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March 2, 2018

Before arrival — Finding accommodation in Berlin

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Guide for Moving to Berlin 

(Step One)


Moving to Berlin


Finding a place to stay in Berlin before arriving in Germany



You’ve decided to move to Berlin! Awesome! Now that you’ve made the decision and have planned accordingly regarding your savings and your job skills, now comes the oh-so-enjoyable task of finding a place to stay.

I would imagine that when you visited Berlin on vacation you explored the city, got a feel for some neighborhoods you really liked and some that you didn’t, or maybe you realized you prefer East Berlin to West Berlin. Either way, this information from your vacation is the best way to decide where to look for short-term accommodation and helps narrow down a daunting task. Flat hunting in Berlin is not something that can be done from outside the city so don’t even waste your time or energy attempting such an impossible feat; instead, pick one of the neighborhoods you liked and find a short-term sublet or WG there so that you have somewhere to call “home” when you first arrive. Then, once you are physically living in Berlin, then you can start the arduous, mind-numbing prospect of flat hunting in this amazing town.



Berlin


Let me share with you how I proceeded in my move to Berlin. First, once I had decided that Berlin was the town I wanted to move to permanently and attempt to create a wonderful life in, I took a look online for apartments. I quickly learned that:

A) it is HIGHLY competitive and difficult to find a place,
B) very few landlords will reply to emails, especially emails written only in English,
C) none will rent to tenants whom they haven’t met in person-which might seem like a headache but is actually a very good practice of theirs because it immediately clues you, the apartment hunter, in to the legitimate landlords and those that are out scamming money off of people.

Once I learned these facts, I changed my game-plan from finding a long term apartment before I arrived to finding a short-term place that would allow me to have 2-3 months in Berlin where I didn’t have to move every week, wasn’t too expensive, and afforded me the time and space to explore the different neighborhoods. 

I found a business in Berlin that, for a fee, will find you a short-term sublet that meets the requirements you give them and does all the hard work for you. I used exflat.exberliner.com; you contact them, agree to and sign the agreement/contract and you’re done! Well, not quite, but pretty much. They do the hard work for you so they start sending you emails with flat listings that meet your requirements and then, if you like one, they contact the person who is sub-letting the apartment you like and do all the work. For me, the decision to utilize this service for a fee made sense because A) I wasn’t physically in Berlin yet, this removed hours of searching on Facebook and other forums for sublets, B) weeded out the scammers so that I wouldn’t be defrauded out of my hard earned money.

There are other options available for short-term sublets that I personally looked into: AirBnB is a possibility (the rules and regulations regarding AirBnb in Berlin is another blog post), spotahome.com and medici-living.com. I seriously considered spotahome.com but the prices are higher for these furnished flats, whereas Exberliner flats is actually used by Berliners to list their available sublets, so you are getting an actual Berlin flat lived in by a Berliner who is going away on vacation or for a short period of time and they don’t want to leave their place empty. It’s cheaper and I felt that I wanted to use or find less luxury accommodation for my sublet in Berlin. 

Within approximately 2 weeks Exberliner had found me a suitable sublet that would allow my pets (that’s another blog post-how to move to Berlin with pets), was in a great part of town and wasn’t insanely expensive; once I agreed to the flat they found me, they put me and the landlord in touch and within another weeks’ time I had signed the contract for the sublet. I was now the proud renter of a 2-room, fully furnished sublet in Mitte for 3 months time. 

One of the many steps I needed to take in my move to Berlin was solved and finished in a 2-week time frame, which was a huge load of my mind and afforded me the breathing room to focus on the visa process and the actual packing up and moving process.

Next week I will share part two: joining the three-ring circus that is flat hunting in Berlin.


Article

Tres C is an American who’s lived and worked all over the world and who has traveled extensively. She moved to Berlin in July 2017 with her dogs; she’s excited to share her hard earned knowledge about relocating to Berlin through her writing on this blog.


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