There are quite a few types of squatting, if you want to know about all of them, all over the world check out Wikipedia for a great article. Today I want to tell you about squatting developed countries. That is countries where the average person makes $10,000 or more. I don’t squat in undeveloped countries because there are so many affordable options there, why bother. In developed countries, living can become expensive.
Here is an excerpt from chapter 22 of my book Where the Wind Blows. While in France I stayed in two squats and had a great time. Essentially squatting is where people decided they want to move into an abandoned building. In France one building was huge and left to fall apart when the government forgot that it owned it, another was a small home that had been bought and boarded up for a construction project that happened. In both cases people moved into the houses, waited a day or two, called the police and told them they were squatting the houses. The police reported to the owners and for a time both groups were allowed to live at these houses free of charge.
Living rent free in an expensive country is a great thing about squatting, but squatting does require a lot of work. Many of the homes are not well taken care of, so the new residences have to fix them up and make them worth living in. This means getting furniture, turning on utilities, and making sure the place is safe. You might think governments would want to crack down on squatters, after all they are trespassing in some else’s house, but almost all develop countries governments OK some kind of squatting or another. The reason is simple, if a squatter is living in an empty house they are likely to take care of it, if no one lives there and no one is allowed to live there then the house could easily be raided for the copper in the wires or worse become a drug den. In both cases the house becomes worthless, but if squatting is allowed then the house should retain its value. Better yet in some cases there are no owners of the house, and by squatting people who might not have a house can eventually own the house they are squatting. While in the USA I also met a lot of squatters and according to them, in most states, if you squat a house for 7 years while paying all of the bills legally and no owner complains, then the house becomes yours.
So why do people choose to squat? Some do so because they don’t have the money for renting. However, sometimes it’s political. In richer countries there is an overabundance of abandoned buildings and homes, with so many empty, why not use them? Why let them go to waste?