1st STEP: Deciding for a City and the right District
Wether your future hometown is Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg or another German City. Maybe your planning to move to Germany or already decided to accept a Job in a specific City.
In whatever City your going to start your new life or staying for a project, inform yourself about each District of this City. Every Neighbourhood has it's own characteristics, pro's and con's. Not every District might be the right one.
2nd STEP: Finding a professional and trustful ProviderSurely you can also search on your own and contact several providers and landlords directly. But be aware Scams. Important: If the source / Provider is not known, trusted, verified, always view the Apartment first before signing a lease.
Maybe your new / current Employer already has contact to a trusted Housing Agency or Website. In any case, for you as as a Tenant the brokerage services of agencies, real estate agents etc. in Germany for brokering an Apartment are legally (Bestellerprinzip) free of charge so you should go for a professional Provider.
You can of course also hire a Relocation Agency to help you finding a new home. They will also (optionally) help you with e.g. finding a school for your Kids or your Visa Application among a lot of other Relocation Services. Sure their Service is not for free but since they know the local market and are on site, they save you lot of time and guesswork. Here are a some Providers by Cities: Relocation Agencies Berlin, Relocation Agencies Frankfurt, Relocation Agencies Munich, Relocation Agencies Hamburg
3rd STEP: Choosing the right Temporary HomeThere are several Types of Temporary Homes you can choose from. Depending on the period your staying in a city or if you're relocating, you can choose from Serviced Apartments, Furnished Apartments or Furnished Luxury Apartments for Corporate Housing. Furnished Apartments are best for periods of more than 3 Months and up to several years rather than renting an unfurnished Flat and bringing or buying your own furniture. For shorter periods there are short-term Serviced Apartments (some Nights to weeks) and mid-term Serviced Apartments (some weeks to months).
Having a trusted Provider who verifies all offered Apartments on site, makes it a lot easier for you and you can even rent an Apartment without vieiwing it before. If you're able to view the Apartment before, it will save you a lot of time.
If you want to have a personal look before moving-in, you maybe have colleague or friend in town who can accompany you to the showing or view the Apartment to give a second opinion or can view the Apartment on your behalf to give you a objectiv impression of it and the Surrounding.
In most cases Google Street View is also very usefull in bigger Cities but keep in mind, that the data / pictures are often already some years old. You can see the Year the Pictures were made in the Bottom of the window / map where it says "Image Capture: ...".
4th STEP: Preparing the DocumentsAfter you decided for a furnished Apartment, the Contractor most likely requires scans of your last 3 Income Statements and your ID Card or Passport. A bonus is always to have a Schufa Auskunft, a Letter from your last Landlord and a Haftpflichtversicherung (liability insurance).
5th STEP: Signing the Rental AgreementYou will most likely receive the Contract in german without any translation if you rent via a Landlord directly or most local Agencies (FARAWAYHOME provides a Translation). In the best case your Contractor uses an official form which is fair for both contractual partners. In any other case you should ask a german speaking friend, colleague or lawyer to review it.
Alwas keep in mind, that the Contract is only binding as both sides signed it. Only your Signature on it doesn't mean, that the contract is legally binding either that the Apartment is reserved for you.
6th STEP: Transferring the first Rent and DepositBefore you got your temporary home handed over, in most cases, you'll have to transfer the first month rent and 2 rents refundable deposit (3 rents is the legal maximum amount in Germany) to the Contractors Bank Account via wire transfer. You'll most likely need at least the Account Holders name, the Iban and the BIC / Swift to do the transfer.
In some cases it's also possible bringing the first rent and deposit in cash but this is not very common when renting furnished Apartments and depends on each and every Landlord.
If you're staying for a longer period it probably makes sense to get a German Bank Account. Besides the tradational Banks there are meanwhile also Banks making it a lot easier getting a german bank account e.g. N26
7th Step: Handing-over the ApartmentWhen handing over the Apartment, be sure to make a protocoll about it. In the best case with pictures, details about damages, furniture, inventory, keys you receive (Label and Amount) and the value of the electricity meter reading.
It should also contain the exact adress, floor, size, number of rooms and the name of the person handing-over the Apartment who also signs the protocoll.
At the end of the appointment, there should be 2 identical versions of the protocol. One for you and the other for the contractor.
8th Step: Register yourself at a Registration officeAfter you moved-in, you have 2 weeks (by law) to register yourself at a Citiziens office of the City. You'll need your ID Card / Passport, the Rental Agreement and the so called "Wohnungsgeberbestätigung" which the Landlord has to provide you by law (also withing 2 weeks).
If you're not moving to Germany and just staying for maximum 3 Months, you don't have to register yourself for this period.
If your staying longer than 3 Months and are not a EU Citizens or from Island, Liechtenstein or Norway, you'll also need a Residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) allowing you to stay longer than 3 Months.
9th Step: Moving-out / Handing back the ApartmentSome weeks before your lease ends, be sure to arrange an appointment for handing-back the Apartment. When handing-over the Apartment, occured damages have to be protocolled and both versions have to be signed again from both sides. Your Deposit will then be deducted of the costs for the damages & repairs and transferred back to your Account.
This might also be interesting for you:How to rent a Serviced Apartment in Germany
What is a furnished Apartment?
What is a Serviced Apartment?
What is Corporate Housing?