Finding somewhere to live
It is not easy to find somewhere to live from abroad – but it’s getting easier.
The best way is to come to Germany early or visit in advance and then look at the small ads here. If you already have your job or placement sorted out then ask there first – maybe somewhere will have a spare room or even a flat and be looking for a tenant.
Although you will find advertisements for flats in the normal newspapers, there are papers that specialise in small ads, such as Das Inserat. Here you get a good selection of flats to look at.
Of course, you could always place an ad yourself in advance as a flat hunter, und then let prospective landlords contact you.
On the internet, such small ads are becoming big business. In particular Kijijii, which offers all sorts of categories and is structured primarily by the area of Germany. Advertising here is free and possible without registering. ImmobilienScout24 is specialised on flats and houses. But be aware – if the advert is via an agent (“Makler”) then you will probably need to pay them a fee which may be 2-3 months rent. Adverts marked “von privat” are those where you will have direct contact with the landlord.
Using these services does require you to understand a certain amount of German. Even if you get someone to help you with this stage, don’t expect your future landlord to speak much English – and your contract will almost certainly be in German. So make some thoughts in advance about what you are looking for and maybe prepare a list of useful vocabulary.
Be prepared for some unusal clauses in your contract, which you may not be used to in the UK, eg. if/when you have to take your turn sweeping the pavement in front of the building, or clearing snow in winter; not feeding pigeons in the garden; and importantly when the quiet times (“Ruhezeiten”) are in your town – during the daytime typically 1 to 3pm.