4 accommodation tips from internationals living in Germany

There are many different aspects you need to take care of when moving to a foreign country. Today, we would like to focus on a topic that is known to be specifically challenging in Germany – finding accommodation. There are different options a student can choose from: shared living, private apartments, student accommodations and more.

Here’s some food for thought: in Germany, most students live in shared apartments. About 20% live together with a partner and only 18% choose to live alone in a private flat*. We recommend you to weight your options carefully and get some insights before making any kind of decision.

Albert Einstein once said that the only source of knowledge is experience. Luckily, here at Fintiba, we have a lot of unique experiences to share ? All of us have faced the challenge of finding a perfect home in Germany (or Frankfurt, specifically) and all together we have gathered quite a bundle of useful tips. Below you will find interviews given by our international colleagues where they share their personal views and give honest advice to fellow internationals facing the same problem.

*Campus Barometer 2018


Zehao Dong, China

 

Can you please tell me what was the biggest challenge in finding accommodation in Germany for you?

I wasn’t able to come to Germany in person to search for a perfect accommodation. As long as I don’t have my visa, I can’t come to Germany to select an apartment or a room. I was only able to see some pictures online and I was hoping that there would be a student accommodation company providing virtual tours for internationals.

And what kind of accommodation do you prefer personally? As a student, you have options: dormitory, shared apartment or your own apartment. What did you choose?

May I give you the background of Chinese dormitories? In China you normally have 4 people sharing a room together. It is kind of crowded. When I was studying in UK, I have chosen a shared apartment where every one of us had a private bathroom. That was already quite good, but I didn’t like that it wasn’t very soundproof. So, in Germany I decided to get my own apartment with good noise cancellation. Now, I don’t hear others and what they are doing.

Is that an apartment you are renting from a private landlord or is that a student accommodation?

It’s a company that is providing student accommodation. There are a few buildings like that in the city with studios and rooms, where only students and young professionals live. They also typically have common and study rooms, gyms, etc. where you can spend your time and interact with other tenants.

And what would you say are the advantages of such accommodation type?

First of all, it is a great student community. Every month they organise events, there is a reception desk where they would always receive your mail or parcels. And what’s most important is that the rent includes all the costs: you don’t need to worry about paying your water, Wi-Fi, electricity bills, etc.

Are there any differences in the process of finding an apartment here and in China?

Here, they often ask to transfer the money in advance and that is really complicated sometimes. In China, you have to find an appropriate reason to make an international transfer because of strict financial regulations.

 What would be the advice that you give to fellow internationals coming to Germany?

First, you choose Fintiba services – no, I am not kidding – and secondly, you ask your landlord if they accept the rent deposit insurance. Once they accept it, you don’t need to transfer the money from China anymore. You transfer it once to your Blocked Account and that is it. Your landlord will then directly get a Rent Deposit Certificate.

Also, select your landlord carefully and I personally prefer companies over private landlords. If the Rent Deposit Insurance is not accepted, I want my money to be kept somewhere secure and you never know how a stranger is going to handle your money.


If you feel like student accommodation is an option for you, we recommend checking Uninest. A part of the Global Student Accommodation family, this company is a partner of ours and offers student accommodation in cities across Germany, Australia, Dubai, Ireland, Japan, Spain, and the UK. All the facilities are stylish, secure and well-located 🙂


Jorge Rebollo Santano, Spain

Jorge, how did your accommodation search process look like?

Well, I must say I went through both processes one can go through when searching for accommodation here. First, I was considering student accommodation even though I was already employed. I think it is the easiest way to find an apartment when coming to Germany from abroad. That kind of companies have English-speaking support and you can communicate with them easily. Dealing with private landlords is difficult sometimes, because not only they cannot speak English quite often, they are also not that fluent in German sometimes.

That was actually my case. Later on, I got a place that I rented from a private landlord – a young Chinese lady. And it is kind of funny, but you can find typos in the contract and communication is not that clear. Even though she is studying German, as everyone here

So the language barrier was the biggest challenge for you?

As it always is when you are moving to a new country. Specifically, I faced some problems with the contracts. Usually, they contain law terms and without a proper translation of the contract, you always have to ask around about what those points mean.

Secondly, especially in the case of Frankfurt, rent prices are very high. You must know that when you are coming to Germany, you are going to pay a lot for your flat.

Would you say the process of finding an apartment here is different from Spain?

Yes, bureaucratic procedures are exhausting. Not only before moving in but also after. You have to register and get your Anmeldung (otherwise, you won’t be able to do basic things like getting a regular bank account or register at a gym). Many people might not realize that from the beginning.

What would be the advice that you give to fellow internationals coming to Germany?

Well, I know it is tough, but you have to start looking for flats with a lot of time in advance. There is a “space issue” in the whole country and it is not easy to find a place in a short time. The best advice would be to actively search for something as soon as you start preparing your visa application.


Lavinia Stan, Romania

Lavinia, what was the biggest challenge you faced when searching for accommodation here in Germany?

The challenge is in finding an apartment at a good location and at a suitable price. If you want to live in Frankfurt and close to the city centre, you need to be prepared to pay more.

And which type of accommodation do you personally prefer?

Personally, I prefer to have an apartment to myself. I think that is a thing of age. Once you are young, you are more disposed to share your flat. But the older you are, the more you want to live on your own and have your privacy.

Would you say that the process of finding a flat here in Germany is different from Romania?

*laughs*  Yes! It is quite different. A student must be prepared to pay more than they would at their home country. And for professionals, it is like visiting a museum. You have a guide – an agent – that is giving you tours around and the queues to view available apartments are very long with a lot of participants.

So the competition is higher here?

Sometimes you would feel like you are at a job interview.

What would be the advice that you give to fellow internationals coming to Germany?

?

Try to find affordable alternatives in the surrounding city areas with good transport connections to your university/workplace.


Chris, we have already talked about the challenges of finding accommodation in Germany with many internationals working here at Fintiba. It would be, however, interesting to see a point of view that a native German has.

For International or for Germans?

So you think it differs?

Yeah. There are still many landlords around that – as bad as it might sound – would prefer Germans than internationals just because of the language barrier, history… In terms of how reliable someone is. If you’ve lived in Germany for your whole life than you are more used to how people expect you to behave in an accommodation. There might be an idea around that people from other countries are maybe not as tidy as Germans or maybe not as punctual etc.

So if we are talking about the challenges for internationals, you would say that fighting with stereotypes and actually getting the landlords to trust you would be the biggest issue?

Yeah.

As you know, there are many different accommodation types for international students here: shared apartments, dorms and etc. If you were an international student, which option would you go for?

Probably shared living of some kind. Just to get in touch with people, locals and to get a network of people in the city you are living in.

And when talking about landlord types – a private one or a company?

Preferred probably still a private landlord. Just because if there is someone who accepts you as an international student, they are probably much more open and outgoing and understanding towards you then just a standardised firm.

Do you mean that one would have less issues in the future with that landlord?

Probably, yes. They would have more understanding for you if you miss a rent payment or don’t understand something. They will be more willing to help than a company where you are just a number.

That is interesting. Now, imagine you have a unique opportunity to give one great piece of advice to internationals who want to come and live in Germany. What would you say?

? Don’t get frustrated with Germans.

As such or the ones they face when searching for an apartment?

*laughs* Both. But especially German landlords that stick to the rules that you probably won‘t understand.

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