Find accommodation: How to find accommodation in Germany

Students in Germany either live in a student hall of residence or a private accommodation. We recommend finding an accommodation before you arrive in Germany. You’ll most likely have to find a place to live on your own, because in contrast to other countries, German universities do not automatically assign rooms to students when they enrol.

by the Editors

International students cooking in a shared flat  © DAAD/Jan Zappner
Students cooking together . © DAAD/Jan Zappner

Depending on where you study and what your financial situation is like, it may not be easy to find accommodation. Therefore, start looking as early as possible – ideally before you arrive in Germany.

The International Office at the university can provide advice and useful information for finding a place to live.

Student residence halls

There are several student halls of residence in every university town. A room in a residence hall is frequently the most affordable accommodation you will find. However, at some universities, rooms in student residence halls are in high demand. But if you apply early enough, you have good chances of getting a room. You should apply as soon as you receive your notification of admission from your German university. The applications are processed by the Studentenwerk (Student Services Organisation), which is responsible for operating the residence halls and allocating rooms.

Colourful student hall  © DAAD/contentküche
Student hall . © DAAD/contentküche

The Accommodation Finder is a very helpful tool for finding information about various student residences in your university town. With just a few clicks, you can even submit an application to the Studentenwerk for a room in a residence hall.

At some universities, the International Office is responsible for allocating rooms in student halls of residence. If this is true in your case, inquire at the International Office about how best to obtain a room in a residence hall.

Private accommodation

Like elsewhere in the world, private accommodations can vary enormously. In Germany you will find everything from empty rooms to fully furnished flats on the market. You can rent a room or an entire flat. There are also rooms available in flat shares.

In a flat share (WG, or Wohngemeinschaft), several people live together in one flat. Each person has his or her own bedroom, but shares the kitchen, bathroom, possibly a living room and sometimes the cost of telephone and Internet. Flat shares are very popular among students.

Students in the living room of a shared flat  © DAAD/Jan Zappner
Students in a shared flat . © DAAD/Jan Zappner

Usually you can only sign a rental contract for a room or apartment in person. In other words, you probably won’t be able to rent a private room until you arrive in Germany and meet the landlord.

Nevertheless, you can start looking via Internet and possibly set up appointments to view the flats when you arrive.

The first nights

You don’t have a place to stay when you arrive in Germany? Then you should clarify where you’re going to stay in the first few nights in Germany. There are several options which the International Office can tell you more about.

At some universities, the Studentenwerk and religious university organisations offer international students temporary housing for their first nights in Germany. Of course, you can always stay at a hotel, guest house (Pension) or a youth hostel. If you want to take a room at a youth hostel, you have to be a member in a national association of the International Youth Hostel Federation. If you’re not already, you can become a member (for a small fee) at any youth hostel in Germany.

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