Why service apartments are better than hotels

Assisted living - an alternative for living in old age

Quality seals can provide a certain orientation. There are special seals for assisted living, for example, in North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg. Individual residential complexes are also certified according to DIN standard 77800 for assisted living.

Which services are offered in service living?

The scope of the services offered in assisted living can vary greatly from facility to facility. The two components of living and service are characteristic of assisted living.


The operator makes a rental or condominium available. The size, equipment and layout of the apartments as well as the location and connection in the neighborhood can be very different, but should meet the needs of older people (e.g. barrier-free apartment, medical care by doctors and pharmacy nearby).


The scope of the services can be very different: some houses offer little more than a caretaker service, others have a contact person who is regularly available in the facility. Above all, the need for help from the tenant or owner is decisive. Healthy, active seniors are often very satisfied with the caretaker model or the contact person. Those who already have a greater need for help, on the other hand, will prefer a facility with more extensive support options. For most providers, the services are divided into basic services and optional or additional services.

Basic services

In order for the term assisted living to be justified, a certain range of basic services should be guaranteed. However, the flat-rate package of basic services is the cheaper the fewer services are included. The basic services should therefore only include the following services:

Assisted living does not mean that an individual carer is available around the clock, but that there is a contact person in the facility at certain times who can organize the necessary help. This contact person should have regular office hours, but at least once a week; Representation should also be guaranteed in the event of vacation or illness.

The contact person does not provide any care services himself, but is supposed to support the residents in the organization of everyday life, help with official questions, organize events or excursions and, if necessary, arrange services such as care service or meals on wheels.

The house emergency call can be organized within the residential complex with its own staff or via an external service provider with an emergency call center. The head office must be manned around the clock, 365 days a year. It should be possible to trigger the emergency call by radio from anywhere in the apartment and also in the residential complex. The activation of the emergency call within one working day can be agreed as an optional service.

The caretaker is responsible for the care and maintenance of the community facilities in the residential complex. This includes the maintenance and cleaning of the communally used rooms, the care of the open spaces, the winter service and the setting out of the rubbish bins. For this purpose, the caretaker should be regularly present in the house and reliably reachable in urgent cases, for example by mobile phone. This number should also be known to all residents and posted in an easily accessible place.

Good to know: Caretaker activities within the individual apartments are usually not part of the caretaker's area of ​​responsibility, which is covered by the basic flat rate.

Optional services

Services that go beyond the basic services are usually offered as optional or additional services. They can be freely chosen according to personal needs, there is no obligation to purchase these services.

Additional services are, for example, domestic help for cleaning the apartment or laundry and ironing service, meals on wheels, outpatient care, foot and hair care. In most cases, these services are arranged by the support staff. Those affected can also take care of corresponding offers from service providers themselves. The services are billed directly to the service provider.

Which contracts are to be concluded?

Before moving into an assisted living facility, a rental or purchase contract for the apartment and a service contract for the agreed basic services must be concluded. Depending on your personal situation, you may need to conclude additional contracts when you move in or later, for example for optional services or a contract with an outpatient care service.

Rental or purchase agreement

  • The apartment should be described in detail in the rental or purchase contract, stating the apartment number, the size and the equipment of the individual rooms. Caution is advised with formulations such as senior citizen or age appropriate. These have no meaningfulness. Instead, the landlord or seller should ensure that the apartment is barrier-free in accordance with DIN 18040 Part 2. Compliance with DIN 77800 for assisted living is also not mandatory and should be stipulated in the contract.
  • The rental agreement should contain a detailed list of the costs: How much rent does the apartment have to pay? What is included in additional costs? Which costs are flat-rate and which are charged according to consumption?
  • The rent should be based on the local rent level for comparable housing offers plus appropriate surcharges for special structural equipment and the communal areas.
  • In principle, the lease should be concluded for an unlimited period. In the rental agreement, care should also be taken to ensure that the landlord's right to terminate due to personal use is excluded.

Service contract

  • The service contract regulates the basic services such as the house emergency call or the office hours of the caregiver. It is often referred to as a support contract or service contract. This service contract is usually linked to the rental contract and cannot be concluded or terminated independently of the rental contract.
  • The service contract should clearly state which services are offered. In particular, the scope and timing of the services offered should be precisely defined. Terms such as “regular” or “appropriate” can be interpreted differently and lead to disputes.

Further contracts

  • Household help for cleaning the apartment or laundry and ironing services, meals on wheels or foot and hair care are often offered as additional services. Separate contracts are usually concluded for these services, which are not linked to the rental and service contract and can therefore also be terminated independently.
  • While there is usually no need for care when moving into an assisted living facility, this can arise over time. Often, “assisted living” is also intended to be an alternative to living in a nursing home for people in need of care. The care services are then taken over by an outpatient care service, which can be arranged by the carer of the assisted living within the framework of the agreed support services.
  • A written contract for the care services to be provided must be concluded with this care service.

What does "Assisted Living" cost?

The costs of assisted living are subject to free pricing by the provider. They can be very different depending on supply and demand and the regional price structure. Apartments in the city are usually more expensive than in rural regions. So if you are looking for an apartment in assisted living, you should first consider with your relatives in which region the facility should be located.

The following figures are to be understood as guidelines only.


  • When it comes to costs, a distinction must be made between buying and renting an apartment. The costs for the rental or condominium are usually around ten percent above the local net rent or the purchase price. The main reason for the higher price is the equipment, for example a barrier-free design of the apartment or the existing elevator.
  • For the rented apartment, the net rent and the additional rental costs such as heating, electricity, water and sewage as well as garbage disposal are to be paid.
  • Good to know: There is a rent index in a number of cities and districts. This contains a summarizing overview of the local rents paid for non-price-bound living space of a comparable type, size, equipment, condition and location (= local comparative rent). This rent index is also a possible orientation aid for those interested in assisted living. Further information on this is available from the municipalities or tenants' associations.
  • The purchase price of a condominium in assisted living varies from region to region and also depends largely on the location and equipment of the apartment.


  • The services are remunerated through a monthly fixed flat rate. The lump sum is also to be paid if no or only minor services are used.
  • A general comparison of the basic services based on costs alone is not very meaningful. The services purchased for these costs can vary greatly in scope. It is therefore important to ask exactly what is included in the respective basic flat rate and to compare these services and costs. When signing the contract, care should be taken to ensure that all basic services are also listed in writing in the contract.
  • The same applies here: supply and demand determine the price. The lowest flat rate for the basic services is around 15 euros per month. With a caregiver regularly present in the house and a house emergency call, the costs of the basic services are between 60 and 150 euros per month. In residences with maximum care, the basic flat rate can add up to a few hundred euros.
  • Optional services, such as the use of a meal service or other domestic help, are usually not covered by the basic service.

How can service living be financed?

The residents usually have to pay for the costs of assisted living themselves from their own resources. This applies to both the rental costs and the service and optional services.

However, under certain financial conditions it is possible that part of the costs can be borne by other bodies.

Permit for subsidized housing

There are a few assisted living facilities whose construction has received public funding. The rental price for these apartments is below the local rents. A housing entitlement certificate is required for such publicly funded apartments. This is available from the responsible housing office.

Housing benefit

The housing benefit helps low-income people with their housing costs and, under certain conditions, can also be granted as a rent subsidy in assisted living. Housing benefit is calculated for each individual case depending on the size of the household, income and rent or burden and the total eligible income. Application forms are available from the local housing benefit authority.

Benefits of the social welfare office

  • Before moving into assisted living:

Anyone who already receives benefits from the social welfare office should clarify the cost regulation with the responsible social welfare office before moving to an assisted living facility. If the costs in assisted living are appropriate in terms of social assistance, the rental costs and the basic flat rate can be covered. However, the rules on whether and to what extent social welfare offices contribute to the rent and the basic flat rate are not uniformly regulated.

  • Who already lives in assisted living:

If residents in assisted living are no longer enough with their own income and saved assets, the social welfare office can pay under certain conditions. Since the benefits are only granted after the application is submitted, an application should be submitted to the social welfare office in good time. The social welfare office checks not only the income and assets of the applicant, but also the income and assets of dependent children.

Basic security

The basic security is an independent social benefit for older and disabled people whose income and assets are insufficient to secure a livelihood. Applications for basic security must be submitted to the basic security office of the local social welfare office.

Long-term care insurance benefits

The nursing care fund does not provide any benefits for rent or care in assisted living. However, this can be used to finance outpatient care services or a living space adjustment if there is a need for care.

  • The care insurance companies can also cover the costs of the home emergency call if they are in need of care.
  • Since accessibility of the apartment in assisted living is not compulsory, a subsidy for improving the living environment can also be granted by the care fund.

Health insurance benefits

If, for example, it is necessary to change a bandage or if insulin has to be injected, it is a matter of medical treatment care, the costs of which are covered by the health insurance company. The health insurance company can also finance necessary aids such as rollators or special mattresses to avoid pressure sores in bedridden patients.

What should be considered before moving to an assisted living facility?

  • Assisted living is a good alternative for people who are still healthy enough to be able to live largely independently and only need minimal support. The structural requirements can be better geared to the needs of older people than the previous apartment. In addition, help can be organized quickly in an emergency, which gives many elderly people security.
  • If the decision is made that a move from the previous apartment is pending, you should calmly consider again which living alternative could be the right one. Most assisted living apartments have long waiting times and it can often take a long time before an apartment can be rented. Therefore, a move to assisted living should be planned well in advance.
  • If you have decided to move to an assisted living facility, it is advisable to get an overview of several possible facilities.
  • Images and information on the possible facilities can be viewed on the Internet and your own ideas can be compared with the information provided by the facilities. Some federal states offer overview portals for this purpose. Request information material about the system, prices, rental and service contracts and the house rules from the providers.
  • In order to get a personal impression of the facility, interested parties should visit several domiciles with a person of trust. So important impressions can be exchanged.
  • If you are not able to do a tour yourself, you should instruct someone you trust to take a close look at the facilities using a personal checklist.
  • A conversation with the landlord or property developer also provides a more in-depth impression. Let yourself be shown everything in peace. Clarify questions regarding the apartment (size, equipment, accessibility), costs and their definition in the rental / purchase agreement. Also ask about specific admission requirements (minimum age, residential eligibility certificate, etc.).
  • Talk to the supervisor. Find out about the type and scope of the services. Is the caregiver qualified and available on a regular basis? Is the caretaker regularly in the house and reliably available in urgent cases? What tasks does the caretaker take on? How is the house emergency call organized (own staff, external)? Are other services (housekeeping, nursing) brokered? Are there options for care in the event of illness and permanent need for care? What other services are there? What are the costs for this?
  • Talking to the caregiver and other tenants who already live there can also be very helpful.
  • Maybe there is also the opportunity to attend an event.
  • It is important to pay attention to the size and equipment of the apartment. Particular attention should be paid to the bathroom and kitchen equipment. Does the apartment meet your own needs in other respects? Which of your own furniture fits into the new apartment and can you bring with you?
  • Is the facility more central or remote? Are shops, doctors, pharmacies, public transport, green spaces, cultural offers, etc. easily accessible? How are the entrance, entrance, hallways, stairs and elevators designed? Which common rooms are there and are they attractively designed and easily accessible? Are there easily accessible outdoor areas or a garden?