Why Germany wants families to move to the countryside
Rents are shooting up in major cities, and with high interest rates and a lack of skilled workers, the government’s plan to build 400,000 new homes a year is beginning to look like an impossible dream.
According to Housing Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD), however, there’s an untapped resource that could help Germany tackle its worsening housing crisis: the some 1.7 million empty homes across the country.
But while these homes could help take the pressure off the rental market, it’s unclear whether they’ll truly ease the worsening situation in cities like Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. Why? Because the vast majority of them are located in the countryside.
READ ALSO: Why Germany is seeing the ‘worst housing shortage in 20 years’
Speaking to the Funke Media Group on Wednesday, Geywitz explained that the government was now looking to encourage people to exchange their urban lifestyle for life in a more rural setting.
“Rural areas offer a high quality of life, away from the noise of the big city – especially for families with children,” the Housing Minister explained.
If these rural regions can be made more attractive for people, it would lower the demand for properties in the cities, she added.
Train services and home office
Since the Covid pandemic, flexible and remote working have become far more widespread, but Geywitz wants home office to be even more widely available as part of her push to make life in the countryside more attractive.
In addition, the Housing Minister wants better digital infrastructure in areas outside of cities and has also set her sights on better transport connections.
On Tuesday, Geywitz signed an administrative agreement that will see hundreds of million poured into town centres.
“In 2023 alone, we will again provide €790 million to finance projects for the preservation of inner cities and town centres and to make towns and communities more liveable,” she said.
Gerd Landsberg, the CEO of the Association of Towns and Cities, told Tagesschau he supported the move.
“It’s sensible to make rural regions more accessible with good transport connections, for example through new or reactivated railway lines, so that people can live and reside there happily and cheaply,” he said.
On May 1st, Germany is set to launch its €49-a-month Deutschlandticket, which will allow people to use regional and local trains all over the country for a single monthly fee.
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