You Can Rent a House Here For Only €0.88 a Year…
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You Can Rent a House Here For Only €0.88 a Year…

Just outside of Munich lies a sleepy village
called Fuggerei, where the rent for a whole year is just under one Euro, 88 cents to be
precise. So what do you get in exchange for your measly rent? A matchbox? A cupboard maybe?
Is it made of strudel? No, you get a modestly spacious two-bedroom apartment made of stone.
Is it in a dodgy area? No, Fuggerei is extremely safe and rather pretty if you ask me. It even
sits inside its own walled enclave; people pay millions for that shit in America. The
five gates of Fuggerei are locked every day at 10pm, blocking off any passage in or out
of the housing complex. The residents have to take turns to man a gatehouse to let stragglers
in after 10pm who got locked outside, all of whom have to pay a fee of 1 Euro for coming
home late. What time do you call this Steve? But bu… Listen Steve, I don’t care if
your car broke down on your way to visit your terminally ill grandma. It’s 2 minutes past
10, that’ll be one year’s rent please. Why is the rent so cheap anyway? Well Fuggerei
is the world’s oldest social housing complex still in use. Fuggerei sits in the Bavarian
city of Augsburg and it was created in 1520 to house the city’s poorest residents, the
rent was set at 1 Rhein guilder when it was built, about 88 Euro cents in todays money,
and it hasn’t changed since. The owners, which are still the same family that built
the complex in 1520, have basically put a big middle finger up to inflation. Fuggerei
was built by a rather interesting bloke and one of the richest persons to have ever lived,
Jakob Fugger, from the little known but highly influential Fugger family – but more about
him in a minute. Altogether there are 52 identical houses in Fuggerei, each divided into apartments.
There’s also a town square and a church. But wait a minute, before you go and tell
your mum you’ve found a place of your own and you’re moving to Germany. Because unfortunately,
you’re probably not allowed to live there. Yeah sorry, sit back down. If the rent sounds
too good to be true, that’s because there are strict rules for anyone wanting to rent
their very own slice of this super-cheap gated community. To rent an apartment here one must
have lived at least two years in Augsburg, belong to the Catholic faith and be extremely
poor, without any debt. No only that, once you live in Fuggerei, you are required to
say three prayers every day, thanking the Fugger family for allowing you to live there
and you also must pray for their souls. This place is like a cult. People usually
have a grave dislike for bankers, which the residents of Fuggerei all agree with. But
when residents were asked about their opinion of the Fugger family, whom themselves were
billionaire bankers, their opinion quickly changes. The residents here have nothing but
endless good words to say about Jakob Fugger and his family, upholding them almost as deities.
Maybe they’re just grateful for the fact they have a house in a rather lovely city
for just under one Euro per year. Or maybe it’s the fact that they will be chucked
out of Fuggerei if they say otherwise. Hmm, I’m starting to think they should rename
this place to “Little North Korea”. I’m exaggerating of course, it’s not that bad;
“I’m sorry lord Fugger, please don’t evict my grandma!”. So who is Jakob Fugger, why was he so wealthy
and why did he create Fuggerei? The Fugger family are a prominent family of European
bankers who took over the infamous Medici family. Jakob Fugger was the wealthiest of
the family and he was commonly referred to as “Jakob the Rich” by all who knew him.
Jakob started out in the textile industry, trading with Italy. He then invested in mining
and soon came to control a huge portion of the silver and copper mining operations throughout
Europe. Jakob also owned a bank and actually minted
coins for the Vatican, which enabled him to control the catholic faith and thusly control
European politics, because at that time, the pope had his fingers in all those juicy political
pies. For a short while Jakob’s wealth made his home city of Augsburg the banking capital
of Europe. Jakob was worth the modern equivalent of $277 billion, if he was alive today he
would be the richest person in the world, by a mile. But he was no saint, Jakob’s
path to riches was paved with deceit and political corruption, some say he was even worse than
the highly corrupt Medicis. He even created his own weekly newspaper, just for his eyes,
that contained dirt on his competitors, so he could get ahead of them. He paid a lot
of money for the newspaper to be researched, printed and delivered to him every week. One week he must have read some dirt on himself
in his own newspaper, because in an effort to dispel the bad press surrounding him, and
improve his public image, Jakob created the social housing complex of Fuggerei to house
the poorest of Augsburg’s citizens and he made the rent so ridiculously low, at 1 Rhein
guilder, that anyone could afford to live there. So why was Fuggerei created? So a ruthless
capitalist could try to persuade the world that he was really quite a nice guy. Hey,
it seems to have worked, even today the residents of Fuggerei literally worship Jakob and the
Fugger family. They’ve even opened a museum there to showcase the legacy of the Fugger
family. So would you live in Fuggerei if you could? All you have to do is worship a false
deity that’s been dead for 500 years. Oh and don’t come home after 10 o’clock,
they still haven’t forgiven Steve.


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