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How do I find accommodation when moving to Germany? | Differences between renting and buying a flat

| Anna |

Removals to Germany

Finding a flat in Germany after a move can take some time and effort, but it is a process that can be organised wisely. Below you will find some steps and tips for renting and buying a flat in Germany.

Where to find a flat in Germany?

Online portals

Many people who want removals are looking for flats on popular property portals such as ImmobilienScout24, WG-Gesucht (mainly for roommates) or Immowelt.

Local newspapers

Newspapers often have sections with rental offers. It is worth looking around there as well.

Real estate agencies 

They can help you find suitable accommodation, but often charge a commission.

Before renting a flat in Germany

Credit check

This is the German equivalent of a credit check. Many landlords will request this document from prospective tenants.


A form in which the prospective tenant provides information about themselves, such as current residence, employer, income, etc.

Certificate of no debt

The previous landlord confirms that you have no rent arrears in your previous accommodation.

Rent costs in Germany


In Germany, the deposit can be up to three months’ rent upwards.


If you use a real estate agency, you may be asked to pay a commission, although in recent years the law has often shifted this cost to the landlord.

Residential insurance in Germany 

This is recommended to protect your possessions after removals.

Differences between renting and buying in Germany 

Initial costs after moving to Germany

Buying a flat involves more initial costs, such as a deposit, notary fees, taxes and commissions.

Monthly rental costs

If you rent, you pay rent. If you buy on credit, you pay loan instalments.

Taxes and fees in Germany

Landlords must pay land taxes and other fees related to property ownership.

Risk and property value

When you buy a flat, you are investing in a property whose value may increase. However, there is also a risk of a decrease in value.

Liabilities after moving to Germany

As a property owner, you have a greater responsibility for the maintenance of the property in relation to the landlord.

Renting a flat

Types of tenancy agreements

There are two main forms of tenancy agreements in Germany: fixed-term and indefinite.

Fixed-term contract

A contract for a specific period of time, to which both parties must adhere. For example, if you sign a contract for one year, you cannot break it early unless there are provisions in the contract that say otherwise.

Contract for an indefinite period

This is the more common form of contract in Germany and gives both parties more flexibility.

Buying a flat in Germany

Financing after moving to Germany

If you do not have the cash to buy a flat, you will probably need a mortgage. German banks offer different types of mortgage and interest rates can vary. It is worth comparing offers from different banks.


In Germany, the purchase of a property must be confirmed by a notary. The notary is responsible for preparing the sales contract and also for registering it in the land register.

Taxes in Germany

Property purchase tax, which is paid by the buyer. The amount of this tax depends on the state and can range from 3.5% to 6.5% of the purchase price.


If you use an estate agent, you have to pay a commission, which depending on the region can be up to 7% of the purchase price (including VAT).

Housing obligations in Germany

As a property owner, you will be responsible for all repairs and maintenance. It is also advisable to purchase insurance against damage to the property.

Additional information on housing in Germany

Property charges

In addition to the basic rent, you will also have to pay for additional costs, which include things such as water, heating, rubbish and other building maintenance fees. However, electricity and gas are often billed separately.


This is a popular way to rent a flat, especially among students and young people. Individuals share the flat and the costs.

Choosing a place to live when moving to Germany

The decision between renting and buying depends on your personal circumstances, future plans and financial situation. Many people in Germany rent for many years before deciding to buy. If you are moving to Germany permanently, it is worth consulting a property expert or financial adviser before making a decision.