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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finding an Apartment in Germany

Marco and I will get the keys to our new apartment tomorrow, October 31st! So before the craziness of moving and unpacking and organizing and decorating begins, I will take this moment to describe what it was like finding an apartment in Germany. Here are some aspects of the apartment hunt I experienced in Germany, how they compare to finding an apartment in the U.S., and which country makes it easier.


Searching for an Apartment Online

✓ Germany

Marco and I mostly searched for apartments in the Internet. By far the largest database of apartments is on Immobilien Scout 24. The apartments on the website are a mix of one submitted by real estate companies and private apartments listed by the owners themselves. We did also look in the local paper, but we didn't have much success there. In the end, the apartment we got was found on Immobilien Scout 24.

Searching for Apartments in Germany Online with Immobilien Scout 24

✗ U.S.
I would say this experience was definitely similar to searching on Craigslist for my apartments in Chicago. Of course Craigslist is terribly organized and makes you feel slightly uncomfortable when you have to call someone off of it. As far as I know, however, there is no other Internet database in the U.S. where a lot of landlords are listing their available apartments.

Searching for an apartment in Chicago on Craigslist

Rent Prices

✓ Germany & U.S.
The cost of living in Germany is very comparable to the U.S. In fact, rent prices are an average of 10% lower than in the U.S., but consumer prices are an average of 15% higher. So the Germans get to pay a little less in rent, but they need more money to spend on their utilities, groceries, and other necessities. Of course, these are just averages. Both Germany and the U.S. have cities where rent is ridiculously high (New York and Munich, for example), and cities where the rent is relatively low (Texas and Eastern Germany). For me and Marco's one bedroom apartment in the suburbs of Hamburg, however, I think we are paying a very similar amount to what we would pay if we were living in a one bedroom apartment in the Chicago suburbs.


Realty Agency Fees

✗ Germany
I was shocked the first time Marco told me about "provision." Here is how I understand it: Landlord has an empty apartment. He tells a realty agency to find him a tenant. The realty agency finds a tenant, gets them to sign the lease, and then charges them a "provision" -- this is basically the fee for the realty agency to do what they did. Okay, what is it a couple hundred bucks? No. The provision is typically 2.38 times the monthly rent! What?! Thank goodness me and Marco were able to snatch up one of the few apartments that didn't charge this ridiculous fee.

✓ U.S.
Although I have never used an agency to find an apartment in the U.S., many friends of mine have. They did not pay the realty company. Rather, the landlord pays the realty company. After all, the realty company is doing a service for the landlord, not the tenants. Yeah, the U.S. is definitely better here.


So those are some of the things I have noticed while looking for an apartment in Germany. Moving to Germany has been quite a long process for me, and finally moving into my own apartment tomorrow will be a big step.

Should I make an apartment tour video next? Or is there anything else you would like to know about moving to Germany or finding an apartment in Germany? Let me know!

1 comment:

  1. I think in both major points, where you live counts. So, here in Bamberg, rents are high. http://www.immobilienscout24.de/Suche/S-21T/Wohnung-Miete/Bayern/Bamberg?enteredFrom=one_step_search Berlin, for example, is notoriously cheap to live in. Most of former Eastern Germany is cheaper than former West.
    With regard to provision, when I lived in North Carolina, it worked as you suggested, with the landlord paying the fee. In the NYC and Boston areas, I (the renter) have paid.
    Glad you found a provisions frei apartment!

    ReplyDelete

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