It’s no wonder so many expats are choosing Frankfurt as their new home these days. The city has a great transportation system and a plethora of links to other European countries. Not to mention the city is host to many key German and foreign companies, almost non-existent crime and a ton of great restaurants, nightlife, and cafes. It’s a city that attracts entrepreneurs, families and students all the same.
Realistically, though, Frankfurt isn’t known for its low cost of living. All in all, it’s a fairly expensive city to live in, with monthly rent averaging over €1,600 and the cost of lunch over €15. While the rates are high, however, so are the numbers of job opportunities - and the salaries they pay when you land them. Plus, many other things in the city are pretty inexpensive, like a trip to the grocery store or the pharmacy, or the many arts and culture experiences you can enjoy on the weekends.
Overall, living in Frankfurt can be a lot of fun and extremely rewarding. The process of finding an apartment, however, can be a giant pain. This guide will walk you through everything you’ll need to know about finding your perfect place to live in Frankfurt.
While actual freestanding houses are hard to find in main Frankfurt, there’s a plethora of housing available in the form of apartment rentals. From studios to spaces with rooms for four and five people, there are offerings designed to suit everyone from students to families, young adults looking for roommates and established adults seeking luxury homes.
Typically renting in Frankfurt will mean signing a lease, the majority of which are for the duration of at least a year (if not two). That being said, the sublet culture in Frankfurt is fairly active, and often student rooms or rooms in larger apartments come available for runs of one to six months while their tenants travel or go home on school breaks.
Those types of sublets, as well as temporary housing through sites like Airbnb, will usually come with furniture. For most long-term rental properties, expect your apartment to come unfurnished.
Because housing can be rather expensive in Frankfurt, it’s common to share an apartment with roommates. Usually this setup means taking one room in a multi-room apartment, but it’s also possible to save even more money by sharing a room with another person.
Additionally, many student housing buildings have popped up around the city in the recent past. These buildings essentially offer smaller-sized studios, often with some shared amenities like kitchens or common spaces, for a low price to young adults studying in Frankfurt. These accommodations are some of the highest quality and most reasonably priced anywhere in the city, making them an ideal choice for students.
Where to live in Frankfurt is highly dependent on what types of activities you like to be around, and what your rent budget is. The following neighborhoods attract a lot of expats, for different reasons:
If you’ve got a little cash to spend and enjoy nightlife and entertainment, Bornheim is the place for you. Chock full of restaurants, bars, and pubs, this neighborhood isn't only well served by public transportation, but is in seriously close proximity to the city center and a lot of offices. As such, it’s the cheapest; but it’s a vibrant and exciting neighborhood that's home to students, artists, young professionals and budding families.
If you’re moving to Frankfurt with your family, the Kronberg neighborhood might be right for you. About 20 minutes from the city center by public transport, Kronberg offers families plenty of space, lots of parks and a fair number of the city’s best international schools. In Kronberg you may even be able to find a freestanding home for rent instead of an apartment.
Another family-friendly neighborhood, Nordend is known for a strong, bohemian community vibe, plenty of arts and coffee shops and lots of good schools. It’s a little better located than Kronberg and is adjacent to Bornheim. Which means parents can easily hit some of the city’s best restaurants and bars on nights when they can find a babysitter. Rent in Nordend is also a bit more affordable than Kronberg, and the neighborhood is more varied as one of the best places for students to live.
Located centrally to public transport, the airport and many businesses, Niederrad is a popular choice for its convenience. It’s also the neighborhood where you’ll find the biggest range in rent prices; everything from the very affordable to the very unattainable exists in Niederrad.
If you’re working in finance and are making the kind of money that allows you to live close to the office, look no further than Westend. Home of the biggest banks, consultancies, and financial institutions, this neighborhood is rife with expensive luxury apartments, plenty of amenities, and upscale restaurants and cocktail bars.
If you’re looking for an apartment in Frankfurt, the best place to start is online. Check out these websites as you begin your search:
Immobilien Scout24 (Only in German)
Alternatively, if you’re hoping to find roommates these websites might be helpful:
If you’re searching for an apartment on your own, it’s a good idea to know some real-estate terms so ensure you’re seeing the best places and understanding what your living situation would be. Some important words include:
- Altbau: Old building, built before 1945
- Kaltmiete: “Cold rent.” This is basic rent with nothing else included (water, gas, heat, etc.)
- Warmmiete: “Warm rent.” Typically includes basic utilities, garbage, common area cleaning, etc.
- Wohnung zu vermieten: Apartment for rent
- Die Wohnung: Flat/ apartment
- Möbiliert: Furnished
- Der Parkplatz: Parking Space
- Faire Miete: Fair rent
Otherwise, renting a place in Frankfurt is a pretty straightforward process. Typically you’ll tour the apartment and meet with the landlord. Once you’ve agreed that you’ll move in, you’ll receive a rental contract which you should read over carefully and then sign. Usually the cost of moving in involves paying rent for your first and last months in the apartment, as well as a security deposit which is typically the same price as a month’s rent. The security deposit should be returned to you upon move out, assuming the apartment is left in the same condition as which it was originally rented.
Most landlords will expect you to pay your rent via direct bank transfer, which can usually only be done from national banks. If you’re planning to fund your apartment from you bank back home, you’ll want to use a service like TransferWise to cut down on the huge fees that come with international transfers in order to get your money into the correct account.
While using a broker or agent to find your apartment may feel like a waste of money, it can take a long time to find a place without one. For many, the cost of living in hotels or short term rentals while they find a permanent home far outweighs the fees that come with working through a real estate agent. Some trusted agencies include:
Overall, renting in Germany is a pretty straightforward process, and Frankfurt is a lively city with plenty of housing options at a range of levels and prices available to expats. If you decide to search on your own, remember to take care to never give money in advance of a signed contract, to read over your lease thoroughly and to avoid giving out too much of your personal information (like your passport number) to avoid being scammed.
Otherwise, you’re all set to start your apartment hunt. Good luck!
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