Tips on renting an apartment or shared apartment

As international students, we can all agree that it can be challenging to find a room or apartment in Germany, particularly in large cities like Stuttgart. If you are unfamiliar with the typical process for searching for and locating a place to live, this may be considerably harder. I'll go over the general information and definitions in this article.
[Photo: Studierendenwerk Stuttgart]

Where can I look for a room or an apartment?

The first question would be how and where we may search for an apartment? The short answer and easiest way is online, where we can quickly search on a variety of websites and platforms like immobielenscout24, immonet and wg-gesucht. First two platforms are very general websites and it can be used even for buying and selling houses but wg-gesucht is generally for renting. This platform is typically the students' first choice when looking specifically for shared apartments because it provides a variety of information about shared apartments (Wohngemeinschaft or in a short form WG).

This website gives you the tailored choice for your consideration and conditions like age, speaking language, occupation, gender of the current tenants and you can choose the one that works better for you. For example some of the students want to spend most of their time with other flat mates or mix and mingle all the time and some prefer to stay in his or her room after a long day of study or work and socialize only on weekends and in some cases not they prefer not to socialize at all! Because of these things and getting to know each other, most of the time you all have meetings and you will decide if you are choosing the right WG or not.   

Campus Vaihingen

Usually students have better chances of getting room fast on the wg-gesucht website and especially WGs. Because it is cheaper than renting the whole apartment or a single apartment all on your own and you only have to furnish your own room and the rest like the kitchen and living room (if there is one) are already furnished. In WGs overall, the cost shown in advertisement is the overall cost you will pay, but in apartments, the cost shown in advertisement is cold rent (Kaltmiete). The cold rent is the rent you pay before utilities (Nebenkosten). The cold rent plus utilities (Nebenkosten) is the warm rent (Warmmiete). The Nebenkosten is the price you pay every month for utilities (hot water, central heating, trash collection, cleaning of the common areas or staircases in buildings, ...). So, the warm rent plus utilities plus electricity and internet will be the final monthly rent for an apartment.

In WGs, usually nobody asks for proof of your monthly income, but it is a common thing to ask for proof of monthly salary or income and Schufa check if you are going to rent an apartment on your own alone. Schufa is a report indicating your creditworthiness, based on your historical financial behavior. All of this means that if you are just starting your study in Germany and you do not have salary and without credit history, chances are lower for getting an apartment rather than WG. In this regard, it can be very hard if you have not still arrived in Germany.

In recent years there were plenty of reports to the mentioned websites about scammers targeting the new international students. Usually these are advertisements with a well-furnished room in a great location in the city center and surprisingly cheap rent price! Very common scam is a landlord working in England as a professor or doctor, speaks fluent English and wants from you to transfer the money to their account and they will send the key by post. Everything sounds good till now. You transfer the money and you will never receive the key! So, in order not to fall in these kinds of scams, it is always better to see the place first and have a personal meeting with the landlord or current tennant!

Short term renting upon arriving in Stuttgart

There are a couple of options for short term renting which is way cheaper than staying in a hotel. The first and best option would be sub renting a room in one of the student dorms. Usually it is not difficult to sub rent a room if you post a request in advance. The fastest way for this request is posting your request in each of the dorm’s Facebook or WhatsApp groups or writing an email to the housing department (Wohnungsreferat or Wore in short form) of each dormitory. This procedure described above is only for short term renting. For long term renting, you should register in the dorm portal and wait until they assign a room for you. 

Other options for short term renting are staying in a hostel or B&B until you find a WG or apartment. Most of them are located near the city center and some of them has student discounts as well. 

Two big differences for describing the apartments

There are two main differences about apartments for describing the apartments and these are very different from anywhere. First one is how the layout of an apartment is defined, for example a two-bedroom apartment which means it includes a kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. But, in Germany they call it room instead of bedroom and in this regard, the same apartment will be called three-room apartment (Drei Zimmer wohnung). 

The second difference is the word unfurnished (unmöbliert) which means not only there is no bed, sofa, tables but also there is no kitchen as well! Yes! All the kitchen appliances, cupboards and sink are removed by the previous tenant. You will see only a bunch of pipe outlets and cables in the kitchen when the apartment is unfurnished and buying and installing the kitchen can be costly and time consuming. In WGs you have to furnish your own room and for the university dormitories you only need to buy a mattress, blanket and a pillow! 

These were just some general tips and rules for finding an apartment or room in Stuttgart but there is an option for all international students at the International office of the Uni Stuttgart where you can get more information and support for finding an apartment or a room in one of the dorms. The International Office supports you during your arrival as well and helps you to settle in. And you can find more information about Accommodation for international students on this website.


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