For many of us foreigners, it’s very difficult to arrive in Berlin and start living in our own flat right away.
We don’t have the money, we don’t have the time and we don’t have the papers ! So the best solution is to find a nice flat share in Berlin with friendly room mates. It is often a great way to save some cash and meet cool people within days.
- Flat shares in Berlin are numerous…
- …but competition is fierce
- How i do make sure it will work out?
- How do i make sure i don’t pay too much for the room?
A flat share is called WG (pronounced “VayGay”), short for “Wohnungsgemeinschaft”. It is very popular in Berlin, since many young people with limited budgets are living here. It shouldn’t be too difficult for you to find one from the moment you are tat bit friendly and tidy person.
The best way for you to find a flat share in Berlin is certainly through your own network. If you are interested in Berlin in the first place, it’s probably through a connection you have already here. It is the best place to start investigating.
If you are coming to Berlin to work for a specific company, be sure to check that it doesn’t offer relocating services for foreigners. It could also be part of your benefit package.
If you are coming as a student to one of the universities, it could also be the best way for you to start looking for a flat share in Berlin. Many of those universities have a international office where many international students meet and find an accommodation solution together.
There are also several specialized website for you to find a flat share in Berlin, I’ve made you a sweet list :
- Wg-gesucht.de (the most popular one, with no doubt)
- Studenten-wg.de (for students)
- Berlin.de.craigslist.de (for the English speaking crowd out there)
If you aren’t too sure that you are a perfect match for the people publishing the offers, you can also use this platform. It matches people that could fit inside a flat share in Berlin and other cities in Germany.
A few Facebook groups have also emerged as alternative options. Those are:
- Berlin.Startup.flats & Flatshares.
To accelerate your search on social media, you can also turn to flatberlin.co which is fetching offers posted on Facebook and gathering them in one minimal interface (thanks to Jeremy for putting that together).
…but competition is fierce
It is very likely that you will pass through several filters before even being invited. Being fast is the key as people offering a flat share in Berlin are flooded with answers once they have posted an offer. As far as i can tell, answering to posts in English is no problem but it is always a plus to be able to convince in German.
Keep your introductions short, relevant and memorable to maximize your chances. Once invited in the flat, be nice, smile and show some willingness to blend in the existing lifestyle of the flat share. I have found very important to be willing to participate to the community life with activities such as cooking, nights out, or others. It helps a lot.
How i do make sure it will work out?
There are simply no way to make sure your future roommates are not psychopaths but a few rules can help you to find good matches.
Move in with people in the same life phase as you
Even though flat shares are usually for 20 something people, some stay in WGs until sometimes their mid 30s. This means that they are probably no longer students anymore and will have different expectations on common life & routine. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to move in with people that are on the same page as you in their life. If you are a student, move in with students. If you are struggling young professional, move in with some. You get the idea. This maximize the chances for compatibility.
Have a good look at common areas
A thorough inspection of the kitchen & bathroom can tell a lot about the state of the flat share. It says a lot about hygiene of course, but also about respect to one another. It’s a good way to rate common life. If you see a lot of group portraits & pictures of them in the kitchen, then it’s a sign they do stuff together and there is a good atmosphere for example.
Turnover rate matters
This might help to detect “parasites”, “profiteer” or “psychopath” roommates; ask (discreetly) how many people lived in the flat the past 2/3 years. If the number is much higher than normal, it might mean that the Hauptmieter is behaving in such a way that people can’t bear life with them. Either they don’t do their share of chores, they are not sociable or they profit from your misinformation to charge a high-rate.
In general, don’t pick flat shares which promotes lifestyle too far away from yours. We all learn from each other and it’s good to be different, but if it makes life impossible, it’s not worth it.
How do i make sure i don’t pay too much for the room?
A high demand increases prices when the supply cannot satisfy all requests. This might lead to some people taking advantage of the situation. Aside from asking to connections you might have in Berlin, you can also ask for advice on the Facebook groups i mentioned to double check if the price is all right. You can also refer to this map made by Immobilien-Scout & WG-suche for guidance. Based on their data, an average room costs 337€. It fluctuates on your location of course:
Tip 1 : There is a good chance that you won’t be able to find the perfect WG right away. Don’t hesitate to find a Zwichenmiete in one of those websites for a month or more if you can. It is a temporary rental often offered by people leaving for holidays or a long trip. It will give you more time and peace of mind to find a good flat share in Berlin. You can also use AirBnB or Wimdu if you are more comfortable with this option.
Tip 2: You will often find the expression “Zweck WG” in offers you will find on the website. This means that the flat share is only aiming at sharing the costs and won’t be about having a social life together. It might be what you want but be warned that it’s very serious nonetheless. On the opposite, you will often find people that expressly want room mates that are looking for a dense social life within the WG.
Tip 3: If you have sent numerous requests with no luck, you might consider renting your own flat and searching for roommates instead. In that case, you might want to have a look at platforms like Wunderflats which provides fully furnished flats. You can rent them without a SCHUFA record and they make sure you can register there.
Good luck !