‘I’m always working, it’s hard not to get bitter’

In addition to her work as an artist, Janne Igbuwe (27) works two jobs to pay off her landlord’s mortgage. ‘There’s almost no time to look around and enjoy youth in Amsterdam.’

Sarah Luyters

house hunting

This article is part of a series on Amsterdam’s house hunters: what dreams did they start with and what still remain? Also read the previous episodes: How do you find a house in Amsterdam?

When Janne Igbuwe starts studying at the Breitner Academy in Noord, she wants nothing more than to return to her hometown of Amsterdam. “I come from the west, but after their fourth child, my parents were forced to move to Hoofddorp, three tall ago became too small.”

Since she cannot find a house in Amsterdam, Igbuwe moves to Haarlem. “Before I did higher vocational education at Breitner Academy, I was in secondary vocational education, I registered with Woningnet and Studentenwoningweb, but I was never eligible for anything, just like my peers. I recently heard that MBO students are not eligible for student housing. That this is something they are only now going to change.”

Igbuwe was recently invited for the first time in seven years to see a youth home via Woningnet in Zuidoost. “I’ve racked up a lot of points over the years, and yet I’m usually number 100. Now it was number nine for the first time, so I responded, even if it didn’t necessarily feel like a safe place. for a woman alone and go, I don’t think I have a chance.”

two jobs

At the moment she lives in a small studio in De Baarsjes: “I pay less than 25 mtwo 1100 euros; I use it to pay off my landlord’s mortgage. In addition to my work as an artist, I have two jobs in the cultural field and do extra work. Only then will it be possible to pay the fixed costs every month. Now I also have a student debt of 40k, which I always feel very bad about, especially with my father – he came to Europe from Nigeria with nothing and always worked very hard to support his family, and now I have such a big student debt.”

Igbuwe’s mother squatted in Amsterdam in the 1980s. “Sometimes I miss the city where she grew up. Whom I only know for their stories. Occupying was not illegal then. Living in the city has now become something for rich people. For this I rented a studio in East, in a large house of my own. Before corona it was an Airbnb, but since no more tourists came, they rented the place to house hunters. I saw firsthand how wide the gap between rich and poor had become.”

“These people also bought the low house next to them, they broke the walls to make their living room even bigger, as well as their garden. I rarely saw them in that huge garden, because they also had a house in the country. The whole situation started to bother me more and more. After two years I had to leave because otherwise they would have to offer me an indefinite contract, which they obviously didn’t want. So I moved into this very expensive temporary studio in the West.

residential group

Igbuwe’s dream was to become a part-time art teacher in pre-professional secondary education and also to make her own art, which she exhibits regularly. “Now teachers’ residencies are being offered, which is a great initiative, but for that you need to work as a teacher for at least 32 hours. There would hardly be time left to organize exhibitions, which is very important for me as a trained artist. Looks like I’m stuck. There’s almost no time to look around and enjoy youth in Amsterdam, I’m always working to make ends meet. Sometimes it’s hard not to get bitter.”

“I also get tired of having to explain my story, the story of many younger people now, over and over again. It’s absurd that we now think we’re lucky to find a place to live for insanely high rent.”

Very occasionally she thinks about leaving Amsterdam for the provinces: “But as a black girl and artist of mixed origin, will I feel at home in a village? I don’t know. This housing problem is complex in many layers.”

After three years on her own, Igbuwe would now like to live in a commune: “Maybe there is someone in town who knows something? Or who knows, is there an altruistic person somewhere who has a property to rent to me? That would be fantastic!”

'Only with two jobs and I can pay the fixed costs.'  Sculpture Jacob van Vliet

‘Only with two jobs and I can pay the fixed costs.’Sculpture Jacob van Vliet

Who Janne Igbuwe (27), artist and freelancer in the cultural sector.
rents a studio in De Baarsjes of 25 mtwo for 1100 euros per month.

null Image Laura van der Bijl

Sculpture Laura van der Bijl

residential career

1996-2001 Knollendamstraat
2001-2009 Hoofddorp, Martin Luther Kingstraat
2009-2018 Hoofddorp, Vrijbuiterhof
2018-2020 Haarlem, Lange Herenstraat
2020-2022 Kraaipanstraat
2022-now Orteliusstraat

house hunting tip

‘Keep repeating that you are looking for a house, until you get bored. I even shared an extensive post about the property market on social media, after which I temporarily received an offer in Haarlem.’