I googled "house to let Bussum" expecting to find my new ad. To my surprise, I found this entry I wrote a few years ago when all was uncertain.
Luxury of space
When I was living in my loft apartment in Houston, I would cycle through the nearby River Oaks residential area on weekends. Each house was standalone, tremendously large, and unique. I was told that the owners made their money from oil. Cycling through such an open air museum was like flipping through a Hollywood real estate brochure. It was feedstock for my daydreams.
The little town of Bussum in the Netherlands reminds me of River Oaks. The immensely large houses are separated by huge plots of land, divided by well-maintained hedges and gardens. The windows of these century-old houses are double-glazed and big enough to transform the houses into conservatories. The residents cycle on clean bicycle paths.
It is easy to be spoiled by the luxury of space and nature. Anyone living here would find city life a delirious cacophony.
Such was my problem when I returned to London after relishing in the the space of Texas. The flats I could afford were tiny compared to the houses I dreamed of. After four months of searching, I found my dream flat which cost me half my disposable income in rent. But I wasn't looking for a place just for myself. My 5 ft 6 inch German grand piano needed a home, too.
Although there was space inside the flat for my piano, the neighbours couldn't tolerate it being played. Soon I was house hunting all over again.
In Bussum, my friend is facing the same problem. Do you find the smallest, cheapest place in the best neighbourhood - a phenomenon I call the "Woodmansterne effect" or do you find the biggest and best house in the worst neighbourhood? In the former case, you get to enjoy the environment. In the latter case, you get to enjoy the space in your home but your friends might not want to go through the trouble of visiting you.
Today as I trekked along with my friend looking at four different houses, I couldn't help recall the agony I had gone through years ago. It was about the desire for all the comforts I sought in a home of my own but having to compromise because I couldn't afford it. To have the space meant moving farther out, for space and promixity were trade-offs. The amount of money I spent on my hobbit hole could easily have bought me a house with a swimming pool in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps this is the reason why I experience a culture shock, or rather, a space shock, when I return from the USA. It takes a few days to get used to the claustrophic environment both outside and inside.
So my suggestion to my friend: if you want inside space, you'll have to move further out of reach.
26 March 2002 Tuesday
Although River Oaks in Houston, Texas and Bussum (20 minutes by train east of Amsterdam) have similarities of space and wealth, the smells are quite different. Driving in Houston, you can sometimes smell sulphur from the oil refineries. Cycling along in Bussum, you can sometimes smell fresh double Dutch chocolate being made in the local factory.
Anne Ku is special guest of Duo Magenta, in an afternoon concert of violin, guitar, and piano on Saturday 30th March at 3 pm in Bussum.