Apartment living is the most common form of accommodation in Leipzig. The city is justifiably famous for its Altbau buildings. These are large solidly-built constructions dating from around the turn of the 19th century. The city has street after street of them laid out in apartments of various sizes. Living in a spacious multi-room Altbau apartment is an attractive alternative to a traditional single family home.
Leipzig also has many fine examples of Gründerzeit buildings from the mid-19th century. These are the “high end” Altbaus. These are stunning with massive floor spaces, 12-15 foot ceilings, wooden floors and ornate staircases, huge windows, and balconies and terraces.
Leipzig also has it’s share of plain looking pre-fabricated “Plattenbau” concrete apartment blocks from the GDR era. Many have had extra rooms and enclosed balconies tacked on thus greatly increasingly their quality. Sadly though many examples exist, dotted about the city, of forlorn looking Plattebau.
Leipzig also has modern apartment buildings of varying quality. Most of the new builds under construction at the moment are geared toward the higher end of the market. There are very few single detached properties in the central areas of Leipzig. You’ll have to travel a few kilometres outside the Zentrum or to neighbouring small towns to see streets of detached or semi-detached family housing.
OPTIONS & COSTS
Before you delve into your accommodation options, we suggest you get familiar with Leipzig’s areas. Why bother? Well firstly Leipzig is quite spread out and unless you have a specific reason, such as working at DHL out by the airport, you may not want to stay outside the main central areas of Leipzig. And secondly, as it turns out there are actually lots of options for renting and buying and having knowledge of the city will help you narrow them down. Unlike other major cities, prices are reasonable and accommodation plentiful so you have the luxury of deciding where you want to live.
For a month or so a hostel, hotel or serviced apartment should suffice. For indefinite stays or stay greater than a couple of months you’ll face the dilemma of whether to opt for a furnished rental on a fixed lease or an unfurnished ‘German-style’ rental on an open-ended lease. In our experience the cut-off point is about 18 months; if you plan to stay for less than 18 months a furnished rental is likely the most financially sensible option. We cover the homeowner option in our section on buying property.
|FURNISHED RENTAL||PROS: Zero hassle
CONS: About 30-40% more expensive per month
|GERMAN-STYLE RENTAL||PROS: Cheap
CONS: Unfurnished and usually no kitchen or appliances
Flatsharing is a popular option covered in our section on furnished rentals. This a great option for students, people on a budget or anyone just wanting to make new friends in Leipzig. Our Cost of Living section provides more detail on rents. As a general guide, for a private unit expect to pay anywhere from €4.00 to €8.50/m2 in basic cold rent (‘kaltmiete’) for a German-style rental. Add another €0.75-€2.00/m2 for utilities or ‘warm rent’ (‘warmiete’). Equivalent furnished rental units will be 30-40% more than the all inclusive cost of a German-style rental.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Ground floor apartments (‘erdgeschoss’ or ‘EG’) are cheaper to buy and rent. Some people like the easier access and sometimes ground floor units have a small private garden. But ground floors can be noisy and may not get a lot of light. Look for apartments away from streets with tramlines, bars and restaurants, and busy vehicle traffic. Look for dead ends, squares (‘platz’), and streets that tend to get minimal car traffic. A bathroom with window is a nice feature. An allocated car parking space is not a necessity as on-street parking is free and generally not a problem. Besides, why have a car? Leipzig is extremely bicycle and walking friendly with excellent public transport.
Of course there’s no perfect ideal for everyone and every situation. But in our view there are 3 things every Leipzig accommodation hunter should keep in mind; Noise, Layout, and Level.
Noise from neighbours is not much of problem due to solid walls in Altbau buildings and good construction methods in newer builds, but street noise can be a problem in Leipzig. The rows of beautiful Altbau architecture has a downside in that sound can travel and echo further than you might think. Not many streets are pedestrianised so vehicle noise is everywhere. Many apartments are undesireable due to traffic, tram and pedestrian noise. Be careful about renting or buying without having first viewed the property and assessed the noise levels. We recommend avoiding streets with tram lines. It’s worth considering apartments in back houses. These are buildings occupying the rear central courtyards behind the Altbau. You may be somewhat overlooked (though not always) but you’ll be insulated from the noise of the city
Many flats have opposing aspects with the bedroom and/or kitchen overlooking the quieter rear courtyard and the living room overlooking the public street in front. However some apartments are single aspect, this often means all rooms overlook the street. Opposing aspect apartments ventilate well and you will appreciate the cross breezes on a hot summers day. You can negotiate cheaper rent or purchase price for a single aspect apartment.
In our view, a well-positioned balcony or roof terrace is a must. On the frequent hot summer days you’ll enjoy sitting outside and it’s a good place for smokers. A private outside space is a nice feature especially if you are not located near one of Leipzig’s many parks.
The higher up your apartment the better – more light and less noise. Most buildings won’t have a lift so first floor (second from ground), second floor, and third floor apartments are the most prized. Even the fittest and youngest will tire of lugging groceries and belongings up and down several flights of stairs to a dachwohnung (‘attic’) apartment. In buildings with lifts, such as newer buildings and high-spec renovated Altbaus, the dachwohnung actually becomes quite attractive and is worth considering. In fact we have seen some absolutely stunning dachwohnung apartments, like the sort you’d see in architectural and design magazines.
The erdgeschoss (‘ground floor’) is not favoured by many Leipzigers. Apart from the obvious noise and light issues, there is a security issue and inability to leave windows open when you are out. Expect to pay lower rent and purchase prices for ground floor apartments.
[page content last updated June 2013]