Gentrification and Yuppification in Berlin

113 posts in this topic

 

People who are only here for 90 days are the least likely to cause gentrification.

90-day tourists with moolah in their pockets pay (gladly) more for their accommodation than your average low-income Berliner. And this, of course and predictably, has resulted in many centrally-located former rentals being / having been converted to holiday flats. So yah, like it or not they most definitely DO contribute in a big way... and the same goes for those much-maligned hipsters, too, BTW :ph34r:

 

PS. I'm neither for nor against gentrification per se, I'm just observing the facts.

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I'm going to disclose some personal details here. Until his very recent retirement, my father worked all his life in a steel mill. My mother still works as a seamstress. They've lived all their adult lives in a medium-sized heavily industrial town in Spain, where the hip factor is substantially lower than in Berlin. They do not qualify as "yuppies", "hipsters", "gentrifiers", or "rich" in any reasonable sense of these words. Yet, they believe that an apartment in even small provincial towns (let alone big international ones like Berlin) should come by default with things like central heating, double-glazed windows, and a shower that is more than a drain on the restroom floor. These things are almost non-negotiable to them; if they were to buy/rent an apartment without any of these things, they would expect a substantially lower price, as they would feel the need to have them installed, out of their own pocket. Somehow, things like these are considered "gentrification" in some parts of Berlin. When I moved here, I visited a few apartments in the edges of Charlottenburg and Mitte, where heating worked by burning coal on the basement. This is mind-boggling to me. Even my uncle, who lives in a farm deep in rural Spain and spends his days feeding cattle and cleaning stables, managed to install a natural gas heating several years ago.

 

When you threshold for "gentrification" is so low, you are not preserving the authenticity of Berlin anymore. You are just being a pretentious dick.

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What, things like central heating and double-glazing considered gentrification? Where and by whom exactly?

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90-day tourists with moolah in their pockets pay (gladly) more for their accommodation than your average low-income Berliner. And this, of course and predictably, has resulted in many centrally-located former rentals being / having been converted to holiday flats. So yah, like it or not they most definitely DO contribute in a big way... and the same goes for those much-maligned hipsters, too, BTW

 

PS. I'm neither for nor against gentrification per se, I'm just observing the facts.

 

Fair point. Nonetheless I am not sure if the people coming from non-EU for 90 days to try to find work (as opposed to an intentional 3 month holiday) are going to be paying big money for accommodation, or are they?

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Fair point. Nonetheless I am not sure if the people coming from non-EU for 90 days to try to find work (as opposed to an intentional 3 month holiday) are going to be paying big money for accommodation, or are they?

 

C'mon dude, reality check: anybody with the luxury to come to a foreign country on a 90-day tourist stamp with some vague ambition of finding work belongs not only to the tiny subgroup of the world's population that can afford international air travel, but in addition presumably has enough disposable time and income to not worry about meeting subsistence needs while leisurely attempting to set up residency in a foreign country.

 

We're not talking about illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East desperately traversing the Mediterranean in the hopes of eking out a low-wage existence in prosperous Europe. We're talking about people who can enter Germany legally without a visa (only people from a handful of rich countries can do that) and then fuck around for three entire months without a definite source of income.

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I don't buy into much of the conversation about areas not "recovering" from when "yuppies" move out. It's utter nonsense. Young affluent people are not the only social group that move out of areas when there is no work. Factory workers move into areas where there is factory work and so on.

 

The painting of emotional pictures, like those of "they destroyed communities" is just utterly ridiculous... Especially by people that are forever looking at ways of expanding the boundaries of whatever a yuppie is....

 

In my opinion these people that complain aren't so troubled by this topic as they make out, it's their gripe against the system and their chosen battle ground in that ongoing culture rhetoric. One group doesn't like another group of people, they can't publicly say that and so they use seamingly reasonable arguments, emotional ones too when what they really want to say is:

 

"I hate pikeys", or "I hate yuppies" or "I hate hipsters"...

 

Actually i do hate hipsters (perhaps hate is a strong word) but then i don't go around hiding behind arguments about the social implications of having hipsters in the community. Don't get me wrong, i would love to argue the wrongs of having hipsters in a community but it would be a flimsy argument, much like the argument of yuppies in Berlin...

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the wrongs of having hipsters in a community

* Having loud parties at night without any consideration for others

* Giving fuck all about the original community they inject themselves into

 

On the plus side however, many of them are relatively affluent which of course helps local businesses.

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An acquaintance of mine that I met in a Language School was so upset about the so-called 'gentrification' of Berlin, that he told me he would wear the ugliest clothes, not shower, and constantly tag the buildings in his entire block to try and stop this so-called gentrification. When I asked him where he's from and when he came to Berlin, he told me he was from Sweeden, and arrived less than a year ago! When asked what he does, he said he's receiving gov't assistance and he is in Berlin purely for the electronic music clubs and has no desire to ever work.

 

It seems he was just looking for a cheap place to live, and he didn't give a damn about anything or anyone else other than having cheap rent for himself. He was fine with living in a shit-hole and greedily wanted everyone else to live in a shit-hole just to keep his rent low and continue receiving gov't assistance. I find many of the people who complain about Berlin becoming too up-scale are of the same mentality.. just thinking of themselves.

 

Every city in the world that experiences good job growth/creation will experience a related rise in rent and the standard of living of its people. This is good for 99% of the people in the city who are willing to work, the other 1% should either 1) get a job, or 2) move to the country-side and be happy that someone is paying for their rent.

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An acquaintance of mine that I met in a Language School was so upset about the so-called 'gentrification' of Berlin, that he told me he would wear the ugliest clothes, not shower, and constantly tag the buildings in his entire block to try and stop this so-called gentrification. When I asked him where he's from and when he came to Berlin, he told me he was from Sweeden, and arrived less than a year ago! When asked what he does, he said he's receiving gov't assistance and he is in Berlin purely for the electronic music clubs and has no desire to ever work.

 

It seems he was just looking for a cheap place to live, and he didn't give a damn about anything or anyone else other than having cheap rent for himself. He was fine with living in a shit-hole and greedily wanted everyone else to live in a shit-hole just to keep his rent low and continue receiving gov't assistance. I find many of the people who complain about Berlin becoming too up-scale are of the same mentality.. just thinking of themselves.

Dickheads like this are pretty common in Berlin I'd say. As you rightly say, the guy is purely looking out for his own selfish needs, nobody else. he'd probably like to think of himself as some kind of Marxist martyr, but he's as greedy as a Frankfurt banker in my eyes.

 

Hopefully the HartzIV reforms will get rid of this sort of welfare tourist at least. then we just have to worry about the homegrown tag "artists" who can barely spell their own name. The economy in Berlin is improving and if people in my neighbourhood don't want to take part then fuck them and let them be (gradually) forced out by higher rents tbh.

 

We don't all want to live in some filthy, tagged sh!thole. Our area is steadily improving and I hope it continues to do so. Anyone who wants to stay and work and keep the place tidy is welcome, anyone who just wants to keep the place filthy so they can live cheaply inside the ring (like the Swede in this example) can fuck right off.

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Are you sure that the relation in Berlin is 99 to one?!

 

When I arrived here I thought: how many Big Lebowski types can a city support?

 

Am I the only idiot paying taxes, most people are enjoying bad weed and chugging Sternburger, lying in the parks?!

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IMHO most of the uber-cool Schickimicki crowd arrived as students in the early 00's escaping from other (boring) parts of Germany and elsewhere, declaring many former DDR parts of Berlin as the "in place" to be... now they are with children, husband earns good money, live in a cool, former low-income area, in an apartment that they've renovated. They sit around drinking lattes and talk about their earlier student days and how these anti-gentrification activists are a danger to their property investments. It is very common in many cities around the world, not just Berlin.

 

Now we English-speaking ex-pats arrive, wanting to live in the cool areas, taking our perceived understanding of the city, the people, the socio-economic situation, the history. We can try, but we're never going to fully understand. Berlin is a city of constant change. The Berliners know that. It has never been a city of congruous acceptance. For the Berliner, it has and will always be a city of challenge, change, confrontation and immense pride - no matter what your socio-economic background or status. There has always been reaction and confrontation, this is at the heart of the "schnauze" attitude.

 

In a quote from the article, Johannes Novy says it best: Berliners are most afraid of Berlin becoming... "a more ordinary city"

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Even assuming all the stuff about the economic development of Berlin to be true -- and actually I'm skeptical about that: Berlin still isn't a city with a major economic base, other than being the seat of the federal government and having three universities -- it doesn't necessarily follow that increased rents are some automatic process arising from that.

 

One aspect that is hardly ever talked about, for example, is the artificial scarcity of housing due to tax incentives for land lords to rent out apartments as vacation apartments rather than living apartments. This is a massive problem, one that a lot of housing activists are constantly pointing out, but one which is hardly ever discussed in the superficial discussions about gentrification.

 

Another aspect that often isn't addressed is the massive selling off of publicly owned apartment buildings during the period of the Red-Red Senate in order to help finance the debt payments incurred by the city as a result of the bank scandal. Shit, how many recent expats and other new arrivals to the city even know about the Berliner Bankenskandal? It was so long ago, I'm sure a lot of recent arrivals aren't aware that it's a main source of Berlin's huge debt problem.

 

I've said this before countless times, but it's worth repeating: the "gentrification" topic is far too often framed in culturalistic terms, of hip, young grungy artists and leftists being displaced by boring yuppie Spiesser. This fundamentally misses the political issue, which is that Berlin is a city with insufficient affordable housing relative to people seeking it, and that this problem is the result of political decisions, not some fatalistic natural process.

 

Once the issue is grasped in these terms, then one can take a sensible position on the issue: either for an extension of public support for affordable housing and political controls on real estate speculation, or against such things.

 

But as long as people frame the issue in these idiotic terms of "waaah, my oh-so-cool neighborhood is expensive and not-so-cool anymore and I was here first, fucking yuppies" (or the right-wing converse: "I pay my damn taxes and I'm happy to see all the junky, welfare-leeching scum pushed out"), the topic might as well just not be discussed at all for all the good it does.

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