Long term readers of this blog may remember a previous posting about flat searching in the fair city of Berlin, written smack bang in the middle of a frustrating, time-consuming and near-fruitless flat search. That post focused on options for English teachers just off the boat – in other words, digs that you are able to get when you arrive in the city. Well, thanks to the joys of untermieten (sub-let) and the passage of 3 months, I find myself yet again spending up to 2 hours a day desperately sending emails to prospective landlords. However, this time I’m focusing my energies on tracking down a hauptmiete (main tenant) flat. Constant viewings and the pointless applications (pointless because the landlord inevitably chooses someone else) can really get you down.
Maybe it’d be easier to not find a flat – some tips:
Set yourself a realistic budget
Wait, you mean un-realistic right? Well…no sorry. A Berlin-based English teacher is never going to be rolling in wads of European cash which makes accommodation searching problematic if your better half isn’t an investment banker on 150k + bonus per annum. Being freelance doesn’t help either as the agency will want copies of invoices, a tax declaration, bank statements and DNA samples (open to negotiation). You might find you have to stretch that hard earned money a bit further, or move to one of the outlying districts.
Choose a fashionable area
Carrying on from the last point, if you don’t want to find a flat (especially on limited money), choose one of the super-duper trendy districts like Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and to a certain extent Neukolln. You won’t want to think about Marzahn or anywhere else out in the sticks. Places like Wedding, Wilmersdorf and Schoneberg can offer a happy medium.
Have high standards
A sure-fire way of avoiding your traumwohnung. Sure, it’s possible to have high standards and find a flat, or have low standards and fail to find a flat, but you narrow your options nicely with this age old tactic. Go for the luxuries such as double glazing, fitted kitchens and structural integrity. To avoid failing, you should check out those flats in a slightly worse state of repair or be prepared to stretch your budget.
Use only Immobilienscout24.de
I can’t really comment much on this, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that only using Berlin’s primary flat searching avenue doesn’t provide a wide range of options.
Don’t pay agency fees
For anyone coming from the UK (I have no idea about other countries), Germany’s estate agents fee’s will be a shock. I remember cursing as I shelled out £200 for a Bristolian’s turn-key service, but in Berlin this would represent an outrageous bargain. Standard prices for quite literally opening the front door are around 2 and a half times of the basic monthly rent. Add this to the deposit (3 months rent) and you’re in for a pretty lean month. Of course you can search for provisionfrei, but this significantly reduces your options.
Sit back and relax
Flat searching in Berlin is hard. The hardest city I’ve personally ever looked in, although many of my German friends tell me that Munich and Hamburg are even worse. Food for thought certainly.
Best of luck.