Basic German Abbreviations to Know for Apartment Hunting in Berlin

Choosing a new home to live is one of those generally despised processes that we all go through and vow never to repeat. If you reside in a location where the property market is highly competitive, looking for a new house might be a full-time job. The fact is that it may be as simple or as difficult as you make it. Renting an Apartment in Berlin is not as simple as it sounds.

This detailed first-hand book includes tips and methods for locating a place to live in Germany, particularly Berlin, while maintaining your sanity and avoiding being taken advantage of by predatory listings.

Deciding What You Want

The first and most apparent step is to begin looking well in advance of the need to relocate. In the face of possibly uncontrollable situations, time is your most valuable asset. A typical rule of thumb is to give yourself three months to comfortably search for and acquire a new apartment, so get going and answer a few basic questions about the area you want to relocate to:

Do you wish to live by yourself?

Do you want to share a room?

How many are there?

Is it OK if your roommate is a stranger?

Next go to the specifics of the place itself:

What are your preferred neighbourhoods?

What is your preferred proximity to public transportation?

Are you at ease on the ground floor? Or perhaps in the attic?

Should you face the street or the courtyard?

How many rooms are there?

How many total square metres are there?

What is the highest amount of money you are willing to pay on rent each month?

Obviously, your responses can be flexible, but they will function as filters for your search across the many platforms you’ll be using.

Understanding the important terms

You’ll notice a lot of German words repeated as you look, so let’s clarify some crucial terms and phrases.

  • Erdgeschoss (erdgeschoss)- Ground Floor
  • 1 Etage – First Floor (i.e., one above ground level)
  • 2 OG – Second Floor (second upper floor)
  • AB / Altb. (altbau) – Older Building/Structure, generally pre-World War II although rare in Berlin.
  • Ab sof. (ab sofort)- Instantly available
  • Bezugsf. (bezugsfrei)- No existing renters
  • BJ (baujahr)- Building Year
  • Dachgeschoss (DG) – an attic apartment
  • EB (erstbezug)- Initial tenancy following renovation or new construction.
  • Kpl. san (komplet saniert)- Totally Refurbished
  • Mehrfamilienhaus (MFH) – Multi-Occupancy Structure
  • Möbl. (möbliert)- Furnished
  • Möbliertes Zimmer (möbl. Zi)- A Furnished Room
  • NB (neubau)- New Building
  • NR (nichtraucher)- Only for Nonsmokers
  • Ren.-bed. (renovierungsbedürftig)- Rehabilitation required
  • Tiere (tierhaltung)- Pets are Permitted
  • Untergeschoss (UG)- Basement Floor
  • Umgeb. (umgebung)- Neighbourhood or region
  • Uni-Nähe (Universitätsnähe)- Close to the university
  • Verk.-Anb. (verkehrsanbindung)- Public Transportation Access Available
  • Wohngemeinschaft (WG) – Shared Housing
  • Zentrum- Town centre


  • AR (abstellraum)- Storage Space
  • Aufzug- Elevator
  • Balkon (blk.)- Balcony
  • Du (dusche)- Shower
  • F-Raum (Fahrradraum)- Bike room or storage area
  • Gaszentralheizung (GZ-Hzg.)- Gas central heating
  • Heizung- Heating
  • Off. Kamin (offener Kamin)- Open Fireplace
  • Parkett- Hardwood flooring
  • Z-Hzg. (lzentralheizung)- Oil central heating

A string of these abbreviations is commonplace, which might appear quite puzzling at first, almost like a code!

But, after you’ve mastered the most often used acronyms, it’s quite simple to figure out the major elements of each property.

Contact Immediately

When you see a listing you like, be prepared to send a message right away. Prepare a default message in both English and German that describes your interest in the listing. Introduce yourself in your mail by including your name, age, employment, monthly salary, how long you’ve been in Berlin, and how frequently you spend time at home. This is designed to be an accurate prediction of what you’ll be like as a renter, so be truthful.

Always address the listing owner by their given name, or the generic and courteous “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,” and adapt your response to any listing specifics as needed.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t receive a response from many or any ads immediately away.

Landlords will want to choose the applicant with the most stable standing, which means category two will take precedence over category one, and category three will take precedence over category two. The more applications you submit, the higher your chances of getting selected from the applicant pool.

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