Where to Live

One of your top concerns is most likely about finding accommodations.  This can be difficult from another country.


  • mieten – to rent (what you want to do)
  • vermieten – to rent out (what the owner wants to do with his or her space)
  • Wohnung – apartment
  • Wohngemeinschaft (WG) – shared apartment (literally “living community”)
  • Miete – rent (noun)
    • Kaltmiete – the base rental cost without utilities (literally “cold rent”)
    • Warmmiete – the cost per month including heat (literally “warm rent”)
  • Nebenkosten – other costs, such as utilities (literally “side costs”)
  • Kaution –  security deposit
  • Ein- [Zwei, Drei, …] zimmerwohnung – 1-, [2, 3, …] room apartment
  • unbefristet – open-ended;  This is how your lease should be.

Important Info

  • Leases do not typically last for an entire year the way they often do in the United States.
  • Instead of listing the number of bedrooms, in Germany, they list the number of rooms.  Rooms are the bedrooms and the living room.  Therefore, an Einzimmerwohnung is a one-room apartment, or a studio.  A Zweizimmerwohnung has one bedroom and a living room.
  • “WC” means “water closet” and refers to a toilet/half-bath.
  • If the place has both a bath and shower, it will list both Dusche und Bad.  If not, the apartment may only have one or the other.
  • A WG is the best option if you would like to meet younger/student-aged people and would like the cheapest possible rent.  Pros: they are already furnished, have dishes and kitchen items, and the utilities/TV/internet are already operational.  Cons: they are usually only in college towns and cities, so you may not be able to find one in a small town.
  • You may be required to purchase third-party liability insurance.  If so, and you happen to also be purchasing private health insurance, check to see if your health insurance company offers it.
  • If you are looking online, check websites often.  New rentals come up often because so many of them have open-ended contracts.
  • Generally, the cost of living is lower in the northern part of Germany than in the south.
  • Kitchen appliances are not included in the rent; the tenant owns them.  The previous tenant will typically sell you the appliances when he or she moves out, so you will not necessarily have to actively search for these items.

Helpful Websites and Contacts

  • http://geo.craigslist.org/iso/de – If you are moving to a larger city, craigslist can help you.
  • http://www.immobilienscout24.de – a great real estate site
  • http://www.wg-gesucht.de/ – perfect for looking for a WG
  • Contact the international student office at the local university.  They may have further tips or information for you.
  • If you are moving to a smaller town and/or are interested in renting out a room in a house from a family, call the mayor’s office or Rathaus.  This type of renting is very informal.


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