Finding a Place to Live in Berlin

How to Find an Apartment in Berlin

Berlin Prenzlauer Berg in Spring

Berlin is a huge city and finding a place to live sounds like an easy task to do, right?

Well, unfortunately wrong.

The property market in Berlin is very competitive and rents have skyrocketed in the last couple of years.

Berlin went from an extremely cheap European capital to one of the most expensive places to live in Germany.

Still, compared to other European capitals such as London or Paris, Berlin is still a very affordable place to live.

Another great advantage of Berlin is the quality of homes.

As Berlin was heavily destroyed during the war and afterwards divided in two parts (East and West), the houses were neglected and kind of run-down.

But since the Berlin Wall came down many of those run-down houses have been freshly renovated with great insulation and new floors, etc.

Especially the so called Alt-Bauwohnungen offer high ceilings, spacious rooms, beautiful floors, and a lot of character.

If you’re into a more standardized place to live, there are also many new building projects, where you can find a modern living space waiting for its first inhabitants.

Finding a Place to Live in Berlin online

Flat in Berlin Mitte

Checking for flats and houses online is the easiest and fastest way to find a place in Berlin.

You can search for flats and houses, based on your exact requirements (such as budget, amount of rooms) online, with Immobilienscout24 being by far the biggest online platform.

Then you show up for the viewing, possibly queue up until it’s your turn to go inside for a look, and then leave your contact details and personal info with the estate agent in charge.

And if you are lucky you will get a call after a couple of days and get the appartment.

Checklist – How to find an apartment in Berlin

Keep in mind that competition for the few nice apartments in Berlin is really high.

Out of the 50 people who show up for these viewings, the one who will get to call the place her/his future home will be the person who provides all the information required by the estate agents.

Follow this Checklist in order to increase your chances to find an apartment in Berlin

  • Provide your working contract (preferably unlimited, and if possible give yourself a fancy job title. I.e. if you’re a secretary, call yourself a CEO’s PA; if you’re a freelance writer, call yourself a Published Author – you get the gist)
  • Attach your bank statements showing proof of salary receipt for the last 3 months
  • a valid Schufa statement not older than 3 months (follow this link to Schufa and go for the free version “Datenkopie nach Art. 15 DSGVO)
  • If you don’t earn enough then a letter from a guarantor would be great to increase your chances of getting the place
  • A letter of your former landlord that you have no outstanding payments with him called Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung (no joke)
  • Make sure to have 3 months of rental on your account as you need to deposit this so called Kaution on a shared bank account with your landlord

Have all Documents ready for the house viewing

People will stop at nothing to get the place of their dreams, so you shouldn’t, either.

Dress nicely for the viewing, be friendly and polite, shake the estate agent’s hand, and make sure to hand them a copy of all your documents in person at the viewing.

If possible follow it up by emailing your documents again to the agency as soon as you get home.

Did anybody say houserassment?

That’s right. Fight for that place. It will be the setting of your new life in Berlin.

Find a Flat in Berlin – Online platforms

Now that you know how you increase your chances to get your dream apartment it is time for you to start the search online.

There are a couple of very great options to find a flat for each situation.

So let’s have a look at each of the most important online platforms to find an apartment in Berlin.


By far the biggest online platform for finding apartments to rent and to buy online in Berlin and Germany.

With hundredthousands of listings online and the possibility to further narrow down your search using several filters such as price, size, location, etc. Immobilienscout24 is our No.1 recommendation if you are searching for you future Berlin home.

Both rentals and apartments to buy are available on Immobilienscout24.


Very similar to Immobilienscout24, however with fewer listings online. Still worth checking it out as well.


This is a good alternative to find a furnished apartment in Berlin. Furnished apartments are more expensive than normal flats and usually are only available for short-term rental.

But to get you own flat in Berlin you will need to show up for viewings in person. So if you live abroad a furnished apartment would be a good first start while looking for your own place.


This is a great platform for anybody looking for a shared aparment. Mostly students offer a room or two in their WGs, which has the advantage that you have friends from day 1 in Berlin.

Important German words to know for your flat hunt in Berlin

  • Altbau – Old flat: Usually means high ceilings. Make sure it is renovated though.
  • Anmeldung – Registration: Once you have signed the contract you need to go to the Bürgeramt and do your Anmeldung.
  • Balkon – Balcony: Great for having BBQs in summer
  • EBK or Einbauküche – Fitted Kitchen: Minimum a cooker and sink already installed.
  • GEZ: Unfortunately everybody in Germany has to pay this monthly fee to support ARD, ZDF, etc., which are like the German BBC.
  • Hauptmieter – Main Tenant: The person who signed the original contract with the Vermieter, especially when you live in a WG.
  • Hohe Decken – High ceilings: Remember, Altbauwohnungen usually have high ceilings.
  • Kaltmiete – Basic rent: The rent you have to pay just for the apartment (not including heating and water).
  • Keller – Basement: Make sure to check that the Keller is trocken, which means dry, so you can store stuff there without them getting moldy.
  • Makler – Real Estate Agent: The person who will show you around and the most important person you have to impress in order to get your dream flat.
  • Maklergebühr – Brokerage Fee: If you want to rent an apartment you don’t need to worry about this. The Vermieter will pay this fee. If you are looking to buy it will be you who has to pay the fee, which is capped at 7,14% in Berlin.
  • Mieter – Tenant: This is hopefully you 🙂
  • Mietschuldenfreiheit: No translation for this, but this is the letter you ask you previous landlord to give you that states that you have paid all your rent in the past.
  • Renoviert – Renovated: Usually most places have been renovated in the last 20-40 years, but still some flats that are Renovierungsbedürftig are still to rent.
  • Renovierungsbedürftig – Need for renovation: Make sure to check those apartments thoroughly before moving in in order to avoid problems afterwards.
  • Untervermietet – Sublet: You are not the main tenant and have fewer rights. Be careful with those kind of flats.
  • Vermieter – Landlord: The owner of the apartment you live in.
  • Warmmiete – Rent including heating: Includes all other fees such as heating and water.
  • WG or Wohngemeinschaft – Shared Flat: Living with usually 1-4 other people.
  • Wohnberechtigungsschein: No translation for this, but if you are earning little to no money you might be eligible to apply for a Wohnberechtigungsschein. This means access to cheaper apartments.
  • Wohnfläche – Living space: The space of your apartment for living. Balconies count 1/4 of their size on top of the Wohnfläche.
  • Zimmer – Room: Pretty straight forward.

Find the Best Neighbourhood in Berlin

One of the most important choices you have to make when looking for a flat in Berlin is which neighbourhood suits you best.

Continue reading if you are not sure which neighbourhood in Berlin suits you best.

Also check out which place in Berlin might suit you best. Pretty straight forward.