Looking for an apartment in Berlin? Finding an apartment in Berlin is relatively easy and still cheap by North American or Western European standards. For now, real estate in Berlin is a buyer’s market and for historical reasons the demographics of Berlin have not kept up with the enormous housing stock available since the boom times of the early 20th century, meaning there are still deals to be had. Just remember, change is constant and rapid in Berlin, and generally that means prices are rising everywhere, especially for renovated properties.
As in the US, Craigslist is always a good choice to find deals, but be extra careful investigating the seller and the property. Another place to check is the forums of Toytown Germany, which are frequented by the legions of expats in Berlin. Also, like most cities, there are specialized Facebook groups for people seeking or letting accommodation.
Subletting (which is usually legal), moving in with someone else, or taking a place in a WG, are all, from a bureaucratic standpoint, less of a hassle. If you are renting your own apartment you may need the following documents: a passport copy, a document confirming your income, a background check from SCHUFA, a bank statement, pay slips, a letter from your current landlord, and possibly your work contract.
A Wohngemeinschaft or WG (pronounced vay-gay in German) is a shared flat arrangement. They come in many forms but you will probably have your own room and shared common areas, possibly a shared bathroom. The great advantage of this setup are that you immediately have a social group upon moving to Berlin; the disadvantage is that you might not get along with that social group. However, at least you’ll be saving money! WGs are nearly always cheaper than comparable apartments in the same areas. They are especially popular among students and young people. A good place to find a Wohngemeinschaft or a Mitbewohner (roommates) is WG Gesucht. NB: If you want to share a flat with a group of Germans, they may have a lengthy “application” process waiting for you that might involve multiple interviews and competition between dozens of interested “candidates” before they decide on the best roommate for their clique. Be forewarned this is common practice (some tips here).
For a general overview of prices by area (as of 2015) you may want to refer to this Rent-Map of Berlin, which is overlaid on the public transport map.
In Kreuzberg a studio apartment could run you about 4-600 euro per month, while a WG would only be 300 euro. In Neukölln flats are cheaper still, with studios for about 3-500 euro a month and WGs around 250. The studios are generally quite large if they are in an old building, but may be in vastly differing states of repair, even within the same price range, so it pays to look around.
In Prenzlauer Berg prices are higher. Here a studio should set you back approximately 700 euro a month while a WG should be about 400.
Schöneberg is known for being the old cool part of West Berlin and is quieter than its eastern neighbor Kreuzberg. This is also a popular spot for young people with affordable rents: generally around 400-500 euro for a studio apartment per month or 325 for a flat in a WG.