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17. Rural housing beyond the detached family house

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
13:45 - 15:15


Assoc. Prof. Michael Mießner
Associate Professor
Trier University

Small Town Gentrification as a Challenge of Rural Housing? A Case Study from Germany


After the Global Economic Crisis in 2008, many European metropolises are affected by increasing real estate prices and rents. This also applies to the housing and real estate market of the German capital Berlin. Rising real estate prices led to gentrification especially in the city centre. However, the investments also trickle into the rural commuter belt of Berlin, especially in well-connected small and medium-sized cities. Furthermore, as middle-income households can no longer fulfil their dream of owning a home in the capital, they look for homes in Berlin’s rural surrounding areas – a development that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Using the example of Neuruppin, a small town located in Berlins surrounding state of Brandenburg, this paper shows the consequences of new real estate investments and in-migration of middle-income households to a small city in a rural area. The increased demand for real estate has led to rising prices and rents as well as a shortage of land. In addition, in the last years, low-income households have been displaced from the historic centre, which has been significantly upgraded over the past 30 years. The findings of the paper additionally show that even the rural districts of the town could become sites of gentrification in the near future. Hence, the paper argues that gentrification and the accompanying displacement of marginalized people is a challenge of rural and small town housing in Germany.
Dr. György Mikle
Research Fellow
ELKH Research Centre for the Humanities

Housing at the manorial village in Hungary


The paper focuses on recent housing issues at the so-called manorial settlements in Northern Transdanubia, Hungary. Manorial villages can be considered a special form of rural localities: conditions of local societies including housing as well as patterns of economic production and consumption were formed by large agricultural estates up until the state socialist period at these settlements. After World War II, state farms and co-operative farms were organised at manors; state socialist agricultural companies became key actors managing not only economic production but also housing and public infrastructure. After the privatisation starting in the 1990s, successor companies and new land owners are no longer maintaining public infrastructure and the number of local workplaces fell; the role of inhabitants and local governments became dominant in influencing local processes.

Manorial houses are currently owned by local residents; a large proportion of housing facilities include large, barrack-like houses built by large estates in the late 19th, early 20th centuries. At these localities, households facing housing poverty are overrepresented compared to neighbouring villages and towns. Based on statistical data analysis and in-depth interviews carried out at four different localities, the role of rural restructuring as well as local social and economic history forming recent processes of the local housing markets are analysed.
Prof. Martin Phillips
Professor Of Human Geography
University of Leicester

Rural housing and gentrification: looking beside it’s a “great little place if you’ve got a family”


Rural studies have long stressed tensions emerging in a relation to migration processes and the availability of rural housing, with many detailing the social inequalities, exclusions and displacements created through the arrival of wealthy in-migrants in search of a detached and spacious family house in the countryside, either as a permanent or recreational/holiday home. The Covid 19 pandemic has furthermore been widely reported as encouraging heightened counterurban migration, and its longer-term consequences on land and property release and changing work patterns, may well stimulate subsequent waves of rural gentrification. However, questions have been raised about the predominant representations of rural gentrification as a "process of change associated with the in-migration of affluent families" (Smith et al. 2019: 133), with attention being drawn, for instance, to rural retirement or pre-retirement migration, as well as the impacts of ageing in place. Some of this work has highlighted housing impacts, including the thwarting of subsequent migration via a ‘blocking’ of family housing release and the expansion of housing beyond the affordability and desirability of younger incoming residents. This paper expands such work, drawing on a study of rural gentrification in five contrasting rural regions of England. It explores how differences in existing forms of housing, as well as alterations to housing form and tenure linked to processes of rural gentrification, intersect with processes of household formation, fragmentation and reformation, as well as ageing in place and concerns over climate change, to actively mould diverse streams of migration and rural gentrification.
Dr. Aura Moldovan
Thünen Institute of Rural Studies

Rental Housing in Rural Areas: Primary Preference or Secondary Choice?


Rental housing in rural areas can without doubt be characterized as a blind spot of both housing and rural studies. Rather, rural housing across the global North is primarily associated with private homeownership in (semi)detached houses with a garden, located in low-density residential areas (Gkartzios & Ziebarth 2016). In contrast with this image, in Germany even in sparsely populated rural areas rental housing comprises 43 % of the housing stock (Krieger et al. 2021). This is due to path-dependent national housing policies in the formerly two German states, where rental housing, though of different weight, constituted a relevant pillar of housing provision – in spite of the widespread social norm of owner-occupancy.

To shed light on rural rental housing, we build on a large population survey (n=3,600) conducted in 2020 that involved both in-migrants and rural stayers. Besides classical item batteries, respondents have been asked to answer openly to questions about reasons for having moved or stayed in the past and for future moving aspirations. Overall, the survey shows that while only a fifth (22 %) of long-term rural stayers are tenants, almost two thirds of rural in-migrants are renting (59 % among urban-rural and 64 % among rural-rural migrants, respectively). In our contribution, we take a closer look at who these tenants are in terms of relevant socio-demographic and housing characteristics, what motivated their moving or staying decisions and whether they feel they had to make compromises in their choice of residence.

Session host

Aura Moldovan
Thünen Institute of Rural Studies

Annett Steinführer
Thünen Institute of Rural Studies



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl