You would like to study in Cologne or Gummersbach and you’re looking for a roof over your head? Start searching for your new home as soon as possible. Whether you are looking to live in a student dormitory or shared apartment, in the city or in the suburbs - we advise you to be flexible. This page provides useful advice for searching for a place to live in Cologne, Gummersbach and Leverkusen.
What is the situation on the housing market in Cologne?
Finding an apartment in Cologne isn’t always easy. With over a million inhabitants, Cologne is Germany’s fourth biggest city. Its more than 24 universities make the city very attractive to more than 100.000 students. A housing offer often attracts a large number of interested potential tenants. The strong competition on the housing market leads to relatively high rents, especially near the city center.
What can you do? Stay flexible and start looking for a place to stay early. It can be a good idea to look in neighborhoods outside of the city center, where rent prices are lower and fewer people are interested in apartments. Thanks to their central location and good public transportation, the Deutz, Mülheim and Südstadt campuses can easily be reached from almost all neighborhoods.
If you need information on neighborhoods in Cologne, called “Veedel”, a PDF document with an overview of the different corners of the city is available for download. Further information can also be found on this website (unfortunately, only available in German): koeln.de/veedel
On the website of Cologne’s public transportation authority (KVB), you can check beforehand how long your commute will be.
What is the situation on the housing market in Gummersbach?
Luckily, the situation is a lot more relaxed than in Cologne. Gummersbach is situated about 50km east of Cologne and has about 54.000 inhabitants. If you’re looking for accommodation in the city center or near the campus, we recommend starting your search as soon as possible. Good and affordable offers are very popular and attract many interested tenants.
Please note that advertisements for a room in a shared flat or for smaller apartments are often posted on the notice board (“Schwarzes Brett”) of the student council on campus and offered via various Gummersbach Facebook groups:
- TH Köln - Campus Gummersbach
- TH Köln - Campus GM
Looking for advertisements in local newspapers can also be a good idea, as many elderly people in the region still use this medium.
Should you decide to look for accommodation in Cologne instead, please be advised that commuting by train between the two cities will take about one hour and fifteen minutes.
Nearby communities can be a good alternative. Rösrath, Overrath and Engelskirchen are situated between Cologne and Gummersbach directly next to the commuter rail RB 25. This way, you will be connected to both cities while benefitting from lower rent prices compared to Cologne.
What is the situation on the housing market in Leverkusen / Opladen?
Luckily, the situation is more relaxed than in Cologne. However, there are also fewer offers. Leverkusen is bordering Cologne to the north, about 12km away from the city center, and has about 163.000 inhabitants. Rent for small apartments and shared apartments is comparatively cheap, but offers are very popular and will be taken quickly, especially when looking in the city center. Start your search as soon as possible.
The Faculty of Applied Natural Sciences is located in Leverkusen Opladen – directly at Opladen train station, guaranteeing good public transportation connections to both Cologne and Leverkusen.
I don’t have a place to stay yet, where can I spend the night?
If you haven’t got an apartment in sight before your arrival, we recommend to book temporary accommodation for at least 14 days. Due to the large amount of students, the situation on the housing market is tense, especially at the beginning of the semester.
Youth Hostels in Germany
If you do not live in Germany, you can become a member of the Youth Hostel Association in your home country. To apply for discounted memberships, please contact the Youth Hostel Association in your country or purchase your home country's standard membership from Hostelling International.)
An international guest who does not hold a membership card can purchase an International Guest Card in place of membership. He is required to buy a Welcome Stamp for each night of his stay at the cost of € 3.50. When he or she has collected 6 Welcome Stamps, the Guest Card becomes valid in all Hostels worldwide or entitles the holder to reduced rates for his stay. Validity is 12 months from the date of issue.
Alternatively, a Guest Card with immediate international validity can be obtained at € 18.00.
Youth hostels in Cologne, Gummersbach and surroundings
- Youth Hostel Cologne-Pathpoint
- Youth Hostel Cologne-Deutz
- Youth Hostel Cologne-Riehl
- Youth Hostel Wiehl (near Gummersbach)
- Youth Hostel Bonn
- Youth Hostel Lindlar (between Cologne and Gummersbach)
- Youth Hostel Neuss-Udesheim (near Cologne)
- Youth Hostel Düsseldorf
The youth hostels in the university cities of Aachen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Essen and Cologne are now offering rooms for a limited period for those students who have not yet found their own dormitory or other accommodation. The prices of the rooms range from 449.00 to 589.00 euros per month. Rooms can be rented either weekly or for a whole month. The equipment includes a bed, a table and a chair as well as the weekly cleaning of the rooms and provision of new bed linen. The breakfast buffet is already included. Other meals can easily be added.
Other temporary housing options
- A&O Hostel am Dom und Neumarkt
- Station Hostel for Backpackers
- Weltempfänger Backpacker Hostel
- Hostel Köln
- Die Wohngemeinschaft
A list of temporary accommodation such as hotels or holiday apartments can be found on the website of the city of Gummersbach.
A list of temporary accommodation such as hotels or holiday apartments can be found on the website of the city of Leverkusen.
Are there student dormitories in Cologne, Gummersbach and Leverkusen?
Yes, there are more than 90 dormitories with about 4.900 places. The Kölner Studierendenwerk (KSTW) is responsible for the administration and allocation of these dormitory places.
Most dormitories offer you a room in a shared apartment, so called WGs. There are also rooms sharing a common kitchen or bathroom on the same floor. Small apartments and apartments for students with children are very scarce and hard to get. However, KSTW also offers barrier-free housing.
Please don’t be fooled by the seemingly large amount of places in dormitories. These dormitories are open to all student in Cologne, not just those of TH Köln, which results in high demand for these rooms. You should apply for a room in a dormitory as soon as possible. You do not need admission to a degree program for this. The waiting period can be up to 6 months or longer.
In Gummersbach, KSTW offers three dormitories. One of them is located directly next to the campus, in the center of the city. Demand for a room in this dormitory is usually high and your chances of getting a room are lower than in the other two dormitories. In general, dormitories are very popular in Gummersbach.
In Opladen, KSTW offers one dormitory featuring small apartments and shared apartments. From there, three buses take you directly to Chempark campus. A commuter rail stop is located directly next to Chempark, taking you directly to either Cologne or Leverkusen. Please note that demand for this dormitory is quite high.
Please note: TH Köln is not responsible for the allocation of the rooms!
How can I apply for a room in a KSTW dormitory?
You can apply for a room via the website of KSTW under the section Wohnen. When filling-in the application, we recommend to be as open and flexible as possible when it comes to the location and the rent of the dormitory. After your online application is submitted, you will receive an E-Mail from KSTW containing your applicant number.
Apply as early as possible for a place in a dormitory at the Kölner Studierendenwerk. At this point, it is not yet necessary that you have already applied or enrolled at TH Köln. You do not need a letter of admission. After registration, you will initially be on a waiting list. Please note that the waiting period can last up to 6 months or longer. Registration is free of charge and without obligation. You are not obliged to accept a possible offer should your plans change or you have found another room in the meantime.
Important: Please note that KSTW will ask you to confirm that you are still interested in a room every 30 days. Should you forget this confirmation, you will be removed from the waiting list and won’t be allocated a room. Please also keep an eye on your Spam-folder!
Are there also private dormitories?
Yes, there are. These dormitories are usually more expensive, but feature more services and modern appliances.
- Dormitory of the Christian Students Association Cologne
- International College on Müngersdorf Campus
- SMARTments Köln
- Elevon Apartments
- Jugendwohnen Köln
- Plug and Study Homes
- iLive Köln
- YOUNIQ Living
- Quartillion Cologne
- K‑Apart Student
- Die Zimmerei
Please note that TH Köln does not allocate rooms in these dormitories.
How can I find accommodation on the private housing market?
When looking for accommodation on the private housing market, you should keep in mind that due to high demand prices for students are comparatively high, which is why students prefer living in shared apartments (WGs), where they can share rent and utilities with their flat mates.
There are specialized websites where you can start looking from abroad for an apartment or a shared apartment.
On their website Mein Zuhause in Köln, KSTW also offers advertisements from Cologne residents looking to rent out rooms to students.
It can also be helpful to first look for offers for interim rent (Zwischenmiete). After the start of the semester, the housing market usually relaxes and it is easier to find long-term accommodation.
You can also look for accomodation on the following websites:
If you are already in Cologne, you should also look for advertisements in local newspapers. Apartment advertisements are published on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the newspapers Kölner Stadtanzeiger and Kölnische Rundschau. One day after their print publication, you can also find them online.
It is also advised to keep an eye on the university’s notice boards (“Schwarzes Brett”) in libraries, cafeterias and the AStA.
It is also worth looking for accommodation in well-connected surrounding cities.
What do I have to consider when searching the private housing market?
In the last years, we’ve seen more and more scammers advertising fake offers on various search engines. Usually, these scammers require 2 or 3 months’ rent beforehand as a deposit to be transferred to their bank account. They promise to send you a key to the apartment via mail, as they are supposedly not living in Cologne.
Please don’t ever transfer money to a person you don’t know and have only talked to online. If you fall in their trap, your money is likely gone for good.
We therefore recommend to always visit apartments in person. We advise you to arrive in Cologne early in order to have enough time to find accommodation.
What’s the best way to get in touch?
We recommend to get in touch as soon as possible by calling.
Should the landlord prefer written contact, you should formulate a friendly request. Write something about yourself: Your name, where you are from, what and where you plan to study, how you ensure you can pay the rent and so on. Don’t forget to state your own contact details.
When contacting a WG, we recommend reading the advertisement carefully. Look for shared interests, hobbies or other activities you might enjoy. Talk about them during your first contact and when visiting the apartment. This way you can collect a few likeability points from your roommates right away.
Understanding apartment advertisements can be quite hard, especially when it’s your first encounter with the German housing market. In the leaflet on the right side, we want to try and explain some common expressions.
Are there alternatives?
A popular alternative for students with a sense of community involvement is the “Wohnen für Hilfe”-project. Students support people of all ages – for example senior cititzens, families, single parents or people with disabilities – in their everyday life. In return, they are offered accommodation free of rent, except for utilities. This project is suitable for every student planning to stay in Cologne for more than a year while having a good German language knowledge. More information can be found on the project’s website.
What’s the public broadcasting fee? Do I have to pay it?
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.
Under certain circumstances, students can be exempted from paying contributions. For detailed advice and help with the application process, please contact the social counseling service of the AStA of TH Köln at email@example.com.
Please note that illegal streaming, downloading & hosting of films, series or sporting events in Germany is punishable by law and can be very expensive. We only recommend legal streaming services.