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

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

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.


On average – durchschnittlich

Affordable rents – (die) bezahlbare Mieten

Living conditions – (die) Lebensverhältnisse

Financial incentives – (die) finanzielle Anreize

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