Flat Hunting in Berlin like a Champion!
Wednesday, September 27th
In this week’s blogpost, we are diving into our own personal tips for finding a flat in Berlin. We hope that this post will demystify the whole process so that it seems a little less overwhelming.
As you may well have seen in our previous posts, Berlin offers an abundance of good food, art, outdoor spaces, and more! For some people (and a lot of Klangers) moving to Berlin is a no-brainer. However, there is often one difficulty that new Berliners face: finding long-term housing. Here are some of our (and our Klanger's) tips on how to flat hunt like a champion!
Have all your Documents Ready
While flat hunting often resembles more a competitive race than seeking a basic human right, preparation can make all the difference between securing a dream home or losing out to someone else. Having all of your necessary documents ready before embarking on your search is not just recommended, it’s really kind of essential. It streamlines the application process, showcases your seriousness to landlords, and reduces the lag between finding a flat you love and staking your claim. These documents include a Schufa report, a valid ID or passport, and your proof of income (a work contract, and your last three payslips). Other optional documents to bring include bank statements, a Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung, a Mietbürgschaft, and an application form (if there is one). In a market where multiple potential tenants might vie for the same space, this preparedness can make or break your chance to get lucky and land a flat.
Short-Term Housing First
It can be kind of difficult to find long-term housing right off the bat in Berlin. Because of this, we recommend looking for short-term housing first, that way you can have a place to settle in and get your feet in the city while you continue your search, as well as doing important things like formally registering in Berlin (which is also known as getting an Anmeldung). It is essential to make sure that your temporary housing can give you this ability to register, as well as provide a signed Wohnungsgeberbestätigung document from the landlord or agency. In order to get these documents, many temporary apartments require a minimum of a three-month stay, so don’t forget to double-check if there is a minimum.
Go Straight to Real Estate Agencies
OK so listen up, here is a pro tip from our own Engineering Manager, Nacho: When searching for a flat, consider contacting real estate companies directly. Nacho swears that this was the key to his quick and successful flat-searching experience! This strategy gives you an advantage by circumventing the intense competition in Berlin’s rental market. By going straight to the source, you can skip crowded apartment viewings and improve your chances of securing your own dream flat! In order to find real estate agents in your preferred area of Berlin, we recommend doing a quick Google search. Then, simply pick up the phone and tell them what you are looking for.
Um Hilfe Bitten (Ask for Help)
Navigating the apartment search can be daunting, and throwing in a language barrier can make things feel even more overwhelming. We know that reading and responding to listings in German takes some extra work for expats. And what’s more, it’s not really a secret that Berlin landlords seem to kind of favor German-speaking applicants. To enhance your prospects, we suggest enlisting the assistance of a friend or colleague who is fluent in German to help you navigate the rental process. Their language skills can be invaluable in communicating with landlords and ensuring a smoother, more successful flat-hunting experience. If you can’t manage that, perhaps use Chat GTP or similar tools to write your emails and cover letters in German.
Make it Personal
Now for our Office Coordinator, Alina’s tip: Never forget a personal letter of introduction! In Berlin’s crowded rental market, standing out from a sea of prospective tenants can be a challenge. This is where a personal introduction letter, accompanied by a photo, can be a game-changer. This letter serves as more than just a look into your professional background and financial stability: it offers landlords a glimpse into your life, character, and the kind of tenant you’ll be. By sharing a bit about your hobbies, values, or reasons for moving to Berlin, you humanize your application amidst a pile of faceless paperwork. The attached photo reinforces this personal connection, making your application memorable.
Don’t Forget Facebook Groups
Sure, it might be where your aunty and uncle like to hang out, but Facebook has a feature that may help: Facebook Groups. These are sometimes overlooked but they can be a very helpful tool in the search for a flat, as they offer a more personalized approach. Dedicated Berlin housing groups regularly feature posts for available rooms in shared flats (WGs) and entire apartments (where you would have your own solo contract). These groups facilitate direct communication with individuals seeking tenants or flatmates. For women in Berlin, the International Women in Berlin Facebook group is a valuable resource. It even has a dedicated housing thread that can be particularly helpful in connecting you with housing opportunities, while also fostering a sense of community within the city.
We hope that these tips will help you feel a bit less existential dread when starting your flat hunt. And don’t forget: there is a special flat with your name on it out there waiting for you!