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Living in Bielefeld

Looking for a suitable and reasonably priced accommodation is not easy, especially from another country, and tends to be more successful when you are not pressed for time. It is advisable to start looking as soon as possible, and before you come to Germany.

If you prefer to look for a permanent accommodation after your arrival in Bielefeld, there are various ways of looking once you get here.

Ways of seeking Accommodation privately

  • Most rooms and apartments to let are advertised in the weekend editions of the two local newspapers in Bielefeld, the "Neue Westfälische" and "Westfalen-Blatt".
  • You can find notices advertising free rooms in shared accommodation or from private landlords on the notice boards (called "Schwarze Bretter") of each individual faculty at the university, or outside the Mensa dining hall
  • You can commission an estate agency (Maklerbüro) to find an apartment for you. However, you will have to pay them the equivalent of 2 months' rent for this service. If you decide to use a Maklerbüro, make sure that it is a member of a professional association (the Ring Deutscher Makler, RDM)

You can also look for accommodation on the internet under:

Bielefeld University offers its international visitors several attractive accommodation options. If you are interested in a university apartment, you should get in touch with the contact person as soon as possible, as the capacities of the guesthouses are limited. Usually, there is no possibility in getting flat/room at the student residence for doctoral candidates (only very short time and with great luck).

You will find a list of contacts and links below.
Contact at Bielefeld University:
-> Internationales Begegnungszentrum der Wissenschaft IBZ(international guest house)

Hotels in Bielefeld

Until you find suitable accommodations, you could temporarily stay in a hotel or a less expensive guesthouse for younger people. Bielefeld University has negotiated special conditions with these hotels. (Please ask the university to make reservations for you).

For a further list hotels, go here to the official City of Bielefeld website.

Youth Hostels

The Jugendgästehaus (guesthouse for young people) is run by the German Youth Hostel Association (Deutsche Jugendherbergswerk). Single rooms can also be booked for several nights. To find out about availability and prices, please contact (and ask for the special price as a university guest):

Holiday Flats und Private Rooms

Holiday flats and private rooms make for a third temporary solution. The City of Bielefeld offers a list of rooms and apartments on their website.

//Practical Tips for Accommodation in Germany

  • In Germany, apartments are generally rented unfurnished. Even one-person studio apartments are normally unfurnished, except when the actual tenant is subletting for a limited time period.
  • In shared flats, you share kitchen and bathroom, but you will have your own bedroom.
  • Landlords frequently ask for a deposit (Kaution) varying from one to a maximum of 6 months' basic rent (the so-called "Kaltmiete" without extra charges for utilities and services). This is to cover any potential damage you may cause to the property or unpaid rent. However, the landlord has to pay this back with interest at the end of the rental agreement after deducting any costs for repairs and renovation. This should all be specified very clearly in your lease or rental contract (Mietvertrag).
  • Most advertisements list only the rent, excluding utility charges (Kaltmiete). When looking at the apartment, always ask about the utility charges (the Nebenkosten). Tenants pay their electricity and gas bills directly to the public utility company (Stadtwerke). Every apartment should have its own electricity and/or gas meters.

You can find detailed information on how to look for accommodation and what you need to pay attention to when signing a lease (Mietvertrag) on the Internet pages of the ->Humboldt Foundation.
If you are having difficulties with your landlord, you can obtain advice and support - for a fee - and information pamphlets on renting, rental contracts, and so forth from the following addresses:
->Mieterbund Ostwestfalen-Lippe e.V.
->Verbraucherzentrale NRW

Typical Abbreviations in Housing Advertisements

AbbreviationWhat it Means
2-Zi-Whg 2 Zimmerwohnung = 2-room apartment
3 ZKB 3 Zimmer mit Küche und Bad = 3 rooms plus kitchen and bathroom
450 Euro + NK 450 Euro Kaltmiete + Nebenkosten = 450 Euro basic rent plus utility charges
DG, EG, OG Dachgeschoss, Erdgeschoss, Obergeschoss = top floor (attic), ground floor, upper floor
Du Dusche = shower
kalt, KM Kaltmiete = basic rent (without utility charges)
KB Küche, Bad = kitchen, bathroom
MM Monatsmiete = monthly rent
RH Reihenhaus = terraced house
TG Tiefgarage = underground garage
warm, WM Warmmiete = complete rent including all utility charges

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