The transit guide helps tenants work out if their landlords are charging them too much.

Thanks to a new map, you can now work out exactly how much it costs to rent a Berlin apartment, subway station by subway station.

Put together by property portal Immobilienscout24.de, the map details the monthly rent for an average one-bedroom apartment for each U-Bahn and S-Bahn stop in the German capital. The map, available in a zoom-friendly version here, is an interesting portal into just how much the city’s wealth map has shifted in recent decades. But this being Berlin, the property tool is combined with something that does a whole lot more than that. It also allows you to work out if your landlord is illegally hiking your rent.

(immobilienscout24.de)

That’s because charging too much rent in Berlin is now an offense. On June 1, 2015, the city introduced a new law called the “rental price brake,” which fixes an average rent per square meter for a neighborhood and makes it illegal for anyone to charge over 10 percent more than that rate. Beneath the new rental map is a link to a form where you can type in your address and monthly rent, as well as the size and condition of your apartment. This way you can find out if your rent is too damn high. If it is, you can then report your landlord to the authorities.

The fact that Berlin rents are now officially regulated in this way gives the map a special authority. Interestingly, it shows that in the 25 years since German reunification, Berlin’s wealth has gone on a long march eastwards. Historically, the richest parts of the city were in Berlin’s far west, in villa districts abutting forests and a beautiful string of lakes. Nowadays, these neighborhoods are increasingly looking like a pretty good deal. You can now get a cheaper apartment (at €686, or $738 a month) next to the twisting woodland lake at Krumme Lanke than you can in some parts of gritty, centrally located Kreuzberg, once the poorest part of West Berlin.

It’s right in the center of East Berlin, meanwhile, that rents have truly shot up. Apartments among the new fancy boutiques and hotels near Französische Strasse coming in at €980 ($1,054) a month. This area’s rocket ride to the top has been pretty dramatic considering that there were still people of my acquaintance squatting here in the 1990s. Despite this shift, East Berlin still continues to offer the best deals. The €329 ($354) you’ll need to live in East Berlin’s Mahlsdorf—Berlin’s lowest rent—sounds like a steal given that much of the neighborhood is actually quite pretty.

The regulated rents the map shows are of course reflections of anxiety—fears that, in a city where most people still rent, residents risk being driven out by gentrification. That concern may well be justified, but there’s a detail of the map that’s nonetheless liable to make the average Londoner or Parisian weep. The typical apartment it uses as a benchmark is a one bedroom (“two room” in German) of 70 square meters, or 754 square feet.* In Berlin, that may be an accepted norm. In the U.K., where there are probably duchesses with ancestral estates measuring less generously, that’s the kind of space most people would love to call home.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly converted 70 square meters into 230 square feet; it’s actually 754 square feet.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a map comparing the sizes of several cities
    Maps

    The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History

    From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.

  2. A woman looks straight at camera with others people and trees in background.
    Equity

    Why Pittsburgh Is the Worst City for Black Women, in 6 Charts

    Pittsburgh is the worst place for black women to live in for just about every indicator of livability, says the city’s Gender Equity Commission.

  3. a photo of a full parking lot with a double rainbow over it
    Transportation

    Parking Reform Will Save the City

    Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability. But we can break the vicious cycle.   

  4. a photo rendering of "Siemensstadt 2.0" in Berlin
    Life

    Berlin’s Take on a High-Tech ‘Smart City’ Could Be Different

    The German company Siemens is launching an ambitious adaptive reuse project to revitalize its historic corporate campus, with a modern data-collecting twist.

  5. a photo of a woman on a SkyTrain car its way to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia.
    Transportation

    In the City That Ride-Hailing Forgot, Change Is Coming

    Fears of congestion and a powerful taxi lobby have long kept ride-hailing apps out of transit-friendly Vancouver, British Columbia. That’s about to change.  

×