Housing in Germany – the not so easy task

Housing in Germany

Written by Germany Simplified

May 16, 2019


As an expat in Germany, you will find that the biggest chunk of your money will go into paying for housing and bills. Finding housing in Germany can be difficult, but now you will know where and how to look. German housing is not in the best of its shapes as of now. Students and expats both will find that their monthly budget for rent will be drastically different.

After all, when you’re a student, you will be looking for shared spaces, close to your university. An expat working or living in Germany might look at other factors such as proximity to work, the city centre, and more. Read through this post to determine your Gross and Net salary in Germany, which will then help you in budgeting for the best housing.

If you’re going to live with your family in Germany, you might want to find a rent able property someplace close to the children’s park or school. Of course, at the end of the day, it all depends on how much your budget is. In Germany, prices for apartments can vary from city to city as well as areas within a city.

If you’re living in Frankfurt, you might find rent near or at the city centre for somewhere between 250 and 300 euros. But in Darmstadt, such an apartment might cost around 850 euros. Find a place to rent is very difficult in big cities.

The difference in prices between cities is great and we recommend that you take all of this into account while deciding your housing in Germany. In fact, some cities such as Darmstadt are expensive because of the rents they boast. It is quite well known that most of the people rent in Germany.

Housing in Germany – Renting

When looking for an apartment in Germany, it is very important to know exactly what you’re looking for. Therefore, you will have to be very much aware of your budget. While apartments have leases for six months or even a year, you will find that you must pay for them at the beginning of each month.

Because of this, you cannot afford to overspend as you will get into serious trouble for not paying your rent on time. The rental property are dependent on various factors and one should take care of these points.

Bigger cities like Cologne and Munich are more expensive than others, but this does not mean that living there is impossible. If you have the right budget set, then you’ll find that you can easily find an apartment for yourself in almost any German city of your choice. You just need to know some basic things.

First, you will find that in Germany prices increase as you get closer to the city centre. Here’s the average monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment at the city centre as housing in Germany in some German cities:

Aachen- 540 euros

Augsburg- 600 euros

Berlin- 795 euros

Bochum- 400 euros

Bonn- 650 euros

Bremen – 560 euros


Cologne- 700 euros

Dortmund- 500 euros

Dresden- 500 euros

Dusseldorf- 700 euros

Essen- 450 euros

Frankfurt- 870 euros

Hamburg- 850 euros

Hannover- 600 euros

Ingolstadt- 700 euros

Leipzig- 500 euros


Mainz- 670 euros

Munich- 1200 euros

Paderborn- 500 euros

Stuttgart- 800 euros

As you can clearly see from this list, prices of housing in Germany are very different across different cities, Munich having the most expensive rent. However, you will find that as you move away from the city centre, the rent starts to decrease. If you’re planning to live in Hamburg, Cologne or Berlin where the rent in the city centre is between 700 and 800 euros, it would be a better idea to look for apartments in neighbouring areas rather than the city centre.

Why? Because in Germany, prices drop drastically once you begin to move away. A one-bedroom apartment worth 800 euros in the city centre will cost only 500 euros in nearby areas. What’s more, you will find that as you move away from the city centre, you will be able to find cheap apartments that are in better condition.

In fact, if you choose to rent a housing outside the city centre area completely, you will be surprised to know that you can get quite large apartments for three people for 1000 euros. Likewise, fully furnished apartments will cost you 1500 euros which is impossible for a three-people apartment in the city centre. Therefore, as a student, we would recommend that you investigate these before making the decision to get an apartment in the city centre.

Looking for apartments

Of course, as an expat still planning their move to Germany, it might seem quite difficult for you to look up apartments for yourself in Germany. After all, normally, when you’re looking for a place, you usually visit the area and check out if it suits your needs. Even if you respond to online advertisements and use websites to look at apartments for rent, you still physically go to the area your apartment will be at one point.

You must have an idea of what you’re getting. Dealing online with something as big as finding a housing in Germany for a good price can be tricky but we’ve got you covered!

Here’s our list of some of the most reliable websites you can use to look for housings for you when you finally make the move to Germany.





Null Provision

These are the leading websites to look for apartments almost anywhere in Germany. Now, that you know where to go, there’s a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

Types of rentals

Like most places around the globe, there are many different types of rental agreements in Germany. Depending on your situation, you should choose one of these options.

Wohnegemeinschaft (WG, for short)

This is the most popular, short term and long term (if you’re a student or on a budget) living option that you can find in Germany. Apartments or even houses, at times, are rented out to multiple tenants, each getting their own room or sharing.

Think of the WG system as a dorm system. You must share the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and as mentioned, the bedroom sometimes as well. There are many companies that will help set you up with your roommates, so you should give them a look. The most popular one is WG-Gesucht.

To be honest, if you’re going to move to Germany, it might be a good idea to use the WG system for a while as your housing in Germany. This is because, unlike other online expeditions, it is quite easy to book a rental for yourself through this system. Many expats use the WG service as temporary lodgings before finding the ideal house for themselves.

If you can’t afford to do that, then don’t worry. Even though some WG houses are, in fact, hostels or dormitories, some companies offer great apartments for sharing as well. So, don’t miss out on them as they get filled quickly.

Serviced apartments

If you plan on living in Germany for a short while, or even if you find yourself in Germany several times a year due to work obligations, then getting a serviced apartment might be a better option for you- especially if you don’t care about the cost. Most serviced apartments are used by professionals who often find themselves in Germany for work related issues. If anything, it’s better than living in a hotel and allows you to feel at home in a foreign country.

Serviced apartments are as luxurious as hotels though with towels, entertainment equipment and more available as well. Companies like Homelike will help you look for furnished apartments for short term rentals as your housing in Germany. They particularly specialise in dealing with business travellers, so it might be worth it to give them a call.

Furnished apartments

These are better for long term (or short term if you’re a student doing a semester abroad in Germany) stay. Furnished apartments come with bare minimum furniture, perfect for students and individuals finding themselves in Germany for a new job. These are flats rented from a landlord or through a real estate agent.

You will mostly find advertisements for these kinds of flats on the websites shared above. The more expensive furnished apartments come with janitorial services as well, and the landlord pays for small maintenance jobs.


If you’re really on a budget and need a cheap, comfortable place to stay during your time in Germany then it might be a good idea to get a short-term sublet. Subletting might be a great idea for those who’re looking to emigrate to Germany. It takes time getting a new job and finding the perfect place to live. So, while you’re doing that, why not get a short-term sublet apartment as your housing in Germany?

Just make sure that the person subletting their apartment to you has agreements with the landlord. Request a copy of the original contract for safe keeping just in case and make sure that the subletting agreement has the dates of your stay and the agreed monthly rent written on it. That should keep you covered while you look for an apartment.

Documents needed to rent an apartment

It can be difficult (and frustrating) to find an apartment in a new country. After all, you have no credit history in Germany, so what will you do? Expats with no prior rental history will have to start from scratch in order to get a rental contract ready. You will need the following documents to do so:

  1. A copy of your identification or passport (Ausweikopie)
  2. Proof of no previous rental debt (from your country)
  3. Proof of Income (employment letter or payslip will do)
  4. Bank Statement
  5. Credit History
  6. A guarantee that someone else will pay your rent if you don’t (for expats, it is usually their sponsors)

Once the deal is done, you will have to give all six of these documents to your landlord so that they may draw up a contract.

Housing in Germany- Buying

If you’re planning to stay in Germany for a long time then you will find that it’s probably a good idea to buy an apartment as your housing in Germany. After all, this is quite cheaper in the long run and you’re likely to gain profit from it. Property values in Germany rises more than 5% each year, so it might be a good idea to investigate that.

The price per square meter for an apartment in the city centre is 4500 euros. It drastically drops to 3000 euros if you begin looking for a property to purchase outside of the city centre. Again, there are many factors that go into choosing an apartment to live in, so carefully make your decision.

Of course, this also depends on which city you’re planning to live in. Berlin, compared to other cities such as Munich and Stuttgart, is much cheaper. You can easily get an apartment in Berlin for 3500 euros per square meter at the city centre.

This would not be possible in other cities. The key to buying an apartment in Germany is to look. The more you look, the better prices you will get. Use Immowelt to find properties for sale in Germany. A quick Google search is also enough to help you find an apartment though you should keep several keywords in mind while you browse.

Von privat means that there is no estate agent involved. Don’t finalise any deal until you see the property though. Some properties in Germany might be very cheap but might require extensive renovations.

If you decide to work with an estate agent, then it’s a good idea to work with several. Don’t sign an exclusivity agreement with any one agent as that might hold you back as you search for housing in Germany.

Estate agents charge commission between 3 and 7 percent of the purchase price. You can request an invoice from them which they will provide, giving a detailed account of the contact between the buyer and the seller. Do note that property transfer tax is also paid by the purchaser and it can range between 3.5 to 6 percent of the price.

You also must pay the notary fee which is essentially a guarantee that the entire exchange took place under law. Don’t let any estate agent talk you into sharing the taxes and the notary fees with the seller as this can result in a very large penalty fee. It’s just not worth it.

Documents needed when buying property in Germany

The documents you will need to provide while buying a property in Germany depends on two things: your nationality, and if you are going to apply for a mortgage. Expats from other European countries will enjoy the same rights as they did in their home countries as well as the same rights as German citizens.

This makes it quite simple to buy property in Germany. Interest rates are quite reasonable, around 2 percent for 10 or 20 years. Again, you will need the following documents when buying your housing in Germany:

  1. A copy of your identification or passport (Ausweikopie)
  2. Proof of no previous rental debt (from your country)
  3. Proof of Income (employment letter or payslip will do)
  4. Bank Statement
  5. Credit History
  6. A Guarantee

In some cases, the owner might want to transfer their mortgage onto you. If you’re going to buy property in Germany, then you should definitely consult mortgage and home financing services. Here’s a few you can go to:

OBN Mortgage




While it may seem intimidating to begin the process of finding a place to live in Germany, it’s not. You will quickly learn the ropes. With the right tools and resources, such as those we’ve provided in this article, you will quickly and expertly be able to find the perfect housing in Germany for you.

The number of people looking to buy a home are far less than people who want to rent. There is a housing shortage of houses or apartments for rent and this is making the German rental market also go high. People always look to rent place which have better accessibility to public transport.


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