Renting in Germany can be a challenge to everyone, and especially if you don’t know where to look for it. There are many online resources for the apartment search in Germany, some offer direct rent from the owner and some through the rental company, where you will pay additional fees. Usually, rental brokers will charge you one month of rent, what as you can imagine quite a significant amount of money.
To avoid such a money trap you need to choose proven resources without broker’s fees. In this post, I list the best free resources for long and short-term rentals in Germany.
Renting in Germany
Real state renting is very common in Germany. In fact, you might be surprised that over half of the population in Germany rent property instead of owning it. It’s very normal here and people are constantly looking and renting homes, therefore there are plenty of resources available.
However, be aware that all websites for long-term rent are exceptionally in German, if you don’t speak german it will be challenging. In this case use Google Chrome, which will automatically translate every page into English.
When communicating with landlords write a message in both languages, German and English, and tell them upfront where are you from. Some owners prefer not to lend their homes to foreigners.
Here are the best websites for finding apartments or rooms in Germany.
Keep in mind that in Germany, you need liability insurance when you rent an apartment or house. It will cover you in case something bad happens. For example, an apartment or furniture gets damaged or something gets broken. With private liability insurance, you can claim reimbursement of costs if the damages were caused by you. One of the most reliable and affordable coverages is offered by expat insurance company Feather.
Read more about liability insurance and why you must have it.
By far the most famous and biggest platform for apartment hunting in Germany. Every month 12 million people use this website to find their homes. It was founded back in 1998, and so it’s the first online platform in Germany for housing.
There you will see over 500.000 offers directly from owners as well as from real estate agencies and brokers.
The normal account is free to use, so you can see the offerings and contact the landlords, however, you can also choose a premium account with more benefits and options for a 30 EUR monthly price, and it’s necessary to pay for two months ahead.
Only with this update, you can see all details in the listing. There are also apartments that are available only for premium users (plus), so you even won’t see them if you don’t pay for one.
However, in particular cases, it does make sense to buy a premium membership. The housing situation in some German city quite severe, thus landlords get many requests for the offer they publish, it can be overwhelming for them so more and more owners decide to post offers exclusively for premium members.
So they can make their life easier and choose from fewer amount of people, who has an interest in the apartment.
Do you need to terminate your current apartment? Read this article about the apartment’s lease termination in Germany.
German eBay has a special feature called Kleinanzeigen, it’s available only in Germany. There you can find many different deals from apartments, rooms, cars to jobs and services. This website is essentially the German version of Craigslist or Gumtree.
Go to the Immobilien section of your city, select Mietwohnung, and select Angebote. On eBay Kleinanzeigen, you’re will find listings from current tenants rather than professional brokers.
With that said many people post their offers there as it’s free for both the vendors and buyers (tenants), in comparison to the ImmobilienScout24 where landlords need to pay a fee.
Sometimes you can even bargain for an offer if you see a negotiation basis (VB) near the price. But it’s more common for products and not for apartments.
The biggest benefit of this platform is that you won’t see any agents or brokers there, listings are only private with direct contact to owners. To have a profile on eBay Kleinanzeigen is advisable overall, there you can and sell almost everything from and to people directly both new and used.
For example, after renting an apartment you will need to buy furniture since most of them come empty. Therefore you can use eBay Kleinanzeigen to buy some inexpensive pieces of furniture, there are plenty to choose from.
If you want to sell out your apartment or house without an agent&fees check out the platform Ohne-Makler.de. Your listing will be posted on all mentioned in this article websites automatically. Hence, an ad will be published everywhere within just one posting. However, ohne-makler.de also has its own database of rentals if you want to rent an apartment. Read reviews about the company here.
Immowelt is the second biggest rentals platform in Germany after ImmobilienScout24. It was founded in 2000. The platform allows you to set your preferences through many filters.
Same as with ImmobilienScout24 you will find private offers as well as real estate agencies. It’s also free to use for tenants but landlords need to pay a fee.
You can contact the owner via the platform and there are no additional payments needed to see all offers and all information on them. Therefore it’s totally free in its full functionality. However, landlords will need to pay the price, here are the rates:
- 1 week 0 – 64,90 EUR
- 2 weeks 0 – 124,90 EUR
- 4 weeks 19,95 – 174,90 EUR
- 8 weeks 34,95 – 299,90 EUR
So it’s not really clear how much landlords have to pay, prices vary according to the value of the property, selected ad package, and if any discounts are granted. But after all it’s not important for you, as you only search for an apartment in that period of time.
In contrast to Immowelt, the biggest competitor ImmobilienScout24 has been actively promoting private memberships for users. Unfortunately without this feature, they can’t see the best offers in their area.
This makes more and more people upgrade their plans for 30 EUR per month in the hope to find the better deal. Immowelt provides almost as many apartments as ImmobilienScout24 and doesn’t sell memberships.
Meinestadt is a somewhat similar platform to eBay where not only rentals are published, but also jobs, cars, events, and even dating.
It’s a much smaller housing platform than we saw before, yet still has good listings. Moreover, it has around 15 million users per month and is definitely worth your attention.
Most of the offers are privat from landlords and the platform is free to use with its full capability.
Immonet is a partner of the Immowelt platform, it works with the same principles and is free to use for both parties. The company exists since 1999 and has less popularity than ImmobilienScout24.
On this platform you can, as usual, see rental offers and post your apartment for free. You can see the full information on the offer and contact the landlord too. This is the smallest platform but you still can spot some perks.
The website Wohnungboerse also has helpful checklists and tips for housing under the Info&Tips which will make your life easier in Germany.
The final platform is WG-Gesucht, and in comparison to others, the entire site is available in English. WG is the acronym of Wohngemeinschaft, or flatshare, but there’s a variety of listings at any given time. So you can find a room, apartment or even a house there. It’s a completely free website for tenants and owners.
WG-Gesucht, for my opinion, has the most attractive and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to see the size and price of the listing, the time it’s been online, address, availability, details, and pictures. However, many listings are for temporary accommodation only.
The website does not offer commercial real estate as such and private real estate for sale. All listings are from landlords or people who rent their current rooms.
I would recommend it, especially for room renting. WG-Gesucht is a place to be if you are looking for a room instead of an apartment in Germany.
Usually, students use this way of renting, that’s why you will most likely see offers from students renting their room, and your roommates will be most likely students too.
But overall it very varies, there are plenty of shared apartments with working adults. Some people just don’t want to live alone or don’t want to spend much money on housing.
And in fact, the WG-Gesucht is the biggest platform for shared housing on the market. You need to have enough information in your profile so people can look at it and get to know you before deciding to invite for an interview.
It’s especially important in the case of a shared apartment, that people fit each other as they gonna live together.
Rooms in WG (shared apartments) in times cheaper than the entire apartment. Expect to pay from 250 EUR to around 500 EUR per room, depending on the location, size, and conditions of the apartment. Munich is the most expensive city, you can see rooms for 600 EUR or so.
When searching on the WG-Gesucht, you will usually communicate with a person who rents their room and not with the owner of the property.
WG usually has only one rental contract for an entire flat with a landlord and each person is eligible to rent their room on their own.
As you can understand there you won’t have much contact with the owner and full responsibility for apartments is in the hands of roommates.
The person you will rent a room from will also ask for a commission as a security deposit. Hence if something happens with the rooms or property in shared spaces they can charge you. The amount ranges from 1 to 3 rents.
In addition to these resources, you can just search on Facebook for groups related to the apartment search in your town, such as Wohnungssuche in ….(city), Wohnungen in …. (city), WG-Zimmer in …, etc.
Most of these groups are private, but you’ll typically get approved within a day if you request to join. Facebook has made it easy to message the person who posted the listing, but there are no search filters, so you have to manually scroll through all the listings.
And word of mouth also works perfectly in this situation, just can ask your friends and people you know if they have some options or have heard from other friends.
This is quite a common favor in Germany and a lot of people find apartments this way. Germans will inform their friends that they rent an apartment in the first place and after they will publish it online.
So they make sure that no one from their social circle looks for an apartment, which clearly will be more preferable renter than a stranger.
Related post: Why German apartments don’t have kitchen?
Create a profile
You will need to create a profile on all of these sites. You should provide as much information about yourself as possible. Include details such as:
- current address
- company where you work
- employment status
- net household income
Send messages or call people!
Once you see an offer you like, be prepared to send a message immediately. I would suggest having a default message in both English and German, so you don’t type this each time.
In this message you should introduce yourself, for example, your name, age, occupation, monthly income, how long you have been living in this city, and something about your lifestyle that is worth mentioning, such as how regularly you spend time at home.
Also include how many people are supposed to live in this apartment, if you plan to live with someone else (family, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend).
In the message always address the listing owner by their given name, or by the generic and polite “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,”.
However, don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from many or any listings right away. Most of them receive a ton of messages and they behave very selectively. Landlords will try to pick the applicant with the most stable status. The more applications you submit, the better your chances.
If the owner has left a telephone number, you can also them, this would be a more proactive approach. Especially if feel like this place was made for you, you need to hurry up, apartments are given away very quickly in Germany.
To call the owner or be able to receive calls, you need a German number unless you have a good deal with some European provider. I would recommend getting a German sim card as soon as you come here.
Moreover, the foreign number can scare homeowners, since they might think you aren’t that serious about renting long term in Germany.
Read more: Best SIM card deals in Germany.
Visit the apartment
Viewing is necessary for each apartment before you can rent it, however, I rented already twice a room in the shared apartment without even visiting this. This might work with rooms and less likely with apartments.
So, before you attend a single viewing, you’ll need to have the following documents ready to show or submit:
- Einkommensnachweis/proof of income from the past three months
A signed document from your last landlord confirming that you’ve paid your rent in full and on time during the time of your rental. But it’s not always required.
- Schufa Bonitätscheck (credit score) — your Schufa score that also hasn’t expired
- Bank statement (optional)
Your most recent bank statement is also helpful if you have a sufficient amount of money saved. This is necessary only for apartments if you rent a room there are no documents that have to be shown.
Landlords will also require from you a deposit of usually two and even three rents plus the amount for the first month.
After you have found your new home
The last step to take is to register your new address within 2 weeks after you move into the new apartment. This procedure is necessary for everyone: Germans, EU – citizens, non-EU citizens, if you avoid this there is a chance to get a fine. To do it, you need to visit a Rathaus (town hall) personally and submit a form there.
Following documents you need to bring with you for registration:
- filled registration form (you can download it on the townhall’s website or get it in a townhall)
- identity card or passport, children’s card, birth certificate all persons to be registered
- rental agreement
- registration form must be signed by the landlord or who rents you an apartment
Don’t forget to sign up for liability insurance before you move in! You don’t want to pay for any damages to the apartment from your pocket and end up with debts in Germany.
Internet for your new apartment
When renting a place in Germany you will need to sign for an internet provider in order to have a connection to the web. In this article, we have collected all companies which offer broadband including fiber internet.
Since many people don’t want to commit to the 24-months long agreement, packages without a contract seem to be a better option. You can see and read more about all providers here.
Short term rent in Germany
Here are the best resources for short-term rent in Germany.
This platform knows probably everyone. It was also my first rental in Germany when I first come there for a longer period of time (3 months). It’s very popular and you can rent a room or apartment almost in each city and even village. Price is higher than if you opt for a long-term rent but still cheaper than booking the hotel.
Even the hostel will cost you around 20 EUR so I will suggest Airbnb even if you travel on a budget, however, the apartment probably will be somewhere in the outskirts.
Booking.com is the world’s best engine for finding accommodations, from hostels to luxury hotels you can find anything there. It also includes homes, apartments, B&B, and rooms. Booking.com guarantees to offer you the best available rates than any other platform.
I always book my accommodation with Booking.com, so far they did an excellent job in all countries I had been to, Germany isn’t an exception.
Do you need to terminate your current apartment? Read this article about the apartment’s lease termination in Germany.
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