Broadcasting License Fees

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This a very useful piece of information from Bielefeld University’s Welcome Center. You need to pay even if you don’t own a TV – internet, radio, smart phones count too! So basically no-one is exempt…

Broadcasting License Fees – Rundfunkbeiträge

Everyone who stays longer than three months in Germany must register and pay broadcasting license fees. You pay €17.98 per month for each household. This means that a flat-sharing community, family, or couple, only have to pay one charge per month.

Why do they collect fees for broadcasting?
The Broadcasting License Fees are a way of financing broadcasting stations subject to public law. The costs cover the usage of television, radio, computer, and smartphone. Since the fees are paid per household, it does not matter how many broadcasting devices are used by the members of a household.

Are there exceptions?
None, unless you are severely physically handicapped (deaf or blind).

How can I pay the fee?
You can get applications online or at city hall, Niederwall 23, 33597 Bielefeld. You will need a German bank account to make the payment via giro transfer or direct debit. Make sure to cancel your contract at least six weeks before you leave Germany in order to stop payments.

More Information


Bielefeld Brunch


Looking for something to do on a weekend morning? Food may be a good option, especially if it’s a Sunday. We recently tried a great place for brunch (the Kachelhaus), so I wanted to share and see what other places we could gather for yummy brunch suggestions.

Kachelhaus – the Sonntagsbrunch Buffet is 15 euros, and it’s open until 3. You can also order individual dishes from the menu. The interior is really spacious and it didn’t get too loud, even though there were a fair number of customers there. My cappuccino was delicious, and we got a free plate of eggs – we’re still not sure why we got them, but they were really good!

Cafe Berlin – We like going here for both meals and drinks with friends, since the waitstaff are so nice. Many speak some English if you need help understanding the menu. We had one waitress who went out of her way to help us figure out what kind of eggs our friend was ordering – phrases like “sunny side up/Speigelei” are a good example of things that you don’t know that you don’t know until you’re in the moment where you need to know them 🙂 The website is currently down as of this posting, but they are located near Siegfriedplatz. I’m not sure if there is ever a brunch buffet or if they are open on Sundays, but they serve breakfast until 4. The menu includes “English breakfast,” bagel sandwiches and traditional German bread + meat + spreads.

Mellow Gold – no buffet, but breakfast served at the table. Friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere.

Alex Brasserie – has both breakfast and brunch buffets. Two locations in Bielefeld – one across from the Rathaus and one in the Altstadt.

Bernstein (website plays music) – I haven’t eaten here, but many people have recommended it. Sunday brunch is open from 10-2:30. It’s 17 euros and includes a glass of Prosecco. It’s located in the same building as the SportSheck in Jahnplatz.

Milestones – Again, I have not yet had the Milestones brunch, but I’ve heard it’s great. It’s also a great place for drinks and dinner, especially during the summer months when you can eat outside.

What other places offer a good breakfast or brunch buffet?

Sparrenburg Castle

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On this blog, we like to highlight things that newcomers might not know about Bielefeld. However, we shouldn’t neglect the obvious! And so, here are some photos from a recent trip to Bielefeld’s biggest attraction: Sparrenburg Castle.


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It was very cold but actually sunny, despite the fact that it was February. It’s a beautiful site and even a popular sunbathing spot during the warmer months – I’ve seen crowds of people lying on the grass during a rare warm weekend in October. Despite the temperature, it was a nice time to visit. There were only a few other people there, so it was quiet and empty, making it easier to admire the sheer size of the stone structure (such as in the last photo). Between April and October you can pay a small fee to climb to the top of the tower and take in more of the surrounding area. It’s also home to a medieval festival over the summer.

Coffee and Crafts in Bielefeld


We’ve recommended some of these places in a few other posts about coffee in Bielefeld, but I thought it might be nice to highlight a particularly cute kind of coffee shop here: one where you can sip your latte and take a look at crafts, craft supplies and home decorations for sale. I’ve never lived in a town that had coffee shops of this kind, but I’ve really enjoyed all of the ones I’ve been to so far in Bielefeld. Please add more in the comments if you know of them!

Koffie Met Gebak – Get coffee, a little lunch, some cake, and check out the cute things for sale next door. Below, some curry mango soup and chocolate cheesecake:

curry mango soup chocolate and cheese cake

Kafé Eigenwerk – Coffee, yarn, other knitting supplies, and cute ceramics.

Wald Stadt Kreativ Kafé – If you are a particularly crafty person, you can rent out a few shelves in the back room to sell your stuff. This one is near the Uni.

Getting a Haarschnitt in Bielefeld


One of the major milestones of living in a new country, especially one where you aren’t a native speaker of the language, is successfully getting a haircut. When I lived in Spain, I came home in tears and sporting a new mullet, so I know firsthand what a dangerous undertaking this can be. (At least this had nothing to do with my Spanish skills, and everything to do with the fact that Andalucians just love them some mullets). Both my husband and I have found that at hair salons in Bielefeld, the stylists are actually reluctant to cut away as much as you want them to. I had to insist at least three times that I really, really DID want it that short, even though it is getting cold here. At least there is little room for unfixable errors with this system of caution!


Your hair is a big part of who you are, as shown by a self-portrait from our recent TS art exhibition.

Here are some recommended places that we pulled out in a recent e-mail conversation, as well as my own recent success story. Please feel free to add more in the comments below.

Krügers Friseure (from Sam) – I was able to walk in and wait just a few minutes. I had Ellen, who was very sweet and did a great job. I don’t think she spoke any English, but I didn’t need to try. Everyone there spoke very clear and slow German; I think  they are used to dealing with a more elderly population, rather than the odd Auslander, but it worked in my favor. I’m not very picky about my hair and I can never describe what I want even in English, but I brought a couple of photos on my phone so that we wouldn’t have to discuss anything in too much detail. 27 euros for the cut and dry, and I think it would have been 21 for just the cut. They have a price list on the door outside, which is one of the main reasons we decided to go there 🙂

Toni & Guy (from Rachel)- Located in the Altstadt, closest to the Rathaus stop. It’s not super cheap, as a cut and dry with Michael (senior stylist) is 50 euros, but they all speak English and do a good job. You can find more info about the chain here.

Star Friseur 2  (from Patty) – It is a really cheap family-owned Turkish place at the Jahnplatz. They don’t speak much English, but I just bring a picture and they’re very nice about acting things out with their hands and trying to help. They don’t act irritated that we can’t speak German like some people do. Men are on the ground floor and women are upstairs. Both Billy and I have had good haircuts consistently there. Never had a color there, but watched another lady who did and it turned out very nice.

The well-organised separation of waste


The following post is from Trailing Spouses member Christiane, who is from Brazil:

The other day I was researching some themes on the Internet and I came across an online community called “Brazilians living in Germany.” There, I found a topic about the “correct separation of waste.”
I read reports of many confused compatriots, some of whom are even angry with the “rules of these boring Germans.” In these situations, Brazilian solidarity can be a great help. Many people wrote huge posts to try to clarify how it works here. A Brazilian guy reported that he was quite surprised to receive a complete instruction manual on waste separation when he was at City Hall. “It was almost a compact course,” he said.

A lot of people think that things are a little bit complicated here… I’m not sure of that. I could say people need to do a little bit more “homework,” but in general, it’s really not so complicated. You just have to put the garbage collection schedule on the refrigerator door (in particular for Yellow Sack, twice a month) and also learn the colors of all the trash cans to avoid confusion ( and avoid taking an earful from a neighbor who notices your mistake). Keep an eye out: blue for paper; gray/black for normal trash, green or brown for organic waste (such as leftover vegetables, eggshells, or even the foliage and grass).
It should be emphasized that the rules of waste separation are still not uniform in the whole country. There are several differences between regions/cities. For example, here in Bielefeld there is a “yellow waste sack” which we can pick up for free in supermarkets or at City Hall. In other cities, instead of these yellow sacks there is an yellow trash can and people don’t need to worry about the “Gelb Sack” schedule.

And what about your old computer or television? They should be taken to a special recycling center that is full of separate containers. There, we pay a few euros – something like 2 or 3 euros, depending on what is – to leave our trash. Or we can make an appointment with City Hall or a private company to come fetch the couch, the broken bed, and so on. It may also be possible to leave the trash for free. The link above has more information – it is in German, but Google Translate can help if you need it!

On these grounds, Germans are really proud that “nowhere else in the world does recycling work so well.” The country’s leadership in recycling is recognized by numerous studies and statistics. Earlier this year, the European Commission further strengthened the Germans’ status. They released a study that shows the country is one of the six most efficient in waste treatment and by far the leader in waste recycling.
For more information from Brazilians living in Germany, you can check out this Facebook group.

Thanks to Christiane for writing this post!

Yoga in Bielefeld


Since Coralie just shared a whole host of ideas for hobbies and things to keep busy, I thought I would expand on one that’s important to me: yoga! I’d been doing it on and off for about four years while living in Virginia, and kept finding reasons not to look into it here in Germany.

Soon enough, you too will be doing yoga on tree branches. (Photo courtesy of Echo Valley Ranch via Flickr)

I finally started to going to classes in Bielefeld, after nearly a year here, because of the English course currently offered at Loft Yoga. As Coralie mentioned, it’s a lovely studio with very nice teachers (and students!). This course will be over in a few weeks, but there has been talk of offering more in the future. Going to an English-language class has been a great way to get over my initial fear of attending a new studio, and I think I might almost be ready to jump into a German-language class. Keep in mind, I’m confident I can “verstehe” everything in a German-language class – when I say “ready,” I mean emotionally, psychologically, etc. As of this posting, the initial class costs 5€, and you can buy cards where classes cost 10€ each after that.

Other yoga options that I know of:

  • One of my English students recommended Yoga Vidya to me. It has branches in other towns, including Dortmund.
  • Uni Bielefeld offers a range of sports classes, including yoga. I believe that if you’re affiliated with the university as a student or worker, you can pay only 15€ per class. Despite asking multiple people who worked there, I was never able to figure out how to pay and sign up, so I gave up on this pretty early on during my tenure in Germany 🙂 You can take a look here at the schedule – if you want to attend a class, it may be worth it to just show up and ask the instructor. Be warned, yoga and Pilates fill up fast and they are large classes (40 or more people, if I remember correctly)!

What other local places do you know of that offer yoga and are Trailing Spouse-friendly?

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