Finding a home in Germany

Finding a home in Germany

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

German homes may not be free-standing, or may lack some amenities, such as garages or backyards. Rooms, hallways and stairwells are smaller, and some homes may not have closets or cabinets in the bathrooms and kitchens.


  • Check the status of your application for on-installation housing.
  • Establish your Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) to cover expenses while you look for a home.
  • Stop by your local Housing Office for a list of approved available properties and visit or
  • Look for homes that fall in a range equal to or below your Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).
  • Contact your utility companies and request to be charged more each month to avoid receiving surprise bills at the end of the year.
  • Prioritize your needs and desires to help you evaluate houses quickly.
  • Choosing a home that is priced near your OHA limit can also lead to unplanned out-of-pocket expenses when you receive bill adjustments for utilities.


  • Check listings on, online yard-sale sites ( and housing websites, including
  • Other available resources are German realtors and real estate services, known as Makler and Immobilien Services.
  • Realty liaison consultancy agencies also assist with finding homes, financing and contract negotiation.
  • Many agencies charge finder’s fees totaling hundreds to thousands of euros.
  • The Housing Office must inspect the house and contract before OHA is approved.
  • Never sign German rental contracts before you have them translated and reviewed.


  • OHA can be used toward a mortgage but contact the Housing Office to learn more.
  • Purchase household insurance (Hausratversicherung) and personal liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung).
  • There are three types of heating: gas, oil and electric.
  • When touring houses, ask about internet service.


  • Ask for your landlord’s cellphone number in case problems arise.
  • Test your home’s locks and smoke detectors as soon as you move in.
  • Locate the circuit breaker box and learn how to troubleshoot your heating system.
  • Remember that 110-volt items require plug adaptors and possibly transformers.
  • It’s also best to find out about snow-removal service (Schneeräumdienst).
  • For more helpful information about living on the economy, visit


Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

  • Many providers offer plans with flat-rate monthly fees based on transmission speeds.

Cable internet

  • Offers high-speed access and continuous connectivity but is not as widely available as DSL.


American Forces Network (AFN) Europe and others

  • Provides programming from current networks and prime channels.
  • Off-installation, you’ll need a decoder and satellite for AFN.


  • Visit
  • You will need a satellite and a decoder.

Streaming Services

  • Examples - Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, etc.
  • Show availability may be limited because you are outside the U.S.
  • Some offer a .de option


  • Enroll in Utilities Tax Avoidance Program (UTAP)

Be sure to bring:

  • DOD ID card
  • Orders
  • Ownership paperwork
  • Utility meter numbers and readings
  • Names of current utility companies
  • Bank account details


  • Electricity: 19-percent VAT and energy tax.
  • Natural gas: 19-percent VAT and energy tax.
  • Water: 7-percent VAT. 
  • Deposits waived.

Utility billing

  • Completed monthly.
  • Bill adjustments are completed annually and based on actual meter readings.
  • A representative may come to your home to read meters.
  • You may be required to submit meter readings online or by mail.


Be sure to register with your local VAT office before making tax free purchases. You can receive ten VAT forms at a time.

Acceptable uses

  • Available for many products, services, hotels, vehicles, furniture, clothing, food and electronics.
  • Some establishments may not participate in the VAT relief program.

Unacceptable uses

  • You’re unable to use a form once a product or service is ordered.
  • Home renovations, major house repairs, cellphone contracts and internet services are not part of program.






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