Renting a room
Last update: September 2017
If you want to study at a German higher education institution, you will have to arrange your own accommodation. In some cities that can be quite difficult, so it's a good idea to start searching for somewhere to live early on.
Students in Germany often have trouble finding affordable housing. The rent is usually the largest item in their monthly budget. On average, students pay 298 EUR per month for their room, but prices vary between regions. Accommodation in large cities such as Munich, Hamburg or Frankfurt am Main and in traditional university towns such as Freiburg or Tübingen is expensive: a studio flat costs around 500 EUR in Frankfurt, and even more in Munich. Living in eastern Germany is much cheaper than in the West: a small flat in Leipzig costs on average 300 EUR in rent. Even more affordable is sharing a flat with other students.
The right time
As soon as your place on your course has been confirmed, you should start looking for accommodation. The International Office at your higher education institution in Germany can help. Vacancies can also be found for example on social networks. You will have less trouble finding accommodation if you are starting your course in the summer semester; only one in ten students in Germany starts their degree programme at that time because many courses are only offered from the winter semester.
The monthly rent for a flat is divided into Kaltmiete and Warmmiete. Kaltmiete, or basic rent, is the part of your rent that covers the use of one or several rooms. Adding the costs for waste collection, water, gas, heating and other amenities in the house, the so-called Nebenkosten, or utility costs, gives you the Warmmiete, or total rent. You will also almost always be required to pay a Kaution, or deposit, which usually amounts to three times your monthly basic rent and serves as security for your landlord. The deposit is returned when you move out, if you leave the flat in good condition.
Option 1: Student residence
Student residences often offer the most affordable accommodation for students. Many university towns have several of them. You live in a house with other students and share certain rooms, such as the bathroom and kitchen. The rent depends on the location, size and amenities. In the student residences run by student services a room costs on average 234 EUR per month. Because these rooms are very popular, it is important to secure your place early on. 37 percent of international students who come to Germany move into a student residence.
++ Low cost, lots of contact to other students
-- Little privacy, very high demand for this type of accommodation
How it works: If you would like to register for a place in a student residence, contact your local student services. Registration deadlines and conditions can be found on the student services' websites. The International Office can also help.
Option 2: Flatshares
If you don't want to move into a student residence or don't manage to get a room there, you can move into a flatshare where several students live together in a privately rented flat. The kitchen, bathroom and sometimes a living room are used communally, but each flatmate has his or her own room. Costs for rent, electricity and Internet are shared. This form of cohabitation is one of the most popular among young people in Germany: over 30 percent of students in Germany live in a flatshare. On average, students pay 280 EUR per month for a room in a shared flat.
++ Affordable rent, direct contact with German and international students
-- Compromises in using the shared flat
How it works: You can search for flatshares or post your own wanted ad on various online platforms. At higher education institutions, flatshare ads can for example be found on notice boards. You can also place your own ad there.
Student services also offer portals with private accommodation ads. You can find your student services here.
Option 3: Own flat
If you prefer to live alone, you can rent your own flat. This is the most comfortable, but also the most expensive form of accommodation. Students pay on average 357 EUR per month for their own flat.
++ Plenty of freedom and privacy
-- High costs, little day-to-day contact with other students
How it works: To find your own flat you can use specific websites and search the local paper in your university town for advertisements. Or you can post your own wanted ad in the paper.
The interim solution
If you don't yet have accommodation when the semester begins in Germany you can try an interim let: many students sublet their rooms for a limited period when they themselves go abroad or complete a placement elsewhere. In some cities, student services and student communities also offer overnight accommodation for the first few days. You can also rent a room in an independent hostel, a youth hostel or a private B&B until you have found permanent accommodation.