See also: activism
A squat is a 'cracked building' which was abandoned by it's owner. Squatting is the practice of cracking a squat. A squatter is 'one who lives in a squat' or 'one who cracks a squat'. Squatting is a sub-culture.
Wether and under which circumstances squatting is legal differs per country. In the Netherlands, the building has to be unused for one year in order to be legally squatted. These laws differ between countries and therefore futher are evaded in this entry. Judges sometimes take the law very harshly, using all kinds of weird logic leading to a court ruling which in turn leads to the eviction of the squatters. Imagine a building not used for a year of which the owner claims he did move some stuff out of the building 8 months ago, therefore claiming he used the building. Sometimes, a building is squatted while it wasn't unused for a year as a form of local activism.
There are several reasons why one can decide to squat. One could be against the expensive prices existing in order to hire or buy a house. Another could be the scarcity of free buildings in the city. Yet another is if it's either this or homelessness, the choice is is obvious. A quote from a squatter could be 'wonen is een recht!' (Dutch for: 'living is a right!') which includes his/her reasoning.
In times of recession, squatting seems to be more popular then in times where the economy is doing well. With much of the world in a major recession, one can decide to squat and live on their own. Mostly, squatters team up with a group of friends or people who have something in common, like ideals or way of living. Some squats become a place where people can eat and meet people from other cultures. Other squats provide help and advise to people who are illegal in the country. Yet other squats provide internet access for people. Other examples are: providing a room for musicians to exercise with their band be it with or without public. And how about a place where one can eat vegan food for a fair price? How about various combinations? Possibilities are endless!
Several generalisations exist about squatters. In fact they all are: punks, hackers, veganists, activists, hippies, junks, crusts, aetheists, lazy, jobless and morons. Anyone who disagrees is a squatter and therefore a moron! Unfortunately, squatters are criminalized by traditional and conservative mass media, leading to them being careful with actions so squatters in general don't get a bad name. In other words: so they aren't daemonized. Movies like Trainspotting and Xenophobia contribute to the image people have about squatters and squatting.