Tips for Finding a WG in Berlin
We’ve all heard the story of that one friend who found their dream WG in Berlin after a week. Wait no, he was offered it before he even moved there. He doesn’t even pay rent, they’re paying him!
For most of us though, finding somewhere in Germany’s capital to call home requires as much work as it does waiting for good luck to strike. Sadly, it can be an arduous, relentless and relatively thankless task. For every person who reads that description and disagrees, I can bet there are fifty who are nodding their heads and drying their eyes. I could go so far as to say finding a room in Berlin is harder than learning German…
But all is not lost!
While it may feel impossible that you’ll ever find yourself housed and Anmeldung-ed in Berlin, it isn’t. Here is our advice on how to find a Wohnungsgemeinschaft as soon as possible.
Know the city
First off, know which areas you want to look in. Berlin’s a big place, with new rooms or flats becoming available daily. You don’t want to spend a hot day on the ring and a replacement bus service only to find the Berlin WG that rejected you wasn’t in an area you fancied anyway. As with any city, consider factors such as where you work or study, where your friends live, how prices vary with location and the kind of areas you like.
Average shared flat price structure in Berlin (all inclusive, in German “Warmmiete”):
Mitte: 450 Euro
Kreuzberg: 370 Euro
Prenzlauer Berg: 400 Euro
Neukölln: 360 Euro
Tempelhof: 320 Euro
Pankow: 300 Euro
Spandau: 280 Euro
Websites to search for a WG
Once you know your budget, preferred locations and your deal breakers, it’s time to start looking. Make sure you check regularly and message quickly, as rooms go fast.
The most popular website to use for finding a WG is WG-Gesucht. With its orange banner and relentless adverts, it’s not the most user friendly website. That said, it’s probably where you’re going to find the most options.
Your next move should be joining groups on facebook. Groups such as Berlin: WG-Zimmer und Wohnung frei, Zimmer in Berlin and Berlin Wg Zimmer are all good places to find available rooms. Adds go down as quickly as they go up, so be sure to check every day.
Understanding apartment ads
How to create a WG profile
For websites that offer you the option to create a profile, make sure you do. People are much more likely to reply to messages from people with profiles that include pictures and a little about themselves. A handful of pictures and a few sentences that convey all the reasons why you’d make a Top Flatmate will do wonders for increasing the number of replies you’ll receive.
How to reply to adverts
Firstly, make sure you read WG adverts properly! If they say you have to be able to speak German, need a schufa or can’t register at their address and these things don’t work for you, you waste their time and yours by messaging.
The best way to optimise your time when flat-hunting is to draft a generic reply that you can easily edit to fit the criteria of whatever advert you’re replying to. When you apply to an advert directly, make sure you personalise the message you send. People often include strange questions at the end of their adverts for you to answer, to make sure you’ve read the entire thing (so when you’re scanning through, at least focus on the first and last paragraphs if you don’t have time to read the whole thing!)
Like with your profile introduction, keep your replies fairly short. Something easy to scan, hit those key features.
Often, flat castings can involve lots of other prospective roommates visiting the room at the same time as you. Don’t be surprised if you show up to find a small cluster of nervous looking people outside the building. In an attempt to clinch the deal, people sometimes bring beer or wine as a gift.
Be prepared to answer lots of questions! Aside from obvious things like where you’re from, whether you speak German, what you’re doing in Berlin, have answers prepared for questions about cleaning rotas, what you’re looking for in a shared flat dynamic and what you do in your spare time, what your diet is like, what kind of sports you take part in.
Don’t fall for a scam
Occasionally you’ll receive a message asking you to give a deposit without having seen the flat. Often the people claiming to have a free room available will say they’re out of the country by way of an explanation as to why you cannot view it. They will promise to send you a key in the mail. Don’t fall for it! It goes without saying that you should never put down a deposit on a room you haven’t seen, but sometimes logical thinking can give way to desperation. Don’t despair! You will find a better offer than this.
While there are no sure-fire solutions to getting the perfect room quickly, you can save time by dedicating a certain amount of time each day to looking, knowing where you want to live and what your budget is, tailoring your advert responses to whoever you’re sending them to and having answers to typical housemate questions prepared. Viel Glück!
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