Seniors want to move, but where?

Seniors want to move, but where?
Retired couple watching TV and reading newspaper at home (illustration).

Noos Newsan average

  • Brian van der Poel

    Local editor

  • Brian van der Poel

    Local editor

The idea is that the vacated house will accommodate a young family who will leave an apartment behind which will become available to beginners, who in turn will leave the student accommodation.

“Building for the elderly makes sense, because of the flow in which you help twice as many people find a home,” says Hans Adriani. It is “the administrative driving force of housing, social care and aged care”. The election manifestos of various parties call for more and better housing for the elderly.

Hundreds of thousands of nursing homes

About a year ago, outgoing ministers De Jong (public housing) and Helder (long-term care) presented a plan to stimulate the flow of seniors into smaller homes.

By 2030, 290,000 new homes must be built for this target group: “thresholdless homes” (without thresholds or stairs), senior citizens’ yards and homes where people with dementia can, for example, receive nursing care. These represent approximately one-third of the homes to be built in that period, although it now seems certain that this number will not be achieved.

Adriani also points out that construction of homes for the elderly has not yet begun. Construction or renovation for the elderly is often more complex and expensive than for ordinary homes, rising to around €20,000 per house. For example, they should be at one level and easy to adapt to care tasks.

Older people don’t want to move

However, building for the elderly is not as complicated as many municipalities think, says Adriani. “You have to want it, say you want it and then do it.” He also sees growing awareness. “A few years ago, only one in three municipalities was interested in housing for seniors, but nowadays it is on the agenda of almost all municipalities.”

When the plan was presented to ministers, it was clear that not all elderly people were keen to move. When children leave home, they want to continue living in their familiar home, whose mortgage is often largely paid off. They are reluctant to leave the neighborhood they live in, and oftentimes there is no suitable, affordable apartment to be found in the area.


The latter is the case in the village of Woubrugge in the south of the Netherlands. Mia Howes, 70, now lives alone in a single-family home there. She would like to make space available, but according to her, no (suitable) apartments can be found in Woubrugge. Moving to another area is not an option for her. “My kids, my friends, and my entire social network are here.”

That’s why she’s trying to get Knarenhof off the ground with two other old people from the neighborhood in Bruges. Seniors live there together, so they can socialize more easily and keep an eye on each other.

And even though they’ve been working on it for years, the first pile is still a long way off. “You have to repeat yourself in politics, because sometimes it feels like you’re talking to a wall,” Howes says. According to Houzz, about eighty to ninety interested parties have registered in the initiative group.

We realize that we cannot build just anywhere, but this policy surrounds us like a kind of shrinking envelope.

Dolph Kistemaker, Consultant at Cage on Clue

Many of the sites the initiators are considering have not yet been selected, such as the school that is being demolished and the old greenhouse complex on the edge of the village. For example, the school site has to be put up for tender, and according to the municipality, the province of Zuid-Holland does not grant permission for the greenhouse complex.

This is because it is located outside the area where construction is permitted, says the responsible council member, Kestemaker. “We understand that we cannot build anywhere, but this policy surrounds us like a kind of shrinking envelope. Hugo de Jong could say that a street should be added in every city and village, but in reality it is not that easy.” . “

Nice neighbors

According to the council member, space in Kaj-en-Brasim municipality is limited. “Who should we prioritize? That’s a problem. In my conversations with residents, I’ve heard that starters have the biggest problems in the housing market. If we had starter homes built right away, I’m sure they would go for it.”

Those in charge of the elderly courtyard project confirm that the project leads to the flow of traffic. Kestemaker points out that his municipality is close to the city of Leiden, where competition in the housing market is intense. “Home seekers will naturally look at the immediate surrounding areas of the city, including us. Leiden residents will probably buy homes that become available.”

The initiators recently decided to expand their plans to include a “multi-generational court,” intended for people between the ages of 19 and 109. “Here people help good neighbors when necessary. Not with interest, but with interest,” according to the Knarenhof website.

Counselor Kestemaker believes that initiators should make their plans concrete and participate in the tender. “Then the best and most suitable project will win, I am convinced of that.”

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