Have you recently moved into your new flat and are wondering what you need to do to set up utilities like WiFi and electricity? As an expat in Germany, Adriana definitely knows how confusing the process can be, especially when you’re new in Germany. So, she’s outlined the steps to take here so make the process feel a little less daunting.
The steps for setting up WiFi
Step 1: Choose a service provider
The first step to setting up WiFi in Germany is to choose your service provider. There are many different options and the right one depends a bit on what level of service you need. I ended up choosing o2 for my WiFi (referred to as DSL Festnetz in German), because they have a monthly contract that can be cancelled, as well as an online chat service for any questions. If you’re new to learning German using their chat is helpful, because you can take time to look up vocabulary in order to communicate.
When it comes to choosing a WiFi provider, one tip is to use a comparison website like Check24 to view which company might suit you the best. This website is also useful, because it checks whether or not service providers are capable of enabling WiFi at your address.
Step 2: Complete your contract
After you’ve chosen your provider, then you go through all the necessary steps to complete it. If you use o2 like I did, I was able to complete my contract entirely through the chat, which made things pretty simple. You will then receive a pin number or customer number per post to create your account and make payments online.
Step 3: Make an appointment far in advance
This was something very different for me than in America (my home country), because you can set up your WiFi directly after you register and start using your WiFi pretty much immediately. But in Germany, you need to schedule an appointment and unfortunately it can take multiple months to set up your WiFi. So if you need WiFi beforehand, I recommend getting a hotspot such as through Vodafone in the meantime.
Step 4: Complete your WiFi set up after that appointment
After the technician has enabled WiFi at your address, you then need to set up your router separately yourself. Usually the technicians won’t help you, so it’s again useful to learn German for this, because your WiFi provider will probably only send you the instructions in German in your router box. So, follow those instructions and then your WiFi will be good to go!
The steps for setting up electricity
Step 1: Get your electricity count from your landlord
When you move into a new flat and do your flat pre-check (Übergabeprotokoll), you’ll receive a piece of paper that notes your electricity count (Zählerstand). This number will be used to show the difference between the last tenant and your electricity use.
On an important note, in some contracts utilities are included in your rental costs, so you don’t need to take note of your electricity count, because you’ll only pay that amount per month.
Step 2: Compare service providers
If you’re in a situation like I was where electricity isn’t included in your rental contract, then you need to set it up yourself. My landlord suggested Vattenfall to me, but there are also many options here. The payments are calculated based on the amount of people in your household and how much electricity you’ll use in comparison with the same household on average. You input this information through a calculator, such as through Vattenfall’s Stromtarife.
Here again, Check24 is useful to compare service providers for electricity (Strom).
Step 3: Complete your contract
For the same reason that I chose o2 for WiFi like I mentioned above, Vattenfall also had a chat option that made setting up the contract much easier. They actually did end up providing a bit of English customer service as well, which was a first for me in the entire moving process. Nevertheless, all the contract paperwork and their online payment platform are in German so I still recommend learning German so you understand everything properly.
Step 4: Understand the billing cycle
As I mentioned in Step 2, your monthly payments are based on an average, not the exact amount of electricity you use per month. When you start out, this average is set according to the average in your city for the same household, but after the first year, the average monthly rate is based on the amount you use. What this means is after you use electricity for one year, then the electricity company will calculate a new yearly average, which either increases or decreases your payments, or in some cases stays the same.
For Vattenfall, they update the electricity count (Zählerstand) every 6 months, create a document for electricity use over that time, and then check whether the amount is suitable or not. At the start of the next year, then they give you the new monthly rate. If you’ve overpaid, you’ll receive the extra money back, and if you’ve underpaid, then you’ll likely owe a bit. For other electricity providers, it could work a bit differently but that’s more or less how they calculate the cycle.