Student residences

A relatively cheap option for accommodation is to rent a room in a student residence. The quality varies, but you can find quite nice places. You must be enrolled at a university, otherwise you cannot apply for student residences. To search for student residences, visit the Studentenwerk's website.

Renting accommodation on the housing market

Finding affordable accommodation in Berlin has become increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, the Institute can only provide limited assistance in finding longer-term accommodation. Bear in mind that you'll often need to pay a deposit of at least one month's rent, and show evidence of your job contract, a credit rating ("Schufa," for which you can apply online), a bank account, and registration confirmation. In Germany flats are advertised including bathroom and kitchen which is usually fitted with an electric cooker and a sink. The living room is not included so if you want to have a bedroom and a living room you have to look for a two-room flat. The size of the flat is always specified as total floor area in square meters. Flats are usually unfurnished, but if you prefer a furnished flat there are specialized agents where you can look for them. Immoscout is the web portal, where most apartments are offered (you might need a payed account). If you are looking for a shared flat (“Wohngemeinschaft”, short “WG”), basically all rooms are offered on wg-gesucht.

In addition to the rent, you will have to pay for heating and utilities (“Betriebskosten”), which are the running costs for the whole building. You will have to pay for electricity separately, so you will need to register with an electricity company (compare electricity costs, German only). If your flat also has gas, you will need to register with a gas supplier as well. If you rent an apartment, you will usually have to pay a deposit in advance, which can be up to three months' rent. When you move out, you will get your money back if you do not owe the landlord any money (e.g. for repairs).

Here are some important terms to help you understand the cost description of an advertised flat.


the rent alone


costs of heating


utilities: the contribution to the running costs of the building

Miete inklusive Nebenkosten

the entire rent including the cost of heating and running the building. This is what you have to pay your landlord.

Note: Since 1 May 2015, the so-called “client principle” has been in force in Germany. This means that whoever hired the agent or agency (usually the landlord) pays the commission. Unless the prospective buyer explicitly signs a search order for a fee, the agent or agency cannot charge a commission. The lack of knowledge of this (especially in the case of foreigners) is often used by fraudsters as a ploy to get an (additional) commission from the prospective tenant.

Registration at the Registration Office (“Bürgeramt”)

Everyone living in Germany is required to register their German home address with the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt). As soon as you arrive in Germany (within the first two weeks), you must register your current address. You will need to take the completed registration forms and your valid passport to the registration office. Appointments should be made online or by calling the Community Helpline (0049 30 115). Please note that appointments are very rare and sometimes not easy to get. Feel free to contact the International Office, if you need assistance! Once you have registered, you will receive a stamped confirmation of your registration. You will need this document to open a bank account and to apply for a residence permit. Every time you move, even within Berlin (or Germany), you will have to go through the same procedure and register your new address.

Please don't forget to deregister at the end of your stay in Germany!

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