EXPLAINED: How to get a Kleingarten in Germany

An estimated 5 million people in Germany make use of a garden allotment; here's what you need to do to become one of them.

A garden gnome with sunglasses sits among flowers in an allotment garden in Mainz.
A garden gnome with sunglasses sits among flowers in an allotment garden in Mainz. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Fredrik Von Erichsen

In Germany, a Kleingarten or Schrebergarten is a small plot of land, similar to an allotment, which city-dwellers can rent to use as their own garden, to grow flowers, vegetables or just to enjoy the sun. 

These little gardens are extremely popular; there are over 900.000 throughout the country, and the Federal Association of German Garden Friends estimate around five million people use such a garden. 

Why is the Kleingarten so popular in Germany?

The fondness for allotments in Germany goes back to the mid-19th century.

The cramped living conditions and poverty in the inner cities quickly led to a steep decline in physical and psychological well-being for much of the population. 

To alleviate this hardship, some local communities started offering the poorest families small patches of land near the city to grow their own vegetables, and others started providing green spaces to local communities for children to play in.

READ ALSO: The story of Germany’s oldest national park as it turns 50

The latter type of garden was given the name Schrebergarten after the physician Daniel Gottlieb Schreber, who made the revolutionary demand for playgrounds for children in the mid 19th century in order to get them off the dangerous streets. However, these eventually became used more often for their parents to grow fresh produce. 

How can you get a Kleingarten?

The first thing to note is that, in order to get an allotment garden, you first have to join a communally organized garden association.

After joining a garden association and being allocated a plot, you lease the piece of land rather than renting it, which means that you are given the piece of land for an indefinite period of time with the possibility to grow fruit and vegetables there.

Trees bloom in the plots of the allotment garden association "Gartenidyll" in Saxony-Anhalt.

Trees bloom in the plots of the allotment garden association “Gartenidyll” in Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

How can I find an available Kleingarten?

One way is to search online for the regional or district association responsible for your neighbourhood and get advice from them about free gardens in your area. Links to all of the state-wide regional garden associations can be found on the website of the German Allotment Garden federation (BDG).

Sites like eBay Kleinanzeigen and the website of your local garden associations can also be a good place to check. 

Another option is to go directly to your local allotment garden association and ask on site, or to simply ask acquaintances and people in your neighbourhood.

How quickly can I get a Kleingarten?

Depending on where you live, you might have a long wait before you get your hands on your very own patch of green. Demand for allotments has risen sharply in recent years, especially in major cities. But don’t let that dishearten you.

One useful tip is to put your name down on the lists of all of the eligible garden associations in your area to increase your chances of getting a spot.

How much does a Kleingarten cost?

According to a study by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development, the average rent of an allotment garden in Germany is 18 cents per square meter per year. 

The plot area of an allotment garden usually ranges between 250 and 400 square meters, so for a 400 square meter allotment garden you can expect to pay an average annual rent of €72. 

But the cost varies widely depending on where you live. In big cities with high demand, you will pay significantly more for your garden than in a small town. In Berlin, for example, you can currently expect to pay a rent of around 35 cents per square meter.

Rent is only one part of the total cost – there are also the association fees, insurance, waste collection and water costs to factor in too. But, as a rule, the ancillary costs are significantly higher in larger cities than in more rural areas. 

All in all, including the lease, you should budget for annual fixed costs of between €250 to €500.

Flowers hang in a garden in the association "Kleingärtnerverein Oberursel" in Hesse.

Flowers hang in a garden in the association “Kleingärtnerverein Oberursel” in Hesse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Andreas Arnold

What else should I be aware of?

Joining a garden association means that you must abide by certain rules and communal expectations.

READ ALSO: Why you should trim your hedge in Germany this February

Many allotment garden associations have fixed rules about keeping animals, so you should find out in advance whether you are allowed to keep chickens or rabbits or if you are allowed to bring your domestic pets to the garden.

The association rules may also specify what you can plant in your garden. For example, they may state that one-third of the total area is for growing fruits and vegetables, another third is for lawns and flower beds, and the final third is for structural use.

You should also not forget that joining an association means joining a community and that helpfulness, tolerance, and a relatively sociable nature are essential if you want to have your own patch of green space in the city.

Useful Vocabulary

To lease = pachten

Plot of land = (die) Parzelle

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How the housing bubble in Frankfurt and Munich could be set to burst

Frankfurt and Munich are among the cities with the highest risk of a housing bubble worldwide, a new study has revealed.

How the housing bubble in Frankfurt and Munich could be set to burst

According to the UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index, Frankfurt is second only to Toronto in terms of its risk of suffering a major decline in property prices. In Munich, too – one of Germany’s priciest cities – the housing market could be dramatically overheated.

In a list of 25 global cities facing a housing bubble, Frankfurt landed in second place with a value of 2.21 and Munich was in fourth place with a value of 1.80. Values of more than 1.50 represent a housing-bubble risk, the Swiss bank revealed.

“Investors considering purchases in these regions of Germany for yield considerations should exercise caution at present,” advised Maximilian Kunkel, UBS chief investment strategist in Germany.

READ ALSO: Why Germany’s property boom could be coming to an end

In the cities analysed, house prices grew by an average of 10 percent between mid-2021 and mid-2022. However, researchers believe the pace of growth is out of step with current economic realities.

For a long time, a combination of urbanisation – people increasingly moving to cities – and low financing costs have made it easier for people to purchase homes. 

The low interest rates have meant that house prices have steadily decoupled from local incomes and rents over the past decade, UBS said.

“The cities with the highest bubble risk have seen inflation-adjusted price increases averaging 60 percent over this period, while real incomes and rents have only risen by about 12 percent,” the researchers explained. 

But interest rate rises to combat inflation and increased economic uncertainty could soon lead to a reversal of this trend. 

“Imbalances in global metropolitan housing markets are highly elevated and prices are out of sync with rising interest rates,” said the report.

Mortgage rates have almost doubled in most of the cities analysed since mid-2021, reducing the amount of living space potentially buyers can afford.

According to UBS, a skilled service worker can now only afford around 50 square metres of living space on average – around a third lower than what they could have purchased a year ago.

In Munich, this trend is particularly severe: a skilled service worker can afford one bedroom fewer than they could before the pandemic. 

Nevertheless, Frankfurt and Munich still remain more affordable for this type of buyer than other global metropoles such as London, Tokyo, Paris, and Los Angeles. In Munich, a skilled service worker needs to work an average of 12 years to be able to afford a flat, while in Frankfurt, it’s an average of nine. 

‘The boom is coming to an end’

According to the study, Frankfurt and Munich currently have the highest risk of a housing bubble in the entirety of the Eurozone. 

In Frankfurt in particular, the housing market is already starting to cool off. After around a decade of consistent double-digit price increases, growth has now declined for the first time.

“Between mid-2021 and mid-2022, property prices only rose by around five percentage points,” the report revealed. 

However, flat prices in Frankfurt are still more than 60 percent above the level of five years ago.

These survey results are backed up by the Immowelt Preiskompass. According to the property search portal Immowelt, the second quarter of 2022 saw reduced interest from buyers dampen purchase prices. This trend continued in the third quarter of the year, cementing the turnaround on the housing market. 

READ ALSO: Why house prices in Munich are starting to fall

Altbau properties in Munich

Altbau properties in Munich. Photo: picture alliance / Matthias Balk/dpa | Matthias Balk

UBS also pointed out that, while the population of Germany’s banking capital has stagnated since the pandemic, new construction has accelerated in previous years. This could put an end to the low vacancy rates by increasing the housing stock over time. 

In Munich, meanwhile, the housing market is supported by an ultra-low vacancy rate and a growing work force, but the rather subdued German economic outlook presents a drag on housing demand, according to the report. 

Munich also has the highest price-to-rent ratio of all the properties surveyed, with average property prices equating to around 46 years of rental income, compared to 45 in Frankfurt. This makes buy-to-let properties much less attractive. 

After house prices more than doubled in the past decade, growth in the Bavarian capital is also slowing down to around five percent.

“The boom is coming to an end,” said Kunkel, referring to both cities.

What’s the definition of a ‘housing bubble’? 

In economic terms, a bubble is a dramatic and sustained mispricing of an asset. 

Typical signs of a housing bubble include a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents, and imbalances in the economy, such as excessive lending and construction activity.

These were the metrics used by UBS to identify risks of a housing bubble in global cities.