Living in Cologne
Unfortunately, it is a real challenge to find an apartment in Cologne - especially at the beginning of a semester. The easiest way to find a room or apartment is a search via websites such as WG-gesucht, Immonet (German), Immobilienscout (German), or Studenten-WG (German). Checking the newspaper and looking for postings at the University of Cologne may help too.
Rent in Cologne similar to other German big cities runs fairly high and varies greatly depending on the area. An average rent for an unfurnished one bedroom apartment (about 40 m2) is around 500 Euros per month, and for a room in a shared apartment (“Wohngemeinschaft” or "WG") around 350 Euros. Another way of cheap living is a new concept of homeshare: “Wohnen für Hilfe” (German). Here, students are helping senior residents with everyday chores in exchange for greatly reduced rent (as a rule of thumb: one hour of help per month for each m2 of room; excluding extra charges for heat, electricity and water).
It is important to know German practices and terminology when looking for a house or apartment. If you want one bedroom with a living room, you will actually be looking for a zwei Zimmer (two-room) apartment in Germany. Bathrooms, WCs, kitchens and halls aren't included in the number of rooms. Usually, you will rent a completely unfurnished apartment - often even without a kitchen.
Good to know: Your payment to the landlord is usually made monthly and consists of two parts: rent and ancillary costs ("Nebenkosten"). The latter include costs for heat / gas, water, waste collection and possibly also stairwell cleaning. You will have to arrange for electricity individually with a supplier of electric energy. The same applies to a telephone extension, television, internet and/or cable connection.
The links below may help you in your search for housing.
- International Office
- German Academic Exchange Service's Accomodation Database
- Living in Germany Guide (BMWi, BMAS)
- EURAXESS Portal Accomodation in Germany
- Looking for housing, rent or tenancy (BAMF)
Register your place of residence
Once you have found accomodation in Cologne, you have to register with one of the residence registration offices ("Einwohnermeldeamt", website in German) within one week. If you move to new accomodation in Cologne, you will also need to update your registration. The registration of residence is free of charge.
The registration office closest to the University of Cologne is the Kundenzentrum Lindenthal, located at Aachener Str. 220, 50931 Cologne.
Internation office staff at the University of Cologne will advise you on necessary documents and the procedure.
For registering your residence you will need:
- Your personal identity card / passport
- A signed registration form (which you can either download and fill in beforehand or have a staff member complete at the registration office)
- Name and adress of your landlord in Cologne
- If you are married / in a partnership: marriage / life partnership certificate as well as birth certificates of minors living with you. If you bring your family to Germany, all members have to be registered individually.
- Please note that documents in languages other than German have to be translated by a certified translator. Original documents and translations have to be presented for registration.
After your registration, you will receive a registration confirmation. Keep this registration certificate in a safe place; it is an important document necessary for opening a bank account, applying for a residence permit, etc.