Lately Leipzig has become a media darling for ‘insider tips’ and cliche ‘new Berlin’ type articles. It seems Peak Hype velocity was attained in 2013 with a barrage of stories extolling the hip coolness of everything Leipzig.
For example we had the stereotypical X-reasons-to-visit-Leipzig stories such as this one. According to The Atlantic the city is a cross between Austin and Detroit (although the distinction may be lost on non-Americans). The UK’s Guardian got in on the trend writing a very lame ‘girls weekend’ guide to, you guessed it, shopping, eating and getting drunk in Leipzig.
It got even better. This 2013 article from Israel crowned Leipzig, ‘Europe’s new hipster capital’. One enthusiastic Leipziger is even maintaining a Tumblr blog keeping track of the rising incidences of ‘Hypezig’ hype.
What do you think? Is this latest round of Leipzig hype really all that? Leipzig has experienced other waves of interest since the early 1990s, including a property boom that busted in the early 2000s. So are we just setting ourselves up for the inevitable bust that comes with boom?
There’s no smoke without fire, so what is behind the latest resurgence of interest? Well it’s anyone’s guess. For what it’s worth we think it’s simply a continuation of existing themes. Thus here offered, in random order, our reasons for ‘Hypezig’.
Reason #1: Cheap – but good
Leipzig is still a low-income city. Average professional salaries are €2,700 per month versus the German average of €3,686. Unemployment is still stubbornly above the German average, but that average is comparatively low anyway, and thankfully the unemployment rate is creeping down.
Renting a nice apartment or even buying your own home is comfortably doable in Leipzig. Eating out and going out are very easy on the pocket. We reckon a singleton can live very well on about EUR1,000 per month.
In Berlin rent controls have kept somewhat of a lid on rents, but they have contributed to a serious housing shortage. Meanwhile in Hamburg – another hipster magnet – rents are not far off the ridiculous levels seen in London or Amsterdam. As for buying property in those places, if you’re not fabulously rich, forget it.
But the real upshot is the living is so good here. Leipzig is full of parks, forests, lakes and open green space. And there’s no shortage of cultural and entertainment options either. The chilled out vibe means you don’t need to make a fortune to live like a King here.
Reason #2: Arts and creativity
Leipzig has serious credentials as a centre of culture, arts and education, as well as the more serious business of well, business. Sadly its star faded with the arrival of the repressive DDR and was further hurt by the collapse of old rust-bucket industries in the 1988-2000 period.
The first ‘avantgardes’ came for the open-mindedness and flare of the New Leipzig School, an art movement closely associated with Leipzig’s Academy of Visual Arts. And they stayed for the ultra cheap rents, as well as officially-sanctioned squatting in the city’s derelict Altbau.
Today, Leipzig hosts a constant stream of international trade fairs and impressive world conferences at the Leipzig Messe. The city is also a new centre of IT and Biotech startup activity.
Reason #3: Federal money
Leipzig has been a major recipient of Federal infrastructural spending. From autobahns to airport, from sewerage to science. The latest addition to the city’s impressive list of public works is the newly opened Leipzig City Tunnel which introduces four new underground stations and expanded S-bahn train services.
While free cash from the Feds is tapering off the full benefits of all this shiny new infrastructure is just starting to be felt in Leipzig.
Reason #4: Baby boom
Leipzig used to be where kids from the Western German states went to get a good university education on the cheap. Now, those same kids are graduating and staying put. Why go back to high costs in some over-crowded, competitive, rat-race when they can stay and put down roots in Leipzig?
After years of decline population growth is returning; and with a vengeance. Latest figures for 2013 show that Leipzig is now once again bigger than its arch rival Dresden, with just a tad under 540,000 residents. As a result, a complaint heard nowadays is lack of space in schools especially for young children. However we’re still a long way off Leipzig’s population of over a million at its industrial and cultural zenith in the early 1900s.
We hope you like our ideas here. What you do think are the reasons for Hypezig? Is the hype all that? Please let us know with your comments.