If you are an expat looking for a flat in Berlin, you’ll need stamina. But with the help of our tips and a bit of luck, you can probably soon move into your new flat and your Berlin adventure can really start!
If you are looking for a flat in Berlin, you should arrive with perseverance and composure from the very beginning. The fact is, there are applicants upon applicants and simply too little housing space. So you may find yourself shuffling through a one-room flat along with 50 other applicants, and the base rent may leave you speechless. But don’t despair – after all, finding a flat in Berlin is still easier than in Paris or London!
What does a rental flat cost in Berlin?
The overall cost of a flat is called Warmmiete in German. It includes the rent, service charges and bills (heating and electricity). When central heating is used throughout the building, heating is included in the service charges. In addition, in Germany you have to pay a TV and radio fee, called GEZ, for the public broadcasters. This amounts to €17.50 per household per month. As soon as you have registered your residence, you will be contacted about this by post.
|Tip: Keep in mind that you have to arrange an electricity and gas contract yourself with the provider of your choice!|
When you move into a new flat, the landlord usually requires a deposit. This is an amount that covers the landlord in case you leave damage or defects in the flat when you move out. The deposit is usually up to three months’ rent. It is generally deposited in an escrow account or similar and returned when you move out of the flat, provided you hand the property back without any defects.
If you want to know if your rent is reasonable for the area you want to live in, you can check the Mietspiegel database at or use this tool to find out approximately what a flat should cost where you want to live.
How to find a good flat in Berlin
Once you have a realistic understanding of the housing market in Berlin, you can start searching for a flat and make your first viewing appointments. These are the most popular websites offering flats in Berlin:
Immobilienscout24, Immonet and Immowelt are the best-known portals for flat hunting in Germany. If you place a search request online with each of the three portals, you will always get updates on flat listings.
The main focus of this portal is on shared flats.
This portal is particularly suitable for expats. Many listings are in English and you can often find temporary furnished apartments. There are also many offers for flat swaps. For example, you can swap your flat in New York with the flat of someone from Berlin.
This portal only offers flats from private landlords for rent (not for sale).
Here you can find flat offers as well as an overview of local rents and property prices.
This portal offers a particularly precise search in addition to the usual filter functions: basics (e.g. suitable as a shared flat), furnishing, features (e.g. loft, unfinished attic, maisonette, etc.)
|Tip: The housing market in Berlin is highly competitive. You need to respond to offers quickly. It’s best to have your up-to-date application documents with you when going to a viewing, either digitally as a scan on your smartphone or printed.|
Sending and saving money has never been easier. Keep your money safe with online banking and the Sparkasse app. Enjoy excellent conditions, a wide variety of services and even expert advice at your Berliner Sparkasse.
It is also worth getting in touch with housing associations, property management companies and accommodation agencies directly. These are the best-known Berlin addresses:
Often flats are transferred directly from one tenant to the subsequent tenant. It’s helpful if you have lots of social contacts and leverage networks. Also, employers sometimes provide housing for their employees. It’s worth asking. Many tenants are looking for subtenants for a period of time. A furnished sublet can make your start in the capital easier. Until the main tenant wants to move back into the flat, you have time to look for long-term accommodation.
Here you can find flat offers in English:
Here you can find flat offers in German:
If you are willing to spend some money, you can also contact an estate agent or employ the services of a full-service agency. Similar to Airbnb or hotels, you can check right into the flat, and usually services like cleaning the premises are included. Most of the apartments you find there are quite stylish. The hipper the quarter and the flat amenities, the higher the price. In Berlin-Mitte, a room can easily cost €1,500 a month.
|Tip: Starting with a furnished flat in Berlin has a decisive advantage, especially when it comes to official formalities. Private landlords and municipal housing associations usually require bank information and proof of salary, which often cannot be provided because, for example, you can’t open an account until you have a residence address. The staff of the agencies that offer furnished apartments often speak English. They know the challenges for newcomers and usually don’t require proof of account to conclude a rental agreement. A rental agreement is a prerequisite for registering with the citizens’ office and opening a bank account.|
What kind of tenancies exist in Germany?
Once you have found a flat that suits you, you will need to sign up for a viewing appointment. Be sure to be on time; some viewings are limited by landlords if there are too many applicants.
Find out in advance what documents and papers you need to apply for a flat. Some applicants bring these with them for the visit. However, most landlords prefer to receive them digitally. This means that if you like the flat, you should send your application documents to the property management or the landlord via e-mail immediately after the viewing. Make sure you send them in a timely manner. Speed is important when looking for a flat!
These documents are usually required when applying for a flat:
Congratulations! When you have reached this step, the landlord has decided in your favour and will arrange to meet you to hand over the keys. Most often, the handover takes place in the new flat. The landlord will again show you the flat and coordinate the final formalities, for example registration with an electricity or gas provider.
|Tip: During the handover, take the opportunity to inspect the flat for defects and record them. Also get the current meter readings for heating, water and electricity. It’s best to take a picture or video of any meter readings and other things that catch your eye. Store the pictures and videos until you move out. If there are questions about the return of your deposit, you can use the records to prove that defects already existed when you moved into the flat and that you did not cause the damage.|
Rental agreement – What is admissible and what is not?A rental agreement can sometimes contain little nasties. Read the contract carefully before signing it and, if in doubt, ask a lawyer who specialises in tenancy law. You can also have the rental agreement checked via the Immowelt portal.
Pay particular attention to the following points:
Read more interesting articles here.
Residence permit in Berlin
Living and working in the German capital.
Welcome to Berlin!
Getting started with your bank account and basic features.
Your first to-do in Berlin:
Opening a bank account