A quarter of a million more people live in Prague than they thought. You need 10 thousand apartments a year
The Czech Statistical Office states that as of 1 January this year, 1,308 million people lived in Prague. It is based on official data, specifically on the reported permanent residence. But it turns out that the real number is much higher. According to anonymized data of Czech operators, 1.55 million people have lived in Prague for a long time. And including tourists and commuters, there can be as many as 1.75 million people in the metropolis at one time.
Nevertheless, the city prepared by the second forecast expects that Prague will reach 1.4 million inhabitants only in 2030. According to the operator, however, it has long since reached this number. According to updated data, there are now 2.49 inhabitants per apartment in Prague, not 2.1, as stated so far.
“In terms of housing per apartment, we went back to 1984,” says demographer and economist Martin Červinka, an advisor to Deputy Petr Hlaváček, who is in charge of the territorial development of Prague.
The difference between the official data and the data of the operators is mainly due to the inhabitants of Prague, who live in the metropolises without having a registered permanent residence in it. In the last ten years, Prague has been absorbing its inhabitants like a sponge. It is said that 10,000 people will grow in the metropolis every year. However, which is a figure that is also based on official data and will almost certainly be even higher.
Either way, the demand for housing in the metropolis is constantly increasing and housing construction has slowed drastically over the last ten years. All this leads to a huge risk of new apartment prices, which have risen by about 90 percent since 2015. According to the representatives of Prague, the currently presented study thus further underlines the fact that the housing situation in the metropolis is unsustainable.
Up to 400,000 people come to Prague every day
Among other things, high housing prices mean that a large part of Praguers move to the very region of the metropolis, or directly to the Central Bohemian Region. Among other things, data operators also monitor that 300 to 400 thousand people come to Prague every weekday and leave it again later in the day. These are mostly students and people who commute to school or to work.
“It turns out that the more difficult it is to build flats in Prague, the more we turn the wheels of suburbanization, for which we pay back. The decline in construction in Prague is replaced by the regional housing market, which has a number of negative consequences, “architect Lukáš Kohl.
According to him, the main reasons why it is not possible to build flats in Prague are the incredibly slow approval of projects in which the set deadlines are exceeded up to ten times, and unprepared infrastructure in developing areas, such as sewerage.
At the same time, commuting Central Bohemians often perceive them negatively in the eyes of Praguers, simply because their cars take up parking spaces at the curbs of Prague’s streets and extend their columns. However, Kohl must say that Praguers should be more grateful for them.
“Try to imagine that the hundreds of thousands of people who are an integral part of the Prague economy could not live in the Central Bohemian Region. Suddenly, they would compete with you for the same apartments in that limited market, which is absolutely open and tied and it is not possible to produce permits for more than three to four thousand apartments a year, “says Kohl.
According to him, many today’s Praguers would not be able to afford to live in Prague in such a case, because a large part of the people who move to the Central Bohemian Region are among the more affluent and would simply overpay for Prague’s lower middle class.
Central Bohemian flats are becoming more expensive and developers are rising costs
The study of the municipality also deals with those who do not need housing at all in Prague, whether they own it or rent it. In addition to the people who move to the metropolis for work, they are largely students and divorced. Every year, almost 9,000 graduates of master’s studies complete their studies in Prague, and many of them do not return to the regions with their newly acquired educated. Three thousand couples also get divorced in Prague every year. One of the partners often needs a new apartment.
The lack of flats in Prague usually increases the average real estate prices in the districts of Prague-East and Prague-West, in some cases by millions. Rents in the entire catchment area also increased by tens of percent, especially in municipalities with good transport connections to Prague.
According to Eduard Forejt’s real estate experiment, the last piece of the puzzle with the rising prices of Prague housing is the rising construction costs of developers. “It’s happened in the last two years,” says Forejt. According to him, mainly due to the lack of manpower, construction costs increased by five to ten thousand crowns per square meter year-on-year.
The situation described in the analysis of operator data does not seem to change in the near future. “The number of people who move across the borders of Prague every day can be called extreme, but no circumstances yet suggest that this trend should decrease,” says Ondřej Špaček from CE-Traffic, which compiled the statistics.
The study followed the movement of people in Prague in fatigue, October and December last year to avoid the season and other anomalies. The measured results were very similar.
When the state builds, another Southern City will be created
As for possible solutions to the current situation, the experts agree that the shortening of permitting procedures at the Czech authorities must come first. According to economist Petr Bartona, a reduction or cancellation of VAT on the construction of new flats is also possible, although he does not believe that the state would do such a thing.
According to Deputy Hlaváček, the city must focus on the rapid and efficient use of large transformation areas and brownfields, which have been unused for many years. “This is the only way to ease the pressure on infrastructure and at least stabilize the number of commuters every day in the long run,” he says.
The common concern of the city and the architects is the possibility that the situation will get out of control so much that the state will have to quickly solve the construction of flats in Prague and, similarly to the era of Gustav Husák, will start mass construction of housing estates. “If the state has to do it, it will not ask about any quality. It will not be the end of the world, but it will be a pity,” Hlaváček adds.
In order for the situation to begin to stabilize, according to experts, it is necessary to start building at least ten thousand flats a year in Prague. Only half of them were created last year.
Barton sees it the same way. “If the state wants to, it will build the ten thousand flats a year we need, always quickly. But it will not do it organically and will not respect the demand of those who are supposed to live there. South City, “says the economist.
Prague wants more money. We receive little per population
In addition to a better awareness of how many people actually live in Prague, the current study in Prague promises the opportunity to raise more money in the budget.
The study gives the metropolis the necessary trump card when negotiating with the government to change the system, how in the Czech Republic are collected selected taxes between individual municipalities. Today, the town hall receives funds depending on the number of inhabitants who are registered for permanent residence in their territory. The analysis thus shows that Prague should properly receive almost twenty percent more money from the state budget.