3 Jun

My inbox has been getting ever fuller with questions, I will answer each and every one of them personally but as lot have the same themes running through them, I thought I’d write a quick FAQ to cover the basics

Where should I live? Should I live here or here?
I understand, I really do, it’s hard to decide to live somewhere that perhaps you’ve never even visited before, BUT choosing a home in Germany isn’t that different to choosing a home anywhere. Look out for commuting times to work, check the city’s website (google translate is a wonderful thing), local amenities (google maps is very useful), what are your essentials in a place to live? Google, google, google. And if you end up somewhere that really doesn’t suit you and you can’t possibly stand it you can always move.

Good sites to check out are Stadt Erlangen, Erlangen Tourism, Stadt Nürnberg, Nürnberg Tourism, Stadt Herzogenaurach.

How do I find a house/flat?
To start with check your vocab
Mieten – To rent
Kaufen – To buy
Wohnung – Apartment/flat
Haus – House
Möbliert – Furnished
EBK – Einbauküche – Fitted kitchen – Just a warning here that not all German properties come with a kitchen, it’s one of those amusing little Germanisms! If there is a kitchen in the property you might be expected to buy it from the tenant who is moving out, check this with your estate agent.
Kaltmiete – Cold rent – This is the monthly rent, it excludes any other bills such as electricity and gas etc.
Nebenkosten – Additional costs including water, gas, electric etc. These will be estimated on the advert for the property, depending on how many more or less people you have living there and how you use the services these can vary vastly.
Warmmiete – Warm rent – Cold rent plus additional costs, this is usually a better indication of the price you will actually end up paying including bills.
FYI Internet, phone, satellite etc are not usually included in the Nebenkosten.
Zimmer – Room/s – German properties are advertised by how many rooms they have NOT by how many bedrooms they have. The bathroom, toilet and kitchen (or balcony) are not counted in this room count but the living, dining, bedrooms and study are.
Stellplatz – Parking space – This is usually an extra fee on top of your rent, if you don’t need the space (and it’s ‘included’ with the flat) you can rent it out.
Kaution – Deposit – This will go into a special bank account in your name, the savings book is handed over to the landlord for the duration of the tenancy.
Provision – Agents fee, here in Germany the renter generally pays the agents fees on the plus side of you see Provisionsfrei – No agents fees at all!

My favourite sites for property searching
Immowelt, Immoscout24, ImmonetNull-Provision (no agents fees)
Wohnref, I haven’t personally used them but in addition to the regular rental apartments they do also offer short term furnished accomodation, this can be hard to find around here.
WG-Gesucht, (WG – Wohngemeinschaft – flatshare) since Erlangen is a student city there are plenty of rooms for rent out there, the prices are competitive and shorter rental periods are acceptable.

Most estate agents will speak at least a little English, this is a very international area after all but do try to at least have your ‘must haves’ translated, just to save time.

If you are already in Germany, make use of your friends and neighbours, get it out there that you are looking, put a notice on your work bulletin board, in the paper or go old school and put a notice up at the supermarket.

Can I stay with you until I find somewhere to live? No

Do I need a car in Germany?
Well yes and no, I’ve known some people who just couldn’t live without a car for 8 months (but luckily the resale prices here are pretty good so they didn’t lose any money) and others who have lived here quite happily for 10 years plus without a car. Cars are incredibly useful for big shopping, holidays and hauling furniture. If you don’t mind breaking up your big shopping and buying panniers and a trailer, maybe you don’t need a car. If you take only exotic vacations in far flung countries which you can’t drive to, maybe you don’t need a car. And if you don’t mind renting/borrowing a van/car occasionally to shift furniture, maybe you don’t need a car. BUT if you want to explore without being tied to a train schedule, if you have kids, love road trips and hate getting caught in the rain on your bike, maybe you’ll want a car. My advice? go with your gut and like I said resale values are pretty good.

Are you fluent yet? You might just want to read this.

Is the Bergkirchweih suitable for children?
There are kids at the Bergkirchweih, it is a family friendly event during the daytime hours and Thursday 12th June is even ‘family day’ so you will get reduced prices for games and amusements. If I was a kid I’d love it, Pony rides, Ferris wheel, BB guns and sugar! What kid doesn’t like that? But just be aware that Germany is not as….Hmm how shall I put this?…not as into health and safety as say the UK or the states. Not that it’s unsafe at all it’s just more like the old days, the good old days. Maybe this will help.

How do I meet new people?
You are lucky to be living in this area which just happens to be full of other awesome expats (as well as locals) just like you.
– Join a language course, it’s not just about learning the language it’s also about friendship and building a new supportive circle of friends who know what you are going through.
– Join a German-English discussion group, for learners of both languages, the VHS Erlangen has a range of these in their Club International (and they are free)
– Join a Stammtisch, it’s a regular table with likeminded people, in Erlangen there is an English Stammtisch (English is the language spoken) it’s quite a small group but it can be fun and Deutscher Stammtisch (for foreigners who are learning German) a really fun group, no one will make fun at you as a learner! and in Nürnberg there is another English Stammtisch, this one has lots of events and is always packed.
– Join a gym, a football team, go swimming and say yes to every invitation, not matter how weird, I’m also not beyond just talking to random people I hear speaking English out and about, needs must!
– Whilst google is always your friend I also wrote this last year about making connections.

If you have any other burning questions or just want to get in touch, please do at theerlangenexpat@yahoo.com

And last but not least thanks to all the people that said thank you, you are most welcome.


10 Responses to “FAQ”

  1. bevchen June 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Can I live with you? Whaaaat? People really ask you that?

    Great advice! I didn’t know Null-Provision. Shall make a note of that for next time I need to move. I found my first flat in Germany through Quoka.

    • The Erlangen Expat June 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

      Yes, it’s been asked more than once! I didn’t know quoka had flats on there, bought a bike off there but that was pretty traumatizing so I haven’t been back since 🙂

  2. foodessen June 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    What a great idea to post this! Do people really ask if they can stay with you? WOW!

  3. Expat Eye June 3, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Can I stay with you? 😉

  4. Expat Eye June 3, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    Only kidding 😉 Very useful vocabulary!

  5. beerandbratwurst June 4, 2014 at 6:46 am #

    Re: having a car, we use the “happy medium”, or car sharing. It’s a hefty deposit against damage, but rates around 1,5 an hour plus per km. Bonus is you can pick up a car any time of day (as opposed to renting, only when the shop is open). Also, we can choose a larger car when we need it to transport furniture for example, smaller for every day. When we use it for larger grocery trips (about 4k round trip plus 2-3 hours), it’s about €6. Huge fan of car sharing!

    • The Erlangen Expat June 4, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      You’re the first person who has ever said something positive about car sharing, I’m glad it works for someone at least! I suppose there has to be an exception to prove the rule 😉


  1. The Week in Germany: FAQs, Berlin and Berlin, Getting Fired, and Tori Amos | Young Germany - June 6, 2014

    […] And if you’re reading this, maybe you’d like to hear some answers.  The Erlangen Expat answers some of the most frequently asked right here. […]

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