The true cost of living in Berlin for students

Planning to study in Berlin but don't know if you can afford it? Find out the cost of living in Berlin for students and get budgeting tips.


5 minute read
Updated on 24 Aug 2023

Lots of international students pick Berlin because of its affordable universities and comparatively cheap cost of living. And with plenty to explore and experience in this dynamic city, you might be wondering what are the living expenses in Berlin for students.

On average, students in Berlin should expect a monthly living cost of around €1,300. Find out exactly where you’ll be spending your money and how to budget to make the most out of your student life!

Breakdown of living costs in Berlin for international students

The average cost of living for international students in Berlin is approximately €1,300 per month.

Here’s the breakdown of how much you can expect to spend per month on different things:

Living expenses in Berlin for studentsAverage monthly costs
Student accommodation€749
Public health insurance€95
Public transport in Berlin€0 — €63
SIM card€8
Total€1,302 —€1,365

Rent for student accommodation in Berlin

Explore all student accommodations in Berlin whether in the form of dorms, private room, studio, or apartment.

In general, students often find fully furnished flats for rent in Berlin, where bills are included. Although this makes the total rent higher, it’s also convenient for international students as you don’t have to deal with language barriers or furniture costs.

Here’s the average rent for student accommodation in Berlin:

  • €350–€500 for student dorms
  • €749 for a private room
  • €1,154 for a studio
  • €1,680 for a student apartment

Although student dorms are cheaper, they’re extremely hard to get due to high demand. Since renting a private room in a flatshare (also known as Wohngemeinschaft or WG) is the next cheapest option, this is the most popular choice. It’s a great way to meet new people, split bills, and share chores.

Another way to save money when renting is to choose accommodation in cheaper neighbourhoods like Neukölln and Pankow. Other popular student neighbourhoods are Friedrichstain-Kreuzberg and Mitte, but the rent there tends to be higher.

Renting with or without utilities?

Several student apartments in Berlin have utilities included (known as warm rent or Warmiete). The price is fixed and includes utilities (Nebenkosten) such as gas, electricity and water.

If you’re renting a place without utilities included (known as cold rent or Kaltmiete), you can choose cheaper providers for gas and electricity. You can’t choose your water provider as it’s the same for the entire city.

You can also apply for a housing benefit in 2023 to help you cover your gas and electricity costs. If approved, you’ll receive around €370 per month.

Grocery costs

Food costs have increased in the past year, but comparatively, food in Berlin isn’t that expensive. Your monthly groceries will vary between €200 and €300. This includes necessities, like potatoes and eggs, and small luxuries, like that fancy chocolate you like.

How to save on grocery costs in Berlin?

Doing your weekly food shopping at cheaper supermarkets like Lidl, Aldi, Netto and Edeka will lower the cost of groceries. Alternatively, head to your nearest food market in your neighbourhood where food is cheaper and of better quality.

Cost of leisure activities and nightlife

Berlin offers many cheap or free activities which you can enjoy on a student budget.

Most students and those under 25 can visit museums at reduced prices. Alternatively, you can enjoy free entry at more than 60 museums every first Sunday of the month.

A movie ticket will cost you around €12 or less with student discounts at theatres like CineStar and IMAX. In the mood for other activities? Expect to pay around €16–€30 for bowling, €10 for comedy shows, and €50–€100 for concert tickets.

When it comes to going out for drinks or dinner, you can enjoy a delicious dinner for €20-€30, a beer or wine for €3–€4, and a cocktail for €9.

Berlin is also famous for its dynamic nightlife, with over 4,500 bars and clubs. Luckily, enjoying nightlife in Berlin is either free or the entry fee is between €8–€15. Alcohol is usually quite cheap, as discovered in our cost of living in Berlin podcast episode — check it out!

Cost of health insurance for students in Berlin

Health insurance is mandatory for all international students in Germany; you’ll need to show proof of health insurance for your student visa and to enrol at a university.

Most full-time students under 30 can sign up for German public health insurance to benefit from student tariffs. The average monthly cost for student public health insurance (Krankenversicherung der Studenten) €90–€120 in 2023.

Students from EU/EEA countries, Turkey, Morocco, and a few other countries don’t need German health insurance if they don't plan on working or interning during their studies. You can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or health insurance from your home country if it provides adequate coverage.

Before you choose your insurer, make sure you compare the different providers to see which one suits you the best.

Public transport costs for students in Berlin

For students at a public university, public transport in Berlin is technically free. When you pay your contribution fee each semester, you pay a discounted rate for public transport and get a semesterticket. This allows you to freely travel throughout the Berlin ABC zone or the VBB network.

If your university has no agreement with VBB, you can still get travel discounts using subscriptions. Choose between a VBB Eco-ticket (€63) or Deutschlandticket (€49), which starts from May 1st and can be used within Germany.

Cost of SIM cards for students in Berlin

Most SIM card providers in Germany have student discounts. The option which is the most popular amongst students is prepaid SIM cards. They are cost-effective, flexible, and don’t have a contractual commitment to a provider. Choosing a prepaid SIM with 3GB of data and a flat rate for calls and texts will cost you €7.99 per month.

Tuition fees in Berlin

Although tuition fees are not included in your monthly expenses as a student, it’s still important to consider it in your overall student budget.

Whether you study in German or English, you can study for free at almost all public universities in Berlin. You only need to pay a small contribution fee of €200–€300 per semester to cover administrative costs.

Studying at a private university costs more. Tuition fees vary between universities and degrees, but the average tuition fee is €4,154 for a Bachelor's degree and €6,434 for a Master's degree. Don’t get discouraged though, there’re plenty of scholarships you can apply for to finance your studies.

Tips to save money as a student in Berlin

  1. Always carry your student ID or ISIC card for student discounts at gyms, events, museums, restaurants, and more.
  2. Use your student email on online platforms like Amazon Prime and Spotify to get nearly 50% off.
  3. Shop basic necessities from your local shops, bakery, or market for low prices.
  4. Return plastic or glass bottles to the grocery store to get discounts on your grocery shopping.
  5. Get a monthly or yearly subscription to use public transport if your university doesn’t provide a semester ticket.
  6. If you’re a frequent shopper, get membership cards or use discount apps, such as Groupon, to collect points and get discounts on purchases.
  7. Find a student job to cover some of your expenses. International students coming from an EEA country can work up to 20 hours per week. Students coming from non-EEA countries can work for up to 120 full days per year or 240 half days.
  8. Shop second-hand items, whether you’re after clothes or furniture.

So, is Berlin expensive to live in as a student?

Berlin is an affordable city to live in as a student when compared to other western European countries and big German cities. International students can study in Berlin for free and enjoy free access to public transport by attending a public university. There’re also numerous student discounts and student jobs available to help maintain your student budget.

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