The increase in rents for apartments in the surrounding area is much stronger than in Berlin. In addition, the number of commuters from Brandenburg to the capital is increasing sharply. It is true that living in the surrounding area is still somewhat cheaper than in the city. However, this gap is closing rapidly because the demand for apartments is increasing rapidly.

“The increasing importance of the surrounding area is reflected in the rapid rise in rent levels,” says the current study on commuting behavior in the seven major German cities, presented by the Empirica-Regio research institute.

The conclusion of author Jan Grade: “In order to counteract the loss of importance of the core cities as a place to live, the cities must keep young families in the city in particular.”

Rents rose the most between 2012 and 2021 in municipalities in the metropolitan area that are between 30 and 40 kilometers away from Berlin: by almost five percent a year on average. In the same period, the increase in rents in Berlin was “only” a good three percent per year and is exceeded by all the surrounding communities, both near and far.

Apartment rents rose by almost four percent within a radius of between ten and thirty kilometers from Berlin. More than four percent annual rent increase was due even for apartments at a distance of 40 kilometers from the capital.

The culprit is the lack of affordable housing – and not, as in Munich or Frankfurt, for example, a strong economic growth center outside the city limits. More people commute to these “labour market centers” in the area surrounding Munich and Frankfurt than live there.

Such a development does not yet exist in the capital. “The surrounding area as a place of work has not yet been observed in the greater Berlin area, despite a settlement like Tesla in Grünheide,” says Grade. This is due to the fact that new settlements are still growing in the city itself, such as the Zalando campus or Adlershof.

Rising rents in the surrounding area show that people are by no means just leaving the city in search of a house in the country. In many cases, households that want to expand, such as a couple who are expecting a child, have “no choice but to look further away from Berlin for affordable apartments”.

According to the Senate, more than 50,000 apartments will be missing in Berlin by 2021. The situation has further aggravated because more than 66,000 war refugees from Ukraine have applied for permanent residence status in Berlin. Many of them are housed in emergency shelters and are entering the regular housing market.

On offer, however, are almost exclusively expensive condominiums or furnished rental properties. Less than one percent of the apartments are vacant, and the vast majority of them only temporarily for conversions or renovations when there is a change of tenant.