No matter whether you are looking for a flat or for a shared-flat (WG), in Germany you will have to work hard to get one.
Depending in which city you are looking, it can be really complicated to find something suitable: Either the properties are really expensive, or the demand is too high. This does not happen all around the country, but mostly in big cities such as Münich, Düsseldor or Cologne.
In this post I would like to provide you with some useful advice, so that you find the flat of your dreams when living in Germany.
Looking for a flat
Before start looking for the perfect flat, you have to decide whether you want to live alone or whether you want to share a flat with other people. Both options have advantages and disadvantages in terms of costs, cohabitation and daily life.
Once you have decided what is more suitable for you, you can start dealing with the whole looking-for-a-flat process.
First of all, you should know that flat interviews are really important here in Germany. If you succeed to get one, it does not mean that the landlord or your future roommates are willig to have you in their flat. It just means that they are willing to know you better and, therefore, you are going to pass a «test», where they will ask you many personal questions. So, when looking for a flat apply to offers only if you can fulfill all the requirements. For example: If the offer says that the owner of the flat looks for someone without pets and you have a dog, do not apply.
Secondly, you should be aware that germans love to rent unfurnished apartments. Yes, this includes apartments without kitchen furniture. However, not all the flats are empty.
Here you can find all the possibilities of the market:
1. Unmöbilierte Wohnung: Unfurnished apartment (the most common thing). In this case you will have to buy and bring your own furniture and once you move out, you will need to leave the flat totally empty.
2. Unmöbilierte Wohnung + Küche: In this case, the former tenant is taking all his/her forniture but the kitchen. In most of the cases, they will sell the kitchen, which lead to:
- The price of the kitchen is not included in the rent: You will have to buy the kitchen to the former tenant before renting the flat.
- The price of the kitchen is included in the rent: You buy the kitchen buy increasing the basic monthly rent, until you pay the whole amount.
3. Möblierte Wohnung: If you are interested in a furnished flat be careful. Here there are also different options:
- You have to buy the furniture to the former tenant
- You have to rent the furniture to the flat’s owner (this does not happen so often)
- You do not need to pay for the furniture at all
If you are new in the city and you would like to meet new people I highly recommend you to take a look at WG-Gesucht . It is the best website to find a WG o shared flat.
Here I also recommend you to apply to the right offers. Therefore, check if your hobbies, way of life, age, gender… match the requirements written in the room offer. And do not forget that the more E-mails you send, the higher the chance to get invited to a flat interview.
If you german is still not good enough, do not panic! You can always contact your future roommates in English, usually young people are quite flexible when it comes to speak in other languages but german.
Finally, remember that if you are not living in Germany and you cannot attend an in-person interview, you can ask for a skype/zoom call.
Rent a flat
Here it comes the difficult part.
There are a lot of websites to look for a flat. However, the most commonly used is ImmobilienScout24.
Finding a flat in Düsseldorf and Köln is a tough task since the demans is really high. Prices are also increasing rapidly. Therefore, if you find any interesting flat, I recommend you to contact the real state agency by telephone (if possible), because once they have a considerable amount of candidates requests they do not answer more emails.
If you succeed to have a personal interview with the landlord or real state in the flat, take into account that it might not be a one-to-one interview, but a group one. This means that you won’t be alone while visiting the property, but with 20-30 more people. If this happens, remember that the more you show interest for the flat, the higher chance you have to get a contract. Try to ask many questions and to spend some minutes alone with the owner or the real state employee.
In Germany you can find different kinds of landlords:
- Private landlords
- Real states
Depending on the landlord, the former tenant can carry out a pre-selection of candidates and send their information to the landlord. This information is very useful if you already know someone who is planning to move out. This person could talk his landlord about you and invite you both to have a personal interview in the flat.
Most of the times, however, the owners of the flat like to make this pre-selection themselves. How do they do it? Easily, they base this pre-selection on the E-mails and calls that they receive when posting the renting offer online. Therefore, when you contact the landlord or real state, you have to sell youself, you have to show them that you are the right person for the flat. In Germany, the impression matters the most.
Once the pre-selection process is done, you will be invited to a personal interview. As I previously mentioned, this can be privat or in group. Do not forget to be prepared to answer and ask many questions. If you really like the flat, do not hesitate to show your interest.
Finally, if the personal interview went well, you will have to give the landlord thousand of documents such as information about your income.
As I previosly said, landlords want to know more about you before allowing you to rent their place (this applies also to WGs or shared-flats). Therefore, they will ask you for the following documents:
- Net income of the last year or the last three months (depending on the landlord)
- Auskunt: Here they include all the documents related to your personal information such as: Family status, bank account, anmeldung and former address.
I know this concept does not exist in other european countries, so let’s see what is this weird thing.
The SCHUFA is an official document that shows how realiably you have met your financial obligations and landlords (and other entities) use it to decide how worthy you are of being granted further obligations, in this case, how worthy you are of paying the rent every month. In this page you can find more information about it.
And last but not least, Social Networks!
These are helpful tools to find a flat in Germany. Here you can find various expat groups where people post information when they move out and leave their flats. Contacting them can be a good way to be pre-selected for a flat visit.
Be patient and keep looking! In the meanwhile I wish you good luck!
In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read more about you!