Places to stay in Berlin for 10 weeks?
April 8, 2010 6:47 PM   Subscribe

Help! Where can I find a place to stay in Berlin for 10 weeks?

Long-time reader of MeFi, first time asker.

I'm going on a work placement/internship in Germany over the summer from July until mid-September, in Dahlewitz.
It was recommended that I seek accommodation in Berlin , except I have no idea where to start. I was specifically told to look at Lichterfelde, Lankwitz, Mariendorf, Marienfelde and Lichtenrade, but I hear transport links are good so really anywhere in Berlin would do.

I'm a student without too much money, and I'd rather not share a room with a stranger if possible for security reasons (laptop etc.). That said, I'm not at all against youth hostels or anything like that.

The trouble is, I speak very little German, so I'm finding it very difficult to navigate the good apartment-finding websites. All the websites in English that I've found are very expensive.

The company I'm going to is British-based and I've already spoken to my boss whose English is excellent, so I don't expect it to be too much of a problem whilst I'm there (as an aside, if anyone has good learning-German resources to recommend I'd be very appreciative, because I do want to make an effort).

I'm starting to panic a little, because this will be the first time I've been abroad on my own, let alone for a considerable length of time, and I haven't even found a place to live yet!

Anyway, any help anyone might have is very much appreciated. Thank you, x.
posted by mattkh to Travel & Transportation around Berlin, Germany (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
i had luck emailing the german websites ads using google translate and including my english message as well. Most people speak english and are happy to communicate.

Really, craigslist may be your best bet, though. That's where I found mine, a furnished apartmen in the Tiergarten area.

Have fun! It's a great place. I'd recommend acquiring the german rosetta stone and giving it a go.
posted by CharlesV42 at 8:01 PM on April 8, 2010

Room shares aren't very common in Germany unless you're living there as a couple; flat shares, however, are. A hostel room will likely run you more than renting a room in a flat share and be less enjoyable. And I've never heard of any security issues with flat shares.

Start looking for a room once you're here. Flat hunting in Berlin is rather painless as things go, so maybe book your first week in a hostel and use the time after work and on the weekend to look at rooms?

Craigslist isn't used that much, the German websites have much more traffic. Once you get past the ads in German and call or write people, most if not at all of them will be happy to talk to you in English.

Try, or (the latter two draw their results from the same database, so choose the one whose design you like better).

WG (Wohngemeinschaft): shared flat
Wohnungsmarkt: flat/room listings
Angebote: flats/rooms to let
Gesuch: wanted ad
Miete: rent
Nebenkosten: utilities (water, gas, electricity)
Warmmiete: rent including utilities
Kaltmiete: rent net of utilities
möbliert: furnished

For all your other needs, LEO is just about the best English-German translation tool there is.

Berlin is a spectacular city to live in as an intern. There are lots of people from all over the world here, it has a very enjoyable grittiness, it's safe and it's by far Germany's cheapest metropolis.

Public transport is (mostly) excellent and there is a regional train going to Dahlewitz from the city center in about half an hour. If you can manage that commute, try to get a room in one of the much livelier districts than the ones you were told to look at. Prenzlauer Berg or Mitte might be a bit more convenient for taking the train, Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg might be a bit cheaper and a bit more "Berlin". The Berlin Transport Authority, the BVG, has a handy door-to-door transportation search to check on commuting times.
posted by insouciant at 10:24 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a general rule of thumb, if you're looking for cheap rent, live in East Berlin. This map is fairly recent and gives you a good idea of the geographical distribution of rents in the city. Berlin has good public transit, but you'll still want to live fairly close to your job, because the city is huge.

Remember, German apartments are generally unfurnished - you will usually have to bring your own appliances and connect them to the hook-ups. You also have to pay attention to the difference between the "Kaltmiete" and the "Warmmiete" - the former is the rent you'll pay without heating costs included, so the latter is a much more accurate figure.

I wouldn't worry too much about lacking the ability to speak German - almost everyone under the age of 30 speaks great English. I speak pretty good German, but when people find out that I'm a native English speaker many of them want to switch to English. You'll pick up some basic German pretty quickly when you get there.

Good luck.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 10:38 PM on April 8, 2010

CharlesV24 is right about craigslist - the Berlin page attracts lots of English speakers, especially ex-pats. That said, insouciant is also right that the German language sites get more traffic overall, and most young people in Germany speak English. I've seen ads on in several languages, and that site does have an English option so you can navigate it (click on the little UK flag in the upper right corner). Worst case scenario, there are some pretty cheap and not-so-horrible hostels in Berlin where you could stay for a short time while you're looking for a place. For that sort of thing, I recommend
posted by phisbe at 6:01 AM on April 9, 2010

Thanks for the advice everyone, it's been really helpful.
posted by mattkh at 1:10 PM on April 9, 2010

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