groningen University Council Elections: Empty Words, Empty Smiles

Some time ago I asked myself  – as every year when the university council elections take place – if we (the students of Groningen) should maybe be thankful that we only hear from those “politics people” once a year. Considering the annoying emptiness of the words they speak in their campaigns. It’s almost as if young American politicians try to win your vote with their vacuous smiles. But the American presidential campaign is done theatrically to delude the mass of less educated voters. So. . . . why are our “politicians” at one of the “top 100 universities in the world” talking to us as if we were stupid? At least that’s how me and the majority of my friends feels in regards to our beloved student “representatives.”

I study at the RUG in Groningen for three years now, and every year the slogans are the same. The party members desperately try to get your vote, but what do things like “better education;” “more contact hours;” online lectures; and so on, mean? Whenever (or whoever) I asked how they want to achieve these things… the response was that of a true politician: Empty talk without a clear message or idea, but hey at least I got a smile, and if I would drink alcohol I might get some free drinks in exchange for my vote…

So enough frustration about the emptiness of RUG politics. You know what I would really like to hear? University parties organizing student protests. Protests against exams in mass programs (such as medicine or psychology) that are poor, unreliable, flawed, and could not (by any academic) be considered academic.  But of course. . . that’s not what student representatives are ought to do according to their council programs… Weird isn’t it?

Year after year students pay for education. More and more it seems like we are buying a degree just to call ourselves something, instead of actually learning what we wanted to learn. And then we leave university and pretend that we are the wisest, smartest, and most enlightened academic in the world.  Maybe that is how we get those kind of politicians, because our education truly doesn’t educate anymore. We enjoyed shit-education (apologies for my choice of words), that only demands us to read-and-repeat. Contact hours preferably without instructor, right?

And then? The parties are disappointed that only 28% of voters turned out to vote. And instead of realizing that this is a sign that students are unhappy with university politics, it is assumed that next year voters must be convinced even harder to go to progresswww and vote. Just to then disappear again for a year and do the things you do (whatever that is. . . seriously I have no clue what they even talk about, because they never seem to be able to explain what exactly they do).

A professor of mine reminded us last year that students have power, but only if we take that power. You’re unhappy with the exams? Boycott them. You’re unhappy with the quality of education? Boycott that too. Of course, if only one boycotts, nothing will happen. So you need to organize people. And who could do that? Who ought to represent the students? Well. . . those guys we see once a year. Those people that are commissioned to stand for student interests. Unfortunately, the only responsibilities that these people hold seems to be taking care of our canteen (seriously nobody cares). So far it doesn’t seem that our education is improving much (besides maybe the technologies we use). The one thing that is happening every year is that our programs become more suitable for mass fabrication of owners of a degree who know how to function in a pre-made system. Education is a mere illusion of education, and student representatives are part of the problem and not the solution.

Vale

 

 

 

Groningen, A Heaven for Students

Wolke

Before we start, I’ve published the beginning of my fiction podcast (audio book) about schizophrenia (partly happening in Groningen) on soundcloud. Click here (opens in new tab)   If you’d like to read along for a bit click here for the (shorter) text version.

Alright, this post is a bit different. Probably a bit more of a direct-thought style, if that makes sense to you. This is for all you (about-to-be) students.

This is my last week in Groningen. Soon I will fly to South Carolina to start my exchange semester. I will miss Groningen horribly. Why? Because Groningen is simply the best student city that you can wish for. Well, that’s super subjective, so fuck this. Anyways. Groningen is amazing!

Let’s start with the city itself. Groningen is a small (big according to many Dutch people) city in the north of The Netherlands. It’s quite an old city I’d say. Not only the university, but thousands of old cute buildings shape the character of Groningen. It’s a bit like a fairy tale city. Everybody is happy, and somehow all people seem to have good intentions. Excluding the billions of bike thieves, of course. But if you’re living in Groningen for a year and your bike didn’t get stolen, you can call yourself a rarity. (I totally didn’t say that because I have my bike for two years now. Okay, I did. Well I read something about that on Facebook one day. Super legit.)

Let’s move on to the important things. If you start in Groningen you are probably a RUG or Hanze student. The totally superior (sorry I have to say this, since I publicly advocate a small war against the Hanze for random reasons (Apology to all my Hanze friends, I love you guys) Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (or RUG) (or REICHSUNIVERSITÄT, to make it more sexy) is an amazing university. Well I only know stuff about Psychology, American Studies, Medicine, and some Law stuff. But I guess the other courses are equally cool. What it’s really about is the atmosphere, and I don’t know any student that is unhappy at the RUG. I also don’t know any student that is unhappy at the Hanze, btw. In fact, it doesn’t matter which University you choose (except Hanze), you will have the best time here one way or another. Groningen is as international as it gets. Almost every Dutch person speaks English. You can even talk to the person behind the cash register in the supermarket (Albert Heijn, isn’t that a cool name?) and they will understand you. Ah yes, supermarkets are open on Sundays! And let’s not forget how awesome a Bonuscard is. (It’s a card that makes you believe you safe money because you only buy what’s cheaper this week, but actually it makes you buy more. Honestly guys start going to the market. 10 fucking Kiwis for 2,50€. And 40 passion fruit for 3€. The list goes on. Everything is cheaper on the market. Even meat!) Alright a Bonuscard is pretty shitty. Let’s get back to the student life. Thousands of international students live and study in Groningen. I have been Kei-Introduction, and Erasmus group leader and I have seen the masses of international students streaming into the city every semester. Trust me, international student cities are the best! So many cultures, so many different stories, and so much choice for diverse tastes to fall in love with. Or just get laid, for that matter.
Studying here means a lot of free time. That is something that many German students claim to not know in this amount. And that is because free time is stress less time. But if your university constantly stresses you, you are doing something wrong anyways. In Groningen people are only stressed in the exam periods. And those are short, and half the time is relaxing with friends anyways.

Groningen is like childhood. All your friends live in biking distance. And with biking distance I mean 5-10 minutes. Maximum. Only the really brave (or the Hanze students) live more than 15 minutes from the center. Groningen means biking to university, taking classes, and then bike home or to friends. Doing stuff, and biking to other friends. Every day. That is, if you’re doing it right. I just decided to move really close to my best friend here and live life a bit more relaxed. University life is something that should make us stronger and happier, it shouldn’t stress us. You can get good grades easily without putting much effort into things. Just put good effort in it. With this I am not saying that you can come to Groningen, be a lazy party animal and don’t do anything. That will get you out of university in the first semester (!).

Another big part of childhood was playing, am I right? Playing outside especially, I hope. Besides the rain (that sometimes just won’t leave) uhm wait. Well okay Groningen has shitty weather sometimes. But when it’s nice, it’s nice. (nailed it!)
Well if you have shitty weather, what do you do? Except the millions of festivals that the Dutch love, they also have clubs and bars and inside parties etcetera. The list is endless. You can do basically anything you would like to do here. But that’s less the point here in Groningen. Groningen makes you do the things that are nice to do here automatically.
Another way to play as an adult is to play with substances. And that’s quite common in this city. Weed is tolerated, and you can buy magic truffles in the smart shop. And if you are on one of those festivals or parties, almost everyone is on something. That’s amazing. If you have experienced people on drugs (and with that I don’t mean alcohol, or drugs mixed with alcohol. Well mostly I mean psychedelic drugs) you know that it’s a peaceful happy environment. And if you are not only a person who wants to get ‘fucked up’ with drugs, you might even take a more intellectual approach on the substance. (But obviously I expect that of you as a student lol). If you think drugs are not your thing, that’s also fine. Nobody here will think bad of you because of that. Just to be clear again, I’m not advocating  (early) drug usage that gets out of control.

Because Groningen is not too big you will probably leave the city quite often. You will do city excursions with friends, or if you are really cool, you visit your friends’ parents. It’s all childhood again. There are some amazing forests in the province, and if you are really into nature you should go to Friesland (<3). If you are more into partying and social stuff there is always Amsterdam. I guess I don’t have to say much about Amsterdam.

Let’s get more on to the every-day life. If you are male you can go to the coolest and best Barber shop in Groningen,  Gents Barbershop It’s a men-only barber shop, where men are treated like men. For a very fair price you can enjoy an amazing talk with your barber in the vintage masculine atmospheric environment (sorry that was the only way for me to describe it). You can even have a drink or a coffee there! It’s not that anybody wants to discriminate against women here, but honestly it’s an amazing concept and place. I love it.
Besides going to the barber, there is another thing where students tend to spend much time in: The library. in Groningen it’s basically a big flirt-house for people who care about being seen, and seeing people. And of course, there are those few who actually study. (Yup, that’s the guys who said they studied for 5 hours, but actually spend half the time on Facebook, or meeting people) It’s an easy life in Groningen. Even studying here is nice and gezellig. I use the dutch word here to disgust myself that I do this just to be cool and have it on my blog. Seriously, I should be ashamed of myself. I live here for two years now and I still don’t speak Dutch. That shows you how much you need to speak the language in Groningen. Remember: Everyone speaks English here 😉

Groningen is the place where I can do what I really want to do, while claiming to be a student. If that sounds good to you, you should come to Groningen and study in the best student city you could dream of. If you care for reputation of universities you will also find something with a good name here (RUG lol).
Groningen is the city where I can sit in a garden chair outside of my door on the street, writing my book at 3 am, and nobody will do me harm or scare me. Seriously, big cities make people like me paranoid.

Please stick around and check out the other posts on this blog. I write about culture, psychedelics, society, reality, psychology, the universe, and all kinds of crazy stuff!
If you like to stay updated on my upcoming novel (which takes much inspiration from my life in Groningen) The Blackbird’s Tale :  A Schizophrenic Fable then please follow this blog here on wordpress, and Facebook, and if you like to listen to the audio-book version of my book (including music that I have composed) please press follow on my SOUNDCLOUD

 

 

RE Junesworth