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Rental Furniture in Germany - the Smart Alternative for Expats

The furniture rental market in Germany is growing. Once considered a niche market in Germany, the number of customers taking advantage of this service is on the upswing. Much of this increase is due to the increasing number of working expatriates arriving in Germany for assignments that last anywhere from a few months to a few years. Furniture rental has long been successful in countries such as the U.S., and experts agree that this success has influenced the popularity of furniture rental in other countries.

Daniel Ishikawa, owner of Frankfurt based Furniture Leasing Corporation says that although there are a limited number of furniture rental businesses in Germany, major change is in the offing, and this concept is rapidly gaining popularity with consumers.

In countries like the U.S., where furniture rental is popular, people who move away from home for the first time, as well as those who move frequently because of their jobs, find rental to be an efficient way to furnish their temporary homes. Renting furniture also offers the convenience of avoiding the hassle and expense of moving a complete household on a regular basis. For people who must relocate to a different country, such as Germany, it makes good economic sense. When you move abroad, it could take weeks or months for your household goods to arrive, and the cost of moving can be expensive. It might also require living in a hotel until your belongings arrive. This could be cost prohibitive, with many employers being unwilling to cover such expenses. The major question is; what can you do to make the process less painful and expensive?

Furnished rental apartments are few and far between in German cities - even such large ones as Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich, Heidelberg, Berlin or Frankfurt. These apartments become almost non-existent if you are relocating to a smaller town. Even if you are lucky enough to locate such an apartment, you will usually discover that the furnishings and appliances are old and shoddy. Landlords in Germany are not very cooperative about replacing these items, preferring to hang on to their money and wait for a willing tenant.

Germans, as a rule, have never really been interested in renting household items for their own homes, preferring the lesser cost in the long run of ownership. They have also traditionally enjoyed a great deal of job stability, remaining in the same jobs and locations for many years. Changing jobs has never been a common occurrence for Germans, and so they have had no real need for such services as furniture rental. Today, however, this attitude is slowly changing among Germans.

The rental furniture business in Germany has been a small niche market catering almost entirely to the expat community. The expats are predominantly North Americans used to the availability of furniture rental services. They found the lack of the service in Germany to be frustrating and inconvenient. Purchasing furniture was and has been their only recourse for a very long time. The problem with purchasing furniture is that the process of actually taking delivery could take as long as it would for a container to arrive from home. Since many expats are on temporary assignment in Germany, this leads to the further problem of disposing of the furniture they purchased when their temporary stays ended. For a long time, even if expats desired to rent furniture, it was almost impossible to do so locally.

Current Demand for Furniture Rental

These days, furniture rental services are increasingly in demand for foreign expats arriving in Germany to work on temporary assignments. Expats constitute the majority of the consumers using furniture rental services. In reality, Germany’s furniture rental demand originated with expats, and has since developed to cater to their needs.

Today, changes in the operating structures of many German companies are requiring German employees to take short assignments in a variety of locations, sometimes for only one or two years. German employees, who would once never have thought of such a thing as temporary relocation being possible, are now required to be far more flexible about their work than ever before. Some industries require staff members to change location every two to three years. While a variety of different types of accommodations are available specifically for these employees, the majority choose rental apartments over the alternatives because they find it to be far easier to maintain a comfortable household for their families.

There are generally two choices of apartment accommodations, furnished or unfurnished. There are very few furnished apartments, and they tend to be quite expensive. Unfurnished apartments are more plentiful and far less costly. This has created a great demand for furniture rental services, as opposed to far more expensive purchased furniture. The cost of renting an unfurnished apartment and the necessary furniture can cost less per month than the rental of a furnished apartment, and the furniture can be returned at the end of the temporary assignment.

Ishikawa has said, “Our studies have shown that renting an unfurnished apartment and furniture can save our customers up to 35% versus renting a furnished apartment. The argument for unfurnished apartments becomes even more compelling when you take into account the fact that our customers get to choose from a wide variety of brand new furniture items.”

According to Ishikawa, German cities such as Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Munich and Berlin are common destinations for temporary assignments in finance, IT, and consulting - “Here I see a high degree of influx, especially from India.”

Once upon a time, prior to the economic and financial crises of recent years, many companies provided generous living and moving allowances for their employees, often paying for the whole family to live in a hotel for weeks, until the employee’s shipping container could arrive from the home country. In order to cut expenses, many Human Resource departments now allot only enough money for inexpensive unfurnished apartments, and furniture rental services.

Relief for Expats

Expats today are relieved that furniture rental services are now more widely available in Germany. T. Mukherjee, who is an IT company consultant says, “When I moved to Germany from India on a 12 month assignment near Heidelberg, we were looking for furnished apartments – in vain. That is when I Googled rental furniture and found this to be an interesting alternative for me and my family.” Mr. Mukherjee, like many expats from all over the globe, was able to immediately settle into a home for his family in Germany. The current availability of furniture rental services has made the transition to Germany much more pleasant and convenient for expats, when compared to only a short time ago.

Furniture Rental Companies in Germany

With the expanding availability of furniture rental, Germany is now one of the easiest countries for expats to settle in to, and it makes moving in and out of the country far more convenient than ever before.

Presently, there are a limited number of companies in the furniture rental market in Germany. These companies normally have locations in larger cities in Germany, can deliver Germany-wide and offer a variety of packages and pricing. Furniture Leasing Corporation offers furniture and appliance rental packages that begin at only €200 per month under a 24-month lease. All delivery, assembly and pick-up charges are included in the cost of the lease. They can provide their services to consumers located anywhere in Germany. They also offer four-week rental packages. These packages include necessary items for the short term that can see a family through until the arrival of their own furniture.

Furniture Rental While You Wait

Many expats entering Germany on a work assignment may end up in a hotel for weeks as they wait for their furniture to arrive in country. This can be expensive. A reasonable alternative for expats who are waiting for their personal belongings to arrive is to go ahead and rent an unfurnished apartment, and use rental furniture until their own arrives.

Even German employees today are moving more and more within Germany due to their job requirements. Job stability is not what it once was, and changing locations and even employers is now a far more common occurrence. In some cases, these changes of location can continue through the length of their careers. Therefore, German employees are requiring more affordable housing options in the form of unfurnished apartments, and more of them are taking advantage of rental services to furnish their living spaces.