Berlin is not only the cultural and political capital of Germany but it’s also become one of the European Union’s most popular tourist destinations and a central hub for creatives, as well as the vegan capital of Europe. So, as you can imagine, finding unfurnished apartments for rent in Berlin aren’t the easiest of endeavors, but as far as European capitals or large European cities go, it is still somewhat affordable, and rental prices are more than fair — so that part is good news. Plus, it’s relatively straightforward to obtain a residence permit. Are you on the hunt for an unfurnished apartment? I’ve gathered a few tools to help you navigate the property market.
Due to the popularity of the city and the abundance of people who decide to call it their new home every year, finding unfurnished apartments for rent in Berlin can be more complicated than you may think — especially if you’re new to the area and have a specific idea of what your dream apartment should look like (it may not be the case that you’ll find a sunny balcony with ceiling windows, for example). The Berlin housing market is a bit… complicated. With that said, it’s by no means impossible but will require a long time and patience (generally between two weeks and six months), and as someone who has been living in Berlin for quite some time now and has found her dream flat (it took me six months, don’t despair!), I’m here to help — but do lower your expectations a bit 🙂 For example, my flat does have plenty of charm and plenty of natural light, and is within walking distance to many amenities, but it doesn’t have a balcony, spacious rooms, or hardwood floors, it’s on the ground floor (I was dreaming of at least a 4th floor and some views over the river Spree…), and the main bedroom is in fact… the only room. Let’s call it a spacious 1-bedroom apartment? You take some, you leave some, it is still a perfect apartment and a unique place.
Finding Berlin Apartments for Rent
Which Neighbourhood and What Type of Apartment?
Sounds like the most obvious advice in the world, doesn’t it? But in reality, neighborhood research is essential before setting out on your “unfurnished apartments Berlin” hunt to find your new place, as each area has unique offerings in regards to culture, aesthetics, and things to do. Your choice of the neighborhood will, of course, depend on your budget as well as your interests. Might be a good idea to come and spend a weekend in Berlin first to soak it all in and decide what area you like best.
For example, Prenzlauer Berg and Berlin Mitte are seemingly a popular option as they what could be considered the city centre and contain many of the city’s best tourist attractions and a throng of fabulous flea market, but this also makes it more expensive, and I personally dislike it, I find it Boojee AF. I also don’t think that proximity to Museum Island or Hackescher Markt is a perk. Another popular neighborhood is Friedrichshain, a hot spot for partygoers and anyone who appreciates a good night out, which I don’t, but I love Friedrichshain, and it’s where I live. So it’s kinda tricky. You should really come to spend some time here and get a vibe of each neighborhood. Here is a quick guide to Berlin’s neighbourhoods.
Once you first thing have an idea of the neighborhood you want to live in, or at least narrowed down a few, you can begin to look for unfurnished apartments in Berlin that suit your needs. For example, you may be working with a tighter budget and require a shared apartment in Berlin, called ‘WG’ (pronounced vay-gay), or looking for a place of your own. Once you establish this, you will have a more specific idea about what to look for and where to look. Fortunately, the internet is somewhat of a deep rabbit hole when it comes to sites dedicated to renting and purchasing apartments in Berlin.
Where to Look for Berlin Apartments for Rent – the best websites
Before you begin to roam the abundance of websites that may just reveal the beautiful new pad with high ceilings in an old building you’ve been looking for (and be aware, an unfurnished 3-bedroom apartment is more or less what everyone is looking for) — if you already have an apartment in Berlin and are looking to move, your Hausverwaltung is a good starting point. They will likely have other properties to rent, and if you have been a wonderful tenant, they will trust you and may even give you a good deal when it comes to renting. Failing that, here is a list of websites, estate agent sites, and groups that are worth a look at to help you find the rental contract of your dream.
- eBay Kleinanzeigen – The most popular German classified ads site for unfurnished flats. But when I say unfurnished… In some cases there may not even be a kitchen sink (just to manage expectations…)
- ImmobilienScout24 – Germany’s biggest apartment listing site. That’s where I found my perfect place of an amazing apartment (sorry!)
Housing Companies / Real Estate
- Charlottenburger Baugenossenschaft
- Deutsche Wohnen
- Stadt und Land
- WG Merkur
Short-Term Rental and Furnished Apartments
These are definitely on the pricier side but they are convenient and could be perfect for your first month if you are arriving in Berlin in a rush and need to show rental contracts for whatever reason. On a similar note, do look into having health insurance for the first few months when you arrive in Berlin — they are pretty serious about this stuff here. Most prices here are warm rent (meaning everything is included).
- exBerliner – English-speaking accommodation service offering both furnished and unfurnished apartments for rent in Berlin already equipped with high speed internet
- Berlinovo – Furnished apartments, many with spacious living and beautiful wooden floors
- Nestpick – Furnished apartments
- Wunderflats – A good bet for a quick quiet apartment with dining area and double bed
- coming home – Furnished apartments with curated furniture, central heating, and sometimes a lovely balcony as a perk
- TheHomeLike – Furnished apartments
- Crocodilian – Furnished apartments, some with a fashionable open-plan kitchen and large windows, many in the heart of Berlin
- FarAwayHome – Furnished and serviced apartments with new kitchen. Who doesn’t want weekly apartment cleaning? 😉
- Spotahome – Medium and long term furnished apartments
- GoLiving – Furnished apartments. Everything included but very expensive. Ideal for young professionals in a bit of a rush. Many of those will have great modern appliances
WGs, Flat-Sharing and Roommates
These are great for finding temporary apartments and also cheaper apartments than if you were the sole tenant — perfect for student accommodation. It’s also a great place to find a new tenant for your own flatshare! Always pay close attention to the square meters (there are MANY shoeboxes out there), who the current tenant is, and if there is a shared living room (many WGs don’t have one).
- WG-Gesucht – The most well-known German roommate and student housing search website. Very competitive!
- WG Suche
- WG-Zimmer & Wohnungen Berlin – Facebook group, 160,000+ members
- Zimmer in Berlin, Zwischenmiete – Facebook group with 25,000+ members
- Find room/roommate in Berlin – Facebook group with 2900+ members
- Berlin Wg Zimmer Wohnung Room Flat Available Apartment for Rent -Facebook group with 87,000+ members
- Flats in Berlin – Facebook group with 85,000+ members
- Queer housing Berlin – Facebook group with 6000+ members
- Vegane WGs Berlin – Facebook group with 2500+ members for flat shares
Don’t Forget Social Media
I know I have already mentioned a few Facebook groups above, but you should always keep your other social media channels in mind if you’re looking for Berlin apartments for rent. If you are struggling to find an apartment that suits your needs (ie. many don’t have a washing machine outlet, what the ahhhhh) or budget, or are in a bit of a pinch and need a short-term place to stay — your social media pals can often come in handy. Of course, this will only be successful if you already have friends in Berlin or have friends who have friends in the German capital.
By posting a status saying that you’re looking for an apartment, studio apartment, or shared accommodation in the city, you’ll be surprised how often people can come to the rescue by either responding directly or tagging other friends in the comments section. Either way, you have nothing to lose!
How Much Rent Should You Pay for Berlin Apartments?
Now let’s get down to it, the big bank account question, how much will it cost you to rent Berlin unfurnished apartments for rent long term? This map made by ImmobilienScout in 2017, shows the average price of renting apartments depending on the location along the U Bahn and S Bahn lines. It provides you with an average price of a thirty-year-old 70m2 apartment, without utilities (called kalt-miete, “cold rent”). But that was three years ago, so for 2020, you can multiply these amounts by 1.5 to give you a more accurate idea of modern prices. Whether the flat is in an old or a new building, located close to the city center and easy access to public transport will greatly impact the price too.
Also, the “Mietspiegel” (Rent mirror), a database run by the city, is a brilliant tool for keeping track of prices across Berlin’s districts. All you have to do is enter your street to check the rent prices.
Live Within Your Means
Okay, this isn’t exactly a Berlin-specific tip, but when you move here, you’ll soon find that it’s essential to live within your means until you get the lay of the land. It’s not uncommon for people to move to a new city and seek out the coolest and most unique apartment possible, but in doing so, you will also sacrifice a lot of your budget. Berlin isn’t the most expensive city in the world, but it’s most definitely not the cheapest. My advice would be to find a place that suits your needs and budget, and from there you can make it a home. Berlin has so much to offer outside of your four walls, so it would be a shame if you have no time to see it because you work long hours to cover the cost of your expensive rent.
As long as you have everything you need, and the place you come home to every day isn’t a dump, then in my book that’s a win. It may take you a little while to find an apartment in Berlin you’re happy with, but I can say from experience — it’s worth the wait!
Are you moving to Berlin soon or have a city break planned in the near future? I have plenty of posts and guides to help you find your way around when you arrive!