Congratulations! You found a place to live!
Renting an apartment or a house in Germany is only the first step. Here is what you need to do now:
Sign the lease
Sign the lease with the landlord and get your copy of the lease.
Pay the deposit and the rent
Never pay the deposit or the rent before signing the lease and having the keys. Beware of scams. The rent payments start the moment you receive the keys to the apartment.
Get a confirmation from the landlord
Take over the flat
The landlord will visit the flat with you and write down the general state of the apartment in a so-called Übergabeprotokoll. Ask the landlord to write anything down that you see is broken in the apartment or needs to get fixed. You need this paper again when you move out eventually. Download an apartment handover protocol template here.
Register your address
Make an appointment to register at the Bürgeramt as soon as you sign the lease. The registration or Anmeldung can only be done in person but not every member of your household has to go necessarily. Appointments can be hard to come by and you are supposed to register the latest 14 days after you move into the flat. Please note that the law says 14 days after moving in and not 14 days after signing the lease.
Registering also means that you might have to pay church tax depending on what religion you mention during the registration process. You will get a letter to pay the TV tax of monthly 17,50 Euro for the flat. You can as well update your car registration papers while registering for the new flat.
These are the required documents for registering an address in Germany:
- Your passport or ID.
- A birth certificate might be required if this is the first time you register an address.
- Wohnungsgeberbestätigung from the landlord.
- Important if a minor child is moving into the apartment with you: a form must be filled out in case not both parents or other custodians go to the Bürgeramt appointment. The person who is not going must fill out the form 'Einverständniserklärung des Sorgeberechtigten' (PDF). Bring the passport or a copy of the person who is not going.
- Rather bring more documents and copies of any documents which might be helpful.
Move into your new apartment
*Compare prices of moving companies if you don't want to schleppen (carry) all the stuff yourself.
House rules in Germany
Inform yourself about the house rules.
- Learn how to separate the trash properly. Paper, plastic, organic, glass and unsorted trash all go into different garbage cans.
- Inform yourself about resting times when it is not allowed to make noises. This is often in the house rules (Hausordnung) as part of the contract. Usually, resting hours are between 10 pm and 7 am and on Sundays and public holidays.
- Only leave cars, bikes, and strollers in designated parts. Strollers can often be inside the main hall whereas bicycles are usually not accepted inside the house.
Don't wait too long to sign up with an internet provider as they might take some time to put the internet line in place. We reviewed the best internet providers in Germany for you.
Change your electricity supplier
This can probably wait a week or two but at some point, you want to sign up with an environmentally friendly electricity supplier. Electricity is working even if you haven't signed up with an electricity supplier but you may want to change to cheaper or cleaner energy.
Enter your address *here to compare electricity plans.
Online furniture stores in Germany
Wayfair has improved its service a lot after initial bad customer reports. They send me the wrong furniture once but their customer service fixed this in a very short time. Also returning furniture wasn't an issue.
We do not recommend www.home24.de for furniture as the author of this article as well as one of my co-workers once ordered furniture with them and we both had to wait several weeks until the shipment arrived. I also had very bad experiences with their customer service when a shipment was damaged. Their ratings have been approved since then however source.
Ikea has stores in many cities in Germany. This is the Ikea Germany website. I heard some good things about their equipped kitchens.
Hire craftsmen online
Get a bank account
There is no way around a checking account to pay the rent in Germany, a so-called Girokonto. Read how to get a checking account in Germany or go directly to the article with our bank and checking account recommendations.
Get liability insurance
Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) protects you from damage claims in cases like the washing machine leaking into the apartment below or a plant pot falling down the balcony and is generally recommended to have. It's not expensive either: plans start from 43.- Euro per year. Most Germans have personal liability insurance.