There are two kinds of accommodation you can get in Germany as a student. The economical option – student unions’ halls of residence and the private accommodation tending to be more costly compared to the first option.
According to the Deutsches Studentenwerk: “German halls of residence are used by 10 percent of the student population. By way of comparison, 29 percent of all German students share flats, 17 percent live alone in a flat and 20 percent live with a partner.”
The same source mentions that places on the halls of residence are occupied by 40% of the total international students in Germany.
This shows that 60% of the international students are living are accommodated in private, either with other people or solely. The fact that most of the students are living in private places can result from the low offer as regards of the available places on the halls of residence, as they run out very quickly. However other factors might have played their role as well, for which we are not going to discuss.
Yet, the Deutsches Studentenwerk has understood that there is a much greater demand for places in the halls of residence compared to the available places. That is why they are advocating to the German government to finance the built of new halls of residence with about 45,000 available places.
How to find accommodation in Germany as a student?
Finding a place to stay in Germany is very challenging for people who are already out of Germany. That is why most of the international students of Germany wait for it up until they can explore their options for a private accommodation in person.
This does not include cases of applying for a place in the hall of residence, as this is done entirely online and it is counseled to be done right after the acceptance in studies.
Why it’s so hard to find an ideal private place to stay?
From others experience something is sure, there are plenty of private available places waiting to be rented but only a few are completely furnished and functional for the people to live in. Many apartments and rooms lack as of being usable, as of needing housing equipment and renovations that you might not know about.
Visiting in person available places for rent, so to consider and compare offers is the safe way to invest money in the rent without having to be disappointed later.
Main reasons why meeting with the landlord in person for discussing in details all the terms of the lease agreement, before signing it are:
- there are plenty of affordable private apartments expecting to be rented by students, which lack being furnished with kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, stove, clothes cabinet, bed or table, curtains and all other essentials needed for living – you must buy them by sacrificing your own money, as the landlord’s will typically not offer compensation;
- fully-furnished private places are very rare to be found and they are way too much more costly in comparison to the unfurnished ones;
- landlords having available places for rent, are usually searching for long-term rental contracts –something that will restrict you from switching into another place, as your circumstances might change, i.e. as you want to get a cheaper rent, a shared place, and so on;
- landlords at cases might include contract articles which leave them the option to increase the rent over the time;
- there are apartments needing renovation which have to be done by the tenant, i.e. there is a mold, a broken door, a , and you need to renovate them – this will cost you extra money, time and energy and you will not get compensation in most of the cases;
- lease contracts are usually written in German language, and the landlord may use the advantage to include articles which allow them to include conditions for which you are enable to understand – take a translator with you who can explain everything what is written in the contract
Where to stay during your first days in Germany as a student?
Accommodation in temporary means until finding the permanent place of stay in Germany is a very common practice amongst the international students.
Temporary accommodation options for students in Germany are:
- Cheap hotels
- Low-cost hostels
- Youth hostels – but you have to be a member of the national association of the International Youth Hostel Federation by paying a small fee
- Private B&B – private rooms of people advertising online use “Privatzimmer”(private room) + your location to find them online
- Guest house (pension)
Tip: do the reservation online early enough before your travel date.
In short what you should do to get a place of stay in Germany as a foreign student:
- hunt and find a temporary option of accommodation early enough before travelling to Germany – so you can stay there until finding the right permanent place (use information offered by online agents, social media, or write to the International Office of the university of the university you will be studying);
- before arriving in Germany don’t forget to arrange your transportation from the airport or train station to your temporary and don’t forget to write down in a letter to take with you the name and address of the place you will need to go;
- when arriving in Germany take the time to stopover at the International Office which can help you with information about available student-friendly places for rent nearby.;
- when in Germany and have searched and found interesting places for rent, appoint the meetings with the landlords for visiting such apartments to inspect them carefully – private accommodation only;
- once in Germany and you want to get accommodated in a more inexpensive way, make a request for a place in the halls of residence by applying online at the student union “Studierendenwerk” of the city where you will be studying;
- as soon as you have found the wished-for accommodation, take the time to visit the local Resident Registration Office to require registering your address as your official place of stay. You can require from the International Office to offer their support on that, such as finding the office and with information about complying with the related requirements.
How much do students in Germany spend on accommodation?
Most of the students in Germany spend about 900 Euros each month, according to DAAD. As the official statistics reveal, international students in Germany tent to spend about 298 euros every month for their accommodation, apart from the costs of living. Those living by cheaper options of accommodation are prone to spend about 218 euros for the same given period, counting also the living costs.
However, if you prefer to get an apartment like many international students do, you should expect to pay higher rent. For example, in Berlin you can expect to spend around €400 – 800€ for a fully furnished apartment including bills.
Which are types of accommodation in Germany for students?
Knowing that 40% of the international students are accommodated by cheaper forms, we understand that the other 60% or the majority of international students lives in private apartments.
We will discuss in specifics about all existing forms of affordable accommodation.
Cheap accommodation in Germany for students
Halls of residence remain the cheapest option for accommodation of students in Germany. This accommodation form is highly demanded by the first-year students as well as international students.
Student halls of residence
The low monthly investment is not the only feature attractive about getting a place in the halls of residence. The reason why international students have an enjoyable request for this type of accommodation can be the attempt to lower their cost, and equally the opportunity to have a greater socialization. Student halls are usually located nearby the university campus and promise a greater social interaction compared to the private accommodation.
Being an inhabitant of a hall of residence means agreeing with certain rules and interacting with others. Students living have a self-administration committee, which is the contact point between student union and the students living there. This administration cooperates with the student’ resident tutors to organize social, sporting and cultural activities, aiming to integrate international students.
Types of accommodation in a hall of residence are not all the same, they can be different depending what the city’s student union has to offer. The options may be single rooms, shared apartment, single apartment, couple apartment, single-parent household, apartment/single-room for disabled people in the housing community. What is more, the size and furnishing of living spaces in the halls of residence are not the same.
Additionally, not all the students are considered equally eligible to apply for a place in a hall of residence, and there is a deadline to require a place in a hall of residence. It is advised for the application to be submitted as soon as receiving the letter of acceptance in studies, as the available spots run off very fast.
Students require a place in a hall of residence through an online application, while the rent is paid in a monthly basis in a form of a direct debit.
Requiring an available place for rent a hall of residence means:
- submitting the online application on the webpage of the specific city student union
- receiving an email showing the applicant’s data and the deadline for submit the matriculation certificate – this means applicant is in the waiting list to get an offer for a place to stay there
- submitting the matriculation certificate by the applicant within the deadline
- receiving an email with the early notice, saying that in 4 to 8 following weeks an offer for an available place of stay will be sent
- getting an email with the accommodation offer “Festanschreiben” with the deadline to reply with a direct debit authorization, as well as the content of the lease agreement, and the information about the in charge administrative office for lease procedures
- accepting the offer by replying the email with the direct debit authorization included, or rejecting the offer by not replying to the email within the deadline
Quick accommodation offer “Schnellanschreiben”
- when a room is suddenly available in the hall of residence a last-minute notice offer is sent by email at the same time to all the people in the waiting list for an available accommodation spot
- the person to get the room in such case will be the first one who replies with the direct debit authorization.
Private accommodation in Germany for students
The greatest piece of the total international students in Germany chooses to live in private forms of accommodation. Living in a private apartment means a greater privacy and less rules and procedures, unfortunately a lower level of socialization.
Rent prices are likely to be higher in cities such as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Cologne, Hamburg and, compared to other places in Germany.
Searching for a private place means you have to search on your own for the place. However, you can require support on your hunt from the International Office or the student union in your city.
If you are about to search on your own, you should check for advertisement for available student apartments either in local, city or student newspapers and magazines. Local newspapers usually advertise flats for rent on Wednesday and Saturdays. Additionally, the university has also a spot in their campus where they print such advertisements, where also students post their announcements for wanting to share their apartment with other people. A different way is posting your ad for requiring an apartment in different portals and in social media groups of the city where you study at – especially Facebook.
It is advised to use the phrase Studenten-WG and Studentenwohnung when making your search. Make sure your search is personalized for the city you are studying at. Despite doing a generalized hunt, there exist opportunity to specifically require shared places to live, or to register to receive offers for rent and receive offers.
During your quest for your private apartment/room to rent you have to understand abbreviations used in ads on the media, so you don’t get confused: where: 2-Zi.-Whg – for an apartment with two rooms, 2 ZKDB – for an apartment with two rooms, hall, bathroom and kitchen, KT – for deposit, + NK – an included cost for water, rubbish disposal, elevator, house cleaning, can also include the costs of heating, gas and electricity, NR – smoking is not allowed and WBS – income support certificate is needed.
Renting a place usually involves paying a deposit fund of total three months of the basic rent in advance, as a security for the owner that you are not leaving the place soon. The deposit will be returned by the landlord in case the apartment and furniture are not damaged by the tenant. The monthly rent is divided in two pieces: “Kaltmiete” – basic rent without other costs included or “Warmmiete” –with all the costs included in the price (or the final rent price).
Means to accommodate in private basis as a student in Germany are:
Apartment for one person
This is when you decide renting privately the entire apartment wholly for yourself. Having to deal with a rent and utility costs on your own means a bigger chance to spend a lot of money for accommodation. This also implies having a greater private space and noiselessness. Living with no one in a foreign country means a less possibility to interact with native students and other international students too.
This is a very popular way to accommodate in Germany, as about 30% of the international students in Germany apply it.
Living in a flatshare the student has to share the same flat, utility costs and rent. In this accommodation type, people must share with others the kitchen, bathroom, balcony and living room. Yet there is a space for privacy as each of them usually has their own bedroom.
There is a possibility to find flatshare mates, people you don’t know who are interested in sharing the apartment with others like you.
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