This is it folks, I am now officially a resident of Berlin, Germany! After over 2 years in Paris, it was about time for me to move. Here's to a new adventure!!!
But wait a second. An international move doesn't happen with a snap! In this article, I list all the tasks I had to go through to make my move as smooth and painless as possible.
Months in advance
First, I recommend reaching out to https://www.expath.de/, they're specialized in helping people move to Germany. I used their services. They also assign you a "coach", a person who will help you once you make it to Berlin. This person is going to help you register, find an apartment, etc. They can assist over emails too.
Also, I suggest you start selling the furniture you don't want to keep as soon as possible, as it can take days or weeks for people to buy it. If you wait too long, you'll most likely end up underselling your stuff.
Weeks in advance
- Cancel your home internet subscription
- Get information about how to cancel your home insurance
- Cancel utilities subscriptions (electricity, water)
- Redirect/forward mail
Finding a short-term flat
- https://wunderflats.de - registration is almost always possible, this is the website I recommend
- https://www.airbnb.com - always ask beforehand if registration is possible
Days after moving
You must ask your temporary landlord to provide you with a document called Wohnungsgeberbestätigung. Ideally get the original document, not a scan. This is the document you'll be bringing to the Bürgeramt (police station or city hall) on the day you register, alongside your ID.
Make sure to book a slot for registration ASAP, as it usually takes weeks to get an appointment. Bring the following documents:
- Registration Form filled in (can also be found at the Bürgeramt): Anmeldung bei einer Meldebehörde
- EU ID or passport
- Mietvertrag (lease)
- Wohnungsgeberbestätigung filled out by landlord
Also note that you are required to notify the Bürgeramt when you leave (Abmelden).
Finding a long-term flat
There are two types of SCHUFAS: the one with the actual credit score (called SCHUFA BonitätsAuskunft), and the one that only states whether you have any debts or not (called SCHUFA Bonitätscheck). In most cases, the latter is enough. You can get it for 30 euros at www.immobilienscout24.de.
Regarding the actual search now, here are the most used websites:
- www.immobilienscout24.de - definitely the one I recommend most
Beware of scams on these websites, as you would do in any other country. When it's too good to be true, it's most likely a scam. Also, you should never send any private document before going to a viewing.
Speaking of which, go to viewings prepared. Bring a file with the following documents:
- A nice introduction about you with a picture. Make sure to state if you own pets, if you have children, whether you smoke or not and if you play music. Explain why you're looking for an apartment.
- Mieterselbstauskunft: find a template online and pre-fill it. Most landlords provide their own versions: in such a case, use theirs and fill it in while doing the viewing.
- Passport/ID scans
- Scan of your Anmeldung
- Scan of SCHUFA
- Copy of work contract (Arbeitsvertrag): only include relevant pages (first and last pages usually, as well as the page that says your salary -- make sure to highlight it in yellow!!! -- also if you're not on a probationary period make sure to include the page stating that
- Last three payslips (Gehaltsabrechnungen)
- Proof of timely payments to your previous landlord (Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung). A letter from them will do.
You may also be asked to send these documents digitally after the viewing.
Here you'll find additional advice about the apartment search.
Weeks after moving
Consider opening a German bank account, you might need it to get paid for example. The easiest solution remains N26 though.
Germans are known to like insurances, so much that many various ones exist. Only a few are required by law though:
- Health insurance: I was told to stick with public insurance (as opposed to private) and go with TK as they are big and English-friendly.
- Work insurances: you get them automatically as soon as you start working, no need to worry here.
- Vehicule insurance: if you own a car only.
Other optional insurances but highly recommended are:
- Liability insurance (called Haftpflichtversicherung): more info. In a nutshell, the 3 ones I saw and heard about repeatedly that are English-friendly and managed through an app are: GetSafe, Coya and PopSure. You can compare others here. Axa is apparently big and has a reputation in Germany. Same for Allianz. Anyway, a decent price is around 50 euros a year.
- Household contents insurance (called Hausratversicherung): only if you have valuable items or piece of furniture at home. It also covers bikes.
- Get a bike and read BikeInBerlin.com
- Register your bike (other link here)
- Go to flea markets or bike flea markets
- Get a monthly or yearly public transport ticket. Good to know: with a monthly (and surely a yearly one) subscription, you can bring a friend along on the weekend and on weekdays after 8pm for free.
- Read settle-in-berlin.com
- Moving? Instead of renting a truck, rent a cargo bike for free