The Ore Mountains have plenty to offer – space to live, job security, rich cultural offerings and abundant countryside. The region’s inhabitants identify very strongly with their homeland. The Ore Mountains are the “heartland” which provide the right conditions for a good work-life balance.

Once one of Germany’s most important mining regions, the area blossomed into a thriving business location with the second-highest concentration of industries in Saxony. The Ore Mountains are a vibrant industrial region set in the countryside: even with 15,500 companies, this is an attractive holidaymaking region, especially for nature trips and active breaks. Industry and tourism are not mutually exclusive: the towns and villages restored to their historical charm boast not only Ore Mountain folk art, pretty cobbled streets and churches, but also a good infrastructure – there are no long commutes in the Ore Mountains.

All this is nestled in a marvellous landscape of romantic river valleys and vast forests, in Europe’s most densely populated low mountain range. In the Ore Mountains, culture and nature often go hand in hand: there is a wealth of leisure and cultural activities for young and old. Winter sports enthusiasts are in their element at the 50 ski lifts or the more than 1,000 kilometres of cross-country ski runs between Johanngeorgenstadt and Fichtelberg. For summer activities, there are 4,500 km of hiking trails and 2,600 km of cycling and biking routes right on your doorstep. The theatre, philharmonic orchestra, 120 museums, historical castles and palaces, more than 30 mine tours: it’s easy to fill your free time after work in the Ore Mountains.

What is life like in the Ore Mountain district?

The Ore Mountains are eastern Germany’s most populous rural district, but nonetheless offer plenty of peace, quiet and space to live. Families appreciate the strong social network in which their children can grow up safe, sound and close to nature. With only 3.4 offences per 100 inhabitants, the district has the lowest crime rate in Saxony. The many centres for children and young people in the Ore Mountains specialise in sports, music and creativity. Even from a very early age, children benefit from a well-developed childcare system. With 7.7 childcare places per 100 inhabitants, the Ore Mountains are well above the national German average of 4.7 places.

There is also an above-average number of primary schools in the district, with the ratio of children per teacher putting them in the top quarter of all German primary schools. The 19 vocational schools and three universities in Freiberg, Breitenbrunn and Schneeberg, as well as the region's proximity to the universities in Chemnitz and Zwickau, ensure that companies will continue to find the skilled workers they need.

Low construction prices (at 45 euros per m2, the Ore Mountain district ranks third nationwide) and a strong property market for homeseekers makes families’ dream of owning their own home both possible and affordable. The cost of living is surprisingly low for such an attractive holiday region.

No wonder Ore Mountains folk live life to the full. The strong social ties give people freedom to spread their wings and relax after work. The district has a wide variety of clubs and associations; the number per head of the population is higher than in most other regions in Germany, with sports associations leading the way.

Though there might sometimes be more travelling than in a city, the regional transport system, RVE, partnered with the Ore Mountain rail network, provide environmentally friendly district transport.

The same is true of medical care: the region's full six hospitals, medical care centres and five wellness and physiotherapy clinics mean that good medical care is close at hand.

The most important thing about the Ore Mountains is the people: neighbours, friends and family members help one another out and work and celebrate together. The reliable, warm-hearted Ore Mountain handyman who spends his spare time tinkering on a project is not just a cliché dreamt up for tourists. He – or she – can be found in many clubs, companies and institutions. The Ore Mountains open their arms to everyone.

What is it like to learn and work in the Ore Mountain district?

New niches are constantly being filled in the region, in line with its motto “Think it. Do it.” The Ore Mountains district is a strong business location set in the countryside with a whole lot of jobs to do. With 419 companies per 10,000 inhabitants, it has the second highest concentration of companies in Saxony.

One of the industrial “Big Five”, the Ore Mountain district ranks fourth in Germany in terms of the number of manufacturing companies. A full third of employees work in the processing trade.

The Ore Mountains have the most blue-collar businesses and thus the highest concentration of trades in Saxony. The most sought-after occupations include automotive mechanics, plumbers, heating engineers and electrical engineers.

Thanks to its flexible economic structure, characterized by small and medium-sized enterprises, the region is home to a range of industries boasting specialist expertise and outstanding skills. Many companies specialise in custom-made, niche and innovative products. The Ore Mountains supply buyers in Germany and around the world.

The employers in the Ore Mountains are not big corporations: instead, medium-sized companies with flat hierarchies and a family feel offer considerable flexibility and real career opportunities for generalists. Key industries include metals, electronics, plastics, wood, textiles and the paper industry, as well as mechanical engineering and vehicle construction.

In the Ore Mountains, no-one has to choose between their career and having a child: here, a family and a career don’t clash. At 65 per cent, the employment rate among women is above the national average. Local businesses are happy to offer family-friendly arrangements, and the “KaFaSax” initiative (standing for “career and family in Saxony”) gives employers tips on how to become more attractive to prospective skilled workers.

Talking of the future, that’s something people in the Ore Mountains welcome. New technologies are the key. One good example is the “SmartERZ” project, introduced to create a vibrant, leading German network for joint research and development on high-performance composites and multifunctional components.

Photo credits: René Gaens, Vorstadt Design, Dirk Rückschloss, S-Print, Tourismusverband Erzgebirge e.V.