How to move into an apartment in Germany

How to move into an apartment in Germany

After you find an apartment and leave your old apartment, it's time to move into your new apartment. In this guide, we tell you everything you need to think about when moving into the new flat.

Sign the lease

The first step is to sign the lease. Do not do anything else until the lease is signed. Do not pay the deposit or the rent until the lease is signed.

Pay the rent and the deposit

Once you have signed the lease, you must pay the Kaution and the rent for the first month. You can pay the Kaution in 3 instalments, or all at once. The rent is usually paid by bank transfer, so you will need a German bank account.

Don't send any money until you have visited the apartment. There are many apartment scams on the internet.

Related guide: How does the apartment deposit (Kaution) work in Germany?

Get the keys

After you sign the lease, you will meet with the landlord to do a few things:

You only need to pay rent after you received the keys. If your leases starts on January 1, but you get the keys on January 15, you don't have to pay rent from January 1 to January 151.

Put your name on the mailbox

When you move in, the landlord or the Hausverwaltung will put your name on the mailbox. If your name is not on the mailbox, you will not receive your mail.

Landlords sometimes refuse to put your name on the mailbox if your name is not on the lease1. If you can't put your name on the mailbox, you must use "c/o" in your address everywhere. Here is an example:

[name of person on the mailbox]
c/o [your name]

Musterstraße 123
10115 Berlin

If you can't put your name on the mailbox, you must add "c/o" to your official address when you do your Anmeldung1. This is very important. You will not receive mail from the German government without it.

Related guide: How to address a letter in Germany

Register your address

Every time you move in Germany, you go to the Bürgeramt and register your new address. This is called the Anmeldung. You will get a registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung) for your new address. Book a Bürgeramt appointment as soon as you sign your lease. Appointments can be hard to get, so this will save some time.

You don't need to deregister your old address. It will be done automatically when you register the new address. You only need to deregister your address if you are leaving Germany.

When you register your address at the Bürgeramt, some services will be informed automatically:

Related guides: How to register an address in Berlin, how to deregister and address in Berlin

Do your address change

You can use umziehen.de to tell over 1000 companies about your address change. This is a service from Deutsche Post. They will only share your new address with companies that know your old address.

You should also remember to inform...

Get an electricity contract

Heating and hot water is usually included in your Warmmiete. However, you still need electricity for the lights and the appliances. You must sign a contract with an electricity company. There are many electricity companies to choose from. Use Verivox or Check24 to compare electricity companies.

Be careful! Many electricity companies offer a lower price for a year or two. After a year or two, you will pay a lot more for electricity. You can take advantage of this by switching to a new electricity company every year or two. Many Germans do this.

If you already have an electricity contract, can it transfer to your new address. This service is usually free. You just need to call your electricity provider. If you can cancel your contract, you can get a lower price by switching to another electricity company.

It only takes a few minutes to get a new electricity contract or to transfer your current contract. No one needs to visit your house, and you don't need an appointment. You just give them the electricity meter number (Zählernummer) and reading (Zählerstand), and you are done. You can do this as soon as you have signed the Übergabeprotokoll.

Related guide: How do electric bills work in Germany?

Get an internet contract

If you need internet at your new apartment, sign a contract as soon as possible. It takes a few weeks to get the internet connected at a new address. Use Verivox or Check24 to compare internet service providers.

If you already have an internet contract, you can usually transfer it to your new address. This is not always free. For example, Vodafone charges 40€ to move your contract to a new address. It's not always possible to cancel your internet contract, so this is often the only option.

Get liability insurance

Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) is really important to have in Germany. Most Germans have it. It's really cheap: less than 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.

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

Use Tarifcheck to compare liability insurance options. Popsure and Coya offer liability insurance for 4€ per month. They are both based in Berlin, and they speak English.

Related guides: What is Haftpflichtversicherung, and what does it cover?, Types of insurance in Germany

Join a Mieterverein

A tenants' association (Mieterverein) protects tenants from abusive landlords. When you are a member of a Mieterverein, you can get help from experienced lawyers. They can check your lease, help you with a bad landlord, get your rent reduced, and help you sublet an apartment.

Being a member is cheap: the Berliner Mieterverein charges 9€ per month1. The Berliner Mieterverein and Mieterschutzbund Berlin are the two biggest associations in Berlin. The Berliner Mieterverein offers assistance in English1.

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 had an excellent experience with Wasch Max.

For everything else, see out other guide: Where to buy what in Berlin.

Related guide: Where to buy what in Berlin

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.