Cost of living: Around 850 euros a month for living expenses

Compared to some other European countries, Germany is not very expensive. The costs of food, housing, clothing and cultural activities are slightly higher than the EU average. On average, students in Germany spend around 850 euros per month on living costs. The largest expense is rent.

by the Editors (last updated May 2019)

International students talking on a balcony  © DAAD/Jan Zappner
International students during their free time . © DAAD/Jan Zappner

You should expect to pay the following costs during your stay in Germany:

According to statistics students in Germany spent around 850 euros per month for living costs on average. Prices differ significantly between the large cities in Germany. You would need more money for living and studying in Munich than you would in Leipzig, for example. As a general rule, you can live on less money in smaller cities than in larger ones. The amount of money you need obviously also depends on how frugal you are.

That means 850 € ist just a guideline - you can also get along with less money or eventually have to spent more money in expensive cities.

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

Your biggest monthly expenditure will be your rent. However, rents in German cities vary widely. Students pay between 290 and 560 euros per month for accommodation depending on where their higher education institution is located. In some large cities such as Cologne, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main, rents are higher than the average.

Most students live in student hall of residence or a shared flat (WG). Having your own flat is usually quite expensive. At the beginning, you should also allow for a deposit for your room or flat. The amount of the deposit can vary widely. You usually have to give the landlord several hundred euros.

Semester contribution

All students at a higher education institution are required to pay the semester contribution. The semester contribution is not the same as tuition fees. The amount varies depending on the higher education institution, partly because different services are included in the contribution. On average, the contribution is around 250 euros per semester.

Part of the semester contribution is for student welfare contributions and fees. For example, this helps to fund the student cafeterias, housing and sports facilities, and also covers administrative costs. The portion of the semester contribution that is the student welfare contribution may be up to 100 euros.

Student calculating at a desk  © DAAD/Jan Zappner
Student calculating . © DAAD/Jan Zappner

In some federal states, there is also an administrative fee, which can be between 50 and 75 euros per semester depending on the higher education institution.

At many higher education institutions, the semester contribution also includes the cost of a “semester ticket” i.e. a public transport pass. With your semester ticket, you can travel on public transport in the area around your higher education institution for six months free of charge. Depending on where you live and how far you are allowed to travel, the ticket can cost between 25 and 200 euros and is then already included in the semester contribution. However, sometimes you need to pay for the semester ticket in addition to the semester contribution. In this case, you can usually decide whether you want to buy this ticket. If you live close to the higher education institution, for example, you might not need it.

Tuition Fees

As a rule, state higher education institutions do not charge tuition fees for Bachelor's or many Master's degree courses.

There is one exception: since the 2017/18 winter semester, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg has charged non-EU citizens tuition fees of 1,500 euros per semester for their academic studies (Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, German “Diploma” degree, state examination). These fees do not apply to doctoral students. Students who had already begun a degree programme in Baden-Württemberg, but had not yet completed it by the 2017/18 WS, did not have to pay these fees.

Tuition fees must be paid for some individual Master’s programmes and online courses of study. These can sometimes be very high. In a few exceptional cases, they can even be more than 10,000 euros per semester. Generally, private higher education institutions charge very high tuition fees.

In Germany, the amount of tuition fees does not reflect the quality of the education provided. Degree programmes that are free of charge are also of very high quality.

Health insurance

If your health insurance cover at home is not valid in Germany, you will have to take out an insurance policy here. Public health insurance costs around 110 euros per month if you are not older than 30 years old or have not yet finished the 14th subject-related semester. After that, the contribution increases to at least 160 euros per month.

Average monthly expenses for Students
Rent and utilities € 323
Food and drink € 168
Clothing € 42
Working/learning materials € 20
Travel costs (car and public transport) € 94
Health insurance, medical costs, medicine € 110
Phone, internet, TV € 31
Leisure, culture, sports € 61
Total € 849

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