Jaroslav Plotnikov

Let the landlord offer you the apartment – Experience of a foreigner in finding accommodation in Berlin – PART 1

Advertise a request and wait until they contact you? Isn’t it better to answer ads yourself? The wanted advertisements (search ads) have proved to be the only effective strategy. At least with me. In this article I tell you how I came to this realization

First allow me, dear reader, to tell my story briefly. I was born and grew up in Southern Russia. In 2000-2007 I studied intercultural education (focus on migration) at the University of Oldenburg. 2007 I moved to Bremen, then to Berlin. I’ ve been living in Berlin since spring 2009, first in Prenzlauer Berg, last years in Neukölln (these are Berlin districts). Almost all of the Berlin apartments where I lived were located in beautiful central areas. Initially in Prenzlauer Berg, the last few years – in Neukölln. Some were furnished, some were not. All these apartments were cheap – I have never paid more than €450. Often it wasn’t the whole apartment, but only one room.


The very first week in Berlin. Spring 2009

Within the last eight years, I’ve changed 10 apartments. Five times I’ve found them in the Internet through wanted ads. The rest of the apartments, mostly in Neukölln I found through friends and acquaintances.

Why did I move so often? Because I like to travel so much – to India, Thailand, Australia, in Philippines… Unfortunately, subletting is relatively problematic in Germany. That’s why I had to move out completely every time.

I found my first Berlin apartment (in Choriner Straße, Prenzlauer Berg) in quite a mysterious way. I lived in Choriner Straße for about a year. Afterwards I spent the whole winter in southern India (Tarkarli Beach near Goa).

In summer 2011 I returned to Berlin. So the apartment in Choriner Str. was gone. I had to start the lodging search all over againPeople around me were complaining that it would be almost impossible to find a good apartment at an adequate rent in Berlin.

Back to Berlin I had to start the lodging search all over again

But I had no choice. I didn’t want to live in any other German city. Only in Berlin. I was so naive in thinking that I just had to try harder, and sooner or later something came up. That’s how I started looking hard.

How does a “true German” look for an apartment? He informs his circle of acquaintances that he is willing to live in another home. Most of the time he doesn’t know anything about the apartment he is looking for, except that it has to be quiet and at a reasonable price. And not am AdW, of course. In addition to asking among friends, one looks in a newspaper or on the Internet and replies to the good-looking apartment offers

That’s exactly what I did. For reasons of supposed efficiency, I completely ignored the ads in newspapers and almost exclusively focused on Internet search. At that time I had very few friends in Berlin. I didn’t expect much from this direction.

In Google I entered something like “suche Wohnung in Berlin”. After that, I signed up for all the search portals that came out on the first Google page. Every day I was monitoring the fresh offers. Sometimes even the older ones. I searched all over Prenzlauer Berg. I felt very comfortable in this part of the city and would like to stay there.

Since I have written back to many advertisements, the first feedback came too. It was strange that almost all landlords did not want to meet anyone “in private”. Instead, I was invited several times to Besichtigung (Eng.: an apartment tour) with a fixed date and time. Probably, landlords had so many esquires that they wanted to save time by showing their property not to individual but to several apartment seekers at once?

When I came to the first Besichtigung in the Stargarder Straße and already saw a crowd of people from far away, my stomach slowly started to feel queasy.

There were, perhaps around twenty people, all for the same visit. We had all arrived punctually. We were talking, joking about the apartment and the landlord. There were mostly Germans and some “rich foreigners” – Americans, French, Canadians. Most of them had either employment contracts or scholarship certificates. Or guarantees from parents for safe monthly payment. I realized how bad my chances were…


Thanks for your comments. Feel free to send me your thoughts or ask a question…

And here is the final PART 2



© 2018 Jaroslav Plotnikov ( All articles )


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  • 1. Aratrika (05-12-2017)

    Just went through the article, and its fantastic. Extremely helpful, in fact I wish I had read it before going on a house hunt haha.
    Thanks for that. Keep posting such articles. Have a good day!

    • 2. jaroslav (05-12-2017)

      My pleasure! Soon I’ll post the first Howto-manual about finding a flat. All the best. JP

      • 3. Esd (02-01-2018)

        So where’s part 2 ? 🙂

        • 4. jaroslav (03-01-2018)

          Hi Esd, I am glad to read your comment. I put the link to Part 2 above. Hope it will be helpfull to you 🙂