Living

Accommodation for the first few weeks

For the first few weeks, it’s possible to stay in hotels or youth hostels, furnished apartments, or privately rented shared housing. Here’s an overview of accommodation options: Breisgau - Hochschwarzwald district, Emmendingen district, Emmendingen, Ortenau district, Offenburg, Freiburg, Freiburg Homecompany

 

Housing search

Most people rent in Germany, and houses and apartments are usually unfurnished. If you’re looking for housing in the Freiburg - Southern Upper Rhine region, you can find listings here:

  • Internet: Real estate pages / regional daily newspapers

  • Regional daily newspapers / gazettes

  • Real estate agents

  • Housing cooperatives

    Rental prices can vary depending on the city and district.

     

    Information:

  • The number of rooms listed in advertisements refers to the living room and bedrooms. Typically, the apartment will also have a bathroom and kitchen. In most cases, the “kitchen” is an empty room and the renter in responsible for buying and installing their own kitchen.

  • Rental price: the rental price usually consists of the rent and additional costs. Additional costs include electricity, water, heating, and waste disposal. Be sure to ask exactly which costs are included in the rent.

  • Real estate agent: please keep in mind that brokerage fees may apply if you use a real estate agent to find your house or apartment (the brokerage fee may not be higher than 2 months’ rent + 19% VAT). Currently, commission must be paid by the renter/buyer.

     

Information:

abbreviations in apartment listings

  • 2-Zi-Whg: 2-room apartment (“2-Zimmer-Wohnung”)
  • Abstellk: Store room (“Abstellkammer”)
  • Blk / Balk.: Balcony (“Balkon”)
  • DG: under the roof/attic rooms (“Dachgeschoss”)
  • D: Hall (“Diele”)
  • DU: Shower (“Dusche”)
  • EBK: Fitted kitchen (“Einbauküche”)
  • EFH: Single-family home (“Einfamilienhaus”)
  • EG: Ground floor (“Erdgeschoss”)
  • HK: Heating costs (“Heizkosten”)
  • KM: Rent without additional costs (heating, cable TV, waste removal, etc.) (“Kaltmiete”)
  • Kau.: Deposit (“Kaution”)
  • Keine zusätzl. Prov.: No additional commission (“Keine zusätzliche Provision”)
  • MM: Monthly rent (“Monatsmiete”)
  • NK / NBK: Additional costs (water, wastewater, heating, janitor etc. (“Nebenkosten”)
  • NR: Non-smoker (“Nichtraucher”)
  • OG: Upper floor (“Obergeschoss”)
  • RH: Terraced house (“Reihenhaus”)
  • Stellpl.: Parking space (“Stellplatz”)
  • TG: Underground parking (“Tiefgarage”)
  • warm/WM: Rent including all additional costs (“Warmmiete”)
  • Wfl.: Floor area (“Wohnfläche”)
  • WG: Shared apartment (“Wohngemeinschaft”)
  • WK: Combined kitchen/living room (“Wohnküche”)
  • ZH: Central heating (“Zentralheizung”)

 

Rental agreement

You have to sign a rental agreement before moving in. Among other things, this agreement establishes how much your monthly rent will be. Before signing, be sure to double check which costs are included in the rent and which costs are billed separately.

Information:

  • Deposit: in addition to the monthly rent, the landlord will often require a security deposit (“Kaution”). The deposit is usually between 1 and 3 months’ rent and often must be paid at the beginning of the tenancy. Upon moving out, you will get your deposit back, including interest.

  • Many landlords ask that you have liability insurance. Private liability insurance costs between 30 and 60 € per year and can be taken out with an insurance company of your choice.

     

Moving in

Generally, you must personally register and pay for telephone, Internet, and power with the respective providers. Garbage fees are paid annually. In Germany, every household must also pay a monthly fee for public radio and television channels, regardless of the number of people living there. A parking space for a car isn’t necessarily included in the rental price and, in some cases, must be rented. In some neighborhoods, you can request a resident parking permit for the separate parking spaces provided for residents.

 

After moving in

Obligation to register

It is mandatory to register at your local Einwohnermeldeamt (registration office) within 14 days of your arrival if you are staying in Germany for more than 3 months. Please note that in some places, the Einwohnermeldeamt is known as the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR) or a Bürgerbüro.

If you move to a different town in Germany, you must register your address again at the local Einwohnermeldeamt. If you leave Germany, you must de-register.

Please be aware of the change in German registration law as of 1 November 2015. The main change is that you will need a confirmation of your landlord/the lessor for the registration. This confirmation has to include his/her name, address, the location of the apartment/house you are going to rent and the names of the renter(s) who are going to register under this address. This confirmation can be issued in written to you as well as per e-mail to the authorities.

In case you do not register in time or if you register incorrectly the registration office can punish you by a fine up to 1.000€.

Don’t forget:

Be sure to put your last name on your mailbox and doorbell, otherwise you won’t receive any mail.

Electricity, gas, and water
If electricity, gas, and water are not included in the utility costs, it is up to you to sign up with a provider of your choice. There is a large pool of providers to choose from, and green energy providers are available in almost every city. You will receive a monthly bill that is calculated based on an estimate of your annual consumption. The amount depends on the number of people living in your home. At the end of the year, the provider will calculate your exact consumption and refund the difference if you paid too much. However, should you have used more than expected, you’ll have to make a final payment to cover the difference. 

Telephone and Internet
There are many different telecommunications service providers in Germany. Many offer discounted packages for phone and Internet services.
Tip: Having telephone and Internet set up in your home can take several weeks. We recommend contacting a provider well in advance of moving.   

Fees for television and radio
In Germany, fees are charged for public radio and television. These set fees are collected from each household by the GEZ (fee collection center). Every household is required to pay the same monthly fee regardless of how many people live there. You can find more information at Rundfunkbeitrag (only availabel in German).

 

Practical tips

Quiet hours
In Germany, people are generally prohibited from making unnecessarily loud noises between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., such as listening to loud music or playing instruments.

Pets
Check with your landlord if pets are allowed.

Tap water
It is safe to use tap water in Germany for drinking and cooking. In fact, it is considered the best controlled foodstuff in Germany.

Waste separation
People in Germany are very environmentally conscious and pay close attention to recycling and waste separation. As a newcomer in Germany, it is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the local recycling regulations. Admittedly, the rules in Germany are complex and vary from city to city. You can find appropriate information with the responsible authorities – oftentimes the town or city hall – or you can simply ask your neighbors (please also follow the links on this topic). The general rule of thumb is that everything is recycled in Germany. We’ve put together a list of the most important rules:

Recycled paper: newspapers, magazines, cardboard boxes, and all packaging material made of paper or cardboard belong in the labeled recycled paper bin.

Plastic: all items that are marked with a green dot should go in the yellow-colored bin. This includes aluminum, tin cans, plastic packaging and containers, Styrofoam, and items made of composite material such as beverage cartons.

Organic waste: kitchen waste, peels, food scraps, coffee filters, tea bags, and garden clippings all belong in the compost bin.

Household waste: the remaining waste ends up in the so-called residual waste bin. This includes, for example, cigarette packs, sanitary products, rags, diapers, and old kitchen utensils.

Bottle deposit: a 25-cent deposit is charged for most plastic bottles and tin cans, and glass bottles require an 8-cent deposit. This is automatically included in the buying price. This deposit system usually covers all carbonated drinks, water, and beer; wine and non-carbonated beverages are usually excluded. You get your deposit back when you return the empty bottles to the supermarket or beverage store, where they will be taken by machines or actual employees.

Glass: every glass item that doesn’t require a deposit should be brought to the glass collection containers located throughout the city. The glass is sorted according to color: green, white, and brown.

Old clothes and shoes: old clothes and shoes are often collected by charities directly at your front door. They will usually publish the pick-up dates a few days in advance. There are also containers throughout the city or county where you can deposit your used items, which will in turn be picked up by various commercial organizations on a regular basis.

Electronic appliances, small appliances, and furniture: this so-called “bulky waste” is picked up three to four times a year. The pick-up dates will either be published in advance or you’ll have to apply for pick-up with the responsible authorities.