Finding a home
Note that Heidelberg is a very popular place to live, and depending on your needs and requirements, finding a home is likely to take some time. That is why you should submit the Accommodation Search Form to the International Officer as soon as you can (contact data on the right).
In Germany, it is highly unusual to buy a house if you are staying, say, for a 3-year or even a 5-year position. It is much more usual to rent a house or apartment. Most apartments in Germany are let unfurnished, but cooking facilities are often provided. The costs for accommodation only are quoted as "Kaltmiete", excluding utilities. The running costs like heating, water etc. are added as "Nebenkosten".
A deposit of 2 months' Kaltmiete is required when signing the lease. The money will be returned when you move out. A 2-room-apartment usually consists of 1 bedroom, 1 living-room, the bathroom and kitchen.
If you use a real estate agent (Immobilienmakler) to find accomodation, there will be a substantial fee between two and three times the monthly rent. Before signing please make sure who will have to cover the costs.
A Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung (confirmation by the landlord or guest house administrator) is required when you register with the Bürgeramt.
You have to make your own contract with an electricity supplier (e.g. Stadtwerke Heidelberg but you can choose any other supplier which might be cheaper). FYI: The tariff "HD Strom basis" (online registration possible) is a bit more expensive than the tariff "HD Strom fix" (contract has to be signed). HD Strom fix is binding for 2 years except if you move out. Make sure that the counter number and the actual count is available when you contact them.
You may also want to take out additional insurances to cover liability and personal belongings during your stay in Germany.
In Germany radio and TV have to be registered with the GEZ. Soon after having registered with the Registration Office (Bürgeramt) you receive a letter from GEZ (fees: 17,50 Euro/month). If you disregard this, you have to pay back the money plus a penalty fee. Please do also visit www.rundfunkbeitrag.de or How To Germany.
A useful list with common abbreviations for house hunting can be found here.