How do I find a flat?
The weekend property sections of the daily newspapers and property websites on the Internet are filled with flat listings with cryptic codes such as 2ZKDB/Blk or KM 550+NK. Before spending too much time trying to decipher what they mean, get a knowledgeable friend or colleague to translate them for you.
You can also hire an estate agent, which does incur additional costs. It may actually be cheaper and quicker to place your own ad.
In Germany, rental flats are generally rented without furniture. Sometimes you can take over existing furniture or fittings from the previous tenant on payment of compensation. It nevertheless takes a lot of effort to find a cheap rental flat, particularly in large cities. It is often a matter of luck: “I’ve heard there should be something free soon.” Thus you should tell as many people as possible about your flat hunting and don’t focus on any specific district of the city. For singles, shared flats provide an excellent alternative. In cities with large student populations, you can often rent flats on a temporary basis from flat-sharing agencies called Mitwohnzentralen.
A deposit is usually asked for
You will receive the tenancy agreement from the estate agent or directly from the landlord. You will often be asked to pay a security deposit equivalent to two months’ rent. This will be refunded on termination of the tenancy agreement. If you are considering buying an apartment or house, then you will need to budget for estate agency fees. These range between three and five per cent of the purchase price.
After you have found somewhere to live, your next stop should be at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) in order to be registered as a new resident. This will make you an equally entitled member of your community and will allow you to vote in local and European elections, but not, however, in elections in the Federal Länder and the election of the Bundestag (Federal Parliament).
Virtually every German city and community offers specific information for new residents on their websites.