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Life in Germany, find a place where you would feel at home

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Life in Germany offers a wide range of high-quality rental housing. Many Germans prefer to rent rather than to buy a home. In this section we explain how you can find a place to live and what you need to keep in mind, both before and after moving in.

See Also: Get your Qualifications Recognised in Germany

Your first accommodation

There are a variety of options of your first few weeks in Germany, before you have found permanent housing: A hotel room costs an average of about ninety euros per night. You should expect to pay roughly 500 to 1,200 euros per month for a temporary, furnished two- or three- or four room flat, depending on its location. Youth hostels usually charge between 20 and 30 euros per night. There are also options of using online portals to rent a room from a German family, which has the added benefit of helping you to make contact to local residents.

The next step: To buy or to rent?

In contrast to many other countries, most Germans rent their homes – for a good reason: There is an abundance of high-quality rental housing in every location and the price range, from small flats to villas with gardens. These rental properties are often in excellent condition and equivalent to the owner occupied apartments in terms of quality. In addition, renters are protected by law against violent increases in rent, and landlords are not allowed to terminate a lease without cause.

House and flat shares

House and flat shares, which are called Wohngemeinschaften, or “WG”, in German, are good alternatives for people who want to make some friends quickly and save money on the rent. Usually in this kind of shared accommodation, each person has their own private room in the apartment. In most “WGs”, the kitchen and bathroom are shared, as are electricity and the rent, Internet and phone costs. The kitchen or shared living room tend to be the heart of a WG. There, you could cook together or sit and chat. If you want to be alone, you can simply shut the door of your own room behind you.

Life n Germany, house and flat shares aren’t only for students. Trainees and working professionals also live in shared accommodation, especially if they’re new to the town or like the conviviality of living together. There are a lot of such WGs, especially in larger cities.

Students often find a house or flat shares on their student union Web sites or university notice boards. German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) also offers numerous tips on how to search for your accommodation.

The Aachen student union, for example, has compiled a list of links to “WG-Börsen” Web sites with offers of apartments and flat shares all over Germany – of course, these are also open to working professionals. On sites like these, you can either search for a house or flat share in the town where you are, or post an ad yourself.

Looking for housing in Germany

Whether you want to rent or buy: Information about available housing could be found in the advertising section of the newspapers and on real estate websites, which is where most flats and houses are listed today. Demand and housing supply depend to a large degree on the respective region. In rural areas, buyers or renters tend to have their pick of what is available, but in larger cities owners can usually choose from multiple offers. Finding housing could be time-consuming, particularly in the metropolitan areas surrounding Munich and Frankfurt. In those areas it can be wise to consult a real estate agent. Realtors are not permitted to charge more than three months’ rent as a committee for their services. Furthermore you only have to pay a commission if you are the one who requested the agent for the search. If you only contact the agent due to a real estate ad, you do not have to pay any commission under German law.

As in other countries, costs of a rental unit varies greatly by region. Rent and ancillary costs such as heating, gas and water will cost you about 14 euros per square metre in large cities. The average cost in small towns and rural areas are between eight and ten euros per square metre.


German lease agreements must be concluded in writing. In most of all cases, the lease specifies the rent amount exclusive of heating. There is usually an additional charge for ancillary costs, which are paid to the landlord each month along with the base rent. What is considered an ancillary cost may vary from the one lease to another. Electricity, gas and water are often included, but not always. Before signing a lease, it is therefore very important to ask the landlord what the ancillary costs include and what other charges you may incur.

A successful move to Germany

Registering with the power and water utilities. If your landlord does not take care of electricity, gas or water, you will have to make your own arrangements with a provider. Your landlord will probably be able to giving you a contact information for your regional provider.

Arranging for telephone, Internet and (cable) television service provider. Germany has a variety of telecommunications service providers. It pays comparing them, and online portals can be helpful. Many of the providers offer discounted packages that include both Internet service and telephone. There are also options tailored to mobile use, for example using UMTS technology (3G). A tip: Since it may take some several weeks for your telephone and Internet to be connected, it is a good idea to contact a provider before you’ll be able to move in, if possible.

Fees for television and radio. Life in Germany, fees are charged for television, radio and Internet use. If you use these media, you are required to register with the German licensing office, which name is Gebühreneinzugszentrale or GEZ. This can be done either online or using the registration forms that are available at the most post offices and banks.

Put your name on your mailbox and doorbell (if your landlord has not already done so). The mail will not be delivered unless your name is on your mailbox. There is no need to register with the post office.

Change of the address order. Don’t forget to have your mail forwarded from your home country to your new home. And if you know go away for an extended period, you can ask the German post office to forward your mail, even abroad.

Your registering with the local authorities

Anyone who lives in Germany is required to register with the local authorities. You have to do this no later than five work-days after moving in. To do so, you need a valid identity document. In case you are renting, you may need to give the name of your landlord. The address of the responsible registry office can be found on the official website of your new city.

Getting off to a good start

To make sure that you feel like at home in your flat and your neighbourhood, we have compiled a few helpful hints:

Introduce yourself. When you have settled in a bit, you could introduce yourself to your neighbours – this is not required, of course, but it is a way of getting to know some people quickly and lets you know who your neighbours are.

Quiet hours. In general, noise is forbidden between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. so that everyone can get a good night’s sleep. This means keeping music at a lowest possible volume and avoiding things like running your washing machine during those hours.

Pets. Under the law, you are allowed to keep some kind of small animals that are normally in cages, aquariums or terrariums. In the case of larger animals, such as cats and dogs, you need to obtain advance permission from your landlord. Whether a pet is large or small: If you just want to get along with your landlord, make sure to give advance notice of any pet you want to bring it up to your home.

Cleaning responsibilities. Almost every German state has agreements specifying which tenant is responsible for cleaning the walkway or hallway the in front of the building. But don’t worry – what may seem to be an annoying work can quickly turn into a weekly opportunity to chat with your neighbours!

Tap water in Germany is carefully inspected, so it is normally perfectly comfortable for drinking and cooking. In old buildings with old pipes, however, you should have the water tested.

Separating trash. Did you know? We Germans are the undisputed world champions in separating waste materials. With our yellow, blue, green and black containers, we collect, separate and sort our waste materials for recycling, which it benefits the environment.

See Also: Visa, your ticket to work in Germany


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