I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say:
Finding apartments in Germany can be a little confusing.
But it doesn’t need to be. In fact, it can be really easy to do – once you know what you’re looking for.
In this guide I want to show you everything you need to know and take the worry out of finding an apartments in Germany.
What You’ll Learn
This is a pretty lengthy guide; you can either read it from top to bottom or use one of the links below to jump to the right section for you.
- What Are Your Options For Accommodation?
- Avoid Surprises: Important Information To Know
- Preparations: Items You Might Need
- Top Tips For Inspecting Your Apartment
- 70 Trustworthy Sites To Find Apartments In Germany
I highly recommend you at least read the Avoid Surprises and Inspecting Your Apartment sections before you jump to the site. But, you’re free to make your own choice!
What Are Your Options For Apartments In Germany?
There are a number of options for accommodation here. Which is best for you will depends on how long you’re going to be in Germany for and your living situation. Take a look below and see which best suits your life:
- Private Apartments: This is your best choice if you’re a family, or prefer your own space. These will be rented from a landlord, just like in the UK.
- Shared Accommodation (WG – Wohngemeinschaft): If you’re just looking for a room in a flat (or house) and to keep costs down this is a good option. It’s often the option of many native Germans.
- Student Accommodation: Only applicable if you’re a student, but perfect if you are. Especially if a WG is a little out of your price range.
- Temporary Accommodation: AirBnB, Hostels, Hotels, Bed and Breakfast and so on. Great if you’re just trying out a new area, or need an interim place to sleep.
If you’re interested in buying a property that is also an option. But, most Germans choose to rent and it’s much easier to do first for a relocation. So, I’ll cover that in a separate guide if I’m asked enough.
Avoid Surprises: Important Information To Know
When I first moved to Germany I was hit with a few surprises that you’d never expect in England. Luckily my German girlfriend was there to help me navigate them and I’d like to do the same for you.
Apartments Come Unfurnished
Unfurnished means unfurnished. Anything that could possibly be considered an ‘extra’ is taken by the previous tenant.
- No light fixtures or bulbs
- No cupboards in the kitchen
- No white goods in the kitchen
- There may also be no sink in the kitchen
- No shower head
- No curtain rails
The apartment will come as a big vacant space. This is really important to know before you move in so you can prepare in advance.
(Also if you want to check out more weird cultural differences, this article will be right up your street!)
It Pays To Know A Little German
You don’t need to speak German to live in Germany or to find an apartment in Germany. But, it really does help grease the wheels with a landlord.
Landlords can afford to be picky because of how rent-orientated the culture here is. It’s much easier for them to rent to someone who speaks their native tongue, and even just having a basic level can make a huge difference.
If you want to get a basic level of German behind you, I highly recommend reading this article.
It Also Pays To Know A Lawyer
Before you sign anything make sure you have a lawyer check over your documents. Even if your German is perfect, or you’re a lawyer back home.
Legalese is a language all by itself and you may just find yourself signing up for something – like an annual rent increase – that you really don’t want. It pays to get it checked.
Preparations: Essential Items You’ll Need
Paperwork is considered a hobby in Germany. So, when it comes to signing a contract, you may need to present one, or all, of the following documents.
As an EU member you may be able to avoid this step altogether. Or, If you’re subletting, flat sharing or moving into an apartment on the recommendation of a friend. But have them available just in case:
- Copies of your last three bank statements: If you have paper-less banking, you should be able to download and print a PDF documents of your latest statements.
- Statement of your earnings: This can be your last three pay slips, or a letter from your employer stating what you earn. If you’re self employed, you could also use a tax return.
- Your SCHUFA Information: This is your credit score. You may not be able to use your English credit score with every landlord so you can sign up for your SCHUFA information here.
- Letter from your last landlord: Stating that you’re up to date and all paid up.
- Personal Liability Insurance or Equivalent: To show that you’re covered if you destroy the apartment in any way.
- Guarantor: Information of someone who can pay on your behalf should you not be able to pay.
Inspecting Your Apartment: Top-Tips
Before I give you the sites to use, I can’t, in good conscience, send you out there without this excellent knowledge I found in this forum post over at ToyTown Germany.
When you go to any apartment viewing make sure that you do a THOROUGH check of any apartment. Don’t take anything that looks shiny and new and clean at face value.
I had a friend who learned this lesson the hard way. She after moving in they not only found that one of their windows wouldn’t open, but there was also mould growing on the ceiling.
Here are the cliff-notes of what you need to know:
- Check every light fixture. Pick up a bulb and connector from IKEA or a hardware store and bring it with you.
- Check all plug sockets: Bring a lamp or your smartphone charger to make sure everything works.
- Tilt and open all windows: Be sure they open, and tilt, in the way that the should.
- Check every water faucet: All taps, shower heads (if it’s there) and the toilet. Be sure to look for any leaks or drips that would show up on your water bill.
- If there is a kitchen: Check that all appliances and gas systems work.
- Check the fuse box: and make sure that the right powers are being used.
- Take notes: Either take photographs of any damage or faults, or take written notes. Be sure both parties are aware of this and agree to it. There is no legal obligation, but it covers you in the future should there be any problems
My last big tip would be to discuss WHO has WHAT responsibility. For example if the tap breaks, who’s job is it to fix it?
This will cover your back if there are any problems and you know everything that should be in place, is in place, before you commit fully to your apartment.
70 Trustworth Places To Find Apartments In Germany
Apartments Across Germany
Nationwide search engines provide a lot of options and flexibility. Here’s a long list of sites you can use, and I’ve noted when they also come with an English option.
- Just landed (English)
- EasyWG (English)
- Medici Living (English)
- Wimdu (English)
- City Wohnen (English)
- Clickflatshare (English)
- Sublet.com (English)
- The Local (English)
- Century 21 (English)
- Nestpick (English)
- Wohnungs Boerse
- Studenten WG (Non-student options also available)
- atHome (English and French Language. If, you know, French is your thing).
- Wohnung Jetzt
Student Apartments In Germany
Looking for your new student flat? These sites should have you covered…
- Accommodation for Students Ltd
- Deutsches Studentenwerk
- Studierendenwerk Hamburg
- Studentenwerk Berlin
- Studentenwerk Stuttgart
- Studentenwerk Dortmund
- Studentenwerk Düsseldorf
- Kölner Studentenwerk
- Studentenwerk Frankfurt
Specific Location Apartments
If you’ve got a specific area in mind check out some of the more local sites for you. They might just have your next German apartment.
- White Apartments (The best selection of apartments for rent in Berlin) (English)
- Only Apartments Berlin (English)
- Urban Apartments
- Wohnungssuche Berlin
- Coming Home
- Craigslist Berlin (Wide range of apartments and often cheaper)
If you’re looking for a temporary stop while you’re getting yourself set up in Germany, I’d highly recommend you use one of these sites:
- AirBnB (Use this link to get £25/€31 worth of FREE travel credit)
- Vacation Apartments
- Jugendherberge (German hostel site)
P.S: Can I Send You An Email?
I hope you found that article about finding apartments in Germany really helpful! If you have any comments, questions or otherwise, please let me know. Also…
Once a week I send out an email to help you get the most out of Germany. That includes: learning the language, understanding the culture and making sure you make a smooth transition to life here.
You can join 100+ other smart expats by clicking the link right here.