The biggest complaint you’ll see across the internet is people trying to find an apartment in Berlin. I’ve never had this issue and I’ve both sublet and lived there. Your apartment search truly depends on what you’re looking for, the area you’re looking in and your budget. I happened to luck out by being in the right place at the right time, I guess, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be easy for you, too. Don’t allow others to discourage you and make you feel like getting a place is impossible because it’s not.
Here are a few key terms you should know before we dive in
Anmeldung – registration of your apartment. This allows you to receive mail and makes you officially a resident of Germany. You’ll need an anmeldung to get a bank account, a phone contract (with a few exceptions) and to register with payroll at your company or to register as a freelancer
WG – short for Wohngemeinschaft, this means a room in an apartment where you’ll be living with at least one other person
Zimmer – the German word for room
Wohnung – the German word for apartment, or as European’s commonly refer to them as flats
Kaution – the security deposit you put down for a place. Typically this is 3 months of the rent. For example, if your rent is 800EUR, you’ll put down 2400EUR as a deposit. Landlords typically allow for the kaution to spread out across 3 payments.
NK – short for nebenkosten OR BK – betriebskosten which means extra costs you’ll have to pay such as water, heating, insurance, etc.
EBK – short for einbauküche, this means an already fitted kitchen. In Germany, it’s common for the tenant to build out their kitchen – this isn’t the case if you’re renting a room.
Verdienstbescheinigung – unless subletting or renting a room (which might still be required in some cases), landlords require payslips to prove you can pay the rent and won’t have financial difficulty doing so. They’ll also want to see a working contract to show how long you’ve been working and if you’re still in your probationary period
Mietvertrag – the German word for lease
Now that you’ve got the basic vocabulary down, we can move onto where locals and expats find their apartments.
Before I list off the sites, it should be noted that Berlin has a high rate of apartment scams. If anyone asks you to transfer money for the deposit or kaution through western union or they are out of the country and unable to show you the apartment – this is a red flag. I’ve seen even the smartest people get taken advantage of. When in doubt, post about your experience in one of the Facebook groups and always listen to your gut. Make sure they have a valid German IBAN number.
Here are the sites locals use to get ahead when finding the perfect flat in Berlin
Ebay Kleinanzeigen – this is the most widely used site for everything in Germany. It’s essentially Ebay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace combined
WG-Gesucht – searching for flat sharing
ExBerliner – english speaking offering furnished and unfurnished flats
Studenten-WG – apartment search for students, although, I found my first sublet here and I wasn’t a student
WG rooms and apartments in Berlin (another FB group)
A bit more expensive but they’re furnished and typically allow an anmeldung
There’s a ton of options available to you. I’ve found Ebay Kleinanzeigen and specific Facebook groups to work for me. I’m in many of the expat groups and people are always posting to rent out a room, sublet their apartment or hand it over for the long-haul to someone else. It truly depends on what you’re looking for and how long.
Lastly, when reaching out to apartment and room listings, you’ll want to prepare a statement about yourself explaining who you are, what you do, what your interests are, if you have pets or kids or a husband moving in with you, how long you plan to stay in Germany etc. This shows the roommates and landlord the type of person you are and gives them a picture of what type of tenant you’ll be. It also gives them an idea if you’re looking to stay in this apartment long-term or short-term. I’ve found when landlords are renting apartments they want their tenants to be there long-term because the process, as you’ll see, can be grueling especially with all the paperwork you have to sign. With roommates, landlords leave the selection process up to those already living there.
I found my sublet in just one day of searching online (while I was still living in South Korea) and this was the second place I viewed and I signed the papers in less than a week. *Balcony not pictured because it was still under construction when the pictures were taken