First things first, a place to live! A comfortable place to call home is the key to starting your adventures in Germany. Finding accommodation can feel overwhelming in a new country, but it can also be a fun way to get to know your new city. It's a great chance to explore different neighborhoods, meet some locals and start finding your way around. Depending on how long you are planning on staying and what your budget is, there are options to fit everyone. We have all the information you need below.
What you need to know
What types of accommodation are available in Germany?
Apartments in Germany can be surprisingly spacious and affordable. However, especially in Berlin, there is a lot of competition for the most desirable neighborhoods. Affordable spaces are becoming harder to find and people are moving further out from the center of the city. Finding a permanent place can sometimes take longer than expected, so short term solutions are sometimes necessary. Below we go through your all your options, ranging from the temporary to the long-term:
Hostels are the classic budget friendly option for short term stays. Great for meeting people, and usually available on short notice for a good price.
For those looking for comfort and privacy, booking a hotel for the first few days is a relaxed way to begin your move. Hotels are the most expensive short term option however.
SHORT-TERM RENTALS AND HOLIDAY APARTMENTS
Short-term leases listed by locals are probably the best way to have an easy place to stay as soon as you arrive. Apartments are generally available for short stays up to several weeks. Booking in advance is always advisable for the best prices and selection, and these apartments will come fully furnished and equipped with everything you need.
For a wide selection of listings, we recommend:
If your budget is tight, or you would like to move in right away without worrying about buying a full set of furniture or dishes, sharing an apartment is an excellent option. Flatshares are very popular in Germany. They are called Wohnungsgemeinschaften (WG), and moving in with locals is also the perfect way to integrate quickly and find a community. To find a flatshare we recommend you have a look at :
Subletting, or “untermieten” in German, refers to the process of renting from another person who already has a proper contract from a landlord. This is generally for a shorter period of time, either because they may be temporarily absent from the country, or because the original tenant cannot end their contract for a particular reason. These are a great solution if you are having trouble finding your own apartment or would like to avoid the start up costs of your own apartment. To find a sublet visit the websites recommended above (FLATSHARES), or try the following:
Finally, long-term rentals, where you get a lease in your name, is the best option for long-term stays of a year or more, and for those with families. Furnishing it and paying the deposit will add start up costs, but the initial investment will be worth it over the long term.
Here are the best websites for searching for an apartment in Germany:
How do I find an apartment?
The best way to find an apartment for rent (“Mietwohnungen” in German) is online. We recommend that you visit the websites below:
REAL ESTATE AGENCIES
- When it comes to finding an estate agent in Berlin, we recommend that you visit the websites listed above. Agents normally use these sites to advertise properties, and it is easy to contact them through an advertisement.
Are most apartments rented furnished or unfurnished?
Be aware that most flats in Berlin will be let to you unfurnished, unless otherwise stated on the advertisement. Also be prepared for setting up an entire kitchen and providing your own curtains and light fixtures. Unfurnished in Germany really means unfurnished. As well as usually needing to buy your own appliances such as a fridge and washing machine, sometimes you will need to purchase your own kitchen cabinetry as well.
The following websites do offer fully furnished rentals, however this often incurs an extra fee:
What is the difference between "Kaltmiete" and "Warmmiete"?
During your search for an apartment you will see a lot of these two words: Kaltmiete and Warmmiete. But what do they exactly mean?
Kaltmiete (cold rent)- is the price of rent without additional costs (called Nebenkosten) – such as water, electricity, heating or garbage collection. Be prepared for significant added costs for Nebenkosten, as this can add a large amount to the posted price.
Warmmiete (warm rent)- is the price you will pay with all the extra costs added in, the Kaltmiete and Nebenkosten added together, and is a more accurate picture of your total rent.
What is involved in the process of renting an apartment?
Once you have found the apartment and you decide would like to rent it, you will be required to make an offer to your agent or landlord. Upon visiting the property you will be provided with a “Bewerbungsbogen”, a form which you will be asked to fill in to ‘formally’ make an offer. In order to be eligible to rent an apartment in Germany you will also need to prepare a series of documents in advance which you will submit to your landlord / estate agent (See Which documents will I need to provide in order to be eligible?). These will include a Schufa record. This is a standard credit check most agents and landlords require. In order to obtain a Schufa, you will need a German bank account and a German address. We therefore highly advise you to visit our Banks section and make the arrangements to set up a German bank account and address prior to making the aforementioned offer. In the increasingly competitive housing market of Berlin, where showings of apartments can attract crowds, it is advisable to have all your paperwork completed and well presented in a folder that you can simply hand directly to the landlord when attending the viewing. Being organized will give you an edge!
Don’t get discouraged! We are here to help you through the process. If you do have any questions or difficulties regarding any of these documents, please contact us.
Will I be required to pay an advance deposit to secure my apartment, and if so, how much is normally required?
In Germany, as in most European countries, your landlord will most likely ask you for a deposit (Kaution), on the apartment you wish to rent. This is normally refunded when you move out, along with interest. Only if damage has occurred to the property is the landlord allowed to withhold the amount of the sum required for repairs from the deposit.
The deposit required may legally extend to an equivalent of three months ‘cold’ rent (Kaltmiete) with an added 16% VAT. Upon signing a rental agreement you will be notified of the current rate of interest for the whole rental period. Your bank will provide you with instructions on how to set up a joint savings book with interest for your deposit which you will share with your landlord.
How long do rental agreements normally last and what is the minimum rental period?
In Germany there are two different types of rental leases: for an unlimited duration (unbefristeter Mietvertrag) or for a limited duration (befristeter Mietvertrag). Your limited duration contract (befristeter Mietvertrag), will state the length of your agreement, and you can most likely negotiate this with your landlord.
The normal notice period for vacating a property is three months for both the tenant and landlord. The notice period for both parties will increase by three months after 5, 8 and 10 years of continuous occupation of a property.
Which documents will I need to provide in order to be eligible?
Here is the list of documents you will need to prepare prior to making a rental offer to your landlord / estate agent:
- a completed “Bewerbungsbogen” form
- a copy of your passport / ID card
- a copy of your “SCHUFA Auskunft”
- proof of earnings in the last 3 months (these could be copies of previous payslips), or alternatively a letter from your accountant certifying your income
- a recommendation letter from your previous landlord confirming that you have no outstanding debts concerning your previous property
- a copy of your “Anmeldebestätigung”, or rather the registration of where you live in Germany (this is not compulsory but highly advisable if you already possess one)
Are there any other things I should pay special attention to?
– Be aware of online scams
* If you do find an online offer that you like, contact the person who is renting it, but never make a financial transaction before meeting the person, visiting the actual place and signing a contract.
– Make sure you know what you are signing
* Read the rental contract carefully, and if you don’t speak German yet, take the contract to someone that does to go through the important aspects. German rental contracts are very detailed, and it is very important to know exactly what you are agreeing to.
And don’t forget, we are here if you have any questions! Just send us an email and we will get back to you.
Welcome to Germany!
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