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First own apartment: checklist for first-time tenants

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You have recently moved to Germany and are looking to move into your first own apartment after staying in a hostel or hotel? Sounds good, but it means a lot of effort and costs. Read the step-by-step instructions on how to get into your own four walls as a first-time tenant.

As an Expat in Germany, you are eager to settle down and start enjoying life in Germany. The first big hurdle is accommodation. As a first-time tenant, moving into your first apartment in Germany presents a lot of challenges. Below is a look at how you as a prospective tenant can overcome a few of these challenges.

First-time tenants: Search and find a suitable apartment

Four walls of your own do not make a home for a long time. So that prospective tenants feel comfortable in their first apartment in the long term, they should think about what is important to them in terms of living before they start looking. These questions help to make the search more targeted:

1. How much apartment can I afford?

A cash drop should be the first step. Because as beautiful as the apartments look in the ads, if you can’t pay the rent, you’ll end up feeling depressed. However, if you enter your rent limit in the search criteria, you will also get suitable results. It must be remembered that it is not just about rent, additional costs and living costs must not be forgotten.

In order to find out how much money is available, income and expenses must be compared. In most cases, people move into their first own apartment when they are about to start their training or study, which is usually only associated with a very low income. Students and trainees have the opportunity to have their financial resources increased by the state – with BaföG (funding according to the Federal Training Assistance Act) or BAB (vocational training allowance). If the requirements for this are not met, you may be able to apply for housing benefit.


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By the way: Anyone under the age of 18 can usually only move out of home with the consent of their parents. Because up to the age of 18 the parents have the right to determine the place of residence and are responsible for those who wish to move out. Young people with plans to move out should therefore first try to get their parents on board with their plans – especially since going it alone could fail at the latest at the lease: This is only valid for minors if their parents also sign.

first-time tenants

2. Would you prefer to be alone or in a shared apartment?

Renting an apartment alone can be a huge financial burden. A shared apartment might be the solution. Because there, the rent for the common rooms such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room is shared. But only those who are willing to make compromises should decide to live in a shared apartment. However, if you live alone, you don’t have to consult with anyone.

3. What king of apartment should it be?

Not all apartments are the same. Anyone looking for a new apartment should know what they are looking for. Do you prefer urban or rural? With a garden or a balcony? Do you prefer the attic or the first floor? Does the bathroom have to have a window and / or a bathtub? The size, the number of rooms and the layout also play an important role. Anyone who has or would like to have a dog or cat should include this in the search in advance. It should also be clarified whether a parking space or a garage is necessary.

Apartment found: convince the landlord

If one or the other potential apartment is included in the search, prospective tenants must contact the provider – this is either the landlord himself or an administrator or broker who is looking for tenants on behalf of the landlord. The next step is usually to view the apartment. This gives them the opportunity to find out everything that interests them about the rental apartment.

When viewing the property, prospective tenants should pay close attention to the condition of the apartment – for example, whether there are scratches in the parquet, whether the door handles are defective or whether it is pulling through the window. Defects should be addressed immediately and, if necessary, recorded in writing later in the apartment handover protocol.


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Rental agreement tips: 8 tips on what tenants should pay attention to before signing a rental agreement in Germany


In addition, prospective tenants should also pay attention to whether the layout and size of the apartment suit their own needs, and whether there are circumstances that could disturb them in the long term – such as the noise of vehicles passing loudly through the walls, or that into many In the afternoon there was hardly any sun in the room. So that nothing is overlooked or forgotten with all the impressions, it is often worthwhile to bring a second person with you.

In the course of viewing the apartment, the prospective tenant is often asked questions. Some landlords also have a so-called tenant self-assessment completed. Prospective tenants are not obliged to do so. Often, however, the chances are reduced if it is not used. However, there are questions that tenants don’t have to answer honestly – such as sexual preferences or religious affiliation.

first-time tenants

Rental agreement and handover

If the landlord has decided on a prospective tenant, he can ask for a few more information, such as the financial situation. In addition to proof of salary, a credit report is often required for this. Prospective tenants are not obliged to disclose this information. In practice, however, the submission of such information usually increases the chance of the landlord accepting it. Another option to provide security for the landlord is if the parents or a bank guarantee.

Once all the formalities have been clarified and the prospective tenant and landlord have agreed, the next step is to sign the lease. The most important information in brief:

  • The amount of the rent deposit must not exceed three months’ basic rent .
  • As a rule, a notice period of three months applies .
  • The tenant only has to bear certain ancillary costs, and only if they are contractually agreed. The costs for maintenance and administration are not included.
  • Tenants only need to renovate under certain circumstances .

When the apartment is handed over, the tenant receives the keys for the apartment and should go through the apartment room by room together with the landlord. The number of keys, the meter readings (gas, water, electricity) and any defects in the apartment should be recorded in a handover report.

Organize a move

Many young tenants manage to move on their own: It doesn’t spare the muscles and costs time – but it often saves money. With just a little heavy furniture and a few helpful friends, it’s often easier to move. However, if the new place of residence is further away, or the apartment is on the fourth floor, tenants can save themselves a lot of effort with a moving company.

first-time tenants

First apartment of your own: plan the initial furnishing

Microwave, can opener, towels: you often only notice when you are in your new apartment that something is missing – precisely when you need it. It is therefore worthwhile to take an inventory before moving in. Anyone who moves in with their partner or in a shared apartment should discuss with their future roommates who will bring what and what is still missing.

A stove and a refrigerator do not make a kitchen by a long way. If you want to cook and bake properly, you need many other kitchen utensils in addition to pots and pans. If guests are also to eat, there should be enough crockery for everyone. Crockery sets are therefore usually offered for four or six people.

A certain basic equipment is also advisable in other rooms. What is actually needed, however, is very individual.

Something that should definitely not be missing in a well-stocked household is a basic set of tools. In order not to get bogged down in the hardware store, it is often worthwhile to buy tool cases that are already packed. But be careful! Look carefully what is in it so that you don’t end up paying too much.

first-time tenants

Authorities and insurance companies

When you move into your first apartment, a few important things still need to be done. One of the first steps should be to register with the residents’ registration office with the new address. This must happen within 14 days of moving in, otherwise you may be fined. For the change of registration, the tenant needs a confirmation from the landlord. 

Students or trainees in particular would like to leave their main residence with their parents for the time being. You still need to register with the new address – in this case as a second home. Depending on the municipality, a second residence tax must then also be paid.

Anyone who moves into their first apartment of their own has to deal with the subject of insurance to a certain extent. The following insurance should be taken out after moving in:

  • Private liability: Private liability insurance covers all damage caused to others. For example, damage that happens when moving, such as a scratch on the wall in the stairwell. Those who still live with their parents are also insured through them. After moving out, everyone must insure themselves. Exceptions can be apprentices and students in their initial training. Parents’ insurance can remain in place even if they have separate residences. This should be found out from the provider.
  • Contents insurance: The contents insurance covers all damage to “movable” objects in the home – furniture, electrical appliances, clothing and also cash – caused by external influences such as storms, fire or lightning strikes. As a rule, an optional glass insurance can also be taken out here. This can be useful if, for example, there is a stove with a ceramic hob in the apartment.

Tax deductible moving: Then it is possible

A move for professional reasons can be deducted from the tax. This affects the following costs:

  • double rent of up to half a year
  • Transportation costs
  • Repairs of transport damage
  • Travel expenses for looking for accommodation
  • Travel expenses on the day of the move

Those who do not move for their job do not go completely empty-handed: If craftsmen have been hired for certain work, the pure working time costs can be claimed.

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Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany
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