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Austrian border towns experiencing mini property boom

Towns like Wolfsthal, about 50 kilometres from Vienna, have been until recently suffering from a dwindling population as young people moved to the capital for work.

But now cheap land and development opportunities are breathing new life into the towns as a result of the expansion of the European Union's Schenegen zone which allows passport free travel to and from Eastern Europe.

Young Slovakians are moving in and commuting to work in the Slovakian capital Bratislava which is just a 20 minute drive away. Austrian border towns are turning into quasi suburbs.

'We started to clear spaces for building because it was very important for the village that we should try to change the make-up of our aging population,' said Wolfsthal Mayor Gerhard Schoedinger.

Schoedinger, who is married to a Slovakian whom he met while he was working as a border guard, said those who are moving in are educated to university level and an asset to the town.

The young professionals are looking to buy property in Austria rather than their native Slovakia because prices are high and planning permission is strict.

Dennis Span, a system engineer, currently lives in Bratislava with his wife who works for an information technology company. They have bought some land in Hainburg, a pretty Austrian town just across the border and now plan to build their dream home and commute to work.

'The main reason is the price in relation to the quality. We didn't want to wait any more and there are lots of good reasons to move to Austria. The services are much better, the infrastructure is very different than in Slovakia and a small town is much more comfortable,' he explained.

Hainburg sold 53 land plots this month, with three-quarters going to buyers from across the border. 'The main reason for this is that property in Austria is cheaper than around Bratislava, but better legal protection as well as schools and kindergartens also play a big role,' said Erich Rieder, the town's administrator.