Student Accommodation in Germany – A Complete Guide

Student Accommodation in Germany – A Complete Guide

Written by Taru Medha

If you’re hoping to study a postgraduate degree in Germany, whether you’re already in the country or looking to move there, finding the right place to live is going to be at the top of your list! Unlike many other countries, students in Germany (domestic or international) are not automatically given accommodation when they register at a university, you will need to find your own.

Don’t panic, our guide has everything you need to know about finding student accommodation in Germany, what the options are and things to keep in mind when booking. It’s an exciting opportunity for you to decide on the sort of postgraduate life you want in Germany during your studies.

Student accommodation in Germany

Whether you’re a domestic student moving to a new city or coming from abroad, if you don’t have family around where you’ll be studying, you will most probably be renting.

You can go down one of two routes when you’re renting in Germany. You can either book a student dormitory (sometimes referred to as a hall or student residence) or rent privately. If you’re renting privately, you can either rent a room in a shared house or an entire apartment for yourself. It’s important you choose what’s right for you. Ask yourself two questions: what can you can reasonably afford? And what is going to give you the best postgraduate experience?

Rent in Germany

In Germany, rent is divided into two parts. Kaltmiete or basic rent (also called cold rent) refers to the basic price of the room/flat you are renting. This excludes any additional costs like utilities (water, electricity, heating, internet or cable).

When you add the cost of utilities to the basic rent, it gives you the Warmmiete or total rent (also called warm rent). This is the amount that the tenant usually pays the landlord.

You might also be asked to pay a Kaution, or deposit, as a security amount at the beginning of your tenancy. The deposit is returned to you once you move out provided you leave the room/flat in a good condition.

Student halls/residences

More than 40% of students who study in Germany opt to stay in student residences. Popular and affordable, most university towns have one (or more) student halls.

If you’re living in a student dorm, you may be living among other students in the same house. You will have your own room, but it is likely that you’ll share bathrooms, the kitchen and certain other spaces like a common/living room.

How much does it cost

A student dorm is one of the more affordable accommodation types in Germany. A room in a student dorm usually costs around €246 per month. However, the rent depends on the location and size of the dorm.

Advantages of student halls

  • They are the most affordable of all the accommodation options for postgraduate students in Germany.
  • A student dorm is a good way of making friends and getting to know new people. There are plenty of opportunities for socialising with your dorm mates, whether it’s cooking and eating together, having parties or exploring a new area together.
  • They are usually located very close to the main university campus.

Disadvantages of student halls

  • Securing a student dorm is highly competitive and you can miss out if you are not quick in submitting your application. We suggest you start your search as early as possible.
  • There is less privacy since you will be sharing the bathroom and kitchen and possibly other living areas in the house as well.

How to secure accommodation at student halls

The best place to find information on what student dorms are available is your university’s Students’ Union (Studentenwerk). Alternatively you can look at a database on the official Study in Germany website or the DAAD website.

You must also apply for the accommodation through the Students’ Union, and this can usually be done online. Remember, the application for your accommodation is different from your application to your course. Since student halls are very competitive, you should start your application as soon as you get an offer letter from your university.

Flat share (Wohngemeinschaft or WG)

A flat share is another popular option among students. While some students make the choice to live in a flat share, it is also a good option for those students who missed out on securing a room in a student accommodation.

In a flat share, a group of students privately rent a house where they can have their own room but share the kitchen, bathrooms and some other living spaces. All members of the house also share the cost of utilities like electricity, water and internet.

How much does it cost

Since a flat share is a privately rented accommodation, the rent varies hugely depending on which city you are studying in. Cities like Berlin and Munich are more expensive, but you can expect to pay €363 per month, on average. Rent also depends on how many people are sharing the flat.

Advantages of a flat share

  • It is not as competitive as a student residence and there are more options to choose from.
  • There is slightly more privacy as you can decide how many people you share the house with and if you are a group of friends looking for a flat share together, you also have a say in who you live with.
  • You still get the opportunity to spend time with other people, socialise and maybe also practice your German.

Disadvantages of a flat share

  • It is slightly more expensive than living in student accommodation.
  • It might not always be close to the university, and you might have to factor in the time and money spent commuting.

How to secure accommodation in a flat share

There are dedicated websites like WG-Gesucht, WG-Suche, Uniplaces and Homelike that advertise flat shares in German cities, and they’ll also help you with the paperwork. Other places you can look include notice boards in your university’s Students’ Union and International Office. If you already have a house and are looking for a flatmate you can also post an advertisement on these notice boards.

Private accommodation

If you aren’t looking to share your house, you can also rent an entire apartment for yourself. This is the most expensive kind of accommodation but if you have a partner or are moving with dependents, then it is a good option for you.

You will be renting the entire flat so you will not be sharing your space with any other flatmates. However, you will also be responsible for paying all utilities like electricity, water and internet.

How much does it cost?

Since you are not sharing rent with any flatmates, having a flat of your own is slightly more expensive. DAAD averages the rent of private accommodation at €389 per month. However, it is important to consider that rent is higher in the city centre and also varies between certain cities (Berlin and Munich are more expensive than others for example).

Advantages of private accommodation

  • You have complete privacy and autonomy over where you live and you standard of living.
  • You don’t have to worry about conflicts with flatmates.

Disadvantages of private accommodation

  • The rent is considerably higher than any other accommodation.
  • You will have to make more effort to socialise and meet new people.

How to secure private accommodation

The easiest place to look for advertised private accommodation in your city is online. You can also look at notice boards in your university’s Students’ Union or International Office.

Top tips to finding accommodation in Germany

Now you have an idea of the options available to you, here’s our top tips for finding (and securing) accommodation in Germany:

  • 1. Start early: Student accommodation in Germany is competitive and you should start looking for yours right after you get a confirmation letter from your university.
  • 2. Make use of the Students’ Union and International Office: The Students’ Union manages applications of student residences, but they are also a good starting point if you are an international student looking for private accommodation. Both the Student’s Union and International Office will be able to help answer questions you have and point you in the right direction. You can find your university’s student services contact information online.
  • 3. Beware of scams: Keep an eye out for anyone asking you to pay rent before signing a contract. Only pay once you’ve arrived, seen the flat, signed the contract and are satisfied with everything.
  • 4. Don’t panic if you haven’t booked accommodation before you arrive: Even though we advise that you finalise your accommodation before coming to the country, don’t panic if you have not been able to. There are plenty of short stay accommodation options for you. You can book yourself a room in a hostel or hostel while you get sorted. There are youth hostels all around Germany that allow you to book a room or a bed in a shared room. Sometimes university student services also provide rooms for overnight stays.
  • 5. Remember it’s not permanent: Don’t worry about making a choice that might not be ideal, accommodation is always temporary so if you’re not happy with where you end up, you can always change it (easier for private accommodation and flat shares than student residences).

Now that you know everything there is to know about accommodations in Germany (and hopefully where you will be staying), you’ll be able to drop your luggage off and get on with making the most of your time in the country.

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Last Updated: 20 November 2023