Woman works on laptop computer in cozy cafe

Finding Affordable Housing in Germany 

Finding affordable housing in Germany can be challenging – especially in popular cities. This is due to high demand, making proactive planning crucial. Start your search early and consider seeking assistance from friends, local authorities, or professional housing agencies. They can offer valuable local knowledge, navigate bureaucratic processes, and connect you with potential landlords or rental listings. By following these tips and remaining open to different options, you can increase your chances of securing a comfortable and budget-friendly place to call home in Germany.  

Finding your accommodation in Germany 

To register in Germany, you’ll need a „Wohnungsgeberbestätigung“ confirming your address and registration (Anmeldung). When booking a furnished apartment or short-term stay, ensure the landlord or service provider can provide this document. You’ll need it to open a bank account, apply for a tax ID, and complete other official documents.  Germany’s housing market is not the easiest but with prepared documents and a clear idea of what you are looking for, you are on your way to finding your new home! 

Types of housing in Germany (for rent) 

1. Apartments:  

Finding an apartment depends on your budget and preferences. Be flexible in your search initially, as competition is high – especially in the big cities. You can find both unfurnished long-term rentals and fully furnished apartments. Unfurnished options are typically cheaper, allowing you to decorate and personalize your space for the long term. In case your budget is especially tight, there are options for social housing as well. 

Remember that many others are also searching for accommodation, so prepare your documents beforehand and be responsive and prompt to secure desired options.  

Advantages:  

  • Privacy and independence  
  • Customization and decorating freedom  

Disadvantages:  

  • Generally, more expensive than WGs (shared flats)  
  • Longer application process with more documents required  
  • May require additional time and effort to furnish  
  • Deposits and fees can be significant  

Search Platforms:  

2. Shared Flats (Wohngemeinschaft – WG):  

Living in a WG is increasingly popular in Germany, often chosen as a temporary option while searching for a permanent residence. This option is suitable for both social individuals and those seeking to share expenses.  

Typical WGs share common areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Rent is usually based on your room size relative to the apartment’s total space. This price often includes utilities like electricity, water, heating, and common charges.  

Advantages:  

  • Reduced living expenses through shared costs  
  • Furnished rooms, eliminating furnishing needs  
  • Potential support from flatmates (e.g., plant care, mail collection)  
  • Opportunity to make new friends and expand your social circle  
  • Cultural exchange experience  

Disadvantages:  

  • Reduced privacy compared to living alone  

Search Platforms:  

  • WG-Gesucht   
  • Join specific Facebook groups based on your needs and desired city using keywords like „WG Zimmer,“ „flatshare,“ or „accommodation.“  

Rental contract  

The rental contract is relevant to regulate all the conditions and agreements of the rental relationship with your landlord. With the signatures of the landlord and the tenant, it becomes legally binding. Once both parties agree and proceed to sign the contract, you usually have to pay a deposit (“Kaution”), which is just a one-time payment and after you move back you should get your money back.  

Leases may be for an indefinite term or for a fixed term.  

Types of rental costs  

  • Cold rent (Kaltmiete): You pay basic rent for the place you rent, which only covers the cost of using the room. It therefore doesn’t cover the additional costs (“Nebenkosten”) related to home utilities. The cold rent is determined by the number of square meters of living space. It varies depending on the year of construction, condition and location of the property.  
  • Warm rent (Warmmiete): The warm rent also includes utilities. Service charges include all utilities that the landlord may pass on to the tenant. These typically include sewage, garbage collection, janitorial services, property taxes, heating, and certain insurances.  

What should a rental contract include 

  • Contract type: Fixed-term or indefinite-term.  
  • Start date of the agreement: Clearly state the start date of the tenancy.  
  • Detailed property description: Include address, floor level, and square footage.  
  • Rent details: Specify the type of rent (cold or warm), amount, and due date. Mention any potential rent increase clauses.  
  • Security deposit (Kaution): Outline the deposit amount and terms of return upon contract termination.  
  • Signatures of both parties: Ensure both landlord and tenant sign and date the contract with printed names below for clarity.  

Documents required for renting a flat in Germany  

According to the Welcome Center Germany, you need the following documents:   

  • Identification: Passport or valid ID card.  
  • Proof of income: Recent payslips or bank statements  
  • Creditworthiness check: SCHUFA (credit bureau) report or confirmation of no negative credit history.  
  • Proof of residence (“Meldebescheinigung”): If applicable, provide a registration certificate from a previous address in Germany.  
  • Guarantor (“Bürgschaft”): In some cases, landlords may require a guarantor who agrees to cover rent payments if the tenant defaults.  

Tips for success   

  • Always provide a short cover letter introducing yourself. Briefly highlight your qualifications and reasons for interest 
  • Research the local rental market and understand your budget limitations.  
  • Be patient and persistent, it may take several visits to find the right apartment.  
  • Be aware of your network and friends to increase your chances of finding an apartment. If not, ask for help in social media groups on Facebook dedicated to housing.  
  • Consider using translation tools to apply in German to expand your options.  
  • Beware of scams and never pay any fees before viewing an apartment
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