In contrast to other countries, students at German universities do not receive accommodation on enrolment. So it is important to start the search early on.
The accommodation situation for students is generally difficult, as cheap accommodation is hard to find. The monthly rent is the biggest item in the monthly expenses and costs students an average of 298 euros per month. Regional differences apply: The situation is most difficult in the major cities in western Germany and in the traditional university cities such as Heidelberg, Tübingen or Freiburg. By contrast, the situation is more relaxed in eastern Germany, where the average rental prices are lower.
Anyone starting a course in the summer semester will find it easier, as around 80 percent of students start their first semester in winter. So it is important to start the search early on. For the winter semester, your best bet is to start your search in the summer, or at least as soon as you have officially obtained a university place. It is also helpful to ask around amongst your group of friends and acquaintances, as well as getting involved in social networks such as Facebook.
Student residences are the cheapest accommodation option for students. Different arrangements are available – for example, rooms in shared accommodation or apartments. Rent depends on the furnishings, location and size of the room. Students pay an average of 240 euros per month for a room. Over 40 percent of international students in Germany live in student residences. They appreciate the low costs as well as the opportunity to get to know other students.
Anyone wanting to register for a room in a residence should contact the student union on their campus directly. The student union websites provide information on the places available, registration dates and conditions. It is important to try to find a room as soon as possible, as they are very popular and only a certain number are available.
A large selection of German student residences can also be found in the DAAD's Accommodation Finder.
If you don't want to move into a residence, you will need to have a look at the free housing market. Shared accommodation is the most popular form of accommodation in this respect; over 30 percent of students in Germany live in shared accommodation. The principle is simple: several individuals share an apartment. Everyone has their own room, while the kitchen and bathroom are shared. Costs, such as the rent, power and the Internet, are shared. A room in shared accommodation is more expensive than in a student residence, but is still quite cheap. Students pay an average of 280 euros a month for shared accommodation.
The Internet has numerous platforms that can help you find rooms. These include www.wg-gesucht.de, www.studenten-wg.de, www.wgfinden.de and www.wg-cast.de. The student unions also operate room exchanges. All universities also have at least one wall with a blackboard on which shared accommodation notices are attached. Or, you can hang a notice up yourself.
If you prefer to live alone, you can also choose to rent your own apartment. This is the most comfortable, but also the most expensive form of accommodation. They cost students an average of 357 euros per month. Those looking for an apartment can use the same options covered in the shared accommodation section. But specialized websites are also available, such as www.immobilienscout24.de, www.immowelt.de and www.immonet.de. It is also worth buying local newspapers on Wednesdays and Saturdays and reading the advertisements for accommodation. Particularly older landlords use newspapers to rent out their apartments. It may also be helpful to place your own request in a newspaper instead of just responding to advertisements.
Most larger university cities provide emergency accommodation at the start of the winter semester, such as in gymnasiums, until all students have found a free room. If this is too chaotic and not private enough, you might want to consider staying in a hostel for a certain time. Offers can be found at www.hostelworld.com, www.hostelbookers.com and www.jugendherberge.de. Maybe someone also has a couch free for a couple of days. You can find more information at www.couchsurfing.org.