How to Furnish Your Rented Flat in Germany
Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay
Last updated: 13 Aug 2020 / by Sam Williams
There is enormous competition for prime rentals in Germany, so it can be a real victory when you sign a contract with a landlord.
However, finding the property and completing the Anmeldung is just the start so don’t break out the champagne just yet! You’ll also need to furnish your apartment, and this can take a lot of time, money and expense.
In Germany, unfurnished flats are the norm; it’s very unusual to find furnished accommodation. Those that are furnished are more geared towards the holiday market and short-term lets, and come at a premium.
So where do you start finding furniture for your rented property in Germany? And what items will you need? Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect, and how to transform the bare rooms into a home.
Check the Contract
Although you may have been told that the apartment is unfurnished, you’ll need to check precisely what this means. Some unfurnished properties have the basics while others have quite literally nothing at all.
It’s not just a matter of comfort; most people could survive even if they had to sleep and sit on the floor for a few weeks. This is more fundamental than that. Unfurnished flats typically won’t have light fittings or light bulbs, and won’t have any appliances in the kitchen either. Many won’t have floor coverings either. So unless you’re comfortable sitting on a bare floor in the dark with no means of cooking your food or washing your clothes, you’re going to have a problem!
But forewarned is forearmed; if you find out exactly what’s included in your apartments, you can make sure you have the essentials when you move in.
Whatever you buy, consider the fact that you’ll need to remove it when you leave. You may think installing fitted cupboards and kitchen appliances will help the next tenant but that’s not the case in Germany. Your landlord will expect you to remove everything you installed unless you’re able to reach an agreement. This isn’t always possible as some landlords don’t want the responsibility of providing appliances to their tenants. Therefore, you should always consider how you’ll remove your furniture at the end and what you’ll do with it.
If your landlord lines up a new tenant before you’ve left, you might be lucky enough to sell them your kitchen fittings. They’ll probably be happy to have a working kitchen from the start, even if they plan on eventually replacing it. You won’t need to rip it out and find a way to dispose of it so it could be a win/win situation for all.
Although you’re renting your property, you’ve probably never considered renting your furniture. However, if you’re not planning on keeping your furniture for the long term, renting what you need can be a very good idea instead.
It’s possible to rent all different types of furniture, including appliances in the kitchen. This prevents you from splashing out a lot of cash right now, spreading the cost for the period of the rental. This total cost can be significantly less than purchasing the furniture, saving you money and hassle.
The extra advantage of renting furniture is that you don’t need to worry about fixing it when things go wrong. If you’re renting your oven and it won’t switch on, you simply call up your rental company and get it replaced or repaired!
If you are planning on taking your furniture with you move, and see this first round of purchases as an investment, then rentals may not be for you. It’s well worth a look for everyone else, even if you just rent the expensive appliances at the start.
Germany is no different from any other European country so you’ll find many shops selling furniture, with something for every budget. There will be international retailers whose name you may recognize and German shops that operate nationwide and smaller, independent brands.
The Swedish global retailer IKEA is a name that many interior designers scoff at, but they offer a wide choice and wonderful value. If you are purchasing a large number of items, IKEA can save you a lot of hassle and money. They sell everything from cutlery to sofas, beds and shower heads, it’s a one-stop-shop for all your home needs. On the flip side, you will see the same items in thousands of homes all over Germany so if you prefer to be more individual, IKEA isn’t ideal.
There are other alternatives to IKEA such as:
Amazon is another option which combines choice and good value.
It’s possible to shop for some items of furniture more easily from home than others, providing you measure the available space correctly. Other items are better purchased in person, so you can check how comfortable they feel. Bed mattresses and sofas are good examples of this – there’s nothing worse than a lumpy couch you can’t relax on!
Although you’ll find plenty of stores in Germany and online where you can really splash the cash, there are more frugal ways to furnish your home. Instead of immediately heading out to buy something new, why not consider choosing pre-loved furniture instead?
Preloved is another word for secondhand furniture and it’s a fantastic option if you’re trying to save money and the planet. You’ll be contributing to the reduction of waste plus getting an absolute bargain too!
There are many places to snuffle out the best of preloved furniture.
Germany has a thriving flea market culture and these are excellent for furniture and home accessories. You can buy vintage and unusual items such as lamps without the need to hire a large vehicle to bring them home.
Some sellers will transport the goods for you in return for a small fee. An alternative to this is hiring a removals van to collect larger pieces such as tables.
You’ll find even more sources online. The worldwide auction website Ebay has a German version: Ebay Kleinanzeigen. There is also Craigslist. These two websites are hard to beat for classified ads and you’ll find all sorts of goodies tucked away in the listings.
Facebook groups are another way to negotiate a bargain price and you can choose how far to search for your furniture. As well as local selling groups and Facebook Marketplace, there are also Freecycle groups where you can pick up goods for nothing more than a “thank you”.
The company responsible for collecting dumped furniture from the pavements has a website that’s worth a look. Increasingly, people are offering their unwanted furniture to the company directly instead of leaving it in the street. You can view their website here.
It’s entirely up to you what items you purchase second-hand, and much will depend on personal preference. Take special care over any items which could be dangerous if not in a proper working condition, such as gas stoves or heaters. It’s also advisable to only buy sofas if you are sure they are made from a material that isn’t flammable.
Protect Your Belongings
Once you’ve purchased all your furniture, you’re almost ready to relax. Almost. The final thing you’ll need to organize is your home contents insurance. This is vital for protecting the items you have purchased against mishaps. If you are renting your furniture, having insurance is even more essential!
Home contents insurance covers everything within your home, which isn’t permanently attached. If you could imagine tipping your home upside down, everything that falls out is covered by home contents insurance.
No one wants to spend more than they have to on insurance, but it’s possible to get low-cost cover, which doesn’t sacrifice protection. Compared to the potential expense of replacing your furniture, home contents insurance is a trivial cost.
Just in case you haven’t quite mastered the German lingo yet, here’s a list of words that could be useful when you’re buying furniture:
- Bed – das Bett
- Bookcase – das Bücherregal
- Chair – der Stuhl
- Clock – die Uhr
- Desk – der Schreibtisch
- Dishwasher – die Geschirrspülmaschine
- Fridge – der Kühlschrank
- Lamp – die Lampe
- Mirror – der Spiegel
- Oven – der Backofen
- Sofa – das Sofa
- Stove – der Herd
Table – der Tisch