There is no right or wrong way to navigate the real estate market in Berlin, or any real estate market for that matter. That is why people often use trusted property managers, especially if they don’t know the area very well. It is too shallow for much of a swim, and chants ‘show me the money’ to lure tenants. Here’s my account of apartment hunting in Berlin – short term, furnished, and ready to live in. Granted, I knew that whatever I ended up with was not going to be anything as impressive as luxury apartments like those at https://arqatcumulus.com/ in LA, but it didn’t need to be. I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever.
I had lived in Berlin for a year, so I knew what areas were good for us and which were a no-go. There is also a grey area in between, also known as back up options. So if you are moving to Berlin, get acquainted with different districts before you start apartment hunting. The good news is that as it is a (relatively) big city, Mitte is not the be all end all of social life. Most districts have their own personality and entertainment options; in fact, many locals and residents avoid Mitte as it is tourist-infested for major part of the year.
Now, let’s talk about finding the right place for you. We planned on renting a furnished space for 3 to 6 months, while storing our own stuff in one of the many storage facilities in the city. We couldn’t help but think of the 19 Dutch apartments (https://www.19dutch.com/) and similar apartments for rent back in the US, which we knew very well. However, we were realistic in the sense that we knew we couldn’t set our sights that high. Ultimately, we were keen to avoid missing payments and being handed a late rent notice, so we knew we couldn’t afford anywhere too expensive. I asked around and did my own research as well, to arrive at the following three legit, competitively priced and well-stocked websites.
Among all the online home booking platforms, Airbnb probably has the biggest inventory of properties. You can rent a shared room, room for yourself, apartment or a house. Also, there are options from within city centre, all the way to Berlin’s suburbs. We had booked many a homes through Airbnb during our travels, and that was our first choice.
My bone with Airbnb was the price. I realised that it is perfect for short-term rentals but long term? Not really. The service fee increases with the duration of stay, and it isn’t the most cost-effective option.
Founded in 2014, Wunderflats is one of the credible portals to rent homes from short to long term in Berlin. As it is relatively new, the inventory is rather limited. The pricing is better for long term rentals, though the deposit can be a problem if you are planning to take on a place for only three months. We liked an apartment on Wunderflats, and realised while booking that the deposit was equivalent to almost two and a half month’s rent. It is a standard policy, so whether it’s three months or twelve, deposit remains the same.
While I understand this, I didn’t want to tie up that sort of cash, considering my deposit from current apartment will come through in a couple of weeks and I would need to pay up for the apartment we will rent after the interim (three-month rental) arrangement is over.
This portal is very similar to Wunderflats, spare for two differences – more options, and we found our apartment on this site. The deposit was manageable and the flat is still in the ring. So, done and done. Required documents included job contract, salary slips, bank accounts and ID card copies. Booking process is painless and everything is done, from booking request to approval, documents’ submission, payment transfer and confirmation, within 48 hours.
To conclude, any of the above websites can work for you to get an apartment in Berlin. It all comes down to how much are you willing to shell out, the season and your lucky stars. Also, there are plenty of fraudulent portals and hoax listings, so please be aware and thorough before making any money transfers.
P.S please note that I have not seen my apartment yet, so I will post an update here in the second week of August. Fingers crossed.