Rent a flat in Berlin – It all starts here

The key to a good settlement is to find & rent the perfect flat in Berlin to live in. I would say it’s the first thing you have tick off your list along with finding a decent job. Competition has grown considerably in the past few years as the city has attracted more and more people. It’s not as easy as it used to be. Here are a few tips to stay ahead of the wave.

Rent a flat in Berlin

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.

It is however somewhat still easier than in other cities in Europe like Paris or London.

With a little bit of patience (between 2 weeks and 2 months depending on your money/luck/connections) and organization you should be able to find a flat in Berlin. I will only cover here how to find your own flat to rent  in Berlin. 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.

Hunting 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 are sites with a lot of serious offers. I’d recommend creating an account on all 3 of them to 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 housing projects across the city and therefore often have their own listings. Some of if is to be found on other platforms, some other not.

Think social too

Another tip is to make sure to belong to as many expat related 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

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

As a reference for rent price, here is a map made by ImmobilienScout in 2017 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 2020, you can roughly apply a 1,5 ratio on top for closer to reality prices.

How much should i pay for a flat in Berlin

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

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 done by 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.

The golden road to finding a flat in Berlin

Several full-services agencies are also offering fully furnished rentals with an extra fee. They usually don’t make you pay anything until you sign the contract. Then the fee is included in the rent. The rent is higher than average but it does sometimes comes with cleaning & other services. This might a good solution for the first few months of your life in Berlin or if you come only for a short-time for a project or something. This is also a good solution to get around the evil circle of  “no-flat -> no anmeldung -> no bank account -> no-schufa -> no-flat” issue. Landlords don’t require SCHUFA records with those platforms.

They often speak English can make it easier for you if you need a fast solution to find a flat in Berlin. They often don’t require a SCHUFA record (or credit record)

A good solution to get around the evil circle of  “no-flat -> no anmeldung -> no bank account -> no-schufa -> no-flat” issue.

Flat hunting in Berlin: an allegory. 🙂

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 insert 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.
  • Bonus: proof that you have liability insurance.

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.

Tips i always tell my friends when they move here

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 this way where concepts, tips and recommended providers like Coya 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 Sbahn station, you could zip to town quite fast. You may use this app to get an idea of how much commute this or that address would represent.

Become a Nachmieter

An alternative strategy might be 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 a flat 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 with AirBnB or consider Wimdu, which is a German competitor to 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.

Other things to know

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

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) = basement floor
  • VH (Vorderhaus) = front building
  • HH (Hinterhaus) = back building
  • 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. 🙂


  • Reply Anup Paliwal 04/09/2020 at 19:53

    Hello, I am under job contract (no blue card). My spouse is joining me here in Berlin, I stay in 20 m2 wg, is it possible to give my rent contract to her as a proof of stay ? Or I need to make a contract with her name on it?

    Thanks for the amazing platform.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/09/2020 at 13:23

      Hey Anup. Do you mean for the Anmeldung now? if so, an informal letter can be replace a rent contract, as stated here, but she will still need a confirmation from the landlord.

  • Reply Telmo Amaral 31/08/2020 at 13:06

    I was recently looking for a flat and would like to give a tip to those using the three Immo-something (and similar) websites. There’s an aspect to all of these sites that can be misleading: they encourage you to set up a personal “profile” where you fill in a lot personal information and upload some important documents; this makes it easy to assume that the providers who publish the adverts will care to (and know how to) check the personal profiles of prospective tenants who reply to the adverts. Do NOT assume this. By all means complete your personal profile, but ALWAYS assume that, when you reply to an advert, all that the provider is going to read is the message that you send them.

    So, naturally start your message by saying right away that you’re interested in the apartment and would like to arrange a viewing. But then continue the message with a summary of all the info that is in your profile: tell them your age, your employment status, job title, net income, whether you have a WBS, whether you live alone, smoke or have pets, your email and mobile number, and a give them a link to a shared folder (for example on Google Drive) containing your Schufa, proof of income and proof of rental payments. You could also add a couple of more informal lines about yourself and the type of flat and area you’re looking for.

    Like this, in one minute the provider will know everything they need to know about yourself without the need for any further clicking. If the provider happens to prefer checking people’s profiles, then they will simply read the first two sentences of your message and ignore the rest. No harm done.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/09/2020 at 10:03

      Hey Telmo. That’s great input. Thanks a lot for sharing!

      • Reply Telmo Amaral 02/09/2020 at 23:24

        Many thanks to you, Bastien. Almost three years after moving to Berlin, I lost count of how many times I visited your site, looking for info on things that I had to do for the first time. And will continue to do so! 🙂

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/09/2020 at 10:13

          Hey Telmo. Thanks a lot. Appreciated.

  • Reply Melina Solis 29/06/2020 at 09:34


    I am currently in Tax class 3 since I earned significantly more than my partner. However he is now unemployed, it is ok, he is taking this time to do other things but he is not earning any income or getting any unemployment benefits. My question is, can I keep my tax class with my husband unemployed?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/07/2020 at 09:53


  • Reply Jens 15/06/2020 at 11:09

    Hello and thank you for a great website. I have a question regarding renting from a private person or renting a eigentumswohnung.
    We found a flat that we applied for and as I understand it it is owned by a private person. We currently have a hauptmieter-contract with a landlord that owns the whole buliding. What is the difference renting from a private person do we become Untermieter or whats the difference really?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/06/2020 at 09:33

      Hey Jens. No. You have a contract with the owner of your flat, thus, you are the main tenant, not a sub-tenant.

  • Reply Fatina. Jaber 02/11/2019 at 20:18

    Dear ,
    Kindly assist looking for studio in Berlin , my budget 470 euro ,, with elevator ,
    Am student for master degree


  • Reply Abayomi Habib 14/10/2019 at 15:56


    How can I get cheap accommodation in Berlin Germany?

  • Reply James 13/10/2019 at 19:02

    Is it normal for a private landlord to request copies of my documents, that include my personal data, before even giving me an invitation to view the property? Should I avoid handing over these documents (copy of passport, schufa, payslips) to private landlords before viewing the property and meeting them? It seems like a lot of sensitive personal data to give to a complete stranger, who could just be a scammer stealing my data.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2019 at 15:46

      Hey James. Some landlords may request this before a viewing to assess the “seriousness” of your application, or it could be a scam as well. I don’t think that looks good personally.

  • Reply Alex 28/11/2018 at 22:01

    Hi All. The website is fantastically helpful, it’s greatly appreciated:) I am just preparing to move to Berlin (from the UK); read and heard already about the craziness of the rental market, but still cannot figure out – why these humiliating queues during viewings exist at all? For example, in England the market is very ‘price-effective’; typically landlords price their apartments slightly higher than a real price is, and simply wait for a tenant who could afford it. So, everybody looks for a flat in his/her own ‘price bracket’; say, if I know that I can spend £1200 for one-bed – there is a choice of flats for this price. If I want something better – I am just increasing my budget and have the new choice of available flats, but I am not trying to find something that cost £1700 for the price of £1200. But I have an impression that in Berlin is happening exactly this – people hope to rent a fantastic apartment with a small budget. What is the reason that landlords (or agents?) run these ‘tenders’ among potential renters instead of just increasing prices? Or maybe there is a legal barrier and landlords cannot put prices as high as they want?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/11/2018 at 09:37

      Hey Alex. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      • Reply Liang 06/03/2019 at 15:26

        I completely agree with ALEX. I did take many tips and got helps from this website. Shamed that i didn’t comment yet but this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ really makes me LOL11 (actually !! but one can get this with a German keyboard ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

  • Reply Heidelberger 18/11/2018 at 18:27

    From my experience, for those living outside Berlin, my advice is:
    Apply for as many apartments as possible around one week in advance and then spend 2-3 days in the city to visit the apartments. More than 50% of the agencies will not even reply. I used this email in German to increase my chances to book an appointment and worked out well:
    “Sehr geehrter Herr XXXXXXXXX,
    ich (XX Jahre alt, Nichtraucher, keine Haustiere) interessiere mich sehr für die von Ihnen angebotene Wohnung in XXX (XXX: Mitte, Charlottenburg….). Gerne möchte ich mit Ihnen einen Termin ausmachen, um die Wohnung zu besichtigen. Ich wechsele zu “Dezember“ beruflich nach Berlin und bin für Wohnungsbesichtigungen zunächst vom XXXXX bis XXXX.2018 in der Stadt. Sie können mich unter folgender Nummer anrufen: XXXXXXXXXXXX oder per Email erreichen: [email protected]
    Mit freundlichen Grüßen
    Name Surname“

    Don’t forget to have ready your Schufa, Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung, salary statements or future contract and copy of your ID card. I was always asked for those!

  • Reply Hdjdjcj 18/10/2018 at 07:18

    Thanks for the tips. I’d like to express my huge disappointment from the process of flat hunting in Berlin. I couldn’t even imagine that such havoc can exist in Germany! I’ve lived in London for 15 years and renting has NEVER been a problem! Here it is really humiliating to be part of an open viewing with 10-20 other people, as desperate as yourself, trying to impress some agents who don’t even speak English! Yes, it’s Germany but the last time I checked, English is still the global language! The craziness of people subletting their room or flat for a week, month and so on is something I have never seen in the UK! Nothing to say about the huge deposit for an empty flat, which diesn’t even have the necessary white goods in the kitchen! Crazy, overpriced, really disappointing! This humiliation of people who have come to contribute to the economy of the country, pay taxes and spend most of their money in the country is intollerable and inhumane! This whole situation should probably be reported to the Hague court! Shame, Germany!

  • Reply abc 24/05/2018 at 18:22

    I have to say that moving to Berlin is much much more harder in reality. Looks like Wunderflats require Schufa even for short stay such as 2 months. For such short term it simply makes no sense, since majority of lump sum will be paid at the beginning of a lease. Majority of flatshare websites just waste your time by putting lower prices in headline and different in a description. Beware of gender, age and all sort of other requirements. On other hand city is great – people are more relaxed and enjoying life than in any other European capital city.

  • Reply Laura 17/05/2018 at 19:22

    This article is a bit dated, especially the map with the prices. Now prices are about 50% more. I am just mentioning this because it gives misleading information.

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