Renting in Germany
So, you’ve found an amazing job in an international company. Your next priority will be to find accommodation. Finding a place to hang your hat is an essential and time-consuming part of moving abroad. Most expats decide to look for houses for rent in Germany, due to the insecurity of short-term job contracts. Renting is more flexible than buying and allows you to stay mobile. You won’t be alone, over half the local population also chooses to rent rather than buy. In fact, Germany has one of the lowest rates of house ownership in Europe. This means that there is stiff competition for apartments, and you’ll need to be organised if you want to beat the opposition!
Where to live?
The first thing you need to decide is where to live. Look at your lifestyle. Would you prefer to live in the city centre with lively nightlife nearby or would it be better to be in the peaceful countryside? When looking for houses for rent in Germany, remember to take travel times into account. Long term rentals in Germany vary in size. In the city, you are more likely to find small apartments for rent in Germany. Larger family-sized homes tend to be out in the surrounding country. Many people decide to live in the outlying suburbs where you can find a better balance between space and price while still being close to town. Whether you’re moving to Stuttgart or going to be living in Dusseldorf, one of the great things about Germany is that public transport is second to none.
Most expats decide to engage an estate agent (makier) to help them search for apartments for rent in Germany. They are experts in the local property market and can help with the negotiation and contracts. This is helpful to avoid language barriers. Of course, they charge a fee for their services, around 1 months’ rent. Houses for rent in Germany that are advertised through agents can be higher in rent. If you want to go it alone, you can search online portals for properties in your chosen area. Immobilienscout24.de, immonet.de and immovelt.de are the biggest and most up to date. Apartments for rent in Germany will state how many rooms they have in total. This includes bedrooms, living rooms and kitchen/dining rooms, but not bathrooms or hallways. So, a 1-bedroom apartment will be advertised as a 2 or 3 room apartment.
Rental costs vary from city to city and are dependent on m². Germany escaped the recent property bubble and rents remain relatively cheap. You can calculate at approximately €8/m². Living in Dusseldorf, in the centre, will cost you between €600 and €800 per month. Apartments for rent in Germany usually come unfurnished and utilities are not included. Rents are either 'cold rents' kaltmiete, where heating and utilities are not included or 'warm rents' warmmiete with heating and other costs included. There may also be additional management costs if you have an apartment in a large building. The landlord will require a security deposit against damages, usually 1-3months rent. This will be placed in a special account and is refundable at the end of your contract.
Once you’ve found a property, arrange a viewing. Be prepared to move fast when you find a property you like. It is a good idea to have your paperwork with you during the viewing. You might need your passport, proof of income (payslips or an employment contract), references from previous landlords, a credit check and a guarantor who can pay your rent in an emergency. Long term rentals in Germany tend to have leases between 1 and 2 years. Shorter terms are possible if you negotiate. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions regarding vacating the property before the end of the contract. In most cases, either side must give 3 months’ notice to terminate a contract early. Get an inventory and an inspection done and check what state you need to leave the property.
Renting in Germany – Mundialz
Moving to Germany is a major step and finding accommodation is one of the most important stages. Mundialz is here to help. Read our advice pages on living in Germany for more useful information. Once you’re here, you can connect with a local Mundialz in your area who can offer you further guidance from a real personal perspective.