Home Utilities in Germany: A Comprehensive Guide for Expats

Moving to Germany as an expat is an exciting adventure, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to setting up your home utilities. Navigating the intricacies of energy, water, and internet services in a foreign country can be daunting. However, with the right information and guidance, you can streamline the process and ensure you have all the essential services you need for a comfortable life in Germany.

A living room in a German home standing for Home Utilities in Germany: A Comprehensive Guide for Expats
Home Utilities in Germany: A Comprehensive Guide for Expats

In this comprehensive guide for expats, we’ll break down everything you need to know about home utilities in Germany, including tips on how to make the best choices, insights from various housing situations, and essential information to make informed decisions.

Utilities for Renters & Buyers in Germany

Your responsibilities regarding utilities in Germany depend on your housing situation, whether you are renting or buying property. Take the time to review your rental agreement to determine what is included in your rent.

Subletting & House-sharing (WGs)

If you’re subletting a room or sharing a house, you’ll typically pay an all-inclusive rate. Utilities are usually managed by the landlord or lead tenant, with little room for choice regarding energy providers.


For those renting a single-occupancy apartment, your rent will cover basic expenses, but additional costs, known as “Nebenkosten,” will be added. Usually, a single energy provider is chosen for the entire building by your landlord, leaving you responsible for arranging your internet and phone connections.


If you’re buying property in Germany, you’ll be responsible for arranging all utilities independently, including electricity, gas, water, internet, and phone services.

Cold Rent (Kaltmiete) vs. Warm Rent (Warmmiete)

Understanding the distinction between “cold rent” (Kaltmiete) and “warm rent” (Warmmiete) is crucial in calculating your total housing costs:

  • Cold rent is the base rent, determined by factors like size, room count, furnishings, and location.
  • Warm rent includes the cold rent plus additional costs or service charges (Nebenkosten).

Additional Costs (Nebenkosten)

Nebenkosten encompass various additional costs or service charges added to your basic rent. These may include land tax (Grundsteuer), water expenses, elevator maintenance, refuse collection, and more. Notably, heating, internet, and phone bills are rarely included in Nebenkosten and must be managed and paid separately.

Utilities Statement (Nebenkostenabrechnung)

Once a year, following a meter reading, you’ll receive an annual statement (Nebenkostenabrechnung or Betriebskostenabrechnung) from your landlord or building owner. This statement compares your payments to your actual usage, potentially resulting in an adjustment for the upcoming year to reflect your consumption.

Energy (Strom)

Electricity is a fundamental utility for any home. In Germany, the electricity market is deregulated, which means you can choose your energy provider. Here’s what you should consider:

Research Providers: Germany has various electricity providers, each offering different rates and green energy options. Check online comparison platforms like Verivox or Check24 to find the best deals in your area.

Green Energy: Germany is known for its commitment to renewable energy. Many providers offer green energy plans, which are not only environmentally friendly but also a great choice for expats looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Contracts and Tariffs: Understand the different contract types and tariffs available. Fixed-rate contracts provide price stability, while variable-rate contracts can be more flexible but may lead to higher costs if energy prices rise.

Water (Wasser)

Access to clean and safe water is essential for daily life. In Germany, water supply is generally reliable and safe to drink. Here’s what you need to know:

Registration: After moving into your new home, you’ll need to register with the local water supplier (Wasserversorgungsunternehmen). They will provide you with all the necessary information about billing and usage.

Water Quality: German tap water is of high quality and subject to strict regulations. It’s safe to drink and use for cooking without the need for filtration or purification.

Billing: Water bills are usually sent annually or quarterly. Keep an eye out for your bills and make sure to pay them promptly to avoid any issues.

Internet (Internetzugang)

In today’s digital age, a reliable internet connection is crucial. Germany offers various internet service providers (ISPs) with different plans and speeds. Here’s what you should consider:

Availability: Check which ISPs are available in your area. Availability can vary significantly, so research your options to find the best provider.

Speed and Plans: Consider your internet usage needs. If you require fast and stable internet for work or streaming, opt for a higher-speed plan. Most ISPs offer a range of packages to choose from.

Contracts: Be aware of contract terms and cancellation policies. Some contracts have minimum durations, and breaking them early can result in penalties.

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Setting up home utilities in Germany as an expat may seem daunting at first, but with the right information and a bit of research, you can navigate the process smoothly. Remember to compare providers, consider green options, and be aware of contract terms. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy your new home in Germany with reliable energy, water, and internet services. Embrace the experience, and welcome to your new life in Deutschland!