How to find a place to live in Germany

flat in berlin mitteFinding a place to live in Germany has never been easier since websites like immowelt.de or immobilienscout24.de let you browse through thousands of offers online.
It is hard to imagine that only 10 years ago your best chances of finding a place to live in Germany where either the local newspaper or through friends and family.

Finding a place to rent in Germany

The easiest way to find an accomodation in Germany is to rent a flat or a house. If you are interested in buying a place there are many obstacles in the way (German bureaucracy at it’s best), therefore it is most likely that with renting a place you save yourself a lot of trouble.
Our recommendation for online searches for appartments and houses online is Immowelt.de, which let’s you filter for exactly the place you are looking for (and can afford).
Unfortunately over the last couple of years (starting around 2010) the rents in Germany have been going through the roof. Even very affordable cities like Berlin have seen yearly increases in rents of up to 10%, which means that many people can’t afford a place in cities anymore and have to move a bit further outside.

Necessary documents and tips when renting an appartment in Germany

Of courese you can’t just show up at a house viewing and ask to move in straight away. In order to increase your chances of getting the appartment that you were dreaming of you should follow our advice.

  • Be on time for the viewing, Germans don’t like unpunctuality
  • Show up wearing nice clothes
  • Have all your documents ready and hand them over straight away

Having all your documents ready is probably the most important thing at a house viewing. Depending on where you want to live it is not unlikely that 20 other people/couples show up for the same appartment. But when being properly prepared you can increase your chances very much. Get the following documents ready:

  • Copy of your passport (or ID)
  • Copy of your last 3 payslips
  • If you can’t afford to pay the rent yourself see if you can have a guarantor
  • Schufa Eintrag (there is this thing called Schufa that knows all your credit history, so better have a clean sheet there, otherwise it can get tricky)

Finding a place to buy in Germany

Berlin architectureIf you are sure you are going to spend the next couple of years in Germany and don’t want to spend your money on rent then buying a place to live might be the better solution for you.

Again in order to find the right house/flat to buy your first stop should be on of the many real estate websites like Immowelt.de, which is our personal recommendation for you.
Also ask the locals if there is a local newspaper with weekly real estate listings (usually on Saturdays, so get up very early and try to be the first one to call for the most interesting offers).

Necessary steps for buying a place in Germany

As already mentioned before it might be a real pain to buy a property in Germany, even if you have a German citizenship. There are just too many rules to follow in order to get a credit approved and to finally be the owner of the house.
Most timeconsuming will be the task to find a bank which will offer you the best rates for a mortgage. Make sure to talk to several banks at the same time as most likely you will be turned down more often than accepted.
Once this is sorted out you need to go to a Notar who will re-read the whole contract and who will legally declare you the owner of the house. After that you will still need to wait until you are in the Grundbuch, which is the moment that you are finally also legally the owner of your house/flat.
Make sure that you plan an extra 10-15% on top of the price of your dream house/flat, as you will most likely need to pay the realtor (up to 7,14% in Berlin, usually around 5% of the total price), the Notar (around 1% of total price) and Grunderwerbsteuer (real estate tax between 3,5% and 6,5%).

Once you found your dream appartment or house maybe it is time for you to think about which is the best bank for you in Germany. Or if you feel like enjoying yourself a bit read about the Top 10 foods in Germany.