One thing you should know when calculating your rent is that not all German utilities are included. What is important here is the distinction between Kaltmiete (rent without additional costs) and Warmmiete (rent with all covered costs). The Warmmiete includes the basic rent for the flat itself as well as additional costs (Nebenkosten) for waste disposal, property tax, chimney-sweeping, and some German utilities like water or heat (Heizkosten).
If you already own an apartment in Germany, you don’t have to pay rent, of course. However, additional costs such as taxes in Germany, recycling and rubbish collection, as well as costs for some German utilities are included in the so-called Hausgeld (homeowners' association fee) that you pay to property management services.
Costs for the water supply in your new apartment are usually included in the monthly rent (Warmmiete) or the Hausgeld for homeowners. Your landlord or the property managers base their German utilities estimate for your water bill on the potential annual consumption of your household. If your actual consumption is, for some reason, unusually high, the additional charges will be raised accordingly in the following year.
In certain rare cases, paying for your water supply in Germany is not a part of your rent or homeowners’ fees. Then you have to get in touch with the local water supply company (kommunale Wasserwerke) in order to set up an individual contract. However, when dealing with German utilities, it is always useful to know the name of your local water supplier in Germany. Look up their website and bookmark their hotlines for emergencies like strange changes in water pressure for instance.
The quality of the water itself is mostly very high. Lots of cities do not even need to add chlorine to the local water supplies to meet the rigorous standards for potable water in Germany. You may safely drink straight from the tap. But a water filter often comes in handy as water in Germany has a high degree of lime. This is also why domestic appliances like kettles, dishwashers, and washing machines may need a little more maintenance than you’d expect.
When you move into your new home, you also need to get connected with electricity and, in some cases, gas for cooking and for the central gas heating in your own apartment. Costs for gas may be covered by the Warmmiete, while it is rather unusual for electricity costs in Germany to be included in the additional costs. More often than not, you will have to set up an individual account with your German utilities provider. In an apartment block or a building with multiple flats, you should always ask the landlord or property management which German utilities company supplies them with gas and electricity and choose your supplier in Germany accordingly.
However, in the most common scenario, the previous tenant will have deregistered with their German utilities supplier, and you’ll have to register anew with the gas/electricity provider of your choice. Since the deregulation of the German energy market in the late 1990s, costs for gas and electricity are still among the highest in Europe, but there is now more competition among energy providers – from large international companies like e.on to the smaller, German utilities provider such as SWM in Munich.
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