‘Actually, I hardly ever have a nine-to-five day’

Rene: „I am a product designer by training. That’s a profession in which you know a little bit about a lot of things. From design courses, technical courses, business administration, marketing… For the past thirty years I have worked for myself, I mainly gave advice to companies and municipalities.

“Two years ago I still had something like four or five clients for whom I did something. And then corona came of course, everything was a bit on its ass. I thought: do I have to worry too much about acquiring customers? I’ve let that slip a bit – the project-based work, I’m more or less out of it now.

“I could afford that, because I live frugally. And about twelve years ago I came up with a bird food thing for the window. About two hundred thousand of these have already been sold. At the moment I can live on that for a month a year.”


Rene: „I also have an apartment in Dordrecht from which I collect rent. I am also on Airbnb, I receive guests in my own home. That can easily yield five to six hundred euros per month. I live here myself of course. I always report that when people sign up to make a reservation. People sometimes read about it and then they are irritated that I am there too.

“In terms of income, I also do a bit of investing. I have taken city walks through Dordrecht, made T-shirts with my own texts, and I have written seven books, including four children’s books. I self-published it. I also have savings.

“I am also a little bit into smart, economical solutions, the reuse of things. If I have to point out here in the living room or kitchen what is homemade, received, rustled or patched up, then almost everything goes out the door. I built a mini sauna in the garden myself. I sometimes go there to relax. He works on a kettle. You turn on the cooker and it continues to steam.”

Economical solutions

Rene: “I spend little. I have a fourteen year old Ford Ka. It has never been serviced. I’ve only changed oil four times in all those years – that’s a business model for those garages. I’ve been very lucky with this car. I don’t know if I can do the same with the next one, which is coming.”

Rene: “I don’t set an alarm. Unfortunately, I often wake up very early. It is usually around six o’clock. Sometimes I wake up at three o’clock and then it’s done, I don’t sleep anymore. I think it’s because of the age. More people suffer from that.

“I usually hang out in bed, read the newspaper, get coffee and another coffee. Check out the news on my iPad.

Usually I’m downstairs at nine, nine thirty. Then I grab a notepad and make a list for the day. I note whether I have appointments, whether I have to clean the house because guests are coming, whether I have to do errands, do odd jobs, or whether I am going for a bike ride. Work or private, everything goes hand in hand.

“I often had breakfast upstairs, a bowl of muesli with fruit. I eat little by little, spread out throughout the day. That is also quite impulsive. I may go to the shed to get a screwdriver, come back through the kitchen and think: I’ll cook an egg. I don’t have much structure to it. I always just let it happen.

“I cycle a lot. I often go for a bike ride on a Sunday morning. When I see a river, I sometimes want to go for a spontaneous swim, and then continue home. To keep fit.

„I used to cycle with my children on the back of the seat for half an hour and I did not return until three hours later. Then I started drawing all my routes on a road map with a felt-tip pen. I have been to many places by now. A lot in North Holland, but also in Groningen, as far as the Wadden Islands.”

“Actually, I’ve hardly ever had a nine-to-five day. I had a job at a design agency for a few years. At one point I thought: you are happiest without a boss and staff. My oldest son was not in primary school at the time. So I canceled the mortgage and I traveled through America with him and my then girlfriend for four months in an old barrel.”

Girlfriend in Cuba

Rene: “I have two children, aged 33 and 29, whom I see regularly. But I don’t have a partner at the moment. Have a kind of girlfriend in Cuba, I’ve known her for nine years. It’s a romantic relationship, but we don’t see each other very often. Once every few years. It’s a bit of a loose tie.

“With corona I experienced that I found it very difficult to be alone. You are on your own for everything. Even when things go a little less in your life. Then you don’t have a partner with whom you can spar and consult, someone who will get you through it. I do have people I go cycling with for a day, things like that. But with corona that has come to a halt. I find myself having trouble getting out again. I do not know why. I can’t place it. The outside world just seems a lot busier now.”

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‘Actually, I hardly ever have a nine-to-five day’
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