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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Der Eigentumsfritze

Millennials who spend their money on property instead of on coffee and avocado toast are not held in high regard in rent-loving Germany. In fact there's a word for these people...

German word of the day: Der Eigentumsfritze
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

If you’ve ever lived in Germany, you’ll be aware that most people rent their homes. In fact, the Bundesrepublik has the lowest level of property ownership in the EU, with just over half of the population owning their own home. 

In the capital Berlin the proportion of tenants is even higher – around 85 percent of people rent rather than buy their homes. 

So those ambitious millennials – and others – who choose to forgo daily brunch and three flat whites at expensive hipster cafes, and instead pour their money into buying a property, are in the minority (especially in cities like Berlin). 

And yes, there’s a German word for them: if you hear someone being called der Eigenstumsfritze then this is what they’re talking about. This word refers to someone who is too into splashing their cash on property.

The Eigenstumsfritze isn’t used for your average family saving up to buy a home over many years in the suburbs. It’s specifically used in the context for annoying young people who are doing too well for themselves – like the 28-year-old overachieving software developer types who move to places like Friedrichshain in Berlin with a million euros spare to live out their dream of trying to become a DJ. Or the influencers who own a Munich apartment decked out in all the latest trendy furniture. 

For Germans who enjoy regular coffee and brunch (which includes smashed avocado toast – much to the annoyance of Australian millionaires), giving up these things to buy a home when you can buy a slap-up meal at a cafe instead is simply ridiculous. 

In fact, as a well-heeled millennial walks past on the way to a flat-viewing, you’ll likely hear grey-haired Berliners muttering to themselves in the few local pubs left in Friedrichshain: “Ach, der ist wohl noch ein Eigentumsfritze. Wohnungen sind so teuer. Es wäre viel Sinnvoller, 30,000-mal Brunch zu kaufen!” (“Ugh, that’s probably another property obsessive. Flats are so expensive, it would make a lot more more sense to buy 30,000 brunches.”)

A coffee in Berlin.

Why would you give up coffee art to buy a place? Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Eigenstumsfritze is made up of the German word das Eigentum, which means property, and Fritze, which in fact comes from the surname Fritz.

It’s a typical German thing to use the name-as-suffix as an insult. You’ll also find a few more variations with Fritz, which appears to be used because it is such a generic German name.

A Werbefritze, for instance, is an annoying some bigshot in the advertising business (think Don Draper). An ‘Ökofritze’ is someone who’s just a bit too into their organic food (think well-off Green voting families in German cities).

The cultural lesson here is to remember just how important Frühstück is to Germans – and no amount of “capital investment opportunities” will make them think otherwise.

Example:

Man denke nur an all die Cappuccinos, den er mit 3,5 Millionen Euro kaufen könnte! Was für ein Eigentumsfritze!

Think of all the coffee he could buy with €3.5 million! What an Eigentumfritze!

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Did you work it out? This is of course an Aprilscherz the German version of an April fool.

While Germans do tend to favour renting homes rather than buying, we’re not aware that this word actually exists. However, we’d like to point out that it is true that Germans do use names as insults and Fritz is a common one.

READ MORE: Why traditional German names are often used as insults

You can find more real German words of the day HERE.

Member comments

  1. You got me – hook, line and sinker!
    I’d still believe it if you hadn’t owned up to it being and April Fool’s Day joke at the end of the article. 🙂

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Lüften

One of the first lessons you learn when living in Germany is that airing out rooms is extremely important.

German word of the day: Lüften

Whether you sublet, rent a flat or own your home in Germany, it’s likely you’ve been told how important it is to lüften, or open your windows and let air in and out regularly. 

Lüften can be a verb or noun in Germany. As a noun it uses the ‘das’ article and stands for ventilation. The verb lüften means to air out something. It comes from the German word die Luft which means air.

The proper airing out of rooms is a very German thing. Hell, it’s a way of life. 

Just check your rent contract. Foreigners in Germany are often surprised to find that ventilating their homes is usually written into their contract and accompanied by instructions. That means it’s literally legally binding! 

There are very important rules to remember, and German even has a set of vocabulary dedicated to getting fresh air safely in and out the room. 

Words like Stoßlüften – which translates to shock or impact ventilation. This is needed at least twice a day (and more in summer) and involves opening the windows or balcony doors wide to let a ‘shock’ of cold air in. According to experts, you should do this for about five minutes a time in winter, 10-15 minutes each time in autumn and spring, and up to half an hour in summer.

Meanwhile, Querlüften or cross ventilation involves opening all the windows of a house or building and letting the fresh air flow through.

The aim of all this lüften is to stop mould from forming, get rid of smells and to stop rooms from getting too humid. The more people that live in your home, the more airing out you’ll have to do. 

Germans recommend that you turn off your heating while airing out your room (to save on money and to protect the climate) – so be sure to have a big jumper on if you’re airing out in winter. 

READ ALSO: Why Germans are obsessed with the art of airing out a room

Lüften took on a whole new meaning in the pandemic as other countries – or at least those that didn’t have the same culture for airing out – began recommending it to people as a way of helping protect against Covid-19 transmission.  

A good German habit

Lüften can quickly become a habit. Whereas before Germany, I was happy to leave a window tilted open for a while to get some fresh air, I’m now obsessed with the proper way to do it. 

I throw open the windows of my flat wide at regular intervals to get that fresh air circulating, even in the dead of winter. When I’m at home in Scotland or on holiday somewhere else, I do the same thing, which can be alarming to people who think you are trying to freeze them.

I find myself feeling pleased when the neighbours across the road from my Berlin flat open their windows or balcony doors wide. It’s like we’re all part of the secret society of fresh air.

There is nothing now that stands between me and Lüften. When I tweeted about this habit, lots of people said they felt a similar way. 

One Twitter user said: “Been telling my family this for years – as they shiver and complain about how cold it is, and my partner and I passive-aggressively follow each other around shutting and reopening windows. Makes for fun times.”

Another said: “My little sister spent an exchange year in Germany before me and when I visited was thoroughly disturbed by her obsessive window opening. A couple years later I was living in Germany and had become a convert, too.”

Examples: 

Hey Karl, Kannst du bitte dein Zimmer lüften?

Hey Karl, can you please air out your room?

In Deutschland muss man die Zimmer richtig lüften.

You really have to air out rooms the right way in Germany.

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