Expat Exchange
Berlin, Germany
Berlin, Germany
Berlin, Germany

Real Estate in Germany

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Expats and retirees talk about real estate in Germany? How do you find a home in Germany? Should you buy or rent? What is the cost of housing?

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How do I find a place to live in Germany?

Live in Germany? Answer this Question

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"Live near my wife's work, so the commute is walk-able, 1 mile, even in winter. We are on the subway line so city center is 15 minutes away. Used an online search to find it," remarked another foreigner who made the move to Munich.

"The German companies have no relocation programs. That means that you are on your own in finding a place to live. The companies that will help you for a fee are very expensive. And if you just read the newspaper (providing you speak German), you can visit the apartments yourself. But expect not be alone but surrounded by many other people at the same time - depending on the area, too, of course. In Frankfurt or Munchen more than in smaller cities. The German renting system is very different than in US. While in US there are bigger companies, which offer apartments for rent, in Germany there are many people who have an apartment for rent in the attic, for example, of their house," explained one person living in Frankfurt, Germany.

"I lived in a pension (hotel) for 6 months until I knew enough to find a nice rental," said another expat in Brandenburg an der Havel.

"I asked future co-workers who lived in the area then I visited those areas they suggested," remarked another member in Karlsruhe.

"We had our company choose an apartment for us first. We where there 1 year and where able to explore all the areas around us. After that we choose a realtor to find an apartment for us. It was expensive but we really liked the apartment and where able to choose an area closer to the friends we had made and the places we liked to frequent," explained one expat living in Frankfurt, Germany.

"Primarily, our relocation agency found this particular house for us. But, during a Look and See trip, my wife and I identified neighborhoods and towns that we liked. First, we wanted to be close to my work, and to Heidelberg (closest major city). Second, we were looking for a "small-feel" town that had a nice pedestrian zone. Third, there had to be playgrounds within walking distance. With that, our relocation agency found 7 homes in 5 different towns. We settled on this particular home because it was a single-family home versus a twin," said another person in Sandhausen.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Germany?

Live in Germany? Answer this Question

"Renting a flat. I think this is very common in Munich. 40% of the population is from outside of Bavaria or Germany. Not too many US expats. But there are a couple of US expat groups," remarked another member in Munich.

"I live in Germany for eight years, almost. I now bought a house with my partner. And I have an apartment for you as well, in the attic of my house, of course. :-) A plus, I have an apartment in the finished basement, too," explained one expat living in Frankfurt, Germany.

"4 story "American style" house. I live in Brandenburg, most of my fellow expats live in Berlin, where they have apartments in tall complexes," said another person in Brandenburg an der Havel.

"I live on the top floor of a in a three family house/apartment. Most people live in an apartment complex," added another expat who made the move to Karlsruhe.

"Single-family home, 4 bedrooms, 2 baths. The style is very typical new construction for Germany (white stucco with tiled roof). However, I believe that this is much larger than the typical relo housing, we were very fortunate. Renting a house is not common. Usually it is an apartment," explained one foreigner living in Sandhausen, Germany.

"I don't know any expats in my area. We have a single family house with a small hair salon attached to one side," said another in Hillerse.

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What is the average cost of housing in Germany?

Live in Germany? Answer this Question

If you are thinking about moving to Germany, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Lower here than the SF bay area. Cost is area dependent although Munich has the highest rents in Germany. Rents are now around 1,000 euro for a 2 room apartment (living room and bedroom) cold. You may have to install your own kitchen and lighting. Buying in our area is about 5,000 euro per quadra meter (10,75 sq. ft.) We don't have a car, rent as needed, saves 60-100 per month on garage fees," said another expat in Munich.

"Housing is much more expensive in Germany. As mentioned above, it has to do with an inefficient system like every other system in a socialist country like Germany. You name it, expect it to be inefficient or much more inefficient," remarked another member in Frankfurt.

"Lower, avg cost here in Brandenburg ~600 Euro. Avg cost in Berlin ~1000 Euro. Avg cost in San Francisco ~1700 $," explained one expat living in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany.

"The average cost of housing is 500 Euro per month for a 2 bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood which is just outside of downtown," said another person in Karlsruhe.

"Cost of living is higher. Most things are more expensive than back in the US. We waited to buy a lot of basics (clothing, toiletries, books, shoes) when we where home visiting," added another expat who made the move to Frankfurt.

"To purchase, I understand that it is very expensive in Germany. Some areas just the land can cost 1,000 per square meter (10 square feet). Which is why most people rent here. Actual ongoing costs seem to be about the same or a little less than our area at home (Philadelphia suburbs). The actual housing rent is less here (1730/month for a 4-bedroom house), but utilities seem to be about the same," explained one foreigner living in Sandhausen, Germany.

Should I buy or rent a home in Germany?

Live in Germany? Answer this Question

If you have not spent a lot of time in Germany, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"We did buy an old house in East Germany, Nordhausen, and we got very ripped off when trying to sell it. We had to practically give it away in order to get rid of it. It needed too much work and did not like the locality. It's easy to pick up a cheap house in East Germany, but then you must do a lot of work on it and as I said, selling it again is a no go," explained one person living in Eifel , Germany.

"I purchased an apartment over 20 years ago. It is not much different that the process involved in purchasing in the U.S," said another expat in Friedrichsdorf.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Berlin, Germany

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Germany GuideGermany Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Germany.

Germany Forum Germany Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Germany on our Germany forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Germany Index Germany Index
An index of all of our site's Germany information.

Contribute to Germany Network Contribute
Help others in Germany by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Germany.

Expat Healthcare Advice in GermanyHealthcare & Health Insurance in Germany

Expats in Germany offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Germany.

Best Places to Live in Germany Best Places to Live in Germany

Expats love Germany for its historic towns, festivals, Christmas markets and diversity. In this article, we cover 8 of the best places to live in Germany.

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Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Germany.

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Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Germany.

Pros Cons of Living in GermanyPros & Cons of Living in Germany

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Germany.

Cost of Living in GermanyCost of Living in Germany

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