So, as promised, here are some tips on apt hunting for those who are about to arrive or have just arrived:
As I said, the easiest way is speaking German! Unfortunately, many foreigners have a bad reputation in Germany and not all pay rent on time (or at all!), which results in a lot of stress for the apt owner since there are laws that prohibit them to take someone who doesn't pay rent out of the apt.
So renting an apartment is one of the hardest tasks here. If you are coming to study, I would suggest a WG (student apt) because they are cheaper and much easier to rent then a normal apt since you will not have the whole contract under your name. You can find WG offers in most uni announcement boards on and offline. They are usually called "Schwarzes Brett" and are not hard to find.
If you decide you do want to rent your own apt. you probably either need a working German spouse or a good job contract from a known, serious company. If you are looking for an apt and you are not a student nor working at the moment, and intends to live just on savings for the first few months, it is extremely hard to sign a contract under your name, I would say chances are minimal.
I have a friend from India who recently lost his wife and wanted to move to a smaller apt. Even though he has a job contract and his boss was willing to write him a letter stating things like his paycheck amount and etc., he still hasn't been able to find a new place and he has been searching for the past 9 months! Usually, if you're interested in a place, you are probably one of many! So specially in bigger cities, you need to fill out an application with information about yourself and then the apt owner decides who would be the "safest" fill for the apt.
So I guess that's it, however, don't be discouraged! If you're new here have a German friend help you in the hunting, they will also provide you with great insight!
See you next time and I'd love to read your comments!