Finding a place to live

Beginning a new life in a new country is never easy and can take time to get used to. Germany, however, has plenty of good things to offer to make you feel at home.

Two young women carrying the sofa into their new flat.

Asking yourself where and how exactly you want to live – for example, if you prefer city life or rural areas –and how important direct access to public services and entertainment are to you is an important first step in finding a home. It is perfectly normal to rent a flat or house in Germany, and you do not necessarily have to buy a place. Germany has a sizeable rental market and tenants’ rights are well protected.

It is not always easy to find a good and affordable place to live in big cities and university cities such as Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt. Still, there are many other options to find places with affordable rent and access to public transport and basic services – e.g. on the outskirts of the cities.

Good to know

Find out what you should know before searching for your new home in Germany.

Before renting

  • Check out the local rent index (Mietspiegel) to have 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.
  • Remember that most of the listed rental prices will be cold rent (Kaltmiete). Cold rent does not include additional costs for utilities such as water, electricity, heating etc. The German Tenants’ Association (Deutscher Mieterbund) publishes the annual operating costs index (Betriebskostenspiegel) [German] where you can find the average additional rental costs.
  • The 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. Don’t worry, though: furnished kitchens are not entirely unheard of in Germany, and quite often you will be able to take over the previous tenant’s kitchen.
  • If you have German friends or colleagues who are willing to help you with your search, ask them to accompany you to visit the place you are interested to rent – they will have gone through the process before and might be able to offer valuable advice on what to look out for.

Tips on finding a flat to rent

  • If you start working at a German university, the first place you should contact is your university’s welcome centre (Akademisches Auslandsamt). The staff there will help you look for somewhere to live and may even be able to offer you temporary accommodation in guest quarters. With companies and non-university research institutions, HR departments might be able to help you out or give advice.
  • There are also online portals that specialise in property rentals. The websites of local and national daily and weekly newspapers publish property listings for your future place of residence as well. 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; or check out the intranet of your company or ask your colleagues for tips – maybe they have heard of someone who is planning to move out soon and searching for a new tenant (Nachmieter)?