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I need to rent a house in Seligenstadt (close to Darmstadt), the cheaper the better.

How can I go about finding one as I don't know the country at all? What are the most popular websites for rentals in Germany? Are there any that are particularly English-language friendly? And what about other pitfalls expats should be aware of when renting a flat in Germany?

I would also be interested in shared flats, if that's a possibility.

  • Your question wasn't getting any traction and already collected two “close” votes so I took the liberty of reframing it in a more expat-oriented and generic way to increase your chances of getting good answers on this site. I hope it's OK. – Gala Jul 20 '15 at 8:59
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    See also expatriates.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic and expatriates.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask for more on how to ask good questions. – Gala Jul 20 '15 at 9:02
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    for renting houses/apartments: immobilienscout24.de -- for shared apartments: wg-gesucht.de -- mainly for buying/selling (but also some renting): immonet.de – benroth Jul 20 '15 at 18:40
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For shared flats the #1 resource is

  • WG-gesucht (available in English and the link already points to Seligenstadt. Much of the content is in German only though and it works better in the major cities. You typically contact tenants already in the flat and convince them you would make a good flatmate. Some will insist on getting to know you in person, some will be OK with meeting first via Skype.)

alternatively

  • Facebook groups (search "WG" (Wohngemeinschaft = shared flat) + city name and you will find.)

For renting a private place

  • immobilienscout24.de as suggested by @benroth.
  • try to contact a local "Makler" to find you a place (at a fee that can be a few months' rent)

But in general, see whether your employer (or whoever makes you move to Seligenstadt) can be of help.

Regarding pitfalls, you should know and understand what you sign (ask for a translation or a friend you trust to double-check) and be aware of the usual pitfalls in renting apartments. Craigslist has a good list on avoiding scams, but it sure can be extended. On the sites mentioned above, if an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is a scam.
Even in legit situations, make sure the duration of contract and period of notice meet your needs.

Finally, why don't you consider a short stay solution first (Airbnb) and try to find a place once there, options will be better.

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    Additional pitfall: If a flat doesn't say that the kitchen units are included - they aren't. This is a bit of a culture shock to Brits/Americans. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Apr 4 at 20:40
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    To elaborate on the previous comment: In Germany, it's common to buy a house or rent an apartment that has no kitchen. There's a place for a kitchen. There's just no sink, dishwasher, fridge, counter, cabinets... Just a bare room with water and electric connections. In Germany you can actually go to a store and buy a complete kitchen, or sometimes you can buy a used one, though I'm not sure how you ensure it'll fit where you need it to. German houses also tend to have no closets whatsoever, so you may need to buy some wardrobes, coat hooks, etc. – Kyralessa Apr 5 at 5:16

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