Calculation of housing costs

When searching for a home in Germany, tenants will face terms such as “Kaltmiete”, “Warmmiete” or “Nebenkosten”. This blog article provides you with all the basic knowledge concerning components of housing costs.


Kaltmiete („cold rent/net rent“)

The cold rent represents the price of the living space, basically the amount of money you pay to use the apartment.

Warmmiete („warm rent”)

The warm rent includes the cold rent, the running costs (usually including water) and heating. It does not include the costs for electricity or internet/phone.

Nebenkosten („running costs“)

Often referred to as the «second rent«. Running costs consist of 17 different types of costs and are partly split between tenants of a building: Three of them regard hot water and heating, the other 14 types consist of running costs for property tax, water, waste water, elevator, street cleaning, house cleaning and pest control, gardening, lighting, chimney sweeping, insurances, janitor, preparation for TV-cable, laundry facilities and other costs, e.g. for a sauna or pool in the house.

A calculation takes place every twelve months and results either in back payment or repayment of the difference between prediction and the actual costs. You will receive a detailed overview of the accumulated costs to check the appropriateness of the claims. An adaption to the amount you have paid for the running costs in the past 12 months may take place, accordingly, your future monthly payment may increase or decrease.

Heizkosten („heating costs“)

Heating costs play a part in the running costs and are calculated every 12 months. Your radiators are equipped with meters that store your consumption, depending on your personal use you will either have to compensate additional consumption or receive a refund.

Wasserkosten (“Water costs”)

Water costs are usually part of the running costs, some landlords exclude these costs from the housing contract. In this case, the tenant needs to sign a contract directly with the Hamburg Wasser (“Hamburg Waterworks”). Note: According to Hamburg Wasser, 1.000l of water including disposal cost approx. 4€ and are equivalent to about 20 showers.

Additional costs for housing

Household insurance

Household insurance can cover damage to household contents by a variety of different risks such as fire, detonation, overvoltage damage and burglary among many others. The average price for the insurance ranges between 100-200€/year. For more information, read our blog article on Household Insurance (Link).

Liability insurance

Liability insurance is designed to offer specific protection against third-party insurance claims, ergo damage one is held responsible for, for example to rented or borrowed residential accommodation in buildings or damage to certain movable assets that you have rented, leased, borrowed or stored. Depending on the chosen policy, this insurance covers damage from five up to 50 million Euros, average costs vary from 50-150€/year. For more information, read our blog article on Liability Insurance (Link).


In most cases tenants are not bound to a certain provider, so you are free to choose from a variety of offers and decide based on your individual needs.


Similar to internet contracts, there are many providers on the market with different offers, e.g. 100% green energy. If you do not sign a contract with an electricity company, you will automatically be assigned to Hamburg’s main provider. The period of notice on your side of this basic care is 14 days, so there is no rush to sign a contract with another company before moving into your new home.

How to determine your budget for housing

When deciding on the amount you are willing to pay for a place, keep in mind that landlords in Germany usually favor tenants to spend a maximum of 35-40% of their gross salary for the warm rent to ensure that they are able to afford their new home on the long run. If you receive an additional housing allowance from your employer, you may add that amount to your gross salary in order to calculate your budget.

Cold rent differences by district

When it comes to cold rent pricing, one of the most important factors is attributed to location. Depending on the district you decide on, average prices/m2 vary a lot. Below you will find a representative list of average rents in different popular neighborhoods of Hamburg. The list serves merely as an orientation, so keep in mind that the actual rent depends on the individual case since location, equipping etc. also play a role in pricing.

Example: If interested in renting a 120m2 apartment in Eppendorf, tenants should expect a cold rent of around 1926,00€ (120×16,05= 1926,00). If they look for a place in Rissen instead, the average rent for an apartment of the same size would add up to a cold rent of around 1436,40€.

Mieterverein zu Hamburg

When renting a place, you may also consider a membership at a tenant’s association. The Mieterverein zu Hamburg is a nonprofit organization that can help you with all sorts of questions regarding your living situation. They also have English-speaking attorneys to take care of you and by paying an annual fee of 75€ (6,25€/month) you may seek legal advice from experts without cost. Additionally, you automatically receive a legal costs insurance that covers 90% of court costs in case of housing related legal proceedings that are not won entirely. The insurance automatically takes effect after three months of membership, so it is important to become a member before problems occur. Legal advice may be claimed directly after becoming a member.

Mieterverein zu Hamburg

Tel: +49 40 8 79 79-0

Mo-Fr from 8h30h to 18h00, Sa from 10h00 to 16h00


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