How do I find accommodation?
The following steps will be helpful in finding accommodation for the duration of your studies here.
Apply in good time for a place in student halls of residence or alternatively look for accommodation on the local housing market. There are a few suggestions as to where you might look for available housing in Magdeburg later in this section. The most important factors that should be taken into account during your search are the location, price, size and quality of the room or apartment.
Once you have found somewhere of interest, the next step should be to contact the landlord or person who placed the advertisement.
This will normally be followed by an appointment to view the apartment. During this appointment it is important to check carefully what is being offered. Do the terms and conditions (price, size etc.) correspond with the original offer? Moreover, while viewing the apartment you should keep an eye open for factors that might have a negative impact on your living situation. These might include a noisy road right outside the front door or damage to the apartment. Equally you should also ask for the exact cost of the accommodation.
If you wish to rent the accommodation, the next thing you will need to do is sign the rental agreement. If you do not like the apartment, begin again with step 1 in this list.
What are the most important things to take into account before signing a rental agreement?
A rental agreement sets out the rights and obligations of both parties (i.e the tenant and the landlord). It also contains agreements covering various matters such as notice periods, the type and amount of payments, and information on what to do in the event of damage or faults. It is important to note that as soon as you have signed the rental agreement, it becomes legally binding. This means, for example, that you must pay the agreed rent for the duration of the contract.
What are the most important aspects of a rental agreement?
There are many different aspects to a rental agreement, not all of which can be explained in detail here. Furthermore, contracts differ from one landlord to another. For this reason, the following only examines the most important parts of a rental agreement.
Duration/period of notice
An important part of any rental agreement is the agreements on its duration and the notice period. The contract duration stipulates the minimum period of time for which both parties are bound by the agreement. Many landlords in Magdeburg require the contract duration to be longer than six months, for example. This means that the contract must be concluded for at least six months, which includes the payment of rent instalments. On the other hand, this also means that the landlord cannot cancel the agreement before the end of the contract duration once it has been concluded - in other words this agreement applies to all parties. There will be exceptions to this in the event of certain contraventions of the rules set out in the agreement.
Normally the agreement will be prolonged automatically if neither of the parties involved terminates it in due time. Rental agreements therefore usually run for an unlimited period, but have a minimum agreed duration. If, as the tenant, you wish to terminate the agreement, you must send a notice of termination to the landlord before the notice period commences. The notice period is also an important part of the rental agreement.
As an example: someone rents an apartment from 1 January 2015. The contract duration is one year and the notice period is set in the agreement at three months. If the tenant wishes to move out after one year, i.e. on 1 January 2016, the landlord must receive a notice of termination (at the latest) three months before the desired end of the contract. In this example, 30 September 2015 would be the last possible date on which the tenant could give notice. If no notice of termination has been sent, or the notice of termination is received too late by the landlord, the termination may not take place on the desired date and (depending on how late the notice was received) additional months’ rental may need to be paid.
There is, however, a possible way of exiting a rental agreement early. In this case the tenant must find somebody independently who will take over the agreement (new tenant). This is completely normal in Germany. To do this, many tenants post an advertisement on a variety of online platforms on the Internet. However there is no guarantee that a new tenant will be found in good time. For this reason it is always safer to abide by the notice periods set out in the rental agreement.
The majority of landlords in Germany demand payment of a deposit. Normally the deposit amounts to two or three months’ rent. The deposit is paid in to a special account by the landlord. When the apartment is returned to the landlord at the end of the tenancy, the landlord checks that it is in a good condition and that no major damage has been caused by the tenant. If everything is in order, the deposit is returned to the tenant.
Paying the rent
There are two possible ways of calculating the monthly rent.
Fixed price for the room or apartment
In this mode, a fixed sum (for example 250 euros) is charged each month. This sum already includes all costs for electricity, water, heating etc. Costs for the telephone/Internet and the German broadcast media user’s fees are, however, normally not included in this amount and must be paid separately. This payment model is, for example, customary in the rooms of student halls of residence, and also in some accommodation offered especially for students on the private rental market.
Flexible price consisting of basic rent (“Kaltmiete”) and additional costs (“Warmmiete”)
This model of payment is very widespread in Germany and applies to the majority of agreements on the private rental market. With this model, the monthly costs are divided into two categories: The (fixed) basic rent and (flexible) amount for additional costs (water, heat etc.). Together these make up the total rent – i.e. the amount that the tenant must pay the landlord for the apartment. Advertisements for rental apartments where this model of payment is used state the basic rent and (expected) total rent.
The flexible part of the rent depends on the actual consumption by the tenant of water and heat and other consumables. If an amount for the total rent is indicated in the advert, this will be based on estimates or on the amounts paid by the previous tenant. Depending on the tenant’s own behaviour, the actual amount may differ greatly from the amounts stated in the advertisement. If the tenant’s consumption behaviour is normal, the amount stated should be about right. The actual consumption will be measured later by a company. The values will be established when the tenant moves in to and out of the apartment. If you remain in the apartment for a longer period, normally the meter readings for water and heat consumption are taken once a year. If you are very careful with your water consumption or control of the heating, it may be possible that you will receive a refund from the landlord after the actual consumption has been invoiced. Conversely, it is also possible that you will have to pay more after one year (additional payment) if you have consumed more than in the previous year.
The second invoicing model may sound more complicated than the first, but it is also very fair, as you only pay for the actual costs of your own consumption.
Can I secure accommodation from abroad?
Unfortunately that tends to be unlikely. As a rule landlords insist that interested parties are in Germany before a rental agreement can be signed. Furthermore, a German bank account is usually a requirement in order to transfer the rent. However there are some exceptions. For example, the rooms offered by the student union can also be reserved from abroad (see below). In some exceptional cases it may also be possible for landlords to reserve a room or an apartment for a tenant who is still abroad.
As a rule we advise international students to arrange short-term accommodation for the first 1-2 weeks after their arrival. This might be in a hotel, with friends, or another form of short-term accommodation. In our experience, looking for a permanent place to live is much easier when you are here in Magdeburg. At the start of the summer and winter semesters there are teams of student helpers who will support you in your search. They can be contacted on the following email address: wohnung.akaa(at)gmail(dot)com
How can I obtain a room in the student halls of residence on campus?
This is one of the best options for international students to obtain value-for-money accommodation. However the number of rooms available is limited. In the winter semester especially there are far more applicants than rooms. If you are unsuccessful it is still possible to find accommodation on the local housing market. Rooms in the student halls of residence are allocated by the student union. If you are interested in a room there, you should fill in the relevant application online. The earlier you apply for a room from the student union, the greater your chances of success! More information on the student halls of residence can be found here: here.
I have been turned down by the student union – is there still any way that I can get a place in halls?
There are other opportunities to obtain rooms in the student halls of residence. Once a year, usually around 15 September, the student union allocates rooms that have not already been allocated for a variety of reasons. This process is known as “freie Zimmervergabe” (free room allocation) and the exact date and place will be advertised in good time on the student union website.
I have not been able to secure accommodation from abroad – what should I do?
First of all: don’t worry! This is not unusual. Generations of students have managed to obtain accommodation in Magdeburg in other ways. You should arrange temporary accommodation and then come to Magdeburg. In most cases it should be possible to secure permanent accommodation within one or two weeks. Naturally this depends on your personal requirements regarding factors such as the price, location, size and quality of the accommodation. You can contact the student helpers from the International Office by email (wohnung.akaa(at)gmail(dot)com) and ask for assistance. After your arrival you can also arrange a personal meeting.
At the beginning of a semester especially, it may be that the student helpers in the International Office are extremely busy, and they will not be able to support you through every stage of your search as far as concluding a rental agreement. For additional help, therefore, you may also find support via the buddy programme. Through this programme, students from Magdeburg help international students with their arrival in the city and the most important issues at the beginning of their studies. It is also a good way of getting to know people from the city and finding out information on living in Germany and Magdeburg. More information on the buddy programme is available here.
What temporary/short-term accommodation is available?
There are various options for short-term accommodation in Magdeburg. One of the easiest ways is to book a room in one of the many hotels or youth hostels here. To do this you can, for example, simply type the words “Hotel Magdeburg” in a search engine on the Internet. Furthermore, pages such as “Booking.com” offer a convenient overview - they allow you to tailor your search and easily compare prices. The cost for an overnight stay in a simple hotel should be around 30 euros per night. If you already know somebody in Magdeburg, it might also be an option to ask if they are able to offer you short-term lodging. Here are a few recommended websites offering short-term accommodation:
What kinds of rooms or apartments are available in Magdeburg and where can I search?
There are various websites where all possible kinds of accommodation can be searched for. A few examples:
Complete apartments / single-person apartments
Small and value-for-money apartments are in high demand in Magdeburg. If you would prefer to live alone, this could be an option. Simply tailor your online search accordingly to find suitable offers. The following lessors offer single-person apartments for students:
Here there are furnished single-person apartments plus a few two-person apartments with shared kitchen. The Lorenzquartier is around 15-20 minutes on foot from the main campus of Otto von Guericke University.
Grundtech Bauregie GmbH
The Grundtech Bauregie GmbH has rooms and apartments for students close to the campus.
Shared apartments (Wohngemeinschaften)
Why not share an apartment? In a shared apartment you will have your own room, whilst the kitchen and bathroom are shared with your fellow occupants. This form of accommodation is among the most favourable as far as costs are concerned, and is very popular with students. You will find lots of offers for shared apartments if you enter “Wohngemeinschaft” or “WG” in your search engine. Often your future flatmates might want to find out more about you before you can move into the shared apartment. Usually a meeting is arranged so you can get to know one another. If you are still abroad, you could try to get in touch by Skype or other means of communication. If at all possible, it would be beneficial if you could come to Magdeburg a short while before the start of your course so that you can find somewhere to live and take part in person in meetings where apartments / rooms are allocated. Here are a few examples of search portals where shared apartments can be found:
If you already know a few people who are starting their studies at the same time as you, it might be a good idea to share a larger apartment. In this case you would be able to share rent and additional costs. Plus it is easier in Magdeburg to obtain a larger apartment (3 rooms or more). Advertisements can be found on the websites already mentioned. Many larger apartments are, however, let without furniture - so you would need to organise furniture and kitchen appliances yourself. If you are staying in Magdeburg for a longer period of time, this solution may be financially worthwhile.
Which landlords have people rented from in the past?
There is a multitude of large and small landlords in Magdeburg. It is a good idea to look for apartments on the websites already mentioned, as they contain a wide range of offerings and landlords. You will find a number of landlords with whom we have worked together in the past here:
- Grundtec Bauregie GmbH
- Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft Otto von Guericke e.G.
- Kubon Immobilien
Will my accommodation be furnished?
In Germany it is customary for apartments to be let completely unfurnished (without kitchen appliances). However, partially furnished apartments (with kitchen appliances) can often be found. Fully-furnished offerings – usually specifically for students – exist, but they are often in high demand (especially at the beginning of a semester). Shared apartments mostly offer unfurnished rooms, but have a fully-equipped kitchen and bathroom that the occupants share.
More unfurnished rooms and apartments are available and they are often cheaper than those that are furnished. It is not difficult to buy furniture in Magdeburg. If you decide to buy new furniture, this can usually also be delivered directly to your apartment. In addition Magdeburg has a good second-hand furniture market. For example there are several large furniture stores where used furniture can be purchased. It is also worthwhile taking a look at “eBay Kleinanzeigen” “Ebay Kleinanzeigen“ or on “IKUS-Second Hand“. At the end of your stay you can also sell your furniture again there.
What does a room or apartment normally cost?
In general, the cost of an apartment or room depends on its location, size and the quality of the accommodation. Good residential areas in Magdeburg include the “Alte Neustadt” (home to the university’s main campus), “Altstadt”, “Stadtfeld”, “Leipziger Straße” and “Werder” districts. In those quarters that are not so centrally located, the rents are often lower than in the centre. Please also note: Magdeburg is a relatively small city, which also has a good public transport system. It is therefore not absolutely essential to live in the city centre here – there is hardly anywhere in the city from where the journey into the city centre is longer than around 20 minutes by bus or tram.
Small furnished rooms for students start at around 230 euros (for example student halls of residence or with Wobau). Rooms in private shared apartments can often be even cheaper.
Very small furnished apartments begin at around 300 euros (e.g. Lorenzquartier). Somewhat larger apartments can be let from around 400-450 euros. As we have already said, the prices largely depend on factors such as location, quality and size of the accommodation. In general Magdeburg has very low rental costs in comparison with other German university towns.
As already described above (under “Paying the Rent”), there are two kinds of apartments available:
- fixed price apartments that already include all additional costs (e.g. water, heating, electricity), and
- rents that are split between the basic rent and additional costs, where you pay for your actual consumption. In this model, electricity is usually also charged for separately. This requires a contract with an external company.
Sample invoice for a small apartment
Below is an example for a small apartment with additional costs charged separately (basic rent plus costs). The example was found using one of the search portals already mentioned. It is a small apartment with 3 rooms offering 59 m² of living space.
Basic rent: EUR 310 | Additional costs: EUR 135 (including heating costs) | Total rent: EUR 445
In this example 445 euros must be paid to the landlord every month. It is important to note that there are still a few costs that are not included in this amount. These include:
- electricity (subject to consumption, usually around EUR 25-30 per person)
- broadcast media usage fees (currently EUR 17.50 per month, can be split between flatmates in shared apartments)
- telephone and Internet costs (starting from EUR 15-25, depending on connection speed)
The total extra costs detailed here are around EUR 57.50 to 72.50 per month.
Overall in this example the monthly costs for an apartment are between EUR 502.50 and EUR 517.50. This example applies for an entire apartment in which two adults can live.
I have found an apartment. Which documents do I need for the rental agreement?
This can differ from landlord to landlord. In general the following documents are needed:
- proof of a German bank account or proof of a blocked bank account for non-EU citizens
- letter of acceptance from the university.
What is an accommodation provider’s certificate (Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung) and what do I need it for?
Since the end of 2015 this document has had to be completed for every tenant. The landlord is obliged to complete the accommodation provider’s confirmation at the start of every tenancy relationship and to give it to the tenant. The document is needed for registering with the residents’ registration office in the city of Magdeburg. Normally landlords should provide you with the document of their own accord. If not, you should politely remind them.
If you are looking for short-term accommodation for your first few days in Magdeburg, we recommend that you book a room in the Youth Hostel, a hotel or a guesthouse. If you already know people in Magdeburg, asking them to let you stay with them for a short time might also be a good option. Otherwise, we recommend the Internet site “Booking.com”, where it is possible to choose settings (language, booking period) that will make it easier for you to search for and book short-term accommodation. Here are some other suggested websites where you might be able to find hostels and guesthouses in Magdeburg:
In some accommodation it is worthwhile presenting your University admission confirmation letter, as in the Youth Hostel, for example, you will not need to pay a membership fee if you are a student. When choosing your accommodation, make sure that it can be accessed easily by public transport.
Used furniture/household appliances
Here is a selection of places where it is possible to buy cheap used furniture and other household appliances in Magdeburg. If you enter “An- und Verkauf Magdeburg” in Google, you will find plenty of other second-hand shops in Magdeburg.
An & Verkauf Total: Used household appliances, furniture, books, electronics etc.
Glause Doreen An- und Verkauf: Used household appliances, furniture, books, electronics etc.
fair kaufen: Used furniture, clothing, household appliances, bicycles, crockery etc.
Möbel A&V Discount / Tip-top Möbel: Used household appliances, furniture etc.
An&Verkauf: Used furniture, household appliances, electronics, bicycles, art etc.
You can also look for furniture and other used items on the online market. On ebay Kleinanzeigen in particular, you will find a multitude of good offers in Magdeburg. Prices are often negotiable. You can adapt your search on the website to only find local ads.