Swiss village votes in favour of paying (some) people to live there
Residents of the Valais village of Albinen on Thursday voted in favour of a new scheme offering a settlement grant to people willing to move there.
Villagers accepted the proposal by 71 votes to 29 in a referendum held at the end of an hour’s meeting attended by around 100 residents, said news agency ATS.
“It’s a clear result and I’m very happy about it,” mayor Beat Jost told ATS.
The village of 240 people made international headlines last week when details of the proposed repopulation scheme were revealed.
Under the plans, families or individuals who decide to buy or build a house in Albinen will be eligible, if they meet certain conditions, for a grant of 25,000 francs per adult and 10,000 francs per child, equating to 70,000 francs for a family of four.
To be eligible family members 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. Foreigners must have a valid Swiss C permit.
To fund the scheme the village will pump 100,000 francs a year into a dedicated fund.
The proposal was devised after a group of young residents asked the council to come up with a way to combat Albinen’s dwindling population.
Like many small villages in Switzerland, Albinen has experienced a decline in its population, with three families leaving in the past year alone, forcing the local school to close.
The new scheme should help boost the population and bring new life to the village, feel the authorities, who said in a recent newsletter that it would be “an investment in the village’s future”.
Since the plans went public the village – and The Local – have received numerous enquires from people wanting to apply for the settlement grant.
Reacting to the international headlines earlier this week, village authorities criticized media coverage that failed to mention the conditions and said only one out of a hundred people enquiring could be considered a serious applicant due to the strict conditions attached.
At most “five to ten young families” would make a successful claim for the subsidy, they said.
All enquires about the scheme should be directed to the Albinen authorities, not The Local.