The Bavarian burghers of Munich are rightly smug in their city’s secure
position over the last decade as one of the world’s most liveable cities. Munich
is one of Germany’s strongest economic centres; blessed with a central European
location near the Alps with plenty of green spaces and a sophisticated cultural
life. This is a prosperous big city with a cosy small-town feel, whose
residents revel in their hometown’s pleasant streets and bonhomie.
What is it known for?
Munich hosts one of the world's most famous municipal celebrations, known globally
as Oktoberfest (although it is in fact held at the end of September) and known
to locals as Wiesn (from the grassy expanse where it is held called
Theresienwiese). “We don’t actually call the big glasses steins, but masskrug,”
said Annette Liebau, a management trainer who has lived in Munich for 12 years
with her husband and two children. “But we all love [the festival]!” And in
fine weather, you will find Münchners outside
in the city’s numerous biergartens (beer
gardens) or strolling the green lawns of large parks such as the Englischer
Zoning and height restrictions limit constructions in the city centre from
being more than 99m high. This keeps the city’s low rise and open feel intact, and
the medieval and Gothic architecture that has been preserved or rebuilt post World
War II -- including the iconic Frauenkirche
cathedral -- gets to shine. “[Munich] has the benefits of a large city
culturally speaking, but everything is within easy reach,” Liebau said. “In
summer, you can swim in the [Isar] river and barbecue on the river banks.” The city’s
spectacular stadium, the Allianz
Arena, whose exterior changes colours depending on the events and teams
playing there, was built for the 2006 World Cup and is now home of the Bayern
Munich football club.
Modern Munich is Germany’s Silicon Valley, with thousands of high-tech
companies and the headquarters for many media, finance and automotive and aerospace
industries, including BMW, which has offices in the north of the city. These businesses
attract a large international and expat population to live and work.
Where do you want to
The city’s neighbourhoods radiate out from the Marienplatz, the square at the
centre of town, and the most desirable neighbourhoods are some of the oldest
and most central. Lehel, in the Old Town, is home to many foreign embassies; Schwabing
to the north is traditionally popular and has many bars and restaurants; Bogenhausen
to the east is across from the Englischer Garten, with beautiful blocks of
historic housing and parks; and well-preserved Haidhausen to the south is near
the Isar River.
Other increasingly popular areas are Glockenbachviertel, known locally as
GBV, a trendy and traditionally gay neighbourhood, with a hip scene centred
around the bars and boutiques near Gärtnerplatz traffic circle. “It’s a little
bit like Berlin,” Liebau said. The neighbourhoods in Sendling, southwest of the
Marienplatz, and Giesing across the Isar River are where people look for value
“If someone is looking for a villa a bit out of the centre, areas to the
south of the city are very attractive,” said Konstantin Wettig, a managing
partner of Engels & Völkers estate agents. These include the districts of
Harlaching, and the tony areas of Grünwald, Solln and Pullach.
The Alps are just a short hop away and Munich residents take advantage of their
breathtaking location in all seasons. In winter, they take to the slopes of
resorts like Kitzbühel in
Austria’s Tyrol and Garmisch
in Bavaria. “It is only an hour or two by car to fantastic resorts in Germany
and Austria,” said Liebau. In summer they hike those same slopes or head to the
German lakes of Tegernsee, Starnberger See and Bodensee, the last of which lies
on the border of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, or even farther afield to
Lake Garda in Italy.
Vienna and Zurich are both around a four-hour drive away, and Munich has
excellent rail connections to cities in Germany and around Europe. Munich
Airport is a Lufthansa hub and is one of the busiest airports on the continent.
London is a two-hour flight and New York and Washington DC are both around
eight hours by air.
Munich’s booming economy means that property prices are on the rise. “Due to
its exceptional infrastructure, its location and how safe it is, Munich’s
residential real estate market is at levels nearly as high as Zurich, Geneva
and London,” Wettig said. “Prices for flats near the centre, in areas such as
Lehel, Maxvorstadt and around Englischer Garten have increased 30% in the last
two years.” A further increase of 10% to 20% is expected by 2014.
Currently there are few townhouses and family homes available. “Demand
is far greater than the number of listed sales,” Wettig said. “Availability is
highest in newly-build condos and restored buildings.” A two- or three-bed apartment
in a central area costs around 1.5 to two million euros, meaning that the price
per square metre is 10,000 to 17,500 euros. A monthly rent for a two-room flat
of 50sqm ranges from 600 to 900 euros, while a luxury flat or townhouse can
rent for anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 euros.
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