5 things to consider when moving to Germany as a student


Updated on Jan 11 • 2 minute read

There're more than 440,564 foreign students currently studying in Germany and having a good time. But moving to a new country, even as a student, isn’t without its challenges.

Although there're numerous benefits of living abroad, adapting can be daunting, especially if you don’t know what to expect. Simple things are a mystery —— like knowing whether or not shops are open on Sunday or if dickmilch is edible.

1. Finding somewhere to live

Finding a student accommodation in Germany can be quite challenging as the market is very competitive. You need to act fast, which can mean going to an open viewing to impress the existing tenants. The selection process is always a mystery. But if you use a platform like HousingAnywhere, you don't need to go to a viewing and you can secure your room or studio even before you arrive.

Either way, make sure to get your head around the rental laws, know which documents are required, and ingratiate yourself with the property manager (Hausverwaltung).

2. Getting registered

If you’re planning to stay in Germany for 3 months or more, you’re required by law to register your address with the local authorities. Sounds simple enough, right? But it’s not quite.

We might be living in the digital age, but registration (Anmeldung) still has to be done in person. Unless you've several hours to spare waiting to see an administrator at your local citizens' office (Bürgeramt), you’re advised to book an appointment ahead of time.

But be warned, you may end up waiting a few weeks for an appointment, especially in Berlin. Remember to take along your ID, your tenancy or sublet contract, and don’t forget a letter from your landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) confirming you’ve moved in. You’ll also have to fill in the Anmeldung bei einer Meldebehörde form, which you can find at the entrance to the Bürgeramt or online.

3. Navigating the healthcare system

If you've a student job or internship lined up, your healthcare coverage is secured. Each month a percentage will be taken from your monthly salary so you can use Germany’s public healthcare system. But if you’re student, freelancer or haven't found your dream job yet, you should sign up for health insurance by yourself.

Every person living in Germany is required to have health insurance, and in most cases people rely Germany's public healthcare.

One of the reasons why this should be one of the first items on your relocation checklist is that you’ll be asked to show evidence of your health insurance and a certificate of health (Gesundheitszeugnis für Aufenthaltserlaubnis) issued by a doctor in Germany when you apply for your German residence permit. Without these documents, your permit will be denied.

4. The language barrier

“German is a really easy language to learn,” said no-one ever. Lots of expats find that learning German is one of their biggest hurdles when it comes to truly integrating into the country.

But learning German opens so many doors for you. You'll have an easier time finding a job, making friends and making Germany your home. Of course, many Germans do speak English, particularly if you choose to live in the bigger cities.

There're lots of apps which can help you get to grips with the basics (like Duolingo) or you could sign up for some lessons at a language school. Once you feel confident enough to test what you’ve learned you can always find a Meetup group to practice with and make some new friends while you’re at it.

Did you know that there's a 79-letter word in German? It's Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft which translated into English means “Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services”.

5. Cultural differences

No two countries are the same, and what may be acceptable in one country could be unforgivable in others. Germany is no exception.

For example, Germans take rules seriously and feel it’s their social duty to keep each other in check. So don’t be shocked if someone calls out your bad parking or tells you off for not clearing away your tray in a cafe. They’re not being rude, they’re just upholding their civic responsibility.

And above all remember, if the light is red at a crossing —— even if there are no cars for what may be kilometres around —— you don't cross.

Please reach out to content@housinganywhere.com if you have any suggestions or inquiries about the content on this page.

Related Articles

Moving to Germany?

Find accommodation in cities across Germany. Book the place of your dreams from verified landlords even before relocating!

Start my Search