How to move into an apartment in Germany

After you move to Berlin and find an apartment, you must move in. This guide shows you what there is to do.

Before the move

How to find an apartment ➞

How to move out of an apartment ➞

Sign the lease

Don’t sign the lease before you see the apartment in person. If you can’t see the apartment in person, ask for a video call instead. There are many fake apartment ads online. Scammers show you a fake apartment, ask for a deposit, and disappear with your money.

Don’t pay anything before you sign a lease. Read your lease carefully. It can have information about rent increases, house rules, pets, and other important things.

Guide to rental contracts in Germany – Red Tape Translation

A lawyer or a tenants’ union (Mieterverein) can check your lease. They can tell you if your rent is too high, or if parts of the lease are illegal.

When you sign the lease, the apartment is yours. You can’t change your decision. The landlord can’t change their decision.

After you sign the lease, you get 3 important documents:

  1. The signed lease – You need this to register your address (Anmeldung), and to apply for a residence permit.
  2. The Wohnungsgeberbestätigung – You need this to register your address.
  3. The Übergabeprotokoll – You usually get this document after you get the apartment keys.

Get the keys

After you sign the lease, you will meet with the landlord to…

  • Fill the Übergabeprotokoll
    This document describes the condition of the apartment. You must return the apartment in the same condition. It should describe everything: scratches on the floor, holes in the wall, broken taps etc. Take a lot of pictures to prove it.
  • Get the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung
    Before or during the handover, you get a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung. You need it to register your address (Anmeldung).
  • Read the electricity meter
    When you sign an electricity contract, you need to give the electricity provider your meter number (Zählernummer) and meter reading (Zählerstand). The electricity meter is usually hidden in the basement.
  • Get the apartment keys
    You will get the keys for your apartment, your mailbox, and the cellar. You should get the same number of keys as in the Übergabeprotokoll. Some landlords ask you to pay the deposit before they give you the keys, but that’s not legal, even if it’s written in your lease.1
Apartment keys

Pay the deposit

You must pay the deposit (Kaution) before your lease starts. You don’t have to pay immediately after you sign the lease.

You can pay the deposit in 3 instalments. If you don’t have enough money, there are other options.

How the apartment deposit works ➞

You usually pay the rent and the deposit by SEPA transfer. If you pay with cash, always ask for a receipt. You can also use Wise to send money from another country.

Pay the rent

You must pay the rent before your lease starts. You don’t have to pay immediately after you sign the lease.

You only need to pay rent if you can actually live there. For example, if your leases starts on January 1, but you only get the keys on January 15, you don’t pay rent from January 1 to January 15.8

Get an internet contract

Sign an internet contract as soon as possible. It takes a few weeks for the company to connect the internet.

Use Verivox or Check24 to compare internet service providers.

If you already have a contract at your old address, you can transfer it to your new address. There is usually a moving fee. For example, Vodafone charges 40€.

If your current internet company can’t service your new apartment, you can cancel your contract and find another company.

After the move

Put your name on your mailbox

Ask your landlord to put your name on your mailbox and your doorbell.

German apartments rarely have apartment numbers. Everyone in the building has the same address. Each person has a mailbox with their name on it. If there is no mailbox with your name on it, you will not receive your mail.

More information ➞

Register your address

You must must register your new address at the Bürgeramt (the Anmeldung).

During your Anmeldung, you get a registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung). If this is the first time you register, you also get a tax ID in the mail a few weeks later.

How to register your address ➞

Book your Anmeldung appointment as soon as you can. Appointments are hard to find, and they can be weeks in the future.12 Your appointment date must be after you move in.

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Looking for appointments...

If you move from another place in Germany, you don’t need to deregister your old address. You only need to deregister if you leave Germany.

Get an electricity contract

Your warm rent (Warmmiete) usually includes central heating and hot water. It does not include the electricity inside your apartment (lights, appliances, …). You need to get your own electricity contract.

How electric bills work in Germany ➞

You must choose an electricity provider and sign an electricity contract. Compare options with Verivox or Check24. If you don’t speak German, Ostrom speaks English.

Most providers offer a lower price for the first year or two, then the price goes up. If you switch providers every year or two, you always get the lowest price. You can save a lot of money this way.

If you already have an electricity contract, you can transfer it to your new address, usually for free. If you can cancel your contract, try to get a lower price from another provider.

The electricity contract is activated automatically. No one will visit your apartment. You just need to tell the electricity company your electricity meter number (Zählernummer) and reading (Zählerstand). The electricity meter is usually in the basement. You can check it when you sign the Übergabeprotokoll.

Buy furniture and appliances

You can buy used appliances from Kleinanzeigen. Used appliances are much cheaper. Professional sellers offer a 12 month warranty and free delivery. Only buy your appliances from sellers with old accounts. Some scammers create accounts, sell broken appliances for a few days, and disappear. I bought many appliances from Wasch Max.

Where to buy furniture and house supplies ➞

If you need help to move furniture, you can use a Möbel Taxi, or rent a van with Miles. You can find more moving services on Kleinanzeigen.

Install light fixtures

Most apartments come without light fixtures. You will need to get your own from Ikea or some other furniture store. You can hire a Handwerker to install them for you. You can find a Handwerker on Kleinanzeigen.

Change your address

The address change is not automatic. When you register your new address, the Bürgeramt will tell some people, but not everyone.

How to change your address ➞

Get liability insurance

Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) is really important in Germany. Everyone should have it. 85% of German homes have it.2 It costs around 5€ per month.

If you cause an accident in Germany, the victim can sue you. If the victim wins, you have to pay reparations.3 A lawsuit like that can easily ruin you. Liability insurance protects you from such damage claims. If you cause an accident, your insurance company will pay the legal fees and the reparations. For example, if your washing machine breaks and floods your neighbour’s apartment, your insurance will pay for it.

If you rent a furnished apartment, choose a liability insurance that covers rented things (geliehene Sachen). This will also cover the rented furniture.

How to choose liability insurance ➞

Your own things are not covered by liability insurance. To insure your furniture, your electronics or your bicycle, get household insurance (Hausratversicherung).4

Types of insurance in Germany ➞

Feather and Getsafe sell liability insurance, and they speak English. I got my liability insurance from Feather. They also sell household insurance (Hausratversicherung). You sometimes pay less when you get both insurances at the same time.

Protect your rights

Landlords often take advantage of immigrants. You must be ready to defend yourself. There are many ways to do this:

  • Join a tenants’ association (Mieterverein)
    If you are a member, you get free help from their lawyers. They can check your lease, help you with a bad landlord, get your rent reduced, and help you sublet an apartment. It costs around 5€ per month. The Berliner Mieterverein and Mieterschutzbund Berlin are the biggest associations in Berlin. The Berliner Mieterverein offers help in English.9
  • or get legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung)
    It pays for your legal costs. You get free access to a lawyer. It’s more expensive than a Mieterverein, but you get better service, and you can choose any English-speaking lawyer. Feather and Getsafe sell legal insurance, and they speak in English.
  • or get help from the Mieterberatung
    This is a free service from the city of Berlin. They might not speak English.

Other ways to get help ➞

Lower your rent

German rent prices are limited by law. If your rent too high, you can get it reduced. Use the rent limit calculator to check if you pay too much rent.

If your rent is too high, these people can help you:

Stop junk mail

To stop getting junk mail:

  1. Put a Keine Werbung sticker on your mailbox. It works really well. If your mailbox is outside, get a UV-resistant sticker, or it will fade after a few months.
  2. Put your name on Robinson lists to unsubscribe from most mail advertising:
    1. Join the DDV Robinson list
    2. Join the IDI Robinson list
  3. If you still get junk mail, use the Appmelder app to report it. They will unsubscribe you. If you still get junk mail, they will send a legal warning to the spammer.5 It’s completely free.

Deduct your moving costs

If you move for professional reasons, your moving costs are tax-deductible.11 Deduct those expenses in your tax declaration to pay less income tax.

You can only deduct moving costs if:

  • You move closer to your workplace
    You must move at least 30 minutes closer to your workplace (in one direction).
  • Your workplace changes
    For example, if you find a job in another city, or your company moves somewhere else.
  • You move from another country

These expenses are tax-deductible:

  • Visiting apartments
    You can deduct 0.30€ per kilometre when you travel to visit apartments.
  • Double rent
    If you must pay two rents at once, you can deduct one of them.
    • The rent of your old apartment, if you can’t end your lease now. You can deduct up to 6 months of rent.
    • The rent of your new apartment, if you can’t live there yet. You can deduct up to 3 months of rent.
  • Moving your things
    For example, renting a moving truck, hiring a moving company, or paying people to help you.
  • Renovations
    For example, painting your old apartment, or installing lights and kitchen cabinets in the new apartment.

New furniture and appliances are not tax-deductible. Costs that are refunded by your employer are not tax-deductible.

First apartment in Berlin?

If you just moved to Berlin, you must learn a few things.

Quiet hours

Berlin has quiet hours. During that time, you can’t play loud music or disturb your neighbours. Your building can have its own quiet hours.

If your neighbours are too loud, you can also make a noise complaint.

Quiet hours and noise laws in Berlin ➞

Hard water

The tap water in Berlin is hard water.6 Hard water is safe to drink, but it leaves limescale deposits on your kettle, coffee machine, clothes iron, toilet, faucet and shower head. It also tastes different in tea.

  • Use decalcifier (Entkalker), citric acid (Zitronensäure) or vinegar (Essig) to clean limescale. It’s much easier. You can buy it on Amazon or in any supermarket.
  • Boil the water 2 to 3 times to remove the taste. The minerals will deposit at the bottom of the kettle. You can also use a water filter.

Water hardness in Berlin – Berliner Wasserbetriebe


Learn to sort your trash and recycle properly. It’s not so simple.

How to sort your trash ➞


Germans ventilate their apartments every day, even in winter. They open all the windows for a few minutes to let fresh air in. It’s called Stoßlüften.

Ventilation is sometimes required in your lease, because it helps prevents mold.

More information – Berlin Cheap

Heating and radiators

Most German apartment buildings have central heating. It’s turned off during the warm months.

You control the heating in your apartment with the dial on your radiators. The ❄ setting prevents the pipes from freezing. The settings from 0 to 5 set the desired temperature, with 3 being around 20ºC.7

Some newer apartments have heated floors instead of radiators. You control them with a thermostat on the wall.

More information – Berlin Cheap

Sometimes, your landlord will remove air in your radiators with an Entlüftungsschlüßel. This takes a few seconds, and it makes your radiator work better.

Need help?

Where to ask apartment questions ➞

Sources and footnotes

  2. Finanztip 

  3. §823 BGB 

  4. Settle in Berlin 

  5. Screenshot 



  8. (archived) 



  11. Finanztip,, Smoover moving company 

  12. Senate Department for the Interior, Digitalization and Sport (August 2022)