suburban bliss / a boring suburban existence / bourgeois life

‘Huisje-boompje-beestje’ symbolizes leading a nice and quiet conventional family life. You have a nice house (‘huisje’), a garden (‘boompje’) and probably a pet (‘beestje’). It is not necessarily a suburban life although the phrase is often used to imply exactly that. I don’t know why we use ‘boompje’ instead of ‘tuintje’ (with ‘tuin’ translating as ‘garden’), but this phrase may in fact be derived from the typical children’s drawing of a family, a house, a tree and a dog. Note that a pet is a ‘huisdier’ in Dutch (literally ‘house animal’) and not a ‘beestje’, see Related words below.

‘Huisje-boompje-beestje’ is often used as a pejorative, emphasizing the perceived boring aspect of living such a life. A related noun is ‘burgerlijk’: conventional, bourgeois. The epitome of ‘huisje-boompje-beestje’ is having a station wagon and living in a ‘Vinexwijk’, see Extra below.

“Sander heeft zaterdag een keuken gekocht. Hij is nog nooit zo dicht bij huisje-boompje-beestje geweest!” 
(“Sander bought a kitchen on Saturday. He has never been this close to leading a conventional bourgeois life!”)

“Heb je gehoord dat Annette een huis heeft gekocht met haar vriend? En ze is ook nog zwanger!” – “Wauw, ik had niet verwacht dat ze nu al voor huisje-boompje-beestje zou kiezen; zij was vroeger echt een wilde!” 
(“Have you heard that Annette has bought a house with her boyfriend? And not only that, she is also pregnant!” – “Wow, I hadn’t expected her to choose a suburban life this quickly; she used to be a wild one!”)

“Ik hoor altijd van die stoere verhalen over de wereld rondreizen en zo lang mogelijk van je vrijheid genieten, maar ik heb eigenlijk maar één wens: een huisje-boompje-beestje-leven! En wel zo snel mogelijk!” 
(“I always hear such tough stories about travelling around the world and enjoying one’s freedom as long as possible, but as it turns out I have only one wish: suburban bliss! And I want it now!” Lit. “And (in fact) as quickly as possible!”)

“Mike! Dat is lang geleden dat ik jou gezien heb! Hoe gaat het man? Is die station wagon van jou?” – “Het gaat goed! Ja, die auto is van mij; ik ben helemaal huisje-boompje-beestje geworden, erg hè?” 
(“Mike! It’s been a long time since I last saw you! How are you doing man? Is that station wagon yours?” – “I’m doing fine! Yes, that car is mine; I have gone completely suburban, terrible isn’t it?”).

Related words:
– Burgerlijk: conventional, bourgeois [adjective].
– Ingekakt: boring, quiet [adjective]. From the verb ‘inkakken’: to doze off, to become slightly lethargic (temporarily).
– Nieuwbouwwijk: new housing estate, new housing development [noun] [de nieuwbouwwijk, de nieuwbouwwijken]. Also see Extra below on ‘Vinexwijk’.
– Voorstad: suburb [noun] [de voorstad, de voorsteden].
– Buitenwijk: suburb [noun] [de buitenwijk, de buitenwijken].
– Huisdier: pet [noun] [het huisdier, de huisdieren].
– Tuin: garden [noun] [de tuin, de tuinen].
Huis: house [noun] [het huis, de huizen].
Boom: tree [noun] [de boom, de bomen].
– Beest: animal, beast, bug [noun] [het beest, de beesten]. The diminutive is almost only used in the translation of ‘bug’ or ‘insect’.

A word that has almost become a synonym for new housing development in the Netherlands is ‘Vinexwijk’. Not every new housing development area is a ‘Vinexwijk’ though. Vinex is short for ‘Vierde Nota Ruimtelijke Ordening Extra’, a (spatial planning) policy briefing note issued in 1991 detailing the designated areas in the Netherlands where massive new housing development were to be built. Well-known examples are ‘Ypenburg’ in The Hague and ‘Leidsche Rijn’ in Utrecht.

5 thoughts on “Huisje-boompje-beestje

    • Excellent addition!
      I think one can use ‘gezapig’ as the formal equivalent of ‘ingekakt’. When somebody is ‘gezapig’ he or she is sluggish or indolent. Often the term ‘gezapig bestaan’ is used, as in ‘een gezapig bestaan leiden’: to lead a dull/boring/uneventful life.

  1. I heard a lot of this one on Boer zoekt Vrouw! (I know, trashy show.)

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks to all the editors for continuing to maintain this blog. It’s really great.

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