Rent a flat in Berlin - It all starts here (2024)

Finding a good flat in Berlin is probably #1 on your list. It’s key to securing a job, opening a bank account, registering for residence.

You’ve probably heard it before: finding an apartment in Berlin has become really hard. An steady influx of newcomers & a limited supply of new units have increased competition and rent prices.

This guide aims at upping your game to increase your chances, score a good place to live & avoid pitfalls. Feel free to ask questions in the comments too.

Rent a flat in Berlin - It all starts here (1)

Renting a flat in Berlin : Mission impossible ?

Finding a flat in Berlin has become increasingly difficult the past years due to the general gentrification in many parts of the city. Rents are have also gone up due to the renewal of the city since the beginning of the 1990’s. So if you have heard it is very easy to find a flat in Berlin, you might be disappointed.

Yes, finding a place to live in Berlin is hard.

It typically takes several weeks or several months to find a permanent place to live. This is why people usually find a temporary place first. Going with a sublet in flat-share is usually the way to do it. If you want more information about finding a roommate or a flat share, please go to the dedicated page this way.

If you somehow have the means to buy your own flat instead, I’ve also made a guide to buy an apartment in Berlin this way, based on my experience.

Search for the perfect nest

The ubiquitous platforms

Once you have found the areas you would like to settle in, there a different ways to find the precious gem. There are of course, a few dedicated websites. Those are practically unavoidable.

Immobilienscout24, Immonet and Immowelt aresites with a lot of serious offers. I’d recommend creating an account on all 3 of themto receive daily updates about offers with your search criteria (search agent). Some offers are not on one and vice-versa. It’s easy and it’s quite important as it allows to be fast and be the first to reply to new inserts. Speed is key in Berlin.

Speed is key in Berlin

Be aware that most of those websites are offering unfurnished flats in Berlin, so i also made a little guide on the best ways to find furniture in Berlin here too. Those ads are also using a lot of abbreviations to describe the flat. You can find at the end of this post a little glossary of abbreviations often found on those websites. It might come useful.

Estate management & housing agencies

It’s a little daunting for non-German speakers but it can pay off to go directly to those large players in the local market to find a flat in Berlin for rent.

These companies manage dozens or hundred of private or public housing projects across the city and therefore often have their own listings. Some of if is to be found on other platforms, some others not.

Students: check with your university

If you are enrolling in a university located in Berlin, you can also access to their housing services as well. This is managed by studierendenWERK BERLIN, which has an agreement with almost all universities (see here if yours is part of this). Portal located here.

Think social too

Another tip is to make sure to belong to as many Facebook groups as possible where many offers are published everyday. It may give you access to offers you may never see on other platforms. It’s quite difficult to be refreshing your news feed in the hope of uncovering a gem, but the search function with the right keywords will generate relevant results in those groups too. If you master any other language than English, you can apply the same principle in French, Spanish, Italian, Turkish,polish, etc groups. Some groups to consider:

English-speaking groups:

German groups

This telegram server can also be useful: Berlin Flats Bot

An alternative for the first few months: fully furnished rentals

Several full-services agencies are also offering fully furnished rentals with an extra fee. They come with pros & cons but they might be a good solution for those who can afford it:

  • The rent is higher than average but it does come with internet/utilities & sometimes cleaning services.
  • Less competition since those platforms are quite a bit more expensive.
  • No need to send a thousand emails or attend 100 appointments. Just book online, get the key, and get settled.
  • Everything is handled in English.
  • Process is a lot less stressful for newcomers: sort everything online before you arrive.
  • It does not require a credit score (SCHUFA). No evil circle: “no-flat -> no Anmeldung -> no bank account -> no-schufa -> no-flat

Those platforms are

Once you have secured a job, opened a bank account and generally got settled, you can switch to a longer term (cheaper) solution.

How much should I pay for a flat in Berlin anyway?

As a reference for rent price, here is a map madeby ImmobilienScout in 2020 to show the average price depending on the location in the city along the Ubahn-Sbahn lines. It shows the average price of a 30-year-old 70m2 flat, without utilities (kalt-miete).In 2023/24, you can roughly apply a 1,3 ratio on top for closer to reality prices.

Another way to check is to look at the “Mietspiegel” (Rent mirror), which is a database run by the city, keeping track of prices across districts. Enter your street in the tool to check the rent prices.

You can check with cool tool as well. Enter your monthly net income and the size of your desired square footage. It will tell you how much of your income your will need to spend on rent, depending on location.

Quick notes about costs of renting a flat in Berlin

As a rule, total costs are structured that way :

Rent (Kalt Miete) + Running costs (Nebenkosten) + Utilities (Heizung & Strom).

In some cases, heating costs are included in the running costs when there is central heating in the whole building. Just be sure to include all costs when evaluating an opportunity. Remember that you will also have to open an electricity & gas contract on your own as well. It is usually not doneby the landlord.More info on rent costs, cold or warm in this post.

Keep in mind, these prices don’t include the “opportunity costs” of getting a flat in Berlin. This means that since there is a harsh competition, actual prices may be higher than the theoretical ones.

What to do when the rent prices are too high?

Germany has pretty strong tenancy laws that favor tenants as a rule. If you feel like you have been screwed over by signing a contract, you can always battle your way to rent reduction too, especially if the price is not justified, regards to the Mietspiegel we just discussed. How to reduce your rent has been discussed in a dedicated post this way.

Rent a flat in Berlin - It all starts here (3)

The typical process to apply for a flat in Berlin

I’ll be straight with you; finding the golden gem is only the start of the battle. You now need to prove to your future landlord that you are the perfect applicant for the square footage at hand. This is how the application process looks like usually.

1- Viewing the place

Coming early to see the flat you want to rent in Berlin. This almost always happens in groups. 4-5 at a time when it’s nice, 10 when it’s crazy. You usually only have a few minutes to make up your mind. This involves a fair amount of elbowing to get early in line. This is because landlords will often stop the viewing if they have received too many applicants already at this point.

2- Submitting the right documents

A true German experience necessarily involves a lot of bureaucracy. This is no exception :). The ad will probably mention what to bring so be aware of any specifics. As a rule, you should always bring the following to apply for a flat in Berlin.

  • A SCHUFA record. There is a dedicated post about this here. In a nutshell, it’s your credit record in Germany. It is used who all the time by landlords to check if you pay your bills on time. The trouble for newcomers in Germany: the SCHUFA record will be empty. You will need to find another way to prove your trustworthiness, as mentioned here.
  • A copy of your passport or ID card.
  • A legitimate proof of income. This is fairly straightforward for employees working with German companies: bring a copy of your last 3 payslips. As a freelancer, you will need to show your last Steuerbescheid, where it shows how much you made last year. Alternatively as a freelancer, you can also bring a recent bank account statement (German bank preferably) that shows how much savings you have on there.
  • Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung: A certificate to obtain from your previous landlord. This is a common document to submit to your prospective landlord. It states that you left your former tenancy contract without any debts. It makes you look like a trusted tenant. Template here.
  • Mietbürgschaft: This is also common practice in Germany for people with no income for their own or unstable income. This is local equivalent of a guarantor, which commits to pay your debts, in case you can’t do that yourself. Template here.
  • Bonus: proof that you have liability insurance. This makes you look like a responsible human being.

3- Getting selected and paying deposit

If you have been picked (congratulations), you will now need to pay up 4 months worth of rent before you can move in. The first month is payable in advance, and the 3 others are deposit. This money is exchanged when signing the contract usually. Only after paying up this amount (sometimes in cash!), you are getting the keys to the place.

4- Entering the place and inspecting its current state

In the course of the process mentioned above, you will also be looking at the current state of the flat and document any damages. This is like a photograph of how the place looks like now, so it can be compared with how it will look when you leave again. This is called a “Übergabeprotokoll“. Make sure to look everywhere thoroughly.

Read what to pay attention in this guide about flat handovers in Germany.

Tips to find an apartment in Berlin

Get a SCHUFA record, or a work-around

When you have found the flat in Berlin, the pearl you would like to chase, that’s where the fun begins! If you have just arrived in Berlin, it’s going to be slightly more difficult. Most of landlords are asking this infamous SCHUFA record. However, some of them are happy to give you keys in return of a 2 or 3 months-rent-worth deposit. It is no doubt that you maximize your chance when speaking to them in German as it shows you have been/will be here for a long time. (Commitment powa!)

A useful paper that might help your case is a “Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung” (Roughly; free of rent-related debts certificate). It is a paper provided by your former landlord that states your left your tenancy without any debts. If you come from abroad, make one in English with this long German word as a title. It it not guaranteed every landlord will accept it, but it’s better than nothing. Here is one in German for reference.

Get your insurance policy in order

As a landlord, one big concern is obviously how well you take care of their property when you live in it. This fact is hard to assess before-hand naturally but you can definitely take the edge here. Show that you are prepared by showing a liability insurance policy in your stack of documents. This states that in case things go wrong in the place, you will be able to cover any damages. I have made a dedicated post about liability insurance in Germany & house insurance this way where concepts, tips and recommended providers like Feather, Luko, Getsafe are introduced.

Avoid the obvious hip areas

To be honest, it can be quite hard if you want a flat in the hippest corners of Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. That’s because EVERYONE wants to move there. In the most wanted areas, it can be become quite intense and some potential tenants don’t hesitate to come to directly with all necessary papers (which you should probably do too) to directly take the flat if they are interested. It might be a good idea to do the same. It’s also reasonable to expect mass group visits in those areas.

Go outside the Ring and find a place near an S-bahn station, you could zip to town quite fast. You may use this app or this one to get an idea of how much commute this or that address would represent.

Become a Nachmieter

An alternative strategymightbe to find people soon leaving their flat and looking for a “Nachmieterto take it over, the new tenant starting a new contract with the landlord. This means that the shortlisting is done by the tenant and not an agency or a landlord. This might increase your chances to get a foot in the door and work your charm. Arguably, a strong financial situation is less important than a good character and a proven track record of reliability.

Find something short-term to look for something long term

Do not hesitate to first move in a temporary rental for the time you rent aflat in Berlin, it’s very easy to rent out a room for 2 weeks to some person going on holidays for example, or better a whole semester abroad. You’d usually have more luck with flat shares (guide on WGs this way) You’ll be then more efficient. You can of course go withAirBnBor consider Wimdu, which is a German competitorto AirBnB.

Use your phone and speak German if possible

Most landlords simply don’t bother to deal with the English language, just because they have enough applicants in general. Speaking German is a big big plus, you may try bring a German friend with you to help with first impressions. If there is a phone number in the ad, you may also want to try to call, in addition to writing. Who knows? That might help you place a joke in, something the person might remember when meeting them in person. Every bit helps.

Find a flat in Berlin – other things to know

Estate agents & fees

As of October 2015, the owner of the flat has to pay any agency fees when renting out a flat in Berlin and not the other way around. Good news for tenants.

Some estate agents have paid services to help you find rentals. This is not worth it unless you have a lot of money & limited time.

Avoiding scams

Since finding a place to live is getting desperate for a lot of people, some sharks will try to take advantage of you. Here are commons scams to avoid when searching for an appartement in Berlin:

  • A viewing is possible but the agent/owner is out of town. They want you to pay a deposit first to get the keys. Obviously a bad idea. Pay for deposit only once you’ve seen the flat & gotten the keys.
  • Flat is listed as furnished but it’s not. Furnished apartments have different rules when it comes to rent price. It allows for higher prices. This is an attempt at making you pay more rent.
  • A suspiciously well-priced property, with beautiful pictures & good location. Run my friend: they want to get a copy of your passport & bank details. Use common sense.
  • Invalid limited contracts: only a limited set of reasons allow landlords to offer limited contracts (BGB § 575Zeitmietvertrag). That includes upcoming renovations, demolition or landlord wanting to move in. Outside those reasons, you can stay unlimited.

Some of you did ask about some tips for renting flats for a week-end or a short holiday in the German capital. SiB is not a lifestyle blog to recommend you this district or that district. However, i feel like i’m always repeating the same things to my friends and relatives when they visit me or my family. This is why i have made a different post about renting holidays apartments in Berlin. I hope you find it useful too.

You will find that inserts have sometimes strange abbreviations to describe the place. Here is a list of the most common ones.

House types

  • Whg (Wohnung) =flat
  • App. (Apartment) = studio
  • DG (Dachgeschoss) =flat located under the roofs
  • WG (Wohngemeinschaft) =well, we explained that there 🙂
  • Maisonette =a flat with 2 floors
  • MFH (Mehrfamilienhaus) = multi-flat building
  • möbl. Zi. (möbliertes Zimmer) = furnished room
  • zur Miete = for rent; z. verm. (zu vermieten) = for rent
  • zum Kauf = for sale

Flat size – Layout

  • Zi (Zimmer) = Room(s),without bathroom & kicthen
  • qm or m2 (Quadratmeter)= square meters
  • ca. (circa) = approximately
  • Wfl. / Wohnfl. (Wohnfläche) = living space
  • Nfl. (Nutzfläche) =usable space
  • SZ (Schlafzimmer) = bedroom
  • Bad (Badzimmer) = bathroom

Rent & Utilities

  • Miete = Rent
  • jährl. (jährlich) = yearly
  • JM (Jahresmiete) = annual rent
  • MP (Mietpreis) = Rent price
  • mtl. (monatlich) = monthly
  • K or Kaut or KT (Kaution) = deposit, 3 MM Kaution =3 months worth of deposit
  • KM (Kaltmiete) = the base rent before nebenkosten
  • WM (Warmmiete) = cold rent plus all additional costs
  • NK (Nebenkosten) = usually water, sewage, trash collection, Hausmeister service, etc.
  • Prov. (Provision) = commission paid to the agent
  • Nachmieter: someone that is looking for a new tenant after him/herself
  • zzgl (zuzüglich)= excluding (internet or electricity for example)
  • incl./inkl. (inklusive) = including

Flat features:

  • EBK (Einbauküche) = kicthen with all necessary items
  • TG (Tiefgarage) = underground garage
  • Bad mit F (Bad mit Fenster) = bathroom with window
  • Parkett = Hardwood floors
  • Laminat =Fake hardwood floors made with synthetic composites
  • Spülm. (Spülmaschine) = Dishwasher
  • WaMa (Waschmaschine) = Washing machine
  • möbl. (möbliert) = furnished
  • Aufzug = elevator
  • Blk. (Balkon) = balcony
  • Terr. (Terrasse) =Terrace
  • ISO (Isolierverglasung) = insulating glass
  • Kabel (Kabelanschluss) = cable TV – Internet
  • off. Kamin (offener Kamin) = fireplace
  • F-Raum (Fahrradraum) = bike storage room
  • AR (Abstellraum) = storage room
  • Wanne = bath tub
  • Du (Dusche) = shower
  • ren.-bed. (renovierungsbedürftig) = needs renovation
  • renovierte = renovated
  • kpl. san (komplet saniert) = totally renovated
  • AB / Altb. (Altbau) = older building (usually before 2nd world war, which is obviously rare in Berlin)
  • NB ( Neubau) = new construction
  • Bj. (Baujahr) = year of construction
  • EB (Erstbezug) = first tenancy after renovation or new build
  • Hell / Helles = light
  • sonniges = sunny
  • mod. (modern) = modern
  • grosszugig geschnitten =the layout is generous. there is a lot of space


  • HZ / Hzg. (Heizung) heating
  • FW (Fermwärme) district heating piped-in from a local heating plant
  • FB-Hzg. (Fußbodenheizung) = ETH (Etagenheizung) = in-floor / radiant heating
  • GZ-Hzg. (Gaszentralheizung) = central gas heating
  • E-Hzg. (Elektroheizung) = electric heating
  • ÖZ-Hzg. (Ölzentralheizung) = central oil heating
  • ZH (Zentralheizung) = central heating


  • EG (Erdgeschoss) = ground floor
  • 2 OG (2nd Obergeschoss) = Second floor
  • 1. Etage = First floor (i.e., one above ground level)
  • 2. Stock = Second floor
  • UG (Untergeschoss) = basem*nt floor
  • VH (Vorderhaus) = frontbuilding
  • HH (Hinterhaus) = backbuilding
  • PLZ (Postleitzahl) = Postal code
  • Seitenstrasse = side street
  • rhg (ruhig) = quiet
  • Uni-Nähe (Universitätsnähe) = near university
  • Umgeb. (Umgebung) = area, neighborhood
  • Verk.-Anb. (Verkehrsanbindung) = access to public transportation
  • Zentrum = city center

Others :

  • NR (Nichtraucher) = non-smokers only
  • WBS erford. (Wohnberechtigungsschein) = subsidized housing only rented to holders of a special permit (WBS)
  • Tiere (Tierhaltung) = pets allowed
  • ab sof. (ab sofort) = sofort frei = available immediately
  • ab. 1 Mai = ab 1.5 = Apartment is available from 1st May
  • bezugsf. (bezugsfrei) = No current tenants in the flat

Good luck in your search. I hope this overview was useful. Don’t hesitate to ask question in the comments so i can improve this guide on how to find a flat in Berlin. 🙂

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Rent a flat in Berlin - It all starts here (2024)


Is it easy to rent a flat in Berlin? ›

It can take months and hundreds of applications. It's one of the hardest parts of moving to Berlin. You might need to live in temporary places until you find a home. If you are not in Berlin yet, it's almost impossible.

Why is it so hard to find a flat in Berlin? ›

As simple as that. There's more people moving to Berlin each year than people moving out (so net population growth) and at the same time there's fewer housing units added each year (so there's a growing housing defecit). That doesn't mean that you will never find a flat, but it means that you will have very slim odds.

How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Berlin, Germany? ›

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Berlin ranges from €800 to €1200. A one-bedroom apartment is €1,150 per 72 square meter in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin.

How to get an apartment in Berlin as a foreigner? ›

International buyers that are not German residents can obtain finance for up to 50% of the property value. Banks and other lenders may offer loans based on the equity available in another property. Many estate agents will assist buyers in finding suitable financing options and renting out the property, if required.

Can I rent an apartment in Germany as a foreigner? ›

You'll need the following required documents for renting in Germany as a foreigner: Your ID or passport. A Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung—a document to prove you don't owe previous landlords money. Your potential landlord might not ask for this but it's best to have it if possible.

What is the rent rule in Berlin? ›

In Berlin, the cap prevents a rent increase of more than 15 percent within three years. Non-lawful rent increases can therefore also entitle you to a rent reduction.

What is the best apartment site for rent in Berlin? ›

Immobilienscout24. By far the biggest online platform for finding apartments to rent and to buy online in Berlin and Germany. With hundredthousands of listings online and the possibility to further narrow down your search using several filters such as price, size, location, etc. Immobilienscout24 is our No.

Why do Germans rent instead of buy? ›

Tax treatment. There's another pretty simple reason Germans are less likely to own houses. The government doesn't encourage it. Unlike high-homeownership countries like Spain, Ireland and the US, Germany doesn't let homeowners deduct mortgage-interest payments from their taxes.

What do I need to rent a flat in Germany? ›

What documents do I need to rent a flat in Germany?
  1. A copy of your ID or passport. ...
  2. Salary confirmation or bank statements. ...
  3. Credit record documentation (Schufa record) ...
  4. A guarantor. ...
  5. Renting through an estate agent. ...
  6. Available online property portals. ...
  7. Renting through word of mouth.

What salary do you need to live in Berlin? ›

Cost of living in Berlin for a single person

As a working professional, renting a studio, you'll spend around €2,270 per month to cover all your living expenses. Earning the German average net salary of around €4,478 per month, you'll still be able to set aside some money every month!

Is 90k a good salary in Berlin? ›

Living in Berlin and having €95k salary will mean that you will live a very good life (financially). By German standards, you are in the top % of earnings, as an employee.

Can you live in Berlin without speaking German? ›

You don't need to speak German to move to Berlin, but it's very useful. You always need to write emails, read letters and make phone calls in German. If you don't speak German, you always depend on someone else to help you. If you speak German, it's easier to find an apartment, find a job and make friends.

Why is it so hard to find a flat in Germany? ›

Finding an apartment in Germany is tough. In popular cities such as Berlin, demand for apartments far outstrips supply, and competition can be fierce. Not having a secure roof over your head can be very stressful for newcomers to Germany. However, Germany has one of the lowest homeownership rates in the world.

Can a US citizen buy a house in Germany? ›

Unlike in other countries, such as Denmark and Switzerland, there are no restrictions to foreigners to purchase real estate in Germany. Currently, many foreign purchasers acquire properties in large German cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich.

Is it better to rent or buy in Berlin? ›

A new study shows: If you pay between 1000 and 1200 euros for rent in Berlin, it is better to buy straight away - provided you have enough equity. Rented flats in big cities like Berlin are rare and usually expensive. For people looking for a flat who have enough equity, it may therefore be better to buy a condominium.

Is it difficult to rent an apartment in Germany? ›

Foreigners face several challenges in the German rental market, including: 1. Language barriers and administrative complexities: Many landlords prefer tenants who speak German and are familiar with the local bureaucracy. 2.

What is the rental issues in Berlin? ›

In the last seven years, Berlin rents have jumped 44% while the average wage in the city has increased only 30%, federal and local data shows. It hasn't always been like this. After the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall the city had a housing glut that lasted decades, the legacy of its division following World War Two.

Is renting common in Germany? ›

In 2022, more than half of the population (53.5%) in Germany lived in rented accommodation. This was the highest share in the EU . The figure was significantly lower in France (36.6%), Spain (24.0%) or Poland (12.8%). In Romania, only 5.2% of the population lived in rental accommodation.


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