Germany offers a wide range of high-quality rental housing. Many Germans prefer to rent rather than to buy a home. In this section we explain how to find a place to live and what you need to keep in mind, both before and after moving in.
There are a variety of options for your first few weeks in Germany, before you have found permanent housing: A hotel room costs an average of about 90 euros per night. You can expect to pay roughly 500 to 1,200 euros per month for a temporary, furnished two- or three-room flat, depending on its location. Youth hostels usually charge between 20 and 30 euros per night. There is also the option of using online portals to rent a room from a German family, which has the added benefit of helping you make contact to local residents.
In contrast to many other countries, most Germans rent their homes - for good reason: There is an abundance of high-quality rental housing in every location and price range, from small flats to villas with gardens. These rental properties are often in excellent condition and equivalent to owner-occupied dwellings in terms of quality. In addition, renters are protected by law against excessive increases in rent, and landlords are not allowed to terminate a lease without cause.
Whether you want to rent or buy: Information about available housing can be found in the advertising section of the newspapers and on real estate websites, which is where most flats and houses are listed today. Housing supply and demand depend to a large degree on the respective region. In rural areas, renters or buyers tend to have their pick of what is available, but in larger cities owners can usually choose from multiple offers. Finding housing can be time-consuming, particularly in the metropolitan areas surrounding Munich and Frankfurt. In those areas it may be wise to consult a real estate agent. Under German law, realtors are not permitted to charge more than three months' rent for their services.
As in other countries, the cost of a rental unit varies greatly by region. Rent and ancillary costs such as heating, water and gas will cost you about 14 euros per square metre in large cities. The average cost in small towns and rural areas is about eight euros per square metre.
Registering with the power and water utilities. If your landlord does not take care of electricity, water or gas, you will have to make your own arrangements with a provider. Your landlord will probably be able to give you contact information for your regional provider.
Arranging for telephone, Internet and (cable) television service. Germany has a variety of telecommunications service providers. It pays to compare them, and online portals can be helpful. Many providers offer discounted packages that include both telephone and Internet service. There are also options tailored to mobile use, for example using UMTS technology (3G).
A tip: Since it may take several weeks for your telephone and Internet to be connected, it is a good idea to contact a provider before you move in, if possible. Fees for television and radio. In Germany, fees are charged for radio, television and Internet use. If you use these media, you are required to register with the German licensing office, called Gebühreneinzugszentrale or GEZ. This can be done either online or using the registration forms that are available at most post offices and banks. Put your name on your mailbox and doorbell (if your landlord has not already done so). Your mail will not be delivered unless your name is on your mailbox. There is no need to register with the post office. Change of address order. Don't forget to have your mail forwarded from your home country to your new home. And if you go away for an extended period, you can ask the German post office to forward your mail, even abroad.