By: Tamie Arietta
So you've decided to move to Germany to teach English and you now need to find a place to live. It's no secret that finding an apartment in Germany can be challenging, depending on where you want to live, the time of year you plan to move, and what type of apartment meets your needs.
For starters, narrow down the city you where you want to live, then research the different areas within that city. Apartment finding websites are saturated with listings, so it's helpful to know the area in which you would like to live; this will save you time searching the entire city. Looking for apartments about 0-3 months in advance will provide realistic listings that are available in your time frame. Places in Germany tend to go quickly, so trying to find something too far in advance will be difficult.
Next would be to decide what type of housing you would prefer.
- Are you looking for a short or long-term lease? Short-term: 0-3 months / Long-term: 3 months and longer
- Do you want to live with roommates or find an apartment on your own? Both options have their pros and cons; therefore, personal preference will be the deciding factor.
- Are you looking for furnished or unfurnished?
- Would you prefer to book something short-term so you have more time to look for a place, or would you rather have a long-term place ready when you arrive?
- Know your price range and stick to it.
There is no need to worry if you don't have a place lined up before moving to Germany. There are plenty of hostels, Airbnb rentals, temporary housing and hotels where you can stay short or also long term. Plan ahead and contact a place before you arrive. Renting a short-term place should be very easy and gives you a good home base while you look for something longer. Just be mindful, these places will be more expensive than having a rental contract, and typically you cannot register the address, especially if it is only for a month or two. Once you've arrived, try to get to know your new city by checking out the different districts where you might be interested in living. Depending on the apartment situation in your area it might take a little while to find a long-term place that you like.
If you know that you want to live in an apartment on your own and choose not to live with roommates, it may be difficult to find a place before actually being here. Landlords and property managers like to meet prospective tenants in-person. You might get lucky, but it is recommended you find something short-term first before you arrive to save yourself a lot of hassle.
RECOMMENDED SITES TO LOOK FOR PLACES TO LIVE:
- WG-Gesucht is a German platform for shared places and full apartments. It is also available in English. We recommend creating a profile with your bio to increase your chances of finding a home. Renters will sometimes contact you directly. Create a bio before arriving in Germany.
- Immobilien Scout24 has a giant selection of beautiful apartments in every price range. The downside is that you are competing with dozens of other people for the same place, especially in big cities.
- eBay-kleinanzeigen (eBay) is used a lot in Germany similar to Craigslist in the US. Kleinanzeigen is the local version where you can get almost everything in your area, including apartments for rent.
Stating the obvious here, but beware of scams! Never send money or give your detailed personal information to anyone that is asking for it before meeting or skyping with you. Scammers will ask for money in return for keys that will be mailed to you for a place you've never seen. They want your money, and there's no real rental.
Once you start to search for your new home, don't worry about not speaking German to connect with landlords and-or roommates. Google translate will be your best friend during this process. Be prepared to set up Skype calls before arriving or schedule house visits as soon as you are here. It could take 1 to 3 months to find a place to live. Remember it may not be your dream home, but once you are here and know the city, it will be easier to find your perfect place.
Knowing your price range and sticking with it is key. It may take a few months to start working, so plan accordingly. Prices in Germany are most often calculated as “Kaltmiete” which means cold rent. It does not include, utilities, heating, water, gas, electricity or the internet. “Warmmiete” which means warm rent most of the time will include the utilities and costs of heating. However, it usually does not include electricity, water, and internet, which have to be paid separately by the tenant. A good rule of thumb, if you are unsure, you should always ask what is included and if there are any extra costs such as a deposit. The landlord can only charge a maximum of 3 months rent as a deposit (“Kaution”).
Documentation may vary per landlord or location. Here is a list of items that the landlord could request.
- Valid passport (non-EU citizens) or ID card (EU/EEA citizens)
- Extra copy of valid passport or ID card
- Three months of your most recent bank statements, proof of income or most recent tax returns
- Proof of employment / Letter of Intent
- Deposit plus first month’s rent
- "Schufa" Information (credit check) If you do not have a credit history in Germany or have never registered here, then inform the landlord that you are new to Germany and cannot provide this report
Whether you want to live in an apartment alone or just rent a room with roommates; you will need a rental contract to register. Before signing a rental agreement, be sure to ask the landlord if you are allowed to register the address. If you are unable to register, then you can not move forward with application to live and work in Germany.
A true nomad at heart from San Diego, Tamie has explored most of the United States but had never been abroad until given the opportunity thanks to a massive layoff from the corporate world. After almost a year of traveling, volunteering, and studying around the world, she found a way to combine her passion for traveling, helping others, and teaching, in Hamburg, Germany. Read more about Tamie.