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 by clicking on ‘habitation’. 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. Flexibility is key: The more dorms you indicate in your online application, the higher your chances for getting a room.
To facilitate your application for a dorm room with Kölner Studierendenwerk, you may use our English-language application manual:
Private dormitories also offer a multitude of housing options for students. Among them are for instance SMARTments Köln, Schmittmann-Kolleg, Südstadtkwartier International College im 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 www.wg-gesucht.de or www.wohngemeinschaft.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:
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’ve appeared in the paper: http://www.kalaydo.de/anzeigen/immobilien/wohnungen-zur-miete
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!
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.
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: Bond - in Germany it is normal to pay a bond 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: interim let / sublease
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.