Beginning a new life in a new country is never easy. And of course there are all kinds of things to get used to. But as you will discover, there are plenty of good reasons why you will soon feel at home in Germany.
What sort of life you will have, and where you will live, is of course of fundamental importance. It is perfectly normal to rent a flat or house in Germany, and you do not necessarily have to buy a place. Half of all Germans rent, which is why Germany has a sizeable rental market and tenants’ rights are well protected.
That said, it is important to know that it is not always easy to find a good and affordable place to live. Especially in popular big cities, and in university cities like Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt, flats are in short supply and rents are high. You can expect to spend some time looking for your new home.
Good to know:
- The first place you should contact is your university’s welcome centre. The staff there will help you look for somewhere to live, and may even be able to offer you guest quarters for a provisional period.
- There are also online portals that specialise in property rentals. The websites of local and national daily and weekly newspapers also publish property listings for your future place of residence. If you have the chance, you should also take a look at the notice board ads (known in German as "Schwarzes Brett") posted in the canteen or common room at your university.
- The local rent index ("Mietspiegel") gives you an approximate idea of what it will cost to rent or buy a place to live. Many cities and towns collect such data and publish it online.
- When you are looking at rental prices, please remember that most of the figures quoted will be net, that is to say excluding bills for utilities such as water, electricity, heating etc. The annual operating costs index (Betriebskostenspiegel, only in German) published by the German Tenants’ Association gives you some idea of how high these additional costs may be.
- The great majority of flats and houses in Germany are rented unfurnished, so you will probably need to buy a kitchen and other furniture before you move in.
- The German Tenants’ Association provides information about your rights as a tenant in its online A to Z of tenancy law (only in German). Many cities have local tenants’ associations that can help their members with legal matters.