Status: 04/10/2023 5:50 p.m
The Association of Towns and Municipalities recently recommended moving to the countryside: there are more than 1.3 million vacant apartments there. But what is the reality? A visit to Brandenburg.
Andree Poblotzki is happy that spring is finally here. He has already sown tomatoes, peppers and chili in plant pots. They are still in the house and should finally get out, onto the beds and into the greenhouse. Potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, kale in winter: for the 42-year-old, growing his own vegetables and being able to provide for himself is one of the advantages of country life, although he initially thought of it differently – bigger.
First an apartment in Berlin-Wedding, then a home on the outskirts and finally the farm in Gräben im Fläming. In the summer of 2021, Andree, his wife Anita and their three children, two girls, three and four years old, and their 17-year-old son moved to the village of 500 people, almost 100 kilometers west of Berlin. They had been looking for something suitable for almost two years beforehand. “Anything closer than an hour’s drive from Berlin, the money wouldn’t have been enough for that. We could watch the prices go up,” says Poblotzki.
With the farm, a large house and 3500 square meters of arable land, the family has fulfilled a dream, far away from the stress and confines of the big city. In addition, they have also found good neighbors in Gräben and are gradually being accepted into the village community. “We were certainly lucky there,” Poblotzki sums up.
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High gas prices are a problem
The trained car mechanic and his wife are qualified social workers. She commutes to Berlin every day for the job, he gave up his job in a workshop for the disabled and wanted to farm, grow vegetables and keep chickens that lay eggs. That was not profitable enough in the first year to earn money with it.
Poblotzki admits that the soil here is not the best. Some vegetables just wouldn’t do that. In addition, the petrol prices are so high that it is not worth driving to Berlin and selling there, he adds.
The high petrol prices are also a problem in everyday life. Here in Gräben, where the bus only runs in the mornings and afternoons, Andree and Anita Poblotzki rely on the car. The girls have to be taken to the day-care center in the neighboring village and the nearest supermarket is around 15 kilometers away. That was a real adjustment for the family compared to Berlin. “You just have to bundle paths,” says Andree Poblotzki.
He put the agricultural project on the back burner for the time being, self-sufficiency has remained. Professionally, he is reorienting towards social work, is continuing his education as a nature, forest and adventure educator and wants to build up a livelihood in the country.
Andree Poblotzkis and his wife Anita also keep chickens on the farm in Gräben.
Image: rbb/Maurice Wilkering
A village with 35 inhabitants
The way out to the country was a little different for Mareike Georg. It was important to her to have a job and not have to make a living from what a farm yields. As a primary school teacher, it was very easy for her to find work, she could practically choose a school in Brandenburg.
The 42-year-old has been living in the Prignitz, 150 kilometers north of Berlin on a four-sided courtyard in Hohenvier for nine months, 35 residents. Most of them have moved here like them – from Berlin and Hamburg. So it was easy for them to make contacts and make connections. You’ve always been drawn to the country, says Georg. Here she finally has space for her animals: two horses, a pony and two dogs that she got from the animal shelter.
Long-distance relationship to Berlin
More than two and a half hectares of meadow belong to the farm, as well as the house, barn, cowshed and pigsty. Her dream is to later turn this into a housing project for young and old. But now she is happy that she has prepared an apartment in the house, says Georg.
Shortly after moving, she found out how difficult it can be in the country and how far the distances are. She needed surgery after a knee injury and didn’t know how to cope on her own. She was almost on the way back to Berlin.
So the expansion of the house progressed more slowly, also because preparing the old walls required a lot more work and money than she originally thought. It would not have been possible without the help of her parents and boyfriend, says Georg. She is now in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend because he cannot and does not want to leave Berlin because of his children from a previous relationship.
Mareike Georg finally has room for her animals in the Prignitz.
Image: rbb/Maurice Wilkering
space and calm
In the meantime, Mareike enjoys the space and the tranquility in the Prignitz. The only thing she misses about Berlin is that she can’t go out spontaneously with people, to the cinema or to a restaurant. “Here I am sometimes alone with my animals,” says Georg. “And in winter it can get really dark.” On the other hand, there is the fantastic starry sky.
Everyone has to think twice about that if they want to move to the country. She has now arrived and has become much more relaxed since she has been living here in the country, says Georg.
She doesn’t want to go back to the big city
It sounds similar for Andree and Anita Poblotzki after almost two years in Gräben. This year they definitely want to insulate the roof of their house – also because of the heating costs. And they hope for a good vegetable harvest.
The two of them are not drawn back to the big city, at most to visit friends. Only Danny, her son, wants to go back to Berlin after he graduates in the summer. He is currently looking for an apprenticeship.