Good jobs, a clean environment, low crime rates, lots of leisure-time and cultural attractions, good transport links: German cities frequently boast precisely these features. In a 2015 study aimed at evaluating the quality of life in 230 large cities conducted by the Mercer consulting firm, seven German cities place in the Top 30. With Munich (4th place), Düsseldorf (6) and Frankfurt am Main (7), three actually make the Top Ten. Berlin (14), Hamburg (16) and Stuttgart (21) are also well up the list. In Germany there are 76 large cities (more than 100,000 inhabitants) and 600 medium-sized cities with between 20,000 and 99,999 inhabitants; 74 percent of people now live in cities.
The demand for urban living space has led to a sharp rise in rents in the case of first-time lets, and in the price of real estate. With regard to European home ownership rates, Germany comes second from last. Only 43 percent of households live in their own four walls. The majority opt for rented accommodation, which has traditionally always been preferred. Almost 20 percent of people views the cost of living as a “heavy financial burden”. On average, such costs absorb 35 percent of monthly incomes. For this reason the Federal Government has paved the way for rent caps aimed at preserving social diversity in regions where the housing market is under pressure. In the event of a change in tenant, new rents are capped at a max. 10 percent higher than for a comparable flat – but there are exceptions. In Berlin 22 areas were given “environment protection”. All redevelopment measures, meaning all demolition work, as well as all alterations and changes in use are checked and require approval, in order to prevent refurbishment becoming synonymous with gentrification. This way, so the hope, urban diversity will be preserved.