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German second home owners in the Swedish countryside: on the internationalization of the leisure space
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Between 1991 and 1996 the number of German second home owners in Sweden increased from about 1,500 to more than 5,500. The purpose of this thesis is to give a comprehensive description and analysis of the German cottage purchases in Sweden, 1991-96. In detail, the motives of the cottage buyers, the circumstances, the geographical patterns of cottage ownership, its diffusion, the integration of the cottage owners, and their expenses in the receiving areas are investigated. The analysis is based on two main sources; (a) an unique database UMCOBASE covering all second homes in Sweden; (b) a survey among 91 German second home owners.

Second home ownership is considered as touriste product and as semi-permanent migration to the countryside. These perspectives have in common the importance of the role of the positive image of the countryside. Differences in property prices and climate may also attract second home owners to a specific area. It is argued that changes in the German society form a considerable driving force. Stress and life in the large metropolitan areas as well as the political situation after German reunification contribute not only to this interest for second home living, for the countryside, but also for Sweden, often seen as a shining example. Many German images of Sweden are based on popular writings and movies of the Swedish children's author Astrid Lindgren. Sweden provides the German cottagers with the requested environments and the availability of housing, cheap property prices, and rather short distances make the interior parts of southern Sweden an ideal destination for the mixture of households with different individual motivations and preferences mainly from Hamburg and Berlin.

The internationalization of the economy and the globalization of culture make it easier to purchase a second home abroad. In this case, the growth of German second home ownership in Sweden can be considered as a colonization of the Swedish countryside. The diffusion of cottage ownership is enhanced and directed by the innovators who due to their social networks attract new cottagers to the same area. A very important precondition for the increased German interest in Swedish cottages was the decline of the Swedish currency in 1992 allowing purchases at a cheaper price. The fact that the real estate agencies focused on the German market may be another reason for the increase, and also for the distribution of German cottage ownership within Sweden. The German second home patterns are also analyzed employing multiple regression analysis. It is shown that the distance between ferry harbors and second homes is a major restriction for the distribution of German cottage ownership in Sweden. Even future growth will take place in areas where German cottage owners are present today.

The multi-functionality of the countryside caused competition regarding land-use and decision-making power between rural residents, tourists, and agents of other interests. Even if second home tourists and the permanent residents share a lot of interests, integration into the local community can be difficult. It is argued that the German cottagers are leisure gentrifiers consuming the countryside as a leisure resource only. Second home owners are faithful tourists who visit the second home area frequently and stay for a long time. This entails that they also spend a considerable amount of money in the host community. Hence, some jobs in the research area are more or less dependent on the expenditures of the German cottage owners. Despite being motivated, most German cottagers have problems integrating into the host community. The German cottagers seem to adapt to this situation by meeting with each other and by applying a conservative eco-strategy, thus converting their surroundings into their imaginary Swedish countryside.

The post-war societies in the western world are characterized by rapid changes. The recent interest in second homes can be read as a rejection of modern life, because the cottage might be the continuous place in life. It is argued, however, that the second home is attractive because it blurs the strict separation of everyday life and tourism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå, Östersund: Department of Social and Economic Geography, Umeå University and European Tourism Research Institute (ETOUR), Mid-Sweden University , 1999. , 246 p.
GERUM, ISSN 1402-5205 ; 1999:2
, Vetenskapliga bokserien, 1999:4
Keyword [en]
Tourism, second homes, countryside, Sweden, Germany, tourist motivation, innovation diffusion, integration, gentryfication, GIS
National Category
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-84721ISBN: 91-973441-4-1OAI: diva2:688723
Available from: 2014-01-17 Created: 2014-01-17 Last updated: 2014-01-17Bibliographically approved

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