A life of carefree living

There are more paths towards happier living than many people think. Rabobank provides advice and solutions on three trends that could affect the happiness of people’s lives: demographic ageing, sustainability and liveability. Managing Director of Housing Elze Vonk: ‘We want to show people how they can improve their own housing situation.’

Elze Vonk, Managing Director of Housing at Rabobank: ‘You live somewhere your entire life, and a comfortable living environment is an important factor for a happy life. Selling or buying a house is also an important, life-changing event for many people. That’s why Rabobank wants to support people when they are faced with major housing decisions, even when life gets a little harder and happy living is no longer as self-evident as it used to be. This fits in with our ambition to be a bank that contributes to well-being and welfare in the Netherlands. We are focused on three themes: longer independent living, energy-efficient and sustainable housing, and safe and comfortable housing.’

Longer independent living

People are living longer and longer. In 2016, there were 3 million people aged 65 or over in the Netherlands, 700,000 of whom were more than 80 years old. By 2040, over a quarter (26%) of the population (4.7 million) will be over the age of 65. The number of caregivers is also growing, with 4 million of them already active today. Elze Vonk: ‘Demographic ageing has consequences for people’s housing situations. We are seeing that more and more elderly people are staying in their own homes for longer. Sometimes because they want to, sometimes because they have to.’

In order to inform people who live in their own homes longer, as well as their caregivers, about all possible options, Rabobank is starting an online platform: www.ikwoonleefzorg.nl. ‘This website serves to share information and answer questions people might have about longer independent living, healthcare, help and finances’, says Elze Vonk. ‘But you can also find information about social activities for a happy, or even happier life.’

Energy-efficient housing

Sustainability also has an impact on people’s housing situations. The government wants all seven million homes in the Netherlands to be energy neutral by 2050. Elze Vonk: ‘Meeting these targets will be an enormous challenge, but as the country’s largest mortgage lender, we’re more than willing to tackle it head-on. We occupy an influential position, because one million home owners are customers of our bank. We want to make our portfolio more sustainable and want all the homes we finance to have an A-label, on average, by 2030. Home owners will also benefit from this through a more comfortable housing situation and lower energy costs. In addition, well-insulated homes are more stable in value, as well as being better for the environment.’

In order to become more sustainable, Rabobank is cooperating with partners such as Bleeve.nl. Starting in July 2017, this online platform will provide information about energy-saving measures people can use in their own homes, such as insulating floors or cavity walls and purchasing solar panels. Elze Vonk: ‘Bleeve also provides a free online home scan, which gives customers information about potential improvements, as well as quotes for sustainable renovation by expert professionals.’

Safe and comfortable housing

Finally, living environments are a major factor in how people experience their housing situation. Problems in this area differ per region. In the North of the Netherlands, earthquakes are an important issue, whereas other regions face a reduction in population numbers, leading to decreased social cohesion in many smaller villages. In larger cities in the Randstad, on the other hand, many people struggle to find good, affordable housing. Elze Vonk: ‘Rabobank wants to play a connecting role to help improve local liveability throughout the country, helping everyone find safe and comfortable housing. Our local banks have an important role to play.’

Rabobank harnesses the power of its knowledge and network

Rabobank wants to help people live a carefree life, Elze Vonk tells us. ‘As a bank, we have access to a lot of knowledge, a large network and a considerable range of financial solutions. We are more than ready to use them to provide solutions and help dreams come true. We don’t just talk about interest payments during mortgage appointments, but we also discuss possible ways to make homes more sustainable, or more liveable for elderly people. We give people insight into new ways to make their lives happier and take control of their housing situation.