How To Find Affordable Apartments in Rostock and Germany

You have decided that you want to live in Rostock? Maybe for a semester, maybe even for the rest of your days? Then you will definitely be confronted with the following problem:

Affordable housing in the cities of Germany is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Price increases of up to 35%-60% are not uncommon in some cities – which naturally also makes real estate in Germany an exciting object of speculation and investment. While the rental situation is not quite as tense as in major cities such as London or New York, the average German loses around 30-40% of his income only for rent payments in some conurbations such as Munich or Cologne. Rostock will not be spared from this growth trend either. It is expected that around 30,000 new inhabitants from the surrounding areas and other cities will move to Rostock by 2030. Although Rostock and companies are building new apartments in every corner of the city, this upcoming demand still will be difficult to meet, which will also have an an even greater impact on rents – especially in the inner city area.

Despite this housing problem, there is a great system to get cheap apartments for life without paying horrendous prices. In Rostock it is called: Genossenschaften.

An example: For a 56 square meter apartment owned by a Genossenschaft in the outskirts of the city I paid about 260€ monthly rent. The same living space in this outer district would have cost me about 380€ per month (without additional costs included) if it was owned private provider.

How is that? The system behind is simple as it is ingenious. I try to break it down to the most important factors… which of course should not make your initiative to research obsolete:

The Genossenschaft consists of its members and is a democratic form of business. The purpose of the Genossenschaft is to promote its members by ensuring a socially safe and sustainable supply of housing. The housing stock is adapted to the needs of the members. In order to join a Genossenschaft and obtain a right to housing, Genossenschaft shares must be purchased from potential members (roughly it costs three times the rent of the apartement you want to move in). This payment is used to buy a very small share of the Genossenschaft and entitlement rights to apartments within the Genossenschaft. You pay your rent, so to speak, to your own company. As a rule, the Genossenschaft shares bear interest (4%) and are reimbursed when the member leaves. So you become a joint owner and you can now have a democratic say in what the surplus profit of this Genossenschaft is to be used for: Painting facades? Building new apartments? Planting new gardens? As a member, you live in your apartement for as long as you want. Cancellations for personal requirements do not exist. Every member has a lifelong right of residence in his Genossenschaft. In addition, priority is given to members when it comes to the allocation of new flats and you are therefore not in competition with tenants outside the Genossenschaft. Once inside, you can be inside forever (no sexual pun intended).

An example from my life again: I got a 30 square meter apartment in the outer city district in a high-rise building, about 18 minutes by train/car from the city center. My rent (called cold rent in Germany) is 200€, my additional costs for water and heating are 90€. This results in a total rent (which is called the warm rent) of 290€. I paid 505€ for my Genossenschaft shares in order to be allowed to move in this apartment. My apartment has a living area, a hallway, a kitchen room and a built-in cupboard. Additionally I have now access to two elevators, my own cellar, a room for bicycles and a drying room. There is a supermarket right in front of the back door, a train stop where trains run every five minutes and many parking possibilities. We also have our own security guard, surveillance cameras and automatic doors in the building. And let’s not forget that I can now ride to the beach with my bicycle within 20 minutes, I registered for the apartment search in February 2018, the offer for this apartment I got only two months later.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Yeah, there’s a catch. Genossenschaften are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to buying or renting apartments from the private sector, and the waiting lists for membership and apartments are becoming longer and longer. You should therefore register as soon as possible (at least three months before you need to move are recommended). Nevertheless, they are an absolutely recommendable alternative to the privately organized real estate market.
The following Genossenschaften do exist in Rostock:

  • WG Union
  • WG Schiffhart Hafen
  • WG Warnow
  • WG Marienehe
  • WG Süd
  • WG Neptun
  • WG Neue Rostocker


Good luck and welcome!

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