I recently moved to Frankfurt, Germany for work purposes and so far, it has been fantastic. I had three months in corporate housing and had some time in between where I needed something temporary but cheap. Thankfully, Germany is very much into flat shares and rooming with people to save costs.
A flat share is called a “Wohnungsgemeinschaft” in German, or WG for short (pronounced “VayGay”). It is very popular in Germany, and actually quite popular in Frankfurt as there are many students that study here. It’s not always easy to find a flat share in Germany but if you are a normal, friendly, and clean person you should be good to go. Alternatively, if you’re a foreigner and don’t have an official work contract with a set salary, it may be difficult to sign long term leases and a flat share will be the easiest way to find a place to live. In this post, I share what you need to know about flat shares in Frankfurt, Germany and my personal experience getting a WG for myself.
If you’re looking on info about renting a long term apartment, make sure to read my guide to finding an apartment in Frankfurt!
There are a ton of websites and apps for finding a suitable flat share in Germany. If you’re reading this post, it’s likely you’re not from around here and are looking for English compatible resources so I will try and focus on those. Below is a list of all the websites dedicated to helping you find WGs.
- Wg-gesucht.de (the most popular, also has an app)
- wg-suche.de (also available in English and quite useful)
- Studenten-wg.de (for students)
Also, people use craigslist in Germany as well but not to the degree that is is prevalent in the US.
The competition for housing in Germany is strong and if you’re looking for a WG, you’re competing with many others who are also looking to find cheaper accommodations. Make sure to move swiftly and apply to multiple listings. Send a concise and professional message. English is totally fine as most people renting to WGs are younger and are used to conversing in English. I do not speak any German and I don’t think there is any need to do a Google Translate before sending a message. It might give off the wrong impression anyhow when they meet you in person and you don’t speak any German.
If you’re looking for a flat share in Germany, you’re likely not too picky with what your criteria. Any flat shares will just be for one person of course (if you’re a couple, this is not for you) and the purpose is to save money. Most people that offer their apartments do so because their old roommate is leaving permanently or temporarily and they need someone new to take over. These are a few things you should be mindful of.
Know your dates
This is probably the most important. Make sure you know your dates or at least have an idea how flexible you can be. Many of the flat shares in Frankfurt will list out the length of the sublet. This can be one month to over one year depending on the listing. If a listing is looking for a tenant from say May to December but you only want the flat from May to August, then you can of course expect them to prefer a tenant that can stay the entire duration. This doesn’t mean they won’t accept you of course they would just prefer to look for a roommate once and be done with it.
Read the description
Make sure to fully read the description of the listing. I found that people in Germany are more honest and do not try to hide things (as much) which is a good thing. Look to see what their requirements are and what quirks exist in the apartment. Also, make sure you pay attention to the age of the other tenant(s). If you’re 35 and the flat is full of 20 year old students, you are in different phases of your life and it may not be best suited for you. Of course everyone is different, so whatever works for you.
When to start looking?
The rental market in Frankfurt and other metro areas of Germany are quite competitive. Apartments, especially decent ones for good prices go very quickly so it is imperative to act quickly. This means actively monitoring the resources I’ve listed above and not idling for too long. In general, I would recommend you start looking at least 1 month before you’re planned move date. People like to have concrete plans in Germany and you’ll find that last minute isn’t their forte.
Overall, a WG or Flat Share in Frankfurt will be on the lower end of the rent spectrum. After all, the purpose of a flat share is to have a roommate and split the cost of renting an entire apartment. I saw hundreds of flat share options during my search and I found the prices to be very reasonable.
Again, I only looked within the city of Frankfurt and not the outer areas where I’m sure you can find cheaper rates. I started off searching for the entire city of Frankfurt but eventually narrowed it down to exclude neighborhoods like the Gallusviertel, Offenbach, Niederrad etc. and focused exclusively on the following
These are probably the most desirable neighborhoods within Frankfurt so also the most expensive. Even so, I was able to find many WGs between €450 and €750 a month all inclusive of rent and utilities. I did not find many flat shares that are above €1,000 because I think at that point, you can just get your own flat without roommates.
To better understand Frankfurt’s neighborhoods, make sure to read my Frankfurt neighborhood guide.
Using the WG-Gesucht App
My German friends recommended I use the WG-Gesucht App or website to find my flat share. I did exactly that. In fact, I highly recommend using the app instead of the website because the app has English whereas the website does not. I’m not sure why this is, but it makes it a whole lot easier when you can understand what you’re looking at. Of course, you can always use the Google Chrome translation feature to translate the website into English but I’ve found that sometimes certain functionality disappears when this happens. Perhaps they will add English to their website in the future.
At last, time to talk about my personal experience using WG-Gesucht to find a flat share in Frankfurt. I was only looking for roughly a month of accommodation in any neighborhood as long as it was in Frankfurt and within an U-Bahn ride away from the city center where I was working.
I started my search roughly 1.5 months before my planned move date. One of the nice features of the WG-Gesucht App is you can set your dates, but you can also make it flexible within a few days or 1-2 weeks of your dates. This means you can see many listings that are compatible with your criteria. I searched for a May 1 move in date, but gave a 1 week buffer as I could have waited until May 7 as well. I found endless options within my price range (under €1,000 a month) for the dates I needed. In fact, I’m not sure you can even list a flat share for more than €1,000.
I sent messages through the app to 5 different listings. I only used English and made it clear that I was in Frankfurt for work and was from the US. Everyone responded quite promptly through the app and were friendly. The listings were in all different neighborhoods with all different amounts of people. Some only had 1 roommate while I found others that had 5 people in the apartment. In the end, I narrowed it down to two flats, one in Bornheim and another in Nordend. These were neighborhoods I was quite keen on spending more time in so what better way to experience them except living there for a month!
I had a video call with a girl from an apartment in Bornheim before going there a few days later to see it in person. Then I exchanged messages with a guy in Nordend who I visited a few days later. Ultimately I chose the apartment in Nordend because the room was much bigger and the location was fantastic. The apartment was €450 per month, and another €100 for all utilities for a total of €550. I also paid him a security deposit of one month which is actually less than the standard 3 months if you’re looking to sign a long term lease.
The apartment is roughly 75 sqm which is quite large for what I’m used to and perfectly adequate for 2 people (I had one roommate). The location is perfect right in the heart of Nordend by the Friedberger Platz.
Like subletting an apartment in most places, there is no “official” paperwork to be signed when getting a flat share. However, in Germany, the rights of the renter are very strongly protected. There are no requirements to rent a flat share but there are forms that you can print out and have both parties fill out.
The person I was renting from had done this before and printed off documents from real estate agencies that we both filled out. The documents were not complicated and had basic things like names, address, negotiated price per month, security deposit, and a list of all items that the landlord is leaving with their conditions. This is a good way to ensure that if you break anything while renting out the apartment, they can take money from the security deposit. Nothing surprising for anyone.
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