Student accommodation in Germany: WG or student dorm?


Updated on Jan 21 • 5 minute read

Once the letter of acceptance flutters into the mail from their German university, international students face an essential question: which type of student accommodation in Germany suits me best?

First-year students often have to decide between two different types of student accommodation in Germany: WG (shared flat) versus student hall of residence. And quite honestly, there's no ultimate answer here. Depending on what type of student you are, a WG in Germany may be the better choice, or a student hall of residence.

We've checked out both types of student accommodation in Germany, making it easier for you to pick the right option and start looking for your student accommodation in Germany straight away.

WG in Germany

One of the most popular options for student accommodation: WG in Germany. When hunting for housing, you'll run into the abbreviation 'WG' everywhere. The term translates as 'Wohngemeinschaft' (shared apartment).

The German Student Union (Deutsches Studentenwerk) had a look at the different types of student accommodation in Germany and noticed that

almost 29 percent of German students live in a WG, 20 percent with a partner, 17 percent alone and only 10 percent in a student hall of residence.

There's a pretty obvious pattern here, isn't there?

After all, this doesn't really come as a surprise to be fair: with their low prices and comparatively easy availability, shared rooms couldn’t be more tempting to students. Ready to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of a WG in Germany? Let’s go!

The pros of living in a WG in Germany

1. Low price. All you have to pay is the rent for your own room; the costs for the common rooms are shared by the tenants.

2. Learning German has never been easier. International students who dare to move into a shared flat with Germans will most likely learn German and cross the language barrier in no time. And for free. Win-win, isn't it?

3. More freedom and privacy. The choice is yours: movie night with the flatmates or chill out with some Netflix in your own room. In a shared flat you find the perfect balance between social life and spending time alone.

4. Good amenities: A shared flat is already equipped with all the utensils you need for your daily needs - this can save you a lot of money, as you don't need to buy pots and pans, hoovers etc.

5. High availability: Due to the high turnover of students in particular, there's always a constant availability of rooms in shared flats. This makes it easier to find a room - even if demand is very high during peak periods.

6. New friends: Another advantage is socialising with flatmates. For newcomers arriving in big cities especially, the brand-new connections made in the student flat-share are worth a lot.

The cons of living in a WG in Germany

1. Little space: Some tenants are put off by the fact that they only have one room as a safe haven. Depending on the size of the room, it's not easy to set it up as a place to sleep and work at the same time.

2. More potential for conflict: Different cleaning habits (and expectations) can quickly point to conflicts with flatmates.

3. Poorer integration: as an international student, you really want to get a taste of student life. With a shared flat, you have to make a lucky strike to win over your flatmates as friends. So if you don't get along with your flatmates, you may have a harder time settling in.

4. Higher rents: Although shared rooms in Germany have relatively low rents, they are considerably more expensive than in student halls of residence

What to bear in mind when searching for a WG in Germany

Key to finding your perfect WG: understand your individual living situation. Whereas as a student you'd expect a fun flat-sharing community with other students, an expat wants to keep it low-key at times. Alternatively, a mixed flat-share might suit you best?

Try to define upfront all the things that are not an option for you in a WG in Germany. Can't stand the smell of smoke? Then make sure that you won't live in a smoker's flat-share under any circumstances. Or you don't want to hand-wash your dishes at all? Then make sure that the flat-share has a dishwasher.

Make a list of your

  • Your no-go's (smoking, animals, dishwasher),
  • Living situation (working flat-share, student flat-share, mixed flat-share),
  • Location of the flat share,
  • number of flatmates
  • and desired size of the flat share.

Student halls of residence in Germany: a popular place among international students

A whopping 40 per cent of all international students live in a student hall of residence in Germany. And if spots in student halls of residence weren't so limited and gone so swiftly like hotcakes, the percentage would probably be much higher. So, what is it that attracts international students to student halls of residence in Germany?

Life in a student hall of residence in Germany offers many facets: let's take a second and look at the advantages and disadvantages of student halls of residence in Germany.

The pros of student halls of residence in Germany

1. Low costs: Let's be honest, cheap rooms in student halls of residence in Germany are arguably THE biggest plus and the reason why the hall of residence rooms are filled in no time. The rent is relatively low, furniture comes with the room and the kitchen is equipped including a washing machine. You save real bucks in student halls of residence!

2. Better social life: You'll never feel lonely in a student hall of residence in Germany. There's always someone to chat with and plenty of new people to meet. Especially for international students, halls of residence are the perfect place to settle in and make friends.

3. Location near the university: Student halls of residence in Germany tend to be located near the university campus. Get up five minutes before class? No problem.

The cons of living in a student hall of residence in Germany

1. Fiercely competitive spots: Deadlines, not meeting requirements: Rooms in student halls of residence in Germany are fiercely fought for and so they go like hot cakes. So as soon as you've received your letter of acceptance, it's time to apply for a room in a student hall of residence.

2. No private bathroom: Comfort and luxury are a different story. Just like the kitchen, the bathroom, and thus the toilet and shower, is shared in a student hall of residence. In other words, with a bit of bad luck, the bathrooms are dirty or you'll only get cold water.

3. Dirty kitchen: The golden rule in a student hall of residence for a good common life is: your dishes must be washed, dried and put away immediately. Sadly, this isn't always the case, so you'll often be confronted with rotten food and dirty countertops.

4. Frugal rooms: The rooms in student halls of residence tend to be relatively small (between 11 and 18 square metres) and equipped with rather frugal and functional furnishings.

5. No secrets: Your flatmates really do get to hear EVERYTHING: whether you poured a glass too much at the weekend or took someone home with you. There are no secrets in a student hall of residence.

6. Limited maximum length of stay: No matter how fun it is to live in a student hall of residence, at some point you will have to make room for the new generation of students. Most of the time, the maximum length of stay is the standard period of study.

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