Expat in Germany: Finding an Apartment

Finding an apartment in Germany is difficult, especially for foreigners. Germany has the highest population in Europe, and with many new immigrants arriving every year, apartment hunting is a competitive sport.

What should I expect?

There are a few things that stun foreigners when they move to Germany, and the biggest one – or¬†smallest ūüėČ –¬†is size.¬†Hardly any Germans live in an entire, stand-alone house by themselves. Most houses are divided into separate flats by floors. For example, the house I live in has six floors, and thus, six separate apartments.

Aside from square feet, prepare for a small kitchen. Our refrigerator is about one-fourth of the size of my parents’ high-tech, multiple-door fridge. You can get larger and/or the same superfluous appliances we have in the USA: it’s usually labelled as “American” instead of XXL.¬†(“American Refrigerator”)

Attached garages are also uncommon in Germany. If you live in the heart of the city, you may have a spot or two in the garage under your building. But don’t expect a suburban, 3-car garage where you can store your hockey equipment, drum set, and 3 houses worth of extra furniture.

Searching for an Apartment

The two best Internet search engines for apartments across Germany are

Immobilien Scout 24
Immowelt

Both Immobilien Scout 24 and Immowelt provide extensive apartment listings all over Germany, but both of these websites are only in German. If you use Google Chrome, you can translate the page to English, but some terms may not translate correctly, and the landlords are less likely to speak English.

Additionally, the majority of the listings on Immobilien Scout 24 and Immowelt are unfurnished. If you are a short-term* resident, and you won’t be packing and shipping all your possessions in a large container across the Atlantic, then you will want a furnished apartment.

*I call <2 years “short-term.”

Furnished Apartments

A great site for English-speakers near Stuttgart is HC24. All of the listings are in English, and you can speak with the rental agency in English as well. Most of these listings are furnished, but be sure to double-check. Other cities have similar agencies that provide furnished apartments and help in English, and I’ve listed some below.

TempoFlat has furnished apartments in English in the following cities:

Berlin Bonn Cologne Dusseldorf Frankfurt Hamburg Hanover Munich Stuttgart

Berlin

Berlin99
Wunderflats

Munich

Mr. Lodge
Home Company

For Singles

If you are moving to Germany alone, and wish to have a roommate (or 5), you will need to look for a shared apartment called a Wohngemeinschaft, or WG for short. The top website for finding a WG is

WG Gesucht

Since most people living in WGs are young, many city-specific groups for listing and finding WGs are also on Facebook.

If move to Germany without an apartment, you can also find roommate-needed listings in the local newspaper.

Other Options

Craigslist and Ebay are also used in Germany to find apartment listings. Most of the listings will likely be in German, but you can still test your language skills.

Another option for apartment-rental is Airbnb, and the German version, Wimdu. While most people use these services for vacation rentals, they can also be used for longer-term rentals. Many hosts even give significant discounts for week- or month-long rentals.

Key Terms

Arbeitszimmer = Study (Work Room)
Adresse = Address
Badezimmer =
Bathroom
Balkon =
Balcony
Erdgeschoss* (EG) =
Ground Floor 
1. Obergeschoss* (OG) =
1st Floor
Esszimmer = Dining Room
Fläche =
Size (usually in sq. meters)
Gesamtkosten 
= Total Cost
Haus = House
Haustiere = Pets
Kaltmiete (KM) = 
Rent (w/o Utilities)
Kaution = Security Deposit
Keller = Basement
K√ľche¬†= Kitchen
Mitbewohner = Roommate
Möbliert = Furnished
Monatsmiete¬†= Month’s Rent (Usually associated with¬†Kaution/security deposit)
Nachmieter = Renter
Nebenkosten (NK) = Utilities
Quadratmeter (qm.) = Square Meters (1 sq. m. = ~10 sq. ft.)
Schlafzimmer = Bedroom
Terrasse =
Terrace
Vermieter
= Landlord
WC = Bathroom
Wohngemainschaft = Shared Apartment
Wohnung= Apartment
Wohnzimmer = Living Room
Zimmer = Room

*Ground floor is floor number zero. First floor in German is the equivalent to 2nd floor in American English.

Q&A

If you have any other questions about finding an apartment in Germany, please post them in the comments, and I will answer as quickly as possible!

Finding an Apartment

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