Move, invest, get $25,000 each: Swiss Alpine village votes for grants to settlers

Move, invest, get $25,000 each: Swiss Alpine village votes for grants to settlers
A tiny village in the Swiss Alps has voted for an innovative scheme to attract young families or individuals to revive a commune facing strong population decline. A couple with two children can for example get $70,000 by vowing to settle for 10 years.

Some 100 residents of the village of Albinen in southern Switzerland took part in the referendum held on Thursday, local media reported. The proposal was approved by 71 votes to 29. “It’s a clear result and I’m very happy about it,” mayor Beat Jost said.

Albinen, located in Valais Canton and counting only 240 residents, struck the headlines earlier in November after it announced an ambitious effort to boost the declining population. According to the plan, proposed by the village’s young residents, families or individuals from elsewhere can get grants if they decide to buy property there.

Adults, who should be younger than 45, can get 25,000 Swiss francs ($25,400) each. For each of their children, under the scheme outlined in the community letter, the family will receive an additional 10,000 francs ($10,100). Thus, a young family of four can get up to 70,000 Swiss francs ($71,500) if it moves to the steep slopes of the idyllic commune.

Lovely old village. #swissheritage #switzerlandpictures #architecturelovers

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As soon as the village authorities announced the scheme, they – as well as the local which broke the story – were bombarded by letters from potential village residents. Albinen then released a clarification, saying that the cash will not go to just anyone, or words to that effect. 

There are certain conditions attached to the funding, the municipality said. Newcomers are required to settle there for the next ten years and are requested to invest 200,000 Swiss francs to purchase or build new homes. Foreign residents must also have Swiss Settlement Permit C. At most “five to ten young families” would have such a subsidy, the authorities said.

Located in the Swiss Alps at 1,275m above sea level, the village dates back to 1224. Photos on social media show that the municipality is surrounded by pastures and offers breathtaking views of the mountains.

On a south-facing slope between two creeks, the municipality has an LLB- Albinen–Leuk bus connection. Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is only 68 km away from the tiny village.