Finding a house or a flat will probably be your most immediate concern if you decide to move to Hessen. Newcomers face a host of – sometimes unsettling – questions: Will I be able to maintain or improve on my current housing situation? What can I afford? Which area will suit my personal needs? Answers have to be found quickly. If you are well-informed – and with a little luck – there is every chance that you will be successful. You may have to make some compromises, but you will almost certainly not be obliged to make any sacrifices.
Before embarking on your search, you should first of all have a clear idea of your budget. Statistically, about six out of ten Germans rent accommodation – and more than this in major centres. Rental prices depend on the area, the condition and age of the building, and its market value. The more convenient the house or flat’s location (e.g. by proximity to public transport, shopping opportunities and schools), the higher the rent.
German flats are generally rented out unfurnished. Most do not have a stove, light fittings, wardrobes, a dishwasher or a washing machine. Tenants are responsible for all furnishings and appliances. In some cases, the kitchen fittings can be acquired from the previous tenant. Many landlords have now adapted to the requirements of international tenants and rent out houses or flats which include kitchen and other fittings – but the rent will reflect this.
If your stay in Hessen is temporary, it may be worth renting a furnished flat. These flats may be expensive, but it is worth paying slightly more for a furnished flat in certain circumstances – as then there will often only be the flat rate for heating and water to pay, and you avoid spending money on furniture and fittings.
There is a distinction between Kaltmiete/‘cold rent’ (in which the cost of heating, maintenance and other services is charged extra) and Warmmiete/‘warm rent’ (in which all additional costs are included). Electricity is obtained by the tenant from the local provider. Although the cost of utilities depends on your personal usage, you should ask the landlord about the previous tenants’ bills in order to get a better idea of your monthly expenditures. Rent increases are limited by law, but utility rates can be raised at any time, e.g. if the town council decides to increase the price of water. Utility bills are charged at an equal rate across the year (i.e. heating costs remain the same in summer and winter) and are adjusted by the landlord according to usage.