If you’re preparing to move—or just want to unpack a new type of German vocabulary—our list of terms for moving in German is just what you need.
This post will cover the essential German moving verbs, nouns and phrases—not only for the actual moving day, but also to impress your neighbors with facts about your life and where you’ve lived.
- Why Learn German Moving Terms?
- Basics of Apartment- and House-hunting in Germany
- German Moving Verbs
- German Moving Day Nouns
- Moving Phrases in German
Why Learn German Moving Terms?
The majority of us will move at least once or twice in our lifetimes, whether it’s within the same city or across country. Because moving has such an impact on our lives, it’s a good idea to be able to speak about the experience in German. That way you can tell stories about your life and understand native German speakers when they talk about theirs.
Of course, if you end up moving to Germany yourself, you’ll want all the right German words to be able to express the events and emotions surrounding your move.
Learning moving terms in German is also a great way to learn more about the German way of life. While the moving process might seem straightforward (well, except for on the actual day that you move) it means different things to different people. In fact, we’ll learn about some moving and housewarming traditions specific to Germany later on.
And at the end of the day, learning German moving terms means you’re collecting important vocabulary and moving closer to fluency.
Basics of Apartment- and House-hunting in Germany
In Germany, about half of the population rents, while the other half owns. Some might consider owning a house to be an accomplishment, but the additional expenses associated with owning property might be too much for some. It’s a bit like living in New York.
If you’re wondering about the German renting process, yes, it mirrors what you’d expect to see in the U.S. Fill out an application with a copy of your ID, provide proof of income, grant the company a credit check and you should be on your way to renting in no time.
Let’s discuss a few abbreviations you’ll want to know when looking for a place in Germany. You’re probably familiar with them in English, but do you know what their German equivalents are? Let’s see if you’re correct:
- Zi: Standing for Zimmer (room), this abbreviation will be accompanied by a number, which designates how many rooms are available.
- WC/Bad/Du: Abbreviations for “water closet/bathroom,” “tub” or “shower,” respectively—whereas in English we might say “full bath” or “half bath.”
It all depends on what components the bathroom includes, such as a toilet, bathtub, shower and/or sink.
- EG/OG/DG: This one is crucial if you hate trekking up the stairs with your hands full of groceries. While those on the ground floor (Erdgeschoss) will be fine, tenants around the middle floors (Obergeschoss) shouldn’t have to worry too much… but live anywhere near the top floor (Dachgeschoss) and you’ll probably want to invest in a wagon or hand cart.
- Ka/Kt/Kaut: Known as the Kaution or “security deposit,” this number varies depending on where you rent. Read those terms and conditions carefully.
- NK: Rent is one thing, but your utilities, or Nebenkosten, are just as important.
Before you move in, you’ll probably want to set up your radio, internet and TV. Note that you have to pay a fee for TV and radio, called the Rundfunkbeitrag, even if you don’t watch or listen! Once you’ve signed a lease or purchased a house, you’ll need to register for the Rundfunkbeitrag, which you can do online.
German Moving Verbs
Let’s start with verbs, because there’s lots of action going on around moving day.
umziehen (to move/change house)
packen (to pack)
laden (to load)
spenden (to donate)
etwas verschenken (to give something away)
putzen (to clean)
reparieren (to repair)
etwas aufheben (to pick up/to keep something)
etwas tragen (to carry)
verkaufen (to sell)
kaufen (to buy/purchase)
mieten (to rent/lease)
wohnen (to live)
packen (to pack)
When you’re all done packing, you can triumphantly shout, gepackt! (Packed!)
Two other important verbs are gehen and fahren. Though they both mean “to go” or “to move,” they have different connotations.
The key here is distance. Use gehen for short distances and fahren for longer. You might say, “Ich gehe zu meinem neuen Haus” to mean, “I’m going to my new house,” which could be as close as a few blocks away. If you’re moving farther than that, a long drive or plane ride away, you’d say, “Ich fahre zu meinem neuen Haus.”
And once you move in, don’t be surprised if a neighbor shows up with bread and salt. It’s a German housewarming tradition. The bread combats hunger while the salt adds a little flavoring.
German Moving Day Nouns
Now that you know how to describe your actions, let’s talk a bit more about all those boxes you’re going to be packing.
der Kasten (box)
der Möbelwagen (moving van)
das Paketklebeband (packing tape)
das Lager (storage/storehouse)
der Schlafsaal (dorm room)
das Apartment (apartment)
das Haus (house)
der Sicherheitseinbehalt (security deposit)
die Betriebsmittel (utilities)
der Schlüssel (key)
die Miete (rent)
das Pfand (mortgage)
die Mietausfallversicherung (renter’s insurance)
die Hausrats- und Haftpflichtversicherung (homeowner’s insurance)
das Begrüβungsgeschenk (welcome present/housewarming gift)
At the end of moving day, you’ll probably be tired of seeing boxes and packing tape. But you can also say, “Ich will sie nie mehr sehen!” (I never want to see them again!).
Moving Phrases in German
Here are some phrases you’ll want to memorize for the move. We’ve included a few you might need beforehand and some ice-breaking topics for the new friends you’ll make.
I recommend looking for YouTube videos, shows and movies where you can see these phrases being spoken to better understand how to actually use them. You can also find many of these phrases (and their component words) on the FluentU language learning program, where you can browse through hundreds of authentic German videos and search for specific terms to see them in subtitle-equipped videos.
By watching real German content, you’re also bound to find more vocab and phrases to add to your language toolbelt!
- Ich ziehe nach _____ um. (I’m moving to [location].) Say this when you want to tell people where you’re moving. For example, if your new address is in China, say, “Ich ziehe nach China um.”
- Ich habe in _____ für _____ Jahre gewohnt. (I lived in [location] for [number] years. — Put the number in the first blank and the location in the second blank.)
You’ll most likely want to follow this phrase with an explanation of how you came to be where you are now.
- Der Tag des Umzugs ist hier! (Moving day is here!) You might scream this (in joy or in fear) on the day you are to move. Hopefully it’s the former and not the latter.
- Ich werde im _____ nach _____ ziehen. (I will move in [month] to [location].) This phrase is useful to describe where you’ll be moving. It may be hard to say goodbye to old friends, but new friends are just around the corner!
And once you get to wherever you’re moving, you can say something like, “Ich bin aus Berlin weggezogen,” or, “I moved from Berlin.”
- Herzlich Willkommen! (Heartfelt welcome!) Because saying hello is just as important as saying goodbye.
Moving day is often characterized by chaos, stress and the fear of leaving something behind. But you can step confidently forward into your future by learning some new vocabulary to help you reframe the process of moving in German.