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Moving is a hassle no matter where you live. But here in Germany, we often have the added stress of a language barrier. And it’s not just the language barrier, but also the cultural differences in how things work. Put simply, the process is probably very different from what you’re used to.

But… the good news is that moving in Germany doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, and Founder of The Property Guy Germany, Rob Lederman, is here to take you on a step-by-step process to figure it all out. 

Here, knowing a few basic points about how things work here will go a long way in reducing your stress and more importantly preserving your budget.

TIP: We know that finding an apartment doesn’t always come easy and to top it all off, you’re legally required to register in the city you move to within 14 days upon your arrival. If you’re struggling to find a permanent apartment consider renting a short-term fully finished apartment that will allow you to register in the city and then start on the longer-term hunt when you get here and have a bit more time to do the research. HousingAnywhere is a great resource to use for your search!


5 tips that can help you with your next move

  1.    Viewing the property and signing the lease
  2.    Arranging the deposit
  3.    Organizing phone and internet
  4.    Hiring Movers
  5.    Arrange the handover for the new place


1 – Viewing the property and signing the lease

Remember the old joke about taking everything but the kitchen sink? Well, as we all know in Germany, properties are rented unfurnished. That means literally 4 walls and nothing else, no lights, no closets, and sometimes not even a kitchen! Here are some more things you can expect when renting an apartment in Germany.

Thankfully that’s changing, and it’s now quite common for kitchens to be included… but not always. 

If you’re struggling to find a kitchen, delivery, etc. check out some shops like Höffner which sells stylish furnishing at great prices or IKEA for your classic build-it-yourself designs. You can visit them in-store and then have the kitchen delivered to your home.

But there is another issue you should be aware of, painting. The general rule of thumb is that an apartment has to be returned in the condition you rented it (I wrote a checklist for moving out too). This often means having to paint the place upon moving out. Since no one really wants to spend the money and effort painting a place you’re moving out of, I highly recommend enquiring about painting the apartment when you first move in. But if you do need to paint, you might just want to consider hiring someone

Unless the place was a new build or the landlord completely renovated between tenants, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. My experience is that people want to see the deposits returned, so they leave the property in really good condition. Of course, that’s great news for you as it means maybe just a few minor touch-ups. Just make sure it’s noted in the lease that the apartment does not need to be painted when moving out.


2 – Putting down a deposit

German landlords generally require between 2 and 3 months’ rent as a deposit. This needs to be held in a separate interest-bearing account.

A few points to note: 

  • The deposit is due only once the lease is signed
  • The amount of the deposit should be marked in the lease
  • Never pay the deposit in cash (you can set up an online bank account in Germany super quick)
  • It’s OK to transfer it to the landlord’s bank account
  • You can pay it over 3 monthly installments


3 – Organizing DSL internet and your phone plan

For DSL and landlines, the market is extremely competitive. You can use sites like Check24.de or Preisvergleich to compare providers and read reviews. Pay close attention to the length of the contract and the termination rules. The standard length is 2 years and the provider requires 3 months’ notice for cancelation. Some contracts will specify that the contract must be canceled in September or it will automatically renew for another year. Even if you move you will still have to pay.

If you’re interested, check out How to Find the Best Internet Contract in Düsseldorf and Finding the Best Cell Phone Plan in Germany for more information.


4 – Hiring Movers

In North America, moving usually means calling up a few friends and offering a case of beer and some pizza in exchange for an afternoon’s help. As expats, however, most of us probably don’t have a large network of family and friends that we can draw on. For most of us, this will usually mean looking at hiring a moving company. It’s easy to get quotes online. For example, betreut.de offers a number of options for “umzugshilfe“. There are also comparison sites like umzugspreisvergleich.de and many others.


5 – Arranging the handover appointment

This is the most important of the 5 points and the one that causes expats no end of problems. Not being familiar with how the rental market works, they meet the landlord get the keys and move in. It is extremely important that you go through the place with a fine-tooth comb making notes and any issues you see.

I also wrote a short guide Tricks and Bricks Germany Expat Guide to Renting. Here I go into more detail on how renting works and the pitfalls to avoid. It’s free and available over at The Property Guy Germany.

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