Accommodation for International Students in Germany
German higher education students generally reside in halls owned by the institute or private accommodation, most often organized by themselves. German universities, unlike some other countries, do not assign rooms to enrolling students. Due to the potentially large number of students seeking accommodation, new students are encouraged to arrange living arrangements as early as possible, ideally prior to arrival. The International Office found at universities can provide advice and information to foreign students regarding local options for accommodation.
Student Residence Halls
Student halls of residence are common in every university town, sometimes with a multitude of locations. This communal form of housing is normally the most affordable option for students. However, places are often limited and in high demand so early application is recommended if a student wishes to gain the best chance of success. This application can be sent once a student receives their notification of acceptance from their university. Applications are to be directed to the university’s Student Services Organisation or ‘Studentenwerk’, an office responsible for the management and allocation of places in student residence halls.
The Accommodation Finder is an online service useful for students searching for local accommodation. It comprises of a database containing all available local residences and an option to make online applications directly to the Studentenwerk for residence halls. Occasionally, International Offices will arrange the allocation of foreign students with residence hall places, in which case a student should make their residence application to the office.
Private accommodation markets vary worldwide and Germany is no exception. Students can choose from a wide variety of options, including single rooms, fully furnished flats or a place in a shared flat. Flat shares (known as a WG or Wohngemeinschaft) are when several students share a single residence. Each individual has a bedroom, but shares a kitchen, bathroom and communal areas. Some costs, such as internet and telephone packages, are shared between all residents. Flat shares are a popular choice among students. Wg-gesucht is a popular website dedicated to finding others looking for flatmates. Due to contracts on flats usually being arranged between residents and landlord in person, students will usually need to arrange private accommodation in person once arrived in Germany. Appointments to view flats can be arranged in advance online.
The First Nights
Students who choose to arrange accommodation in person will need to find a suitable residence while they search. The International Office can offer help and advice to foreign students in this regard. Some universities offer international students, via the Studentenwerk and/or religious organisations, initial temporary residence as they search for permanent accommodation in Germany. Private options, such as hotels or guest houses (Pension) are also available. For those interested in hostels, a membership to the Youth Hostel Federation is required, which can be obtained from any hostel internationally for a small fee.