The tiny village of 240 inhabitants is one of many in Switzerland that have experienced a worrying exodus of permanent residents in recent years.
Though there are many holiday homes in the picturesque village, permanent residents, especially young families, are choosing to move away. Three families have left the village in the past few years alone, including eight children, meaning the village school was forced to close, commune president Beat Jost told ATS.
As a result, local residents have demanded that the council do something to help reverse the decline and ensure the village’s future.
And this is their plan – families or individuals from elsewhere who decide to buy or build a house in Albinen would be eligible, under certain conditions, for a grant of 25,000 francs per adult and 10,000 francs per child, according to information published in the commune’s newsletter.
That would mean 70,000 francs for a family of four – a real bonus towards the cost of a mortgage deposit which must usually be at least 20 percent of the property’s value.
There are conditions, however. To be eligible you must be aged under 45 and agree to live in the village for at least ten years. The property to be bought or built must have a minimum value of 200,000 francs, and it must be a permanent home, not a second residence.
The money does not have to be repaid, unless you leave the village before the ten year deadline.
The commune would pay for the new policy by starting a fund injected with 100,000 francs a year.
The village authorities are “convinced” that the policy is affordable.
“It is an investment in the village’s future,” says the newsletter, adding that the community will profit from the new families through taxes, construction contracts and purchases in the village shop, while young people will bring life back to the village.
“In a best case scenario, even the village school will reopen.”
And what will these newcomers find in Albinen?
A beautiful village at 1,300m altitude overlooking the Rhône valley, with pure mountain air, a sunny outlook and the thermal resort of Leukerbad only six kilometres away.
There aren’t many jobs, communal president Jost told ATS, but the towns of Visp and Sion are only a half hour drive away.
Worth it? It just might be…