It seems that almost everyone who comes to live in Munich has their own story to tell - the nightmare of finding somewhere to live. It is such a brilliant city, and people cannot wait to immerse themselves in the culture and social life, but nothing can really happen until the keys to that oh-so-hard-to-find apartment are in the bag.
So, just how do you go about finding an apartment, and what tips should be borne in mind?
First things first - you will need a little patience, as well as to realise that finding a place in Munich is going to be one of the most expensive rental experiences of your life. Demand FAR outstrips supply, and if you think you can rock up in the city and find a place in a couple of days, you are very likely going to be very unpleasantly surprised. That said, apartment hunting from distance is also problematic, due to the sheer speed at which apartments disappear off the market.
For such a painful process that hundreds of thousands of renters have gone through, I was surprised at how few experiences had made it onto the web, but one of the few that did is a hilarious and very realistic portrayal of the daily frustration of The Search is by Alex Butts on her excellent Speaking Denglish blog.
Where to start?
So, where to start? Well, it is probably best to start by managing your own expectations, both in terms of budget and apartment size. One will be higher than normal, the other smaller... Other basic considerations to think about include are you looking for furnished or unfurnished, and are you willing to live in shared accommodation? Maybe you hadn't been planning on that, but here are some guide prices (please note these are for unfurnished places, furnished can be as much as double, and prices for both are only going one way, so these should be a guide only - unfurnished can also mean without a kitchen):
Apartments in Munich typically cost €12 to €16 rent per square meter per month.
One room apartment, 30m2: €300 to €500
Two room apartment, 50m2: €600 to €900
Four room apartment, 100m2: €1,200 to €2,000
The most expensive districts are Lehel, Schwabing, Neuhausen, Isavorstadt, Maxvorstadt, Glockenbachviertel, Haidhausen and Altstadt. Still reasonably central but less expensive are Giesing, Sendling, Thalkirchen, Freimann, Bogenhausen, Laim, Gern, Milbertshofen, Berg am Laim and Moosach.
Of course, with prices so high, living in the centre is not always an option, and many people find their search takes them into the suburbs. With Munich's excellent transport system, access to an U or S-Bahn station will get you into town quickly, and the prices do go down. Even from S-Bahn stations, the integrated bus network is quite extensive, and the more bus stops you are from the S-Bahn, one can usually see in the rental price.
More affordable areas a little further out worth considering include Neuperlach, Haar, Trudering, Harlaching, Forstenried, Obermenzing and Pasing. Mountain and ski lovers tend to prefer the southern suburbs - close to the motorway and less than an hour from the slopes.
The type of renter obviously varies, from the student to the company relocation, and companies usually provide some assistance on the relocation. Check out relocation services such as Munich Relocation, Home Company and Elisabeth Sommer for an indication of services offered.
People often complain that apartments advertised online or in classifieds have already gone by the time they enquire. The Munich market is HOT, so you have to be quick, and if you take the attitude that this is almost like a full-time job for a short time, it will help. There are several real estate agents out there whose websites show the selection currently available, but many - particularly students - try and avoid their fees, which can be a month's rent or more. Add to this the price of the actual rent and the requirement to have a large deposit (often 2-3 months rent) as a bond for the apartment, and the financial implications become apparent.
Useful services for finding apartments include:
- WG-Gesucht which is helpfully also in English. WG is short for Wohngemeinschaft, or shared accommodation.
- The Friday edition of the main regional newspaper, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which has a useful classifieds section. One suggestion for being proactive is to place an ad (cost about €11) in this paper, looking for an apartment. The sheer volume of calls a renter will receive if advertising an apartment for rent may make this a more preferable option for finding a tenant for some.
- Kurz & Fündig, both online and in printed editions - the classified ads paper comes out on Tuesdays and Fridays. The paper costs €2, and there is a premium number to call to get the owner details on the online version.
- The Goethe Institut in Sonnenstrasse has an active advertising board on the second floor, which people have commented on its usefulness and good selection.
- Large real estate websites such as Immobilienscout24, 1a-Immobilienmarkt, Toytown Germany and Mr. Lodge.
- Facebook groups such as Munich International Friends, where people often post new room availability - but be quick!
For such a tech savvy city, it is perhaps somewhat ironic that often the best way to find a place is by one of the oldest means of all - good old fashioned word of mouth. With things moving so quickly, it pays to have as many people as possible keeping their ears to the ground for you. Don't be shy about this - most people in Munich have some experience of what you are about to go through, and the conversation topic of apartment search is a popular one in the city.
If you are moving to the city, it is advised to do your searching from Munich if at all possible, which might necessitate budgeting a couple of weeks or so in a hostel or similar accommodation.
Stories about mass viewings at an apartment are common, and if you expect your viewing of an apartment to be a personal experience, get prepared to meet the competition! There are a LOT of people out there looking for that elusive home, just like you. Check with the person doing the viewing (owner of agent) when arranging the viewing, so that you are at least prepared. Wanted Adventure has some excellent advice for preparing for the viewing in this video or her experience:
As she says, simple things like dressing well are important. With so many people looking, first impressions can count for a lot. And as she also says, in many cases, apartment owners will want to know more about their tenants, and being asked to provide information about yourself and have an interview is not uncommon. Prepare this information in advance to make a better impression.
Success! What Next?
You have finally found an apartment in Munich, and you can start getting your life back and discovering the joys of this magical city. You will of course, be expected to sign a contract, as well as paying a Kaution, or deposit, which can be up to three months of the rent. Before signing the contract, it is important to note and agree with the owner any obvious damage to the apartment prior to your moving in, so that you do not get charged for them when you leave.
Finding an apartment in Munich can be a very stressful and time-consuming experience, but with perserverance you will find your home, and then the Munich experience proper can begin.