Dormitory or shared apartment?! Downtown or suburbs? What is the easiest way of finding affordable housing? International students will find answers to these questions as well as useful advice on all issues related to apartment-hunting in Cologne, Leverkusen and Gummersbach on our Accommodation webpage.
At the beginning of each semester, a lot of new students move to Cologne, Gummersbach and Leverkusen to start their studies, which is why especially in those times the accommodation situation gets even more stressful than during other months.
We therefore recommend booking a temporary housing for at least the first fourteen days if you do not have a room yet.
Cologne’s most convenient and economical housing option is oftentimes a student dormitory. Kölner Studentenwerk operates 86 student dorms offering roughly 4,700 rooms. Please be aware that TH Köln does not allocate the rooms in these dorms. In order to be allocated a room, please apply online on the website of Kölner Studierendenwerk. Most dorms have rooms in shared apartments, commonly known as ‘Wohngemeinschaften’ in German. Moreover, students can choose between single bedrooms with shared kitchen and bathroom, apartments, family apartments for students with children as well as rooms for handicapped students.
The seemingly large number of dorm rooms is misleading: As the dormitories are open to the roughly 80,000 students enrolled at all Cologne’s universities, they are in extremely high demand. Make sure to apply for a dorm room at Kölner Studierendenwerk as early as possible.
Private dormitories also offer a multitude of housing options for students. Among them are for instance SMARTments Köln, Schmittmann-Kolleg, Südstadtkwartier, International College at Campus Müngersdorf or Wohnheim der Evangelischen Studierendengemeinde Köln.
Private Housing Market
The private housing market offers a viable alternative to living in a student dorm. Due to relatively high rents and fierce competition in Cologne, many students opt to share apartments – and the rent – with other students. The most comfortable way of looking for shared or single apartments from abroad is the internet. A multitude of websites – such as wg-gesucht.de or studenten-wg.de – list rooms and apartments to let. Kölner Studentenwerk can also provide you with assistance on the private housing market: On the website Mein Zuhause in Köln, citizens of Cologne rent their apartments and rooms to students without charging commission. More websites and offers around accommodation:
The International Office recommends all students to visit apartments in person. If you intend to rent an apartment offered on the private housing market, it will be worthwhile to arrive in Cologne prior to the beginning of the semester. Being in Cologne will allow you to search for apartments in the local newspapers – in particular the Kölner Stadtanzeiger and Kölnische Rundschau on Wednesdays and Saturdays – as well as on the university bulletin boards located in the cafeterias and in the headquarters of the Students’ Association.
Apartments and rooms can also be found advertised in local newspapers and on their websites. Most ads are published in the Friday and Saturday editions. The ads are published on the Internet one day after they have appeared in the paper.
Dear future students!
If you are searching for a room on the private market, please be aware of scammers!
On certain websites, scammers are offering flats/rooms to students. They ask you to pay a security deposit as well as 1-2 monthly rents. They say that they will send you the key to the flat/room via post because apparently they are not living in Cologne.
Do NOT transfer money BEFORE you have received the key, met the landlord or signed a contract. These people are scammers; you will most likely never see the money again!
Apartment-Hunting Terms to Know
If you have found a room or WG that you like, you should formulate a nice email to the owner/flat mates. Explain a little something about yourself: Where do you come from, what are you going to study at TH Köln, how are you financing yourself in Germany? If you apply for a room in a WG, read the text of the flat very carefully: Do you have the same or similar hobbies? Do you share common interests? Rooms in WGs will in general be given away after a kind of “Casting”: You will be invited to an interview. You get the chance to see your future room and to meet your future flat mates. But they also get a chance to check you out. Do you fit in their life? They will only give you the room if they like you.
On your search for new accommodation you might stumble across a lot of abbreviations. The most important ones are explained below.
- Abstand: You have to buy part of the furnishings.
- Kalt: cold, i.e. heating and other utilities costs have to be paid in addition
- Kaution: Deposits - in Germany it is normal to pay a deposit of up to three months’ rent which is refunded at the end of the contract. If any damage has been done, the landlord is allowed to withhold the amount of the money needed for the repairs from the deposit.
- Möbliert: The room is fully equipped with all necessary furnishing.
- zzgl. NK: zuzüglich Nebenkosten: i.e. Plus utilities charge
- NMM: "Net monthly rent", (extra charges for heating, electricity, water, etc. are not included)
- Teilmöbliert: The room/flat has some furnishing, but not all that might be necessary
- Warm: warm, i.e. heating and other utilities costs are included
- WG: Shared housing: This indicates a communal living arrangement in which several tenants share a flat, each having his or her own bedroom but sharing kitchen and bath, utilities costs, etc. In Germany the WGs are normally mixed. Keep this in mind. If you rather not share with the opposite sex do take this into account and ask.
- Zwischenmiete: The owner of the room is renting it out for a limited time, often furnished (normally between 3 and 6 months).
Social co-habitation project - Wohnen für Hilfe
Students with a strong sense of community may want to consider becoming involved in the project Wohnen für Hilfe: In this project, students lend a helping hand to people from different generations – such as senior citizens, families, single parents or handicapped persons – with everyday chores. In return, you are provided with rent-free accommodation and will solely have to pay utility costs. In order to be eligible for the program, you should have a good command of the German language and stay in Cologne for more than one year. Detailed information on the project is available in German on the Wohnen für Hilfe website.
Public broadcasting fee
Please take into account that in addition to regular costs of living, students are required to pay a public broadcasting fee (Rundfunkbeitrag) for the use of the German public television, radio and online services. Generally speaking, every household in Germany is required to pay this fee, international students included. Detailed information on the public broadcasting fee is available in the download box.
Accommodation in Cologne
Boasting a population of slightly more than one million, Cologne is Germany’s fourth-largest metropolis – a highly attractive one on top of that. The increasing influx of people can make the search for adequate accommodation quite difficult. That is why the Department of International Affairs strongly recommends that you start looking for a place to live as soon as possible.
The fierce competition on the housing market has resulted in above-market rents – particularly in proximity of the city center. We therefore encourage you to be flexible: Try to look for apartments outside the center, as you will encounter less competition and lower rents. In light of the relatively central location and great public-transportation accessibility, you can easily reach both TH Köln campuses at Cologne Südstadt and Cologne Deutz from any district in Cologne. Our Cologne City Portrait gives you a first glimpse of Cologne’s nine city districts. Visiting the website of the Cologne Transportation Authority (KVB) will allow you to estimate how fast you can reach your campus from the individual districts.
Detailed information on the districts of Cologne can also be found on the website:
koeln.de/veedel [Only in German]
This multicultural district is the only district in Cologne that does not border on the city center. However, public transport means that you can still get to the city center quickly. In Chorweiler you will find many green areas and forests in addition to the popular Lake Fühlingen. There are also plenty of shopping facilities here: in the center there is one of Cologne's major shopping centers, the City-Center. The cultural and leisure facilities include the district library, an indoor swimming pool and a large leisure pool including a fitness studio, the Aqualand. Thanks to the comparatively low rents, more and more students live here. Chorweiler is well connected to public transportation, the S-Bahn takes you quickly to Cologne Central Station, and with KVB lines 15 and 12 you can also reach Zülpicher Platz or the TH-Campus in Südstadt within a short time. As nightlife is limited, Chorweiler can be characterized as a family-friendly quarter - ideal for those who want to concentrate on their studies without too much distraction.
In Ehrenfeld you will find lively streets full of cafés, snack bars and shopping facilities. The nightlife is also very popular in these streets. In recent years, Ehrenfeld has developed into a very popular district, especially for artists and students. As this district was formerly a workers' quarter, relatively cheap rents are now a feature of the district. Ehrenfeld has its own railway station, where not only S-Bahn but also regional trains run. The KVB- lines 1, 3, 4 and 13 and several bus lines are very well connected to all other parts of the city.
In spite of high rents, Cologne's city center (Innenstadt) is a very popular district for students - especially to establish shared flats. As far as cultural and leisure activities are concerned, it is a tormenting choice: the historical town hall, the Cologne Cathedral, the Cologne Trade Fair, the Cologne Opera and Theatre, the Philharmonic Hall, the Rhine Park with its thermal spa (Claudiustherme), WDR arcades, numerous museums and theatres as well as Romanesque churches, among others, can all be visited here. In the many restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs you can also spend the nights well. The city center is also a popular place to go shopping because of its huge selection. However, during peak hours such as Saturday afternoon, Schildergasse is also too crowded for some people: according to a survey, the pedestrian zone was the third most visited shopping street in Germany in 2013. The famous street carnival also takes place here. The traffic connections are very good, almost all KVB lines shuttle back and forth between the different stations of the city center in short intervals.
Although I am studying in Deutz, I wanted to move to Südstadt because I meet mostly friendly young people here at any time of day as soon as I leave the doorway. The atmosphere, especially on warm summer nights, is simply very special. The many nearby parks, such as the Volksgarten, also offer plenty of space for sporting activities or a cozy barbecue with friends.
Student (28), Energy and Building Services
Kalk is a versatile and lively district on the right bank of the Rhine. The city of Cologne has been investing in a significant improvement in the quality of life for some years now. For this reason, more and more students are moving there and are benefiting from the favorable rents, the multiculturalism and the leisure facilities, such as the Kalk adventure hall or the Vingst outdoor swimming pool. The modern Cologne Arcaden shopping center is also located on Kalker Hauptstraße, attracting many people from other districts of Cologne with its wide range of shops. Tram lines 1 and 9 get you to Deutz campus and Neumarkt quickly.
After a very long search I found a great apartment in Höhenberg. My flat mates and I are thrilled to have so much space for so little money in Cologne. On our street we have three different supermarkets and everything else we need. As we live directly in front of the bus stop, we are also quickly in the city. I know a lot of students who live here. We definitely have everything we need.
Student (20), Social Work
Vivid shopping streets such as Dürener Strasse, Aachener Strasse and Luxemburger Strasse with a variety of cafés, bars and clubs make this district very attractive for many students in Cologne. If you are looking for green spaces and parks, this is the right place. In Lindenthal you will find the popular Aachener Weiher, the Melaten cemetery and also the Rheinenergie Stadium of the soccer pros from FC Cologne. Lindenthal is a very popular residential area and the rent prices are relatively high - unless you get a place in the dormitory. Lindenthal can be reached by tram with lines 1,7 and 13, and several bus lines also run through the city district at short intervals.
I always wanted to live in a part of the city that was so convenient that I would be in the center of the city as well as in a green area. Lindenthal is located directly at the University of Cologne between Zülpicher Platz, the Ring and the Grüngürtel. Students and families live next door to each other and there are many small cafés where you can meet each other. With lines 1 or 9 I can travel to the campus in Deutz without changing trains.
Student (25), Mechanical Engineering
Mülheim is located on the right bank of the Rhine and is considered a young district. The well-preserved town houses and characteristic Baroque villas are popular in this district, which give the district a ‘certain something’. Especially at Wiener Platz and Frankfurter Straße there is always a lot of traffic, among other things there are many shopping possibilities. The Mülheim harbour, a smaller industrial port, is located on the Rhine. In addition, several media companies have established themselves in this district. Many families live in Mülheim, because the district offers a lot of green space and above all a wide range of day nurseries and schools. Numerous regional lines run at Cologne-Mülheim station; with the KVB, lines 4, 13 and 18 take you quickly to the city center. The district is also well connected with buses.
The district of Nippes is located on the left side of the Rhine. Nippes is characterized by relatively low rents and yet short distances to the city center. Residents particularly appreciate the diversity of cultural and Cologne traditions. On the largest shopping street of its kind in Cologne, Neusser Straße, there is a large selection of shopping facilities. In addition to the public transport lines 12, 13 and 15 of the KVB, you can also reach Nippes by taking the S-Bahn lines 6 and 11, and you can also get to the city quickly by bicycle. That is why the city district is attractive for all those who do not want to give up a big city feeling.
Actually, I only moved to Niehl by chance because I found my apartment there. But I have been living there for more than a year and I am very satisfied. The transport links are very convenient and there are many shops and supermarkets. It takes 15 minutes to walk along the Rhine, 12 minutes to Heumarkt and eight minutes to the main railway station. There are many families and fewer students living there, so there are many kindergartens and playgrounds, which suits us well because we have a small son. The neighborhood is very green, the North Park is two minutes away from us.
Student (31), Multilingual Communication
On the right bank of the Rhine is Porz, the southernmost district of the city. In terms of surface area, it is also the largest of the nine districts in Cologne. The districts consist of industrial areas, rural areas, recreational areas and extensive forest areas. Interesting sights include the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the forest museum with bird of prey station and Wahn Castle. You are well connected by tram line 7 as well as numerous bus and suburban railway connections, so that you can easily get around despite the somewhat longer distance to the city center. The motorway and Cologne/Bonn Airport are also within easy reach. The majority of the inhabitants are families who appreciate the peace, security and general well-being of the district. Despite the high quality of life and affordable rental apartments, the southern districts of the city are rather sparsely populated by students.
Rodenkirchen, one of the most expensive districts of Cologne, is located in the south of the left bank of the Rhine. However, there are quite large price differences between the individual quarters. Zollstock, for example, is home to many students living in or near the student dormitory and benefits from low rental prices. Relatively close to the Rhine, one has a high quality of life and peace and quiet. On the main street there are all the shops of daily use such as supermarkets, banks, the district library, the Deutsche Post and many restaurants. In general, Rodenkirchen is convenient and safe. It is connected by tram lines 12, 16 and 17 and several bus lines that also run to the Südstadt campus, which is a valuable criterion for many students.
Zollstock is practical and nice. Not beautiful, but nice. And I'll be at the campus in Südstadt in ten minutes.
Student (20), Social Work
I live in Rondorf. This has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, of course, this is not the center of the city, and I spend 50 minutes in the bus until I reach the cathedral square. We also have no train connection in Rondorf and always have to adapt to bus times. On the other hand, life in Rondorf is much calmer than in the old town. The nature is very beautiful and the neighbors very nice and friendly. In Rondorf I often go for walks, jogging, riding a bike or sitting at the lake with my favorite book. Rondorf is like a village in a city where you can have a barbecue in the garden, where everyone knows each other and from where I can cycle to the university and into town.
Student (25), Business Administration
Accommodation in Gummersbach
Gummersbach – located approximately 50 kilometers east of Cologne – has a population of 54,000 and a much more relaxed housing market than Cologne. Kölner Studierendenwerk operates three student dorms with a total of 185 rooms in Gummersbach. As dorm rooms in Gummersbach tend to be in high demand as well, it is advisable to apply for the much-coveted rooms on the website of Kölner Studierendenwerk well in advance.
Accommodation in Leverkusen
The housing market in Leverkusen is somewhat more relaxed than in Cologne. In 2017, the Kölner Studentenwerk inaugurated the first student residence hall in Leverkusen and offers 62 places there.
The city of Leverkusen with its 166,000 inhabitants lies between the city of Cologne and the “Bergische Land”. This is also reflected in the appearance of the city: in addition to rural regions and half-timbered houses, industrial areas and residential development are located in a confined space. The housing market in Leverkusen is somewhat more relaxed than in Cologne. In 2017, the Kölner Studierendenwerk inaugurated the first student residence hall in Leverkusen and offers 62 places there. It is also advisable to apply for the desired rooms as early as possible.