In season one, I interviewed my friend and fellow US-American in Freiburg Shanon about how to find an apartment in Germany.
Shanon, who has lived in Freiburg for 3 years, has lived in a series of WGs, or Wohngemeinschaften/shared flats, as well as two apartments with her husband. From getting the mayor to write her a letter of recommendation for an apartment application to sitting down to Kaffee & Kuchen, or coffee & cake, with potential landlords, Shanon has experienced it all.
In the episode, we explained common German apartment phrases and terms and point out differences between apartment hunting in the US and Germany. For instance, in Germany, warm Miete/warm rent and kalt Miete/cold rent refers to if the rental price listed includes utilities (warm) or is without utilities (kalt). Also, in Germany, every room in the apartment counts in the total rooms, so what we in the US would call a 2-bedroom apartment (meaning two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room) is called a 3-room apartment in Germany (meaning three rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom). Another weird quirk of rentals in Germany is that it's common for the apartment to come without a kitchen. The kitchen room will be equipped with the wires and plumbing necessary, but it's up to you to purchase the fridge, stove, counters, etc. When there is a kitchen included in the apartment, the cost of the kitchen will either be factored into the rent or it will be a separate expense paid directly to the last tenant, who likely shouldered the cost of the kitchen initially.
In the episode, I also shared my own apartment hunting story, which involved going on a reality TV show called House Hunters International. The episode was comically titled "Feuding in Freiburg." I explained how I got on the show, what the experience was like, and how I really feel about the apartment we ended up in.
Shanon and I shared a lot of resources that are helpful for anyone looking for a new place in Germany.
Some blog posts that are helpful for understanding apartment rentals in Germany:
Some websites that you can search when looking for a place:
- WG Gesucht
- Immobilien Scout 24
- eBay Kleinanzeigen
- Search Facebook for "wohnung + [name of your city/town]" to find Facebook groups for apartments and WGs
Apartment shopping can be stressful, and it's a well-document problem that there's a Wohnungsnot, or apartment shortage, in many German cities. But it is possible to find the right place for you with a little research, persistence, and creative problem solving, you can find your new home!
Listen to the episode here.