Accommodation in Germany

Are you looking for accommodation in Germany?

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Looking for accommodation in Germany (Wohnungssuche[1]) is a bona fide headache, especially in large cities. There is an entire language of abbreviations that you will need to decipher (zentr. ZKBB – KM 400+NK+HZK+KT), so be very patient. Rent[2] prices per square metre vary depending on the region or city. Housing in the capital city and other large German city is generally the most expensive. Prices have increased since 2010 and there are few offerings in some cities. You will have to pass some real interviews as if they were for a job! Of course, you can find offerings and available flats in local newspapers and online property websites, but it takes time. Remember that it’s important to tell people about yourself in detail when calling or sending an email to request more information about the dwelling. It is viewed favourably and will score you more points to be chosen!

[1] Housing search

[2] Die Miete: the rent

[3] zentr. ZKBB – KM 400+NK+HZK+KT: central housing with room, kitchen, bathroom, and balcony

They cost €400 to rent excluding additional costs, heating costs, and the security deposit (collateral)

Advice on Searching for accommodation in Germany

First things first, ask a friend! The best “bargains” are obtained through acquaintances that already live in the city. Maybe they know somebody, and your problem may be solved sooner than expected! You can also ask in the Facebook groups of the city you’re moving to. By the way, there are a lot of scams via networks with false advertisements, be very careful with that deceptive story about “paying me in advance, and I’ll send you the keys to the dwelling by post because I’m not in Germany”, they want to steal from you. Don’t let your desperation get to your sanity…

If you look for accommodation in Germany through a real estate agent[1], who is generally hired by the landlord[2], you must take into account paying a commission of up to two months’ rent including VAT (does not include additional costs[3]). In addition to that, you will also need to pay the landlord a “Kaution”[4] that can be from two to three months’ rent. This amount is a payment guarantee for any damage caused that could surface even before leaving your flat. If no damage needs to be paid, the landlord will refund this deposit upon finalising the contract, whether it’s the full amount or the remaining amount.

[1] Also known as a Makler/in: agent from a real estate agency [2] Vermieter: the landlord [3] These costs include, among other things, the cost of water (hot), electricity, janitor, heating, rubbish collection, and the lift [4] Commission that can vary depending on the landlord (security deposit)

Web Sites for Searching Housing

Die Wohngemeinschaft

Another common alternative to find accommodation in Germany, especially among students and in university cities, is to have a shared flat: the well-known WG (Wohngemeinschaft).  As a matter of fact, there are central offices such as Studentenwerk, where there are housing exchanges for students and they do not have any commission at all. And, where can I find a shared flat?

Die Wohnungsgenossenschaft

Housing cooperatives that offer rentals with cheaper pricing. You can search for the Wohnungsgenossenschaft of each city online and inform yourself about the requirements to move into this kind of housing. Soon we will provide more information on this topic.

Still can’t find a place to stay?

Be patient! You can consider the following options to spend the first nights:

  1. Stay at a hotel, which will amount to €90 per night on average
  2. Spend some time in a furnished room or dwelling as a Zwischenmieter[1]
  3. A youth hostel [2]
  4. There is also the option of seeking accommodation in private German houses:

[1] Zwischenmieter (in): Someone who stays in a room or dwelling for a period of time determined by the landlord. You won’t need anything more than your clothes and luck to continue your search [2] Youth hostel: Jugendherberge

Do you have problems with your landlord?

If you have problems with your Betriebskosten (janitor, lift), or if rent went up and you received the bill for damage repair costs, you will definitely need legal advice. To that end, we recommend informing yourself about renter protection services ( You can also join renters’ organizations, and they have a service cost that varies from €30 to €75 a year; find out more in the following link (

Some Basic Abbreviations That Will Help You a Lot

AB: Altbau; old construction

B: Bad; bathroom

BK: Betriebskosten; maintenance costs (janitor, lift)

BLK: Balkon; balcony

CT: Courtage; entrance

D: Dusche; shower

DB: Duschbad; bathroom with shower

DG: Dachgeschoss; the attic

DHH: Doppelhaushälfte; single-family dwelling

EBK: Einbauküche; fitted kitchen

EG: Erdgeschoss; ground floor

ELW: Einliegerwohnung; granny flat

E-Schr.: Einbauschrank; build-in wardrobe

FBH: Fußbodenheizung; floor heater

GEH: Gasetagenheizung; Heating (it generally refers to a combination heater that works with natural gas)

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