This has to be one of the most stressful things about the Year Abroad. But fear not, you will manage.
2. Start early. This year (2011), the housing market has gone crazy because there are 2 year groups going into the first year of uni. Try and talk to someone already in the area you’re headed so you know when the market goes crazy.
3. Sending the Anfrage. This part is always a bit scary. Always write in German and don’t worry about German not being perfect. If it was, then you wouldn’t be doing your year abroad.
4. How to spot fraud. Unfortunately, there are few manky gits out there who want nothing more than to run off with your money. Avoid any Anzeige written in English; do NOT mention your nationality and ignore any responses written in (often very bad) English. If you’re in Munich, avoid Anzeige for Schleißheimer Straße – I have yet to come across a genuine Anzeige for this street. Insist on viewing the place before agreeing to anything. (It sounds so obvious, I know, but I know exactly how tempting it is to try and sort everything out online and thereby avoiding using a phone)
5.Be patient. Some people are lucky and manage to find something in 3 days. Others take months to find the place they’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a place in Munich, it might be helpful to check out MVV’s WoMo Rechner which helps you to evaluate travelling costs vs. rent. Just wish I had found this earlier.