Expat Housing

Moscow’s Dying German Village

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Residents at Moscow's "German Village" are saying "Nyet" to what they call unfair rent prices.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The “German Village,” a closed-off district in Moscow, is the largest piece of real estate owned by the German government abroad.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • A German government agency that owns the housing agency catering to German expats in Moscow is refusing to cut the rental rates even though rents across Moscow have fallen sharply.
    • Demand for accommodation in the German Village is declining as a result of the agency’s rental policy, and residents have signed a petition and taken legal action.
    • The butcher and baker have shut and the pub is about to shut too — but the agency won’t budge.
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    Audio

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When demand falls, prices follow suit. It’s a central economic principle that also applies to Moscow’s housing market, with one exception: a small district that is home to increasingly annoyed German diplomats and expatriates.

A dark green metal gate in view of multiple surveillance cameras shields the estate known as the “German Village” from the bustle of the Russian capital’s Vernadskovo Prospekt. For a long time this district, owned by the German government, had a German baker that made home deliveries, along with a mock rustic German pub called “Deutsches Eck” or “German Corner,” where expats, teachers and diplomats met to wash down their Nuremberg sausages with German beer.

But this Teutonic idyll, a quiet island cut off from the harsher realities of Moscow life, is under threat.

Elsewhere in the city, rents are falling because of the economic crisis sparked by Western sanctions and the slump in oil prices. But in the German Village, rents are set to increase even though most tenants already pay around twice as much in euro terms as the Russians living in the surrounding, rather upmarket areas. The landlord, the German government in this case, is steadfastly resisting increasingly desperate calls from tenants to lower the rents, and is resorting to some rather absurd arguments to defy the logic of the Moscow rental market.

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