Fuggerei: Here’s Why Rent Has Never Gone up in This Magical German Town

| © place-to-be / Shutterstock
Marion Kutter

In a time when rental prices seem to skyrocket in every major city across the globe, and city-centre accommodation is scarce, a small community in southern Germany does not need to worry about increasing rent. For nearly 500 years, the rent for residents of Augsburg’s Fuggerei neighbourhood has remained the same – but why is that?

Not far from the city centre, a gated community of small mustard-plastered houses standing rank and file is home to 142 residents. It’s a tranquil place of idyllic courtyards and walls adorned with overgrown vines built on a 500-year-old agreement: Inhabitants of the Fuggerei neighbourhood pay no more than € 0,88 in rent each year – that’s about US$1. Yes, you read that correctly.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Since you’re probably wondering how and why that is, we take a short detour to the early 16th century and the life of the local Fugger family. When they settled in Augsburg in 1367, the Fuggers lived off trading woven goods, but the business-minded family quickly established important relationships and grew to be one of the wealthiest families in the city.

Over the years, they acquired vast properties and real estate across Augsburg and founded several social initiatives. Jakob Fugger had made a name for himself as the wealthiest banker in town, earning him the nickname Jakob Fugger the Rich. But in line with his family’s values, Jakob Fugger felt socially responsible and wanted to give back to the community in the form of affordable accommodation for poorer families.

The idea for the Fuggerei was born, and in 1521, he donated the land to establish a social housing complex – the world’s first – for families and individuals in need, but several conditions applied: residents were to be Catholic, registered Augsburg citizens and be well-reputed.

Successful applicants committed to praying for the health and prosperity of the Fugger family three times a day and accepted the 10 pm curfew. Back then, the agreed-upon annual rent for one of the apartments was one Rhenish guilder. Jakob Fugger set up a charitable trust to fund the social housing complex, and it still covers some of the costs today.

Both the Thirty Years’ War and World War II brought devastating destruction to the project, yet the Fuggerei was not only rebuilt every time but also expanded, always respecting the initially agreed rental terms.

The conditions have not changed until now. The curfew is a tad more relaxed, and residents who arrive back late at their flat tend to tip the guard if they do – but apart from that, the agreement is sustained. Completely disregarding inflation, the value of one Rhenish guilder equates to € 0,88 today, and that is the amount of rent that citizens of the Fugger neighbourhood are being charged to this day.

Tourists can visit the complex for an entry fee of € 4,00, and a small museum grants a glimpse into what the 60-square-metre flats looked like from inside.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,665 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

toast-message-image
close-ad
Edit article