How to find an apartment in Berlin

How to find an apartment in Berlin

Finding an apartment in Berlin is a daunting task, but these resources should make it easier for you.

For those who want to move to Berlin, finding a place to live is the first step, and also the hardest. Finding an apartment can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months. Fortunately, we're here to help.

How to prepare?

In Berlin's highly competitive housing market, you need to come prepared if you want to stand a chance. Before you start flat hunting, make sure you have all of these:

  • A Schufa, the German equivalent to a credit check. Here is how you can get a free Schufa.
  • Money for the security deposit. Most landlords require 3 months of rent for the Kaution. This is the maximum they can legally ask for. If you don't have enough money to cover the deposit, you can open a Mietkautionskonto, or get a Mietaval from your bank. Your bank will act as your guarantor and cover your deposit.
  • Money for the first month's rent. 
  • A bank account from which you can transfer money to your landlord. Germans use bank transfers, not cheques or cash. See our guide on choosing a bank in Germany.
  • Time. You won't find an apartment in a week. Unless you have a permissive budget, finding an apartment in Berlin can take months. Don't despair!
  • Bank account or income statement (optional). Showing the landlord that you have steady income can improve your chances to find an apartment, especially if you are a freelancer1.

Where to look?

General apartment search

Classified ads

Housing companies

Facebook groups

Short term and furnished apartments

WGs, shared flats and roommates

Specific needs

What should you know?

Call, don't write: The Berlin rental market is extremely competitive. Landlords don't have time to answer emails, so if you find an apartment you like, call immediately.

Crime: Although Berlin is a generally safe city, some areas are more dangerous than others. In general, I would advise against living right next to the stations highlighted on this crime map (Kottbusser Tor, Görlitzer Bahnhof, Hermannplatz, Alexanderplatz), but living a block or two from them is perfectly fine.

Kaltmiete and Warmmiete: In Germany, there is the cold rent (Kaltmiete) and the warm rent (Warmmiete). The warm rent is the cold rent plus the utilities (Nebenkosten). It's what you will pay at the end of the month.

Kitchen not included: Many apartments come without a furnished kitchen. The kitchen will be completely empty, with only the water pipes coming out of the wall. This is what it looks like. You can usually buy the kitchen from the previous tenant. You can also look for apartments with a kitchen (mit Küche).

Nebenkosten: The Nebenkosten is what you pay for the utilities. This usually includes central heating, hot water and city taxes. These costs are added on top of the Kaltmiete (cold rent). They are included in the Warmmiete (warm rent).

Noise: There are two sources of noise you should worry about: flights from Tegel and ambulances. If you live around Tegel, it's hard to sleep with your windows open. If you live on a large street like  Use this noise map of Berlin to find out how loud an area is. There are also a few "party areas" in Berlin that get really loud and crowded during the summer, particularly the U1 between Kottbusser Tor and Warschauer Straße.

Public transport: You can use Mapnificient to find areas with a reasonable commute. Generally, anything inside the Ringbahn is easily reachable by public transport. Berlin's public transport network is divided into 3 zones1A, B and C. If you work in zone A and live in zone C, expect long, expensive commutes.

Wohnungsgeberbestätigung needed: When you move in, you will get a document from your landlord that confirms you live there. You can't register your address in Germany without this document. You need to register your address to open a bank account, get an internet connection, get a work visa etc., so you must get this document. Always confirm that the landlord can give you this document before signing anything, especially if you sublet an apartment or rent a vacation apartment on AirBnB.

Scams: There are many fake apartment listings on the sites mentioned above. Scammers take advantage of desperate apartment hunters by requiring deposits for apartments that don't exist. This guide and this guide will help you spot apartment rental scams.