As there is a shortage of housing in Germany, accommodation is often expensive, at least in many larger towns and cies. You often may have to spend 40% of your monthly salary/fellowship on rent. This is particularly true for the kind of accommodation visiting researchers usually require: furnished or at least partly furnished, readily available and on a short lease. The relationship between supply and demand, particularly in towns where there are large numbers of students, fluxuates radically during the course of the year. At the beginning of the semester, the demand for accommodation is particularly high.
We urgently recommend you to start looking for accommodation for yourself and your family in Germany as soon as possible; preferably several months before you begin your stay.
Some universities have guesthouses for international visiting researchers. As there is huge demand for accommodation in these guesthouses, you should make enquires at the earliest opportunity.
If you want to search for accommodation privately, you can consult the following websites among others:
It is worth reading the advertisements in the local newspaper and checking the notice boards at your university for offers. You can also post your own advertisement on the websites mentioned above, for example, or in local newspapers and on notice boards. Furthermore, you can enlist the help of an real estate agency to find accommodation. Please note that from 1 June 2015, the real estate agent’s commission must be paid by apartment seekers only if they engaged the agent themselves. Otherwise, the real estate agent's services have to be paid by the landlord. A list of estate agents at your place of residence can be found in the Gelbe Seiten (Yellow Pages) (enter 'Immobilienmakler' and the name of the town).
Please note that sometimes people unfortunately use accomodation platforms to try to trick people out of money, so make sure to read advertisements carefully and use a bit of caution, especially in cases where requests for advance payments are made.
List of abbreviations for accommodation search
If you want to search for accommodation in Germany privately you will discover that advertisements contain a lot of abbreviations. A list of abbreviations is available here.
Everyone who becomes resident in Germany is required to register their address with the authorities. It is also a requirement to register a new address following a move within Germany and to deregister at the registration office (Meldeamt) as a resident when leaving the country.
Everyone is required to register their first or new address within two weeks of moving into a new flat. It is not possible to register your address in advance (as stated in section 17 of the Bundesmeldegesetz (Federal Registration Act)).
Every village, town and city has at least one registration office responsible for registrations. It is important to know which office is or which offices are responsible for your place of residence and register there.
Many registration offices require an appointment for address registration. For this reason it is advisable to look into which registration office will be responsible for your new place of residence in good time and find out if you require an appointment and, if so, to register for one. Especially in larger cities, it is often only possible to sign up for an appointment several weeks in the future. Generally in these cases, the date you signed up for an appointment and not the day of the appointment itself will be considered when checking to see if you registered your address on time. If you still miss the required deadline to register your address, you may be required to pay a fine.
A list of all registration offices can be found on this website.
The registration office responsible for your place of residence can inform you about the exact documents you require for your registration.
One document that is required at every address registration is called the “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung”, or landlord confirmation.
The Wohnungsgeberbestätigung confirms that you have moved into a new flat and on which day you moved in.
This document is generally completed by the person letting the accommodation. This means that often the document will be completed by the landlord, but in cases of subletting, the document is often completed by the person subletting the accommodation to you.
It is not always possible to receive this confirmation for short stays in temporary or holiday accommodation such as hotels or holiday lets as these are subject to a special type of registration requirement for temporary accommodation (described in section 29 of the Bundesmeldegesetz (Federal Registration Act)). This type of accommodation are generally not required to issue this landlord confirmation when the stay is shorter period than the maximum stay listed as exemptions to registrations requirement (section 27 of the Bundesmeldegesetz (Federal Registration Act)).
If you are uncertain, contact the registration office responsible for your place residence and they will be able to help you further.
It is important to know, especially for short stays, that there are exemptions to the registration requirement. For mobile researchers, two exemptions are prevalent.
If you continue to reside abroad and are staying in Germany for less than three months, you are exempted from the registration requirement (section 27, paragraph 2 of the Bundesmeldegesetz (Federal Registration Act)).
If you are already registered in Germany and staying temporarily in another city, for example in order to spend time at a different research institute, you are exempted from the registration requirement for stays of six months or less (section 27, paragraph 2 of the Bundesmeldegesetz (Federal Registration Act)).
If you are uncertain whether you might be exempt from the registration requirement, you can contact the registration office responsible for your place of residence. They will then be able to inform you about your individual case.
If you are moving to a new city, you do not need to de-register with the city you are leaving. When registering your new address in your new city, the city where you were previously resident will be informed about your move.
An exemption to this rule is when you want to permanently move away from Germany. Information about this can be found under Departure conditions/Formalities.