It’s not uncommon for tourists and visitors to sing the praises of Berlin and how affordable it is. In reality it’s impossible to tell from a quick stay what the cost of living truly looks like - but that’s why we’re here. The truth is that compared to a number of big cities, it is a very affordable place to live.
As a student, you’re probably looking at flat sharing to keep costs down, which makes a massive difference. You should be able to get by for under €1000 per month, though if you have a nice Erasmus bursary you might go above the average spending budget! ;)
We’ve discussed accommodation in Berlin in a bit of detail (including tips on how to find an apartment) so here are the facts, presented quickly:
Rent is generally very affordable in Berlin, ranging from €300-700 for a room
Rooms are cheaper the further from the city centre you move
WG (flat sharing) is the most common and affordable option for students
Student dorms are possible (€250 rent) but there are very few of them, and they aren’t as nice as full apartments.
All in, you should be able to find an apartment that doesn’t hit your budget too severely. In fact, I’d wager you can get a really nice room for about €500, not far at all from the middle of Berlin. However, remember that you’ll have to pay a deposit of up to 3 months’ rent, and possibly your first month upfront. As an average (and once you have your deposit back) it’s not too expensive, but these initial costs could be crippling if you haven’t budgeted accordingly.
Food. Mmmm, food. Lots of food, small prices! You can easily do a week’s grocery shop for under €40-50, unless you have quite lavish tastes or a body-builder’s demanding diet. Supermarkets are plentiful and offer a good range of fruit and veg, so you can eat well for a reasonable price.
If you want to eat out, it gets a little pricier, as you’d expect. Schwarma and sausage stalls dominate the takeaway scene alongside kebab shops, and both are really delicious and about €4 a time. A sit-down meal will set you back about €20 euros for a full menu if you go to a nice place, and beers are usually cheap and absolutely delicious.
Public transport in Berlin is absolutely superb, and it’s pretty good value too. You can use the same tickets for the U-Bahn (Subway), the S-Bahn (suburban trains), trams and buses, allowing you navigate the entire city easily.
General ticket prices:
Single trip A-B, €2.80
Single A-B-C, €3.40
4-Trip Ticket A-B, €9.00
All-Day Ticket A-B, €7.00
All-Day Ticket A-B-C, €7.70
Weekly Pass, €30-37
Monthly Pass, €80-160 (lots of options!)
You can see all of the prices and their limits in detail on the VBB Ticket Fares page.
As a student, you are able to buy a semester ticket, which lasts the entire semester and covers all public transportation in Berlin. Once you’ve registered for all of your classes, you can get your ticket - remember to take your student ID with you wherever you go, else risk a fine!
Check all the details with your Semester Ticket Office at the university, and you may be able to get the entire price of your ticket paid for by the university, which is a bargain you should not ignore!