Heating fuel, water and electricity are more expensive in Germany than stateside. Rent and utilities are paid in local currency, the Euro, which means costs vary based on the US dollar to Euro daily exchange rate. Each German community runs their own utility companies so you will have to contact your landlord or the MHO to be directed to the appropriate office.
German utilities usually bill differently than stateside utilities. You may pay every other month or even quarterly. In addition bills will not fluctuate from month to month; you pay a flat amount each billing cycle.
When you first move in, this flat rate is based on the usage of the prior tenant. After you have been in the quarters for a year, the rate is adjusted based on your average usage. At this time, if you haven't paid enough for the year, you receive a year-end settlement bill. These can be quite large, so if your utility bills are not equal to your utility allowance, you are strongly encouraged to save the difference and to not get caught off guard at the end of the year.
You will not pay most bills at the utility company; you pay them through your bank or at a German post office (Deutsche Post). Consider attending the Family Support Center's German Bills Made Easy class to get a better understanding of your bills.
Also, unlike the United States, there are additional services and costs associated with renting a home in Germany. Some of the items are: snow removal, chimney sweep, sewage disposal, stairwell cleaning and stairwell and basement lighting.
If you live in a house that uses heating oil, the oil is usually paid in a lump sum when the tank is filled. You should have money from your utility allowance set aside for this cost as well and should check with the landlord to determine if they will fill the oil tank prior to your move in or at least determine the tank's current level. You will be required to refill the tank to the agreed upon level when you terminate your quarters. Your landlord or the current tenant should be able to provide you with an estimated cost to fill the tank.
Oil is usually cheaper during the summer months so plan to fill your tank during that time. Also, you may be able to negotiate a cheaper price if you and your neighbors buy in bulk and have it delivered at the same time. Don't forget to check prices at several companies including AAFES prior to purchasing your heating oil.
Average Monthly Utility Costs
Euro 40 per person
Utility costs vary due to size and age of your home, number of occupants and personal habits. You should take advantage of the Value-added Tax (VAT) program in order to avoid the 19 percent local German tax.
Utility Tax Avoidance Plan (UTAP)
UTAP helps you reduce utility costs by providing tax relief for 19 percent electricity, 19 percent gas and 7 percent water. A $77.00 administrative fee is charged upon registration. To register for UTAP please go to the Value Added Tax (VAT) office on base. There are several locations but please call ahead for an appointment and be sure to bring a copy of your housing contract and a copy of your orders. During registration, the military member must be present or provide a power of attorney. If you move after you've registered, you must update your account and you will be charged an additional administrative fee. Below is a list of VAT offices and their contact information.
Bldg 2118, Rm 136
DSN: 480-5309, CIV: 06371-47-5309
Mon-Fri: 7:30am-4:30pm/Closed US Holidays
Bldg 3245, Rm 109
DSN: 483-1780, CIV: 0631-411-1780
Mon-Fri: 9:00am-4:00pm/Closed US Holidays
Bldg 3810 (Inside Library)
DSN: 486-1780, CIV: 06371-86-1780
Mon-Thurs: 10:00am-1:00pm, 2:00pm-5:00pm
Closed US Holidays
Rhine Ordnance Barracks (ROB)
DSN: 541-9089, CIV: 0611-143-541-9089
Mon-Fri: 9:00am-5:00pm/ Closed US Holidays