Moving to Düsseldorf: Where Should I Live?

Are you going to be moving to Düsseldorf? Do you have no idea where to live? Having been in the same situation I understand how it can be difficult to sort through so many opinions online to try and find the best area for you and your family to call home. The most important thing for you to know is that Düsseldorf is a city that has an outstanding quality of life, regardless of where you live. However, fine tuning where to you live to your tastes and expectations makes things that much better.

When I moved from Leipzig to Düsseldorf, I was fortunate that I had a week to run around the city and see where things were. After walking miles and checking out more flats than I wanted, I realized this approach was utter chaos. That was when I asked a good friend of mine, and a native Düsseldorfer, where I should be looking, and more importantly, where should I be avoiding.

Based upon his insights and my experience here is a list of best areas of Düsseldorf for different personalities and situations.

Single, trendy, looking for adventure:

1. Bilk: Bilk has one of the highest population concentrations in Düsseldorf.  Inside of Bilk you will find a bunch of internationals as well as many students attending the University of Düsseldorf, making the area one of the more vibrant of the city. A cool underground scene coupled with a great nightlife make this area prime for those without a bedtime. Additionally, here you’ll find plenty of green space available to enjoy, including the Volksgarten and Südpark. The most desired location in and around Bilk is Die Karolinger, a cool street lined with trees that has a small canal running down the center.

2. Mediahafen: The area surrounding the Mediahafen is one of Düsseldorf’s most up and coming areas, and the change that has occurred here over the last few years is very evident.  Architecture is one of the highlights of the area, and includes buildings designed by notables, such as Frank Gehry. Additionally, as the name insinuates, the Mediahafen is home to a bunch of German media companies, and drives that type of resident and lifestyle.  Cool bars, restaurant and clubs abound, which not surprisingly draws a young crowd with the average age of a Hafen resident being 34.

Family, kids in school, immediate comfort required:

1. Kaiserswerth: Being that the International School of Düsseldorf and a large percentage of English speaking expats are located in Kaiserswerth, this is an easy pick for the family moving to the city who want to find a community that is easier to fall into. Although Kaiserswerth is technically not in Düsseldorf, it is only a 15 minute train ride on the U79 from the center of Kaiserswerth to the center of Düsseldorf, making this an ideal location for folks who are here for a short time and have kids who will be attending ISD.

2. Oberkassel: Located on the opposite side of the Rhine (Rhein) from Düsseldorf and home to the one of the only movie theaters in Düsseldorf to show current releases in English, Oberkassel is a popular place for expats to call home. Because the west side of the Rhein was not bombed to same degree as the east side, it is easier to find Altbauwohnungen (old classical style apartments) in Oberkassel than elsewhere in the city.  There are a large number of English speakers that live in Oberkassel, and public transportation is easy with great connections to Düsseldorf’s city center via the U74 or U75 to Heinrich-Heine-Allee.

Single or Family, I want a nice centrally located place to live:

1. Düsseltal: My personal favorite area, and where I choose to live, Düsseltal is probably more relevant for marrieds with kids, but is close and connected enough that a single who wants a little more quiet would find this area perfect.  The area is very walkable and centers around the old zoo which was destroyed during WWII and is now a park. Shopping is easy to come by with most things centered on Rethelstraße, and transportation connections to the train station, airport and city center are frequent and easy to get to. Fewer foreigners live here and while most people speak at least some English, you may find it useful to know some German.

2. Pempelfort: Closer to more things than Düsseltal, but not as much green space.  Otherwise the two are very similar.  You can find really great deals on flats in Pempelfort, but some areas are a bit more interesting. If I were to move to Pempelfort, I would look for a place in the area of Nordstraße, which is well connected to the city center, good shopping (food and fashion), and is just a short walk from the Rheinpark and Hofgarten.  Same as usual, public transportation options are great in this area of town.

Where should I avoid:

I would avoid the following areas, not for safety reasons, but rather because I think there are better options available that are more convenient and will afford you a much better lifestyle while you are here :

1. Flingern Süd: It is a ways from most things, and really there are nicer areas to live.  Most importantly, I would try to avoid the area around the Henkel headquarters.  There are nicer places in better areas that are not that much more money, you just have to keep an eye out.

2. Unterrath: Two reasons not to live here. First it is much harder to get to on public transportation and connections are much more difficult. Secondly, you are close to the airport, so expect flight traffic all day long.

Ultimately, you can live anywhere in or around Düsseldorf and be safe and happy.  Regardless of where you decide to live, your outlook on the experience will drive how you look back on your time spent here. Enjoy your stay and know that this is a great liveable city with an outstanding quality of life, and each little corner has something great to offer.

4 comments

  • Hi Jon, your article was very interesting and helpful! My boyfriend and I might move to Düsseldorf soon and looking for exactly such descriptions as you have given in your article, thank you for sharing! I have more questions regarding the areas and the renting opportunities. If I will be relocated to this wondeful city, my workplace will be close to the Hauptbahnhof. Do you think the Bilk area would be a nice place to live in, e.g. close to my workplace, lower rents, nice surrounding? We are moving there from Beijng where it is pretty easy for a foreigner to rent a nice furnished apartment but I read that in Germany it is more difficult. The landlord wants to see you, to know whether you have a job, your plans to stay etc, is it true? Where do you suggest us to look for a furnished apartment (website, newspaper, agency etc) and what should we pay attention to? Is it better to start looking when we are already in the city? Would it be better and easier to go through an agency or find private rentals in the local newspaper? The language will not be a problem on our side. I would be thankful for any recommendation!:)

    • Hi Nika,
      I’m glad you found the post useful. I will try to give you some tips regarding your questions.

      If you are going to be working around the Hauptbahnhof, there is really no place in the city that is too inconvenient as long as you are somewhat close to a public transport line, bus, tram, SBahn, UBahn, etc. What typically is the case, with some exceptions like Oberkassel or Zooviertel, is that the farther from the Altstadt you are the lower the rent. Bilk is a very good place to be, and there are some very good deals on flats in the area.

      True that it can be more difficult to find a place to live and that landlords can be very particular on who they rent to. The reason behind this is that Germany is a very tenant friendly country where it is hard for landlords to evict problematic tenants. It can take up to a year for a landlord to kick someone out if they are not paying rent. Therefore, in my experience most landlords tend to be cautious about who they rent to and do in fact want to have a lot of information about someone. Expect all landlords to ask about income. That being said, plan on it taking a bit of time to find something and to be approved by the landlord.

      In terms of where to look for a furnished place, several sites that I use are Immobilien Scout 24, Salz & Brot, Immonet, and wg-gesucht.de. These are good starting points for your search. One thing to watch out for is that a lot apartments have a Provision (agency fee) attached to them that the renter pays in addition to the security deposit. This is usually around 2.5 times the cold monthly rent, so it can get to be expensive when added on top of the deposit. I hear this may change in 2015, but it has not yet. Salz & Brot are all provision free flats. WG-Gesucht is great because you can load your profile online and landlords will contact you if they are interested in you as a potential tenant. Several people I know have been found this way and moved into flats that were proposed to them. Just be detailed in your profile so that landlords know you are serious.

      If you don’t mind paying an agency fee you can contact one and they can be very useful. I have been to cheap to do this.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if there is anything else I can give you any tips on!

      Cheers!

  • Jon,
    Nicely written and very useful information. Thank you!
    Val

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