Things to do After Arrival in Bonn/ Cologne

Health insurance

Information will be provided separately.

Address Registration

Everyone who stays in Germany for longer than 3 months must register at the Resident Registration Office (“Einwohnermeldeamt” in German). This should be done within 7 days after arrival. You have to inform the Resident Registration Office each time you change your address and when you leave Germany. For stipend holders at the MPI this will be taken care of by the internal Welcome Office. The MPIfR driver will take the documents to the respective office and collect them again (registration takes one day only, extension of the residence permit usually about 3 days).

Residence Permit

Non-EU Nationals:

All non-Europeans should have entered the country with an official student/working visa. This is valid for three months and must be converted after arrival into a residence permit. The respective immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde” in German) is responsible for the conversion. Again, for stipend holders at the MPI this will be taken care of by the internal Welcome Office.

Open a Bank Account

To open a bank account you can choose any bank you like.

Most stipend holders and MPI employees have an account with the local Sparkasse Köln Bonn (e.g. branch Magdalenenplatz in Bonn). There is no account charge for students up to the age of 29.


Unfurnished rooms/flats here are just that: completely unfurnished (i.e. they don’t even have lighting fixtures!). Sometimes unfurnished apartments have built-in kitchen facilities (sink, refrigerator, cooking stove). The rent for a furnished apartment or a flat for a single person is approx. 400 € per month.

All-inclusive rents are not the rule. Normally the rent consists of two parts: the basic rent + a monthly prepayment for incidental expenditures (= Nebenkosten). Nebenkosten are:

  • Heating (costs will depend on the type of heating (oil, gas, electricity), weather conditions and consumption)
  • Water

In Bonn you may expect 4,00 € for 1 m3 fresh water and waste water disposal. Hot water is either provided via the central heating (increasing the heating costs) or by a boiler (increasing the cost for electricity).

  • Waste disposal (by the city of Bonn)
  • Street cleaning (by the city of Bonn)
  • General electricity (corridors, common rooms like laundry)
  • Share of the landlord's property tax
  • Share of the landlord’s property and liability insurances
  • Stairwell cleaning if provided

A detailed accounting of all the Nebenkosten has to be made once a year. After deduction of the monthly prepayment, this either results in a refund or an additional payment. The latter is more likely, especially if the amount of prepayment was calculated some time ago with a narrow margin and was not regularly adapted to reality. Most of the above items tend to increase every year or two.

Rent always has to be paid in advance each month. It is advisable to arrange for a standing order with your bank (= Dauerauftrag). Then the bank will automatically transfer the rent every month.

Along with the first payment of the monthly rent usually a deposit (“Kaution”) amounting to 2x (sometimes 3x) the basic rent has to be paid. This is to cover any damage the tenant may cause to property. The deposit will be repaid after deduction of any amount needed for repair or renovation on termination of the lease. The deposit may be paid in 2 (resp. 3) instalments.

Electricity: only sometimes is part of the Nebenkosten. Usually each tenant makes his own contract with the provider (in Bonn: Stadtwerke Bonn). A certain amount (depending on the number of persons, size of the flat, consumption of the former tenant) will be fixed which has to be paid every month. Once a year a final settlement is made.

How to find a place to live?

You may start with the MPIfR Guest Assistant to check what offers are presently available (there are quite a number of landlords who notify us when they have vacancies). Other possibilities are looking into the local newspaper “GeneralAnzeiger” on Wednesdays and Saturdays (with the bigger part of offers) or search at  or  (→ Wohnungsmarkt → first choose between „WG-Angebote (= living community) or „Wohnungsangebote“ (leading to one-room offers), then choose „Bonn“) and side “Angebote lesen” choose Bonn. This leads to WG offers; under 1. “Rubrik wählen” you can change to what you are looking for (1-Zimmer-/ Mehrzimmer-Wohnung)

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