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HOUSING

It’s not impossible: How to find housing in Munich

With the highest rental prices - and arguably demand - in Germany, snagging a flat in the Bavarian capital is no easy feat. Here's how to pull it off.

It's not impossible: How to find housing in Munich
The popular Schwabaring district in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

Step 1: Decide what you want 

How would you like to live? There’s no right or wrong answer: what works for some might not work for others. 

Your options will probably consist of: a room in a flat share (das WG-Zimmer), a studio (das Ein-Zimmer-Apartment) and a flat (die Wohnung). 

Particularly if you’re coming to Munich by yourself or don’t have a lot of contacts here yet, moving into a flatshare might be a good way to kickstart your social life.

Carefully lay out your personal pros and cons – it will be the place where you spend most of your free time (at least during the pandemic).

READ ALSO: Rent prices for new Munich flats rise to over €20 per square metre

Step 2: The right place to search 

Depending on your decision in step one, there are different options on how to find your new home in Munich. 

If you want to move into a shared flat, WG Gesucht will be your best friend. Quick vocab: WG means die Wohngemeinschaft, which means flatshare. Gesucht stems from suchen (to search). On WG-Gesucht you can filter for studios, apartments and flat shares, and it’s also used for finding flatmates.

Other alternatives might be Facebook groups (e.g. WOHNEN TROTZ MÜNCHEN or Salz und Brot)

If you’re looking for your own place: the two most common sites in Germany are: Immowelt and Immobilienscout24.

A tip – sometimes it can be worth signing up for the premium service of these sites to get a first look at apartments when they come on the rental market. We’d advise that you do your homework and see if it could be worth it for your situation. If you do sign up, remember to cancel it (subscriptions in Germany can continue if you don’t take action).

But there are plenty of other options such as: ohne-makler.net (where you can rent exclusively from private landlords) or meinestadt.de. You can find many more by typing “Immobilien München” (real estate Munich) into your favorite search engine. 

Apartments in the centre of Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

For either option, you may also want to check out: 

  • The “Immobilien” (real estate) section in newspapers like Süddeutsche Zeitung and Münchner Merkur. Both also post their offers online, which you can find here and here
  • The websites of well known real estate agencies. Here are some examples: Von Poll Immobilien, Aigner Immobillien, Von Poll Immobilien, Weichselgartner Immo
  • Banks also usually have quite a good amount of flats and houses to sell or rent available. You can find them for example at Sparkasse or VR Bank
  • State-supported projects: Munich has a central portal to apply for apartments rented out by Gewofag. They are usually cheap but modern, and sound too good to be true on Munich’s overheated market. But there’s a downside: To be able to rent most of their apartments, you need to be eligible for government support. You can find more information on their website (currently available only in German)
  • Mietradar24: This startup helps you find interesting offers and even sends your application there all by itself. They also claim to find more and better offers faster than if you just browsed through housing websites yourself 
  • Mitwohnen: Mitwohnen means co-habiting in German and is also a word play on mieten (to rent). The principle: Rent for a reduced fare (or for free even) and help your landlord in return, usually in the household or by taking care of older relatives. It’s a bit like being an Au Pair but usually with less working hours required. This might also be helpful to improve your German

READ ALSO: How to be an au pair in Germany during the pandemic

Step 3: Stand out from the crowd 

Successfully applying for a room or an apartment can look quite differently. Here’s a short guide: 

  • If you apply for a room in a flatshare: Show your personality. Nothing is more boring – and therefore unsuccessful – than writing the same things everyone else does. You’re communicating with people who will live with you, so show them why you’re a great fit. Whip up a standard text about yourself, then adapt it according to what your future flatmates have written in their ad. They love good food – tell them your favourite dish. They’re sporty – tell them about how you gravitate towards hiking outside of the city at the weekend. Try to find common points to connect over
  • If you apply for a flat: The secret to success here is quite the contrary to applying for a flatshare. Show you’re a serious, punctually paying renter that can be trusted to treat the rented property with care. Tell them about yourself and why you’re a great fit for the flat, mention some details about it that you like and why you want to live in this specific area. But: Stay formal
  • For both options, you should have some documents on hand (although they might be much more important when applying for a flat): A copy of your passport or residential title, a SCHUFA document showing you are not known for bailing on your payments, your work contract and perhaps a confirmation of security.

READ ALSO: How to stand out from the flat-finding crowd in Germany

Step 4: Seal the deal 

One important bit of information: If someone asks you to transfer money before you’ve seen the apartment, have met the landlord or future flatmate personally (or at least through a video call), and sign the contract, DON’T!

This is a very common scam to lure people out of money. You will transfer the money, but most likely never actually get to live in the advertised space. In short: Don’t send money ahead. Ever. Not for a deposit, not for the first rent, not for receiving the keys. Just don’t.

READ ALSO: New rent map shows cost of life in Munich

If you’re moving ahead to sign a contract, here are some things to look out for: 

  • How high is the rent excluding all other charges like heating or other costs (die Kaltmiete)?
  • How high is the rent including all charges (die Warmmiete)? 
  • How much is the deposit? 
  • Is the contract limited in time? 
  • Does the contract say if the rent will go up after a certain period of time?
  • Are there any additional charges (e.g. for winter services)?
  • How many square metres are given in the contract? 
  • Is the apartment furnished?
  • Do you have to pay for furniture that will be left in the apartment by your predecessor? 
  • Are you liable for any damages?
  • Will the landlord take care of small repairs (e.g. a leaking sink) or is it your job?
  • What are the rules of the building (e.g. when is ‘Ruhezeit’?)

READ ALSO: Ruhezeit: What you need to know about ‘quiet time’ in Germany

Step 5: How to get comfortable in your new home 

“Nachbarschaft” (the art of being neighbours) is quite important for Germans. So it’s advisable to start on good terms. This will also heighten your chances of someone watering your plants if you’re on holiday, among other things. 

If you’re moving to a small house with only a few apartments it’s a good idea to go from door to door to introduce yourself, perhaps bringing some cookies with you. 

And: Always greet your neighbors, even if just with a simple hallo. Germans love that!

By Lisa Schneider

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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