Housing & Rentals in Germany

Germany is a country with a population of more than 80 millions and despite the fact that the workforce is ageing, the country is a desirable destination for immigrants from all over the world. Once you get landed in Germany, one of the key issues you are faced with is housing. So you can find useful information about housing in Germany below.

The rental market

Very few Germans are the owners of real estate. Germans prefer to rent it instead of buying. According to the statistics of OECD, only 43% of Germans were homeowners in 2013, compared 83.2% in Spain, 81.4% in Ireland, and 71.7 in Belgium. So, one can surely state that the rental market is quite buoyant and even somewhat overheated.

Thanks to the German legislation and laws, renters are able to enjoy a high level of protection, so it is sometimes becomes a real trouble for a landlord to get rid of a troubling tenant. However, this is a place when one runs out of good news for potential renters.

Despite the fact that the rental market is highly developed in Germany, it comes at cost to find a dwelling in this country. First of all, it is going about such cities like Cologne, Frankfurt, and Hamburg. Also, many students who come to Germany – by the way, studying in Germany is completely free and financed by the state – find themselves struggling to find a place for living. This stands true not only for large cities, but for tiny towns where people come solely for the studying purposes, as well. Sometimes, such students are forced to live 4 people in one room due to the lack of housing.

In Berlin it does not seem to be any easier to find affordable housing. At times, it happens that over 100 people a day come to view a flat available for renting, which makes landlords picky and demanding. Having said all that, however, it is also worth to note that both supple and demand significantly change during a year. You can expect the largest inflow of students/immigrants at the beginning of spring and autumn.

housing in germany

Housing in Germany appears to be not so affordable for newcomers

Also, prices significantly vary in different cities and towns. In order to get to know what is a fair price for the dwelling you wish, you should compare it with an average housing in your region and the region’s housing average price, known as Mietspiegel. You can find that price in the town/city hall or find it on the web by specifying your city.

Housing in Germany: types of accommodations

The majority of Germans lives in semi-detached houses and apartments, so these are the most viable options for you. If you are a student, it may be better for you to live in a student residence offered by your university. There are several reasons for it: a fairly cheaper price and an opportunity to get to know other students. If you want to take advantage of it and move in a student residence, you need to contact the student union at your university.

There is another way of living in Germany, which is better known as WG (Wohngemeinschaft). Simply put, it is typically an apartment shared by a few people (usually students). You will definitely noticeably cut the bill by renting a flat together with another person.

Accommodation in Germany

Despite a recent boom of construction in the country’s capital, it appears to be not so easy to find a decent accommodation

Accommodations in Germany can be found in three ways: completely unfurnished, partly furnished, and completely furnished. Complete unfurnished means that you can expect to find no toilet, washstand or curtains in the apartment you have just moved in. So be ready to pay a higher price if you want all of that be available.

Ways of finding housing in Germany

You can use the following means of finding accommodation:

  • Real estate agent (or Immobilienhändler). This is the fastest and easiest way to find accommodation in Germany. However, the change in legislation brought some changes to the way how the market functions. Previously, if you wanted to find housing in Germany with the help of a real estate agent, you should have paid the fees for the services of a real estate agent. According to the present laws, this is a burden of the landlord. However, the laws alter really often, so maybe it will be changed again.
  • Newspapers and magazines. This is another way to find a proper housing in Germany. Yet, you may face some difficulties while resorting to this method. In order to get an understanding of the most-used terms, have a look at the glossary section below.
  • Real estate websites. Indeed, there are websites (in both English and German languages) via which you can find an accommodation.
  • Your friends and relatives. Also a popular way of finding accommodation: just find out whether some of your friends have been to Germany and how they had coped with this issue, listen to their recommendations, etc.

Tips for tenants in Germany

If you are certain about going to Germany soon, you may find the recommendations posted right below quite useful for getting a decent accommodation and not getting into a mess:

Once you have got a housing in Germany, keep in mind: you have to avoid causing loud noises between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. as well as between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. during the workdays (including Saturday). You cannot cause loud noises during the Sundays.
The majority of German cities requires citizens to separate their trash: paper, plastics, metal, etc.
If you want to keep a pet at home, you have to get a permission from the landlord.
The first thing to find out during the appointment with the landlord (when choosing an apartment) is what the rent includes (whether the flat is fully furnished, etc.).

German housing

Make sure that you sort out the trash properly when living in Germany

  • Never think of making a grill, barbecues, or fire on your balcony.
  • If any damage has been done to the apartment, you should notify the landowner immediately (no matter whether you are guilty or not).
  • Don’t pour or throw out anything from your balcony.
  • In the agreement, there is a section where you can find out who is responsible for cleaning stairways, front walk, halls, and so on. Find out who is that before you got to know about it too late.
  • If you are going to leave the apartment for a prolonged period, close all the door locks and windows.
  • If more than one family lives in the house, you should keep the front doors closed in the period between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.


If you are going to deal with housing in Germany, you undoubtedly need to know all the important terms regarding apartment/house rentals. Below, you can find out the most important terms for finding housing in Germany:

Bad = bath.

Balkon (BK) = balcony.

Baujahr (BJ) = the “age” of the building; in other words, how long ago it was actually built.

Dachgeschoss (DG) = an apartment located on the attic floor.

Dusche (Du) = shower.

Erdgeschoss (EG) = an apartment located on the ground floors.

Garage (Gge) = garage.

Garten (Gart) = garden.

Gepflegt (Gepfl) = well-groomed or well cared for.

Kaution (Kaut, Kt, or Ka) = this is the “security deposit” you should pay in advance in case if anything happens. Once you are going to leave the apartment, according to the terms of the contract, it will be paid you back (if all is ok).

Möbliert (Möbl) = means that the apartment/building is fully furnished.

Nebenkosten = additional costs that may occur yet not included in the rent sum (stairwell cleaning, trash collection, and so on).

Obergeschoss (OG) = an apartment located on the upper floors.

Quadratmeter (M2 or QM) = shows the size of the apartment or the room.

Ruhig (Ruh) = quiet.

WC = water closet, toilet.

Zentralheizung (ZH) = central heating; typically means that the apartment is connected to a central heating system.

Zimmer (or Zi) = in translation it means a room, so most usually you will find this word in ads, specifying how many there are rooms in the apartment.

Useful sources

Knight Frank = a German real estate consultancy
Real Estate Agents in Germany
The German Institute for Federal Real Estate

Real Estate Agents in Germany
Real Estate Agents in Germany

If you have just arrived to Germany and decided to look for accommodation, you might need to look for real estate agents in Germany (or Immobilienhändler,…