Looking for a place to live in Berlin

The Berlin rental market is extremely competitive, and sometimes, quite inexplicably, it just does or doesn’t work. It’s very hard to predict, and you need to be extremely active in your pursuit of an apartment. That said, there are a few ways to improve your odds and find a decent place, Let’s go through some of them.

How to look for a place in Berlin

Step 1: do some research on the different areas in Berlin. It can be handy to learn which parts of the city are best for students, or sports, or drinking - basically learn where you think you might like to live. It won’t be deal-breaker if you find a nice flat elsewhere, but you’ll have a rough idea of places you may prefer (or otherwise) when you start looking.

From there, the majority of apartments are found using the internet - the traditional models of using estate agents has mostly died out (or at least, it’s out of budget for students) so online, impartial websites are probably your best bet. Start early, and remember you can always use services like Housing Anywhere to find semester or year-long rooms, and it’s better to get a temporary place than compromise on the flat you want for the rest of the year.

Room prices

A clever property portal called "Immobilienscout24" has generated a map of Berlin’s U-Bahn and S-Bahn (discussed in detail in our public transport section) called a Miet-Map, which shows each stop and the average one-room flat prices in their vicinity. The affordability of Berlin is changing, with apartments becoming more and more expensive, probably in the region of €600-800 per month in the city for a single-room place.

If you have a flat share with a bunch of other students, you should be able to find a room for around €500 rent, or cheaper. This is a huge difference, and shared flats are extremely popular in Berlin nowadays.

Tips to find Accommodation in Berlin

Find friends - The most affordable option is a flat share, where you live with a few others and, usually, get pretty cheap Berlin accommodation. In Germany, these are known as WG’s (pronounced "VaGa") and are very popular, particularly among students.

Join helpful Facebook groups - If possible, try to connect with others through Facebook or whatever means are available to talk to other incoming students. Most universities have an Erasmus or exchange Facebook group or platform, and if you post in there looking for a few guys to share a flat, you’re bound to get responses. Here’s one useful, popular (>5,000 members) group to get you started:

Choose a single room - You can always try to find a room in an existing, populated flat - people are always moving out and going elsewhere, so you might find a group of people your age searching for a replacement housemate.

Use your relocation package - For anyone coming to Berlin to work (even as an intern) you should check whether or not there is a relocation package as part of your contract - if your company can help fund or find a place for you, that will be immeasurably useful.

Download your safe renting checklist. and have a clear understanding of your rental contract.

Important information for renters in Berlin

A law has been passed in Berlin that will not allow the rentals of flats to tourists who will be utilizing them while on holiday, whether for a few days or on an extended-stay basis.

However, it is possible to still rent student accommodation in Berlin, especially when the focus is on housing for international student exchanges. The student’s life must be centered in Berlin for the purpose of attending a university or another accepted institution of higher learning. Plus, there are other regulations by law that must be considered.

When a room is rented for a limited time, two important conditions must first be met:

  • The tenant must live at the property full-time for at least two months.
  • The tenant must study or work in the city.

When understanding the differences between a holiday flat or an apartment that is rented for a set amount of time, there are a few main differentiators.

Holiday flats:

  • Tourists make up the target group
  • Are often very simply furnished
  • Prices are charged on a per-night basis
  • Will fall under the law of incorrect use

Apartments for a limited period of time:

  • Students and professionals make up the target group
  • Will not fall under the law of incorrect use, as along as the tenants rent the space for at least two months, with study or work centered here

Another law that you must keep in mind is that tenants must provide a registration card containing the new address, should they choose to stay for three months or longer.

So, what are some of the advantages to rent an apartment or flat for a limited amount of time?

  • You can request the full market price.
  • The tenants pay a flat rate for the housing costs, including utilities, such as heating, water, electricity, etc.

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