Whether it's a semester abroad, a summer session, or a complete Bachelor's or Master's program, whether in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Göttingen, Freiburg, or Heidelberg: students have to live somewhere during their studies abroad. There are various student accommodation options for students in Germany. Read on to find out more.
Student dormitory for study abroad
A dorm room is a popular form of study accommodation, but there are other options as well.
A typical study abroad accommodation is dormitories at foreign universities. Many German universities maintain such accommodation type for students, but not all do. Student dorms can be located directly on the university campus or off-campus.
Living in a dormitory on campus
Especially with dormitories directly on campus, students benefit from having all the university's facilities, such as lecture halls and course rooms, close by. All the important contacts are also close by. It is also not far from the dining halls or food courts and the university's own sports facilities. Those who like to take advantage of the recreational opportunities at the university do not have to plan for a long drive. Living on campus is a great opportunity to experience the typical campus life itself.
Student dormitories offer a good opportunity to quickly make new contacts with other students, especially at the beginning of your study abroad program. However, you cannot always choose your roommates. If you want to live in a student residence, you should have a certain amount of tolerance. For example, it could get a bit noisy at a party in the dormitory. In student dormitories, students usually have to abide by certain rules. These relate, for example, to nighttime rest or the use of alcohol. Therefore, it does not hurt to inform yourself about the house rules of the dormitory before renting a room.
Renting a room in a student dormitory
A room in a student dormitory can be easily organized before you leave. Therefore, the dormitory is well suited as accommodation for students who would like to have a permanent place to stay even before arriving in the country of study. It is advisable to apply for a dormitory room as early as possible. The application deadlines for dormitory rooms vary depending on the university.
Costs of living in a dormitory in Germany
When it comes to the price of dorm rooms, the following often applies: the closer the dorm is to the university, the higher the rent. Exactly how expensive a dorm room is cannot be said across the board. It depends on the city of study, university, dormitory, and type of room. Many dormitories offer single and double rooms with or without a bathroom and sometimes also with a common kitchen for several rooms. It is also not uncommon for the university to rent fully furnished apartments that several students can share. The more "luxurious" the accommodation in the dormitory is, for example, in terms of size, number of beds, and furnishings, the more expensive it usually is. The rent usually already includes utilities such as electricity and gas.
Advantages and disadvantages of the student residence at a glance
- Booking a room in the dormitory can be done from your home country
- Incidental costs are usually included in the rent
- Meals could be booked in addition
- Quick socializing with other students
- Short distances
- Low transportation costs
- Campus life
- Partly more expensive than other accommodation options such as a shared apartment
- Partly no own cooking facilities and obligatory meal plan
- Often greater distance to the (inner) city
- Amount of other residents
- Stricter rules than in a shared apartment or your own apartment
Shared apartment or own apartment while studying in Germany
If you decide against living in a dormitory for your studies in Germany, you can look for private accommodation. Those who prefer to be on their own will definitely feel comfortable in their own apartment. However, moving into a rented apartment alone is the most expensive accommodation option for international students.
Many students choose to live in a private shared apartment (Wohngemeinschaft, WG) while studying in Germany. It is common for students to either become the new flatmate in an existing shared apartment or start a new shared apartment with others.
Each person has individual criteria to find a suitable apartment for their study or semester abroad. Location is an important criterion. Some prefer an apartment near the university. Others would rather live near the city center.
Those who would like to live in private accommodation while studying abroad should know that it is not always possible to rent a furnished apartment. Thus, additional costs may arise from the purchase of new furniture. Usually, there are additional costs to the rent, such as electricity and gas.
Searching for accommodation in Germany for students
When looking for accommodation while studying in Germany, it is advisable to get an overview of the housing market in the respective city before departure. Students can already find out what the apartments look like, how high the rents are, and what they get for what rent price. Of course, the rent level always depends on the city of study and the apartment's location.
It is strongly discouraged to sign a rental contract from your home country and make a down payment for an apartment or a shared room. Be aware of housing scams, as they are pretty common in big cities, such as Berlin and Munich. Students renting an apartment that they have not inspected on-site are taking a risk. If you are on-site, it is much easier to call landlords in response to advertisements and make spontaneous appointments to view apartments.
Students who want to look for an apartment locally should, if possible, arrive before the start of the semester. This way, the apartment search does not collide with the first weeks at university, and you can start studying in Germany in a more relaxed way. Many international students choose a hostel as their first place to stay while they are looking for accommodation.
In some cases, your university helps you find private accommodation for studying in Germany.
Advantages and disadvantages of a shared or single apartment while studying abroad
- Apartment in a preferred location, such as near the beach or city center
- More personal freedom and independence than in a student residence or host family
- Possibility to get to know the life in the study country away from the campus
- Apartment search only possible on-site
- Longer distance to the university and associated transportation costs
- Less contact with other students
- In addition to the rent, there are also other costs
Accommodation in a host family while studying abroad
Another option for living while studying abroad is a host family, also known as a homestay. Those who choose this option live with a local host while studying abroad. This can be more than just a "traditional" family with children. An elderly couple, for example, or even a single person can also offer a homestay. Those who would like to host students as host families are usually checked in advance by homestay organizations. International universities are often helpful in finding a suitable host family.
Students usually have their own room and often their own bathroom in the host family and can use the kitchen. The rent usually includes utilities and sometimes also meals. This makes host families a fairly inexpensive option for living while studying abroad.
Living with a host family while studying abroad is a great way to get to know the country and its people even better. Students can experience the culture and daily life of the locals up close. In some host families, students even have a real family connection and get to experience even more of everyday life.
The development of foreign language skills is not neglected during a stay with a host family. Those who study abroad in the USA, Australia, or Great Britain are encouraged to speak English away from the university. This is also the case in shared flats and student residences, as long as you do not only live with compatriots. Students who study mainly in English at a university in a Spanish-speaking country like Spain, Peru, or Chile, for example, can improve their Spanish in the host family and their English at the university. This way, they kill two birds with one stone.
Students who decide to study abroad with a host family should keep in mind that these families do not necessarily always live in the immediate vicinity of the university or city center. As a guest, students should of course also abide by certain rules of the house. This can be particularly unfamiliar for students who have already lived alone.
Host families as an accommodation option when studying abroad: advantages and disadvantages
- Get to know the country and its people
- Improve language skills
- Utilities and meals are often included in the rent
- Family connection
- Transportation costs to the university
- You have to abide by the rules set by the family
- Often greater distance from the city center, as host families live in residential areas
For a short time: stay in a hostel or hotel
A hostel or hotel is only suitable as short-term accommodation at the beginning of the study abroad program because of the costs, among other things. Sometimes, however, there are special offers for students at certain times. Hostels are a popular temporary solution for students who want to find a permanent place to stay after arriving in their study country. Some of these accommodations are particularly frequented by international students to make initial contacts here.
In any case, read the rental contract for your study abroad accommodation thoroughly to avoid unpleasant surprises. Often there are also contact points at the host universities that can help you with questions or uncertainties regarding the rental contract.