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

Before the move

Visit the apartment

Do not sign the lease before you see the apartment in person. There are many fake apartment ads online. Scammers show you a fake apartment, and take a deposit, and disappear.

Common apartment scams ➞

If you can't see the apartment in person, ask for a video call instead.

Sign the lease

Do not 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.

A guide to rental contracts in Germany — Red Tape Translation

A tenants' union (Mieterverein) can check your lease. Legal insurance also covers this.

Where to get help ➞

After you sign the lease, you or the landlord can't change your mind. You have signed a contract.

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 faucets 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 lease1.
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 151.

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 the mailbox

German apartments do not have apartment numbers. If your name is not on your mailbox, you will not get your mail, even if the address is correct.

When you move in, the landlord or the Hausverwaltung will put your name on the mailbox. They must do it for free1.

If your name is not on the lease, the landlord can refuse to put your name on the mailbox1, 2.

If you can't put your name on the mailbox, you must add "c/o" to your address. For example:

[your name]
c/o [your roommate's name]
(the roommate whose name is on the mailbox)
Musterstraße 17
12345 Berlin
Deutschland

When your name is not on the mailbox, you must add "c/o" to your official address when you do your Anmeldung.

Mailboxes briefkasten germany

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 can be far in the future. Your appointment date must be after you move in.

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. — More information.

If you already have an electricity contract, you can it transfer 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 eBay 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 appliance 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 eBay 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 eBay Kleinanzeigen.

Do your address change

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. 85% of German homes have it1. 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 reparations1. 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 ➞

The things you have in your apartment are not covered by liability insurance. If you want to insure your furniture or your electronics, you need a household insurance (Hausratversicherung)1. Household insurance can also cover bicycle theft.

Types of insurance in Germany ➞

Use Tarifcheck to compare liability insurance options. Feather, GetSafe, Luko and Lemonade offer liability insurance for less than 5€ per month. They all speak English. If you don't speak German, they are a good option. They also offer household insurance (Hausratversicherung).

Join a tenants' association

A tenants' association (Mieterverein) protects tenants from their landlords. When you are in a Mieterverein, you can get 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.

The membership costs around 5€ per month. The Berliner Mieterverein and Mieterschutzbund Berlin are the two biggest associations in Berlin. The Berliner Mieterverein offers help in English1.

You can also get free help from the Mieterberatung. This is a free service from the city of Berlin. They might not speak English.

Where to find help ➞ Apartment questions

You can also get legal insurance. Legal insurance lets you talk to a lawyer when you have a problem. It also pays for your legal costs if you sue someone. It covers more things than a Mieterverein, but it's more expensive. If you don't speak German, Feather and GetSafe have legal insurance in English.

What is legal insurance? ➞

Lower your rent

In Berlin, rent prices are limited by law. Some landlords charge more than they should.

Use this calculator (English), this calculator (German) or this calculator (German) to see if you pay too much rent.

If your rent is above the legal limit, you can get it lowered.

    Conny helps people reduce their rent. If they are successful, they keep a part of your refund. If they are not successful, you pay nothing. It can take a few months1, but you can save thousands of euros.

    How does Conny's rent reduction work? ➞

    If you are in a tenants' association (Mieterverein), they can also help you reduce your rent1. For example, Berliner Mieterverein can check your lease, and tell you if you are paying too much rent.

    You can contact a lawyer, but it's more expensive. If you have legal insurance, it might cover the costs.

    First apartment in Berlin?

    If you just moved to Berlin, you need to 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 water1. 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

    Recycling

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

    How to sort your trash ➞

    Ventilation

    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 so important that it's sometimes required in your lease. 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 20ºC1.

    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 more efficiently.

    Need help?

    Where to find help ➞ Apartment questions