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HOUSING

Rising rent prices in Germany: What are the affordable options for families?

High rents are making it harder for families to live in some German cities. Yet new research has revealed what the best alternatives might be.

Rising rent prices in Germany: What are the affordable options for families?
Families gather on a warm day in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

The number of families in large cities with particularly high rents is declining, according to the new “Germany Study” by economic research institute Prognos commissioned by broadcaster ZDF.

In recent years more families have migrated from rather than moved to cities including Munich, Freiburg, Frankfurt am Main and Stuttgart.

The researchers said a large reason for this was increasing rents: in Munich, families have to spend an average of 43 percent of their income on housing. In Freiburg they have to shell out 42 percent and in Frankfurt am Main that figure is 39 percent.

READ ALSO: Munich 'no longer most expensive city' for renting in Germany

Harald Rost from the State Institute for Family Research at the University of Bamberg cited a family from Munich as an example: despite working as full-time academics, the couple and their three children could only afford a house 70 kilometres away from Munich – to live in the city was too expensive.

“It's not new for families to move to the surrounding area because of high rents,” said Detlev Lück of the Federal Institute for Population Research in Wiesbaden –  but rising rents could be boosting this trend. 

Families have typically been moving to the outskirts of cities or smaller towns in Germany.  Cheaper apartments, suburban train connections and a feasible commuter route are attractive for many people.

Of course it's not just about the cost of housing. Schools and Kitas (daycare centres) also play a central role in the decision by many families to live outside cities. Lots of daycare centres in built-up areas have long waiting times which can influence families to look elsewhere.

Lück said private gardens and parks or other green spaces were also important for couples with children.

“In addition, there are very different individual reasons such as the personal connection to a place, the proximity of one's parents and individual preferences such as a theatre or good food scene in the vicinity,” he added.

What are the best options?

The best living conditions for families, according to the “Germany Study”, are in the Hochtaunuskreis district which lies north of Frankfurt. This area offers good schools and healthcare. The birth rate is also higher than average in this area.

Baden-Baden in the south followed this district, and Starnberg, Bavaria, was in third place. Next came Speyer and Neustadt an der Weinstraße both in Rhineland-Palatinate.

READ ALSO: 'Bargain B-cities': The places to buy property in Germany if you're on a tight budget

Baden-Baden is a good spot for families. Photo: DPA

The towns doing it differently

To put together the ranking, the Prognos researchers looked at four areas of life with several factors, including money and housing, education and social affairs, health and safety as well as leisure and cultural activities.

Researcher Rost said families' decision making also comes down to where they can get work. “People move to where they can find a job,” he said.

He said the tendency to leave cities because of high rents was taking place in Germany's big cities.

In medium-sized towns like Bamberg, which has 77,600 residents, there is a strong influx of families.

Meanwhile, many families who moved further out of the suburbs to the countryside noticed extra costs, such as needing to buy more than one car in order to drive their children to various activities, the research found.

According to Rost, the Upper Franconian town of Marktredwitz in the district of Wunsiedel, which has 17,300 residents, shows how things can be different.

This town offered financial incentives to families to settle down. Start-ups in the region also made it attractive as an employer.

According to the study, rent costs in the district are the lowest in Germany; families pay just 16 percent of their income. These factors have resulted in the number of families in the area going up.

Do you have a family in Germany? Where would you suggest living which is both affordable and has a good quality of life? Let us know.

Vocabulary

On average – durchschnittlich

Affordable rents – (die) bezahlbare Mieten

Living conditions – (die) Lebensverhältnisse

Financial incentives – (die) finanzielle Anreize

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

For members

EDUCATION

What foreign parents in Germany need to know about Sprach-Kitas

Germany has a number of specialised nursery schools that focus primarily on helping children with their German language skills. Here's what foreigners need to know about them.

What foreign parents in Germany need to know about Sprach-Kitas

What even is a Sprach-Kita? 

A “Sprach-Kita”, or Language Kindergarten, is a special type of nursery school that’s been around in Germany since 2016 under the government’s Sprach-Kita Programme. The main aim is to help young children build up their German language skills to a level that will allow them to succeed at school. 

How is this different to a normal Kita or daycare centre?

Unlike most Kindergartens in Germany, Sprach-Kitas employ staff who are specifically trained in language teaching and acquisition. These specialists are paid for through Sprach-Kita Programme funding and help to shape the environment of the nursery school, making it easier for children to develop their German skills in an everyday setting.

The schools also have access to external support and advice on catering to children with language setbacks, and may work closely with parents to encourage further language development at home. 

Since the scheme was set up in 2016, around 7,000 nursery schools have successfully applied for “Sprach-Kita” status and received at least €25,000 funding through the programme. These were mostly Kitas that had already taken in a higher-than-average number of children from foreign backgrounds, such as those in popular migrant or expat areas.

Sprach-Kitas will generally be much more diverse and focus most heavily on children’s language skills, in addition to teaching young kids about cultural inclusivity.  

READ ALSO: ‘Multilingualism is an enrichment, not a deficit’: Raising bilingual kids in Germany

Who are Sprach-Kitas for?

Any young child in Germany is allowed to go to a Sprach-Kita, but the main target audience for these specialised nurseries are the children of foreign parents.

In households where German isn’t the main language spoken, children may struggle to keep up with their classmates at school due to their lower level of German fluency. That could be because the child has two international parents – such as a French mum and an English dad – or because the child has more contact with a parent who doesn’t speak German. 

According to recent statistics, around one in five nursery-age children in Germany doesn’t speak German with their parents at home. That equates to 675,000 children in total. In addition, around 40 percent of nursery school children come from a migrant background. 

Through the Sprach-Kita Programme, government is hoping to help these children integrate at an early age to set them up fully for life in Germany. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rise in multilingual children in Germany

Do I have to pay for a Sprach-Kita? 

Parents usually have to pay a monthly fee for their child to attend a German nursery school – and the same applies to Sprach-Kitas. The fee structure is generally set by the local government, meaning it can vary widely across different regions of the country.

However, you won’t pay any more (or less) for a Sprach-Kita than you would for an ordinary nursery school. 

Where can I find a Sprach-Kita?

Around one in eight Kindergartens in Germany is currently a Sprach-Kita, meaning they aren’t particularly hard to find.

To look for one near you, the best thing to do is to hop onto the government website and look on this interactive map detailing all of the Sprach-Kitas in Germany. 

Children ride tricycles at a German kindergarten.

Children ride tricycles at a German kindergarten. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/mauritius images / Westend61 / M | Westend61 / Mareen Fischinger

However, partly due to staffing shortages, Kita places in Germany are highly competitive right now – so securing a place may involve getting in touch with a number of them at an early date. 

READ ALSO: How can Germany improve its Kitas amid teacher shortage?

Is there anything else I need to know?

Currently, the funding for the Sprach-Kita Programme is due to end at the end of 2022 – and it’s unclear what the fate of the existing language-focused nursery schools will be after this happens.

Though the three parties of the traffic-light coalition had pledged to extend the scheme in their coalition contract, it appears that the programme was one of the first victims of savage negotiations over next year’s budget.

That means the federal government are now hoping to transfer the responsibility for funding the language support over to the 16 states.  

“Responsibility in the area of daycare for children lies with the states and cannot be permanently financed by federal funding programmes,” a spokeswoman for the Family Ministry told Welt. 

The Ministry for Families has also pledged to make language acquisition a cornerstone of its forthcoming Good Childcare Act, which will see at least €2 billion in federal funding made available for nurseries in 2023 and 2024. 

That could make it possible for existing Sprach-Kitas to remain in place as specialised centres for language support. 

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