July 4, 2024
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Almost Two Million Apartments Stand Empty in Germany, Amidst Housing Shortage

Despite a high demand for housing, Germany has 1.9 million unoccupied apartments, primarily in rural areas, creating a stark contrast with the housing crisis in urban centres.
Almost Two Million Apartments Stand Empty in Germany, Amidst Housing Shortage
Stanislav Korol - Unsplash

While Germany faces a severe housing shortage, particularly in urban areas, a staggering 1.9 million apartments remain vacant across the country, according to the 2022 census. This equates to a vacancy rate of 4.3%, highlighting a stark divide in the real estate market.

Eastern Germany is particularly affected, with vacancy rates exceeding 10% in some regions due to a significant exodus of young people. However, the problem is not exclusive to the east, with western areas like the Eifel, Franconia, and Saarland also experiencing high vacancy rates.

This phenomenon, known as the "doughnut effect," sees new residential areas being built on city outskirts while inner-city locations deteriorate. Smaller apartments, close proximity to neighbors, and limited parking options contribute to this trend.

The consequences of vacancy are far-reaching. Dilapidated buildings depress property values in surrounding areas, while crime and vandalism become more prevalent. Additionally, the maintenance of existing infrastructure becomes a financial burden for the remaining residents.

Experts suggest several strategies to address this issue. Efforts to retain young people in rural areas, such as cultural support and improved transportation links, are crucial. Repurposing empty apartments into co-working spaces could also be a viable solution, especially with the rise of remote work.

The government's "Young Buys Old" program, aimed at revitalising vacant properties outside metropolitan areas, is seen as a positive step. However, limited funding poses a challenge to its nationwide implementation.

The census data, gathered from property owners and housing companies, reveals a significant untapped potential in Germany's housing market. The government and policymakers are urged to take action to address this issue and alleviate the housing crisis, particularly in urban areas.

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