A dream for developers, a nightmare for the needy

 

The scenes depicted in these pictures are becoming ever more typical of Swiss cities. At present (September 2010) we get the feeling that there is a recession, but the property market is actually booming. Older buildings are being torn down to make way for up-market developments aimed at the affluent. And there seem to be plenty of well-heeled people around who are willing and able to pay 4000 to 6000 Swiss francs rent for a fancy three-bedroom apartment. Time was when the inner cities were a cheap place to live for the less well-off, old people existing on meagre pensions and low-paid foreign workers. The city agglomerations were home to ordinary hard-working families who could afford to live reasonably comfortably as long as they kept within their budget. Not any longer! Older properties that once housed these sections of society are being snapped up by property developers whose social conscience (or lack of it) allows the less wealthy to be evicted and their close-knit societies torn apart as they are forced to seek affordable areas well outside city limits.

The city of Zug, where these pictures were taken, is no exception. People who have lived here for years are moving out because they simply can no longer afford to pay the rent from two normal working wages, let alone just one, not to mention buying a home of their own. But let’s not push all the blame on to enterprising entrepreneurs. Despite the high volume of new construction, the percentage of empty apartments is very low. Add to this, well-qualified, high-earning newcomers, many from Germany, are moving in and so it’s little wonder that prices have risen so dramatically.

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