Welcome to a housing complex in Germany where the cost of rent doesn’t inflate. The folks of Fuggerei – a walled district located at the outskirts of Augsburg – only pays $1 per year on rent. The rent is the same as it was for the tenants who moved here about 500 years ago.
Fuggerei was founded back in 1514 by a businessman named Jakob Fugger. It was constructed as a social housing complex for the poorest people of Augsburg. The Fugger family had moved to the German city in the mid-14th century and became quite successful in cloth trading business, and by the 16th century, it was one of the richest families in Augsburg. It was operating in real-estate and banking. Jakob Fugger was the wealthiest banker in the city and was also known as Jakob Fugger the Rich. However, he stayed true to the values of his family and in 1514 began constructing Fuggerei as a way of giving back to the people.
Jakob’s dream was to provide affordable housing to those in need regardless of social status, age, or background. The only requirements were that the applicant must be of Catholic fate and a registered resident of Augsburg for a minimum of two years. The successful applicants were to agree to a 10pm curfew and also commit to praying for the Fugger family three times a day at the local church. The same conditions are applicable even today!
The residents of Fuggerei were required to pay only one Rhenish guilder on a monthly basis as rent. Thanks to a trust fund that was established by Jakob Fugger about 500 years ago. The cost has remained the same ever since. The Rhenish Guilder has undergone conversion to the modern currency but still amounts to only $1. The people of Fuggerei also have to pay another $1 for maintenance of the local church and another almost dollar for heating and maintenance.
The trust fund has been seeing very modest returns ranging from 0.5% to 2% every year. However, it is not the only source of income for the walled district. As soon as rumors of Fuggerei started to spread, tourists from all over the world started coming over to see the housing complex themselves. Fuggerei now has a €4 entry fee which covers strolls and picturesque alleys and a visit to one of the houses, which has been converted into a museum.
The curfew used to be strict but is loosely enforced nowadays. The community suffered considerable damage during WWII but has been rebuilt and expanded. It features 67 houses, 147 apartments, and is home to a total of 142 residents. It also qualifies for the world’s oldest social housing complex.