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Home* News and Stories → Housing mar­ket in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: avalan­ches and Airbnb

Housing mar­ket in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: avalan­ches and Airbnb

Housing mar­ket in Lon­gye­ar­by­en under pres­su­re

The dif­fi­cult housing mar­ket in Lon­gye­ar­by­en has been the sub­ject on the­se pages alrea­dy several times befo­re. For years, it has been almost impos­si­ble to find an afford­a­ble place to live.

139 flats to be demo­lis­hed

The situa­ti­on got worse after the tra­gic 2015 avalan­che, which kil­led 2 peop­le in their homes and des­troy­ed several houses. In the after­math, a new avalan­che risk eva­lua­ti­on was made for Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The sho­cking result is that houses with a total of no less than 139 flats have to be demo­lis­hed, and avalan­che bar­ri­ers to secu­re remai­ning buil­dings are nee­ded. A num­ber of avalan­che pro­tec­tions have alrea­dy been built on the slo­pes of Suk­ker­top­pen.

Fur­ther 41 fats at risk

Now doubts are com­ing up if it will actual­ly be pos­si­ble to secu­re some of the remai­ning buil­dings suff­ci­ent­ly. The requi­re­ment is to build avalan­che pro­tec­tion that is strong enough even for worst case sce­n­a­ri­os of cli­ma­te chan­ge – “busi­ness as usu­al” sce­n­a­ri­os regar­ding future glo­bal CO2 emis­si­ons. In this case, foun­da­ti­ons would have to go as deep down into the slo­pe as 14 metres to make the bar­ri­ers strong enough.

The ques­ti­on is if this is actual­ly pos­si­ble in the steep ter­rain. The ans­wer is cur­r­ent­ly unclear. In the worst case, fur­ther houses with up to 41 homes will have to be remo­ved, as repor­ted by Sval­bard­pos­ten. This con­cerns houses clo­se to Suk­ker­top­pen in Way 228.

Even though the result – demo­li­ti­on or not – is cur­r­ent­ly uncer­tain, one thing is for sure: the housing mar­ket in Lon­gye­ar­by­en will beco­me even more dif­fi­cult.

Residential houses, and avalanche barriers on Sukkertoppen

Resi­den­ti­al houses, and avalan­che bar­ri­ers on Suk­ker­top­pen.

Airbnb

Ano­t­her fac­tor which has cau­sed public deba­te over years is the short-term ren­tal plat­form AirbnB. It is no secret that a num­ber of homes in Lon­gye­ar­by­en are ren­ted out by their respec­ti­ve owners on short-term basis via Airbnb to tou­rists and not on long-term con­tracts to peop­le who want to live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The actu­al num­ber of homes that are lost this way for the housing mar­ket is not exact­ly known, but it is con­si­de­red signi­fi­cant. When Sval­bard­pos­ten recent­ly rese­ar­ched the issue, 36 homes in Lon­gye­ar­by­en were offe­red on Airbnb.

More exact num­bers are cur­r­ent­ly not avail­ab­le, so the com­mu­ni­ty (Lokals­ty­re) has orde­red a report from a spe­cia­li­sed com­pa­ny to get more infor­ma­ti­on about the influ­ence of Airbnb on the local housing mar­ket. Depen­ding on the result, the com­mu­ni­ty could then con­si­der limi­ta­ti­ons.

Airbnb is in the cent­re of public dis­cus­sions lin­ked to the housing mar­ket in many pla­ces in the world, but Lon­gye­ar­by­en may be more dif­fi­cult than other towns: it is a small place with a small num­ber of houses, whe­re every loss makes a dif­fe­rence. The­re are many tou­rists with a lot of money, dis­tor­ting the small and tight local housing mar­ket. Third­ly, you can not just move, sett­le down in the next vil­la­ge and com­mu­te.

One thing is for sure: it is cur­r­ent­ly almost impos­si­ble to find a home in Lon­gyear­ben for smal­ler inco­mes.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2019-05-26 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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