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 and Gummersbach on our Accommodation webpage.
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. Oftentimes dozens of apartment hunters compete for a single apartment. That is why the International Office strongly recommends that you start looking for a place to live as soon as possible. Doing so will enable you to find an apartment in good time before your arrival so that you can dedicate your first days in Cologne to more important things.
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.
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.
Private dormitories also offer a multitude of housing options for students. Among them are for instance SMARTments Köln, Schmittmann-Kolleg, Stiftung Kaufmannshof-Hanse 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.
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.
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.
Living 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 two student dorms with a total of 126 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.