Student accommodation in Germany


Updated on Mar 23 • 5 minute read

After being accepted to a university in Germany, one of the first things you need to sort out is booking student accommodation in Germany. But as an international student, this can be tough, especially when you need to make this decision from abroad.

To help you make a good decision, we’ll share the 2 types of student accommodation in Germany that you can choose from — shared flats versus dormitories.

Shared-flat or WG in Germany

When hunting for student housing in Germany, you'll run into the abbreviation 'WG' everywhere. WG stands for 'Wohngemeinschaft', which means 'shared apartment'.

This type of housing is one of the most popular choices among students in Germany. Over 30% of students live in shared apartments with their fellow students.

Here’re some of the pros of living in a WG or shared-flat:

  1. Cost-saving: Sharing a flat with others is cheaper than renting an apartment and you can split rent and utilities between roommates.

  2. Socialising: living in a WG is perfect when you’re new in Germany as students tend to spend a lot of time together. Whether it’s studying, partying, or cooking together, you’ll have new friends quickly.

  3. Balance between social life and privacy: Whether you want to watch a movie with your flatmates or stay in your room, it’s up to you.

  4. Furnished with basic amenities: Most shared flats come furnished with kitchen equipment and furniture in the common rooms. So you don’t need to worry about buying furniture or appliances unless it's for your private room.

  5. Flexibility: Shared flats often provide more flexibility in terms of location and duration of the lease. If you need to move in soon and don’t want to sign a long-term lease, a shared apartment will provide you with more flexibility.

  6. Learn basic German easily: If you live with German roommates, you’ll be able to pick up words or phrases in no time.

Living in a shared flat also has some disadvantages. Here’re the cons of living in a WG:

  1. Lack of privacy: Since you’ll be sharing common areas with your roommates, you can’t control when they come and go or who they invite.

  2. Different lifestyles can cause conflicts: While living with roommates, you’ll have to adapt to different lifestyles and schedules. Especially when it comes to cleaning, cooking, or taking a shower.

  3. Less control : When you share a flat with others, you'll have less control over many aspects. From cleaning schedules to furniture in your house or from bringing your friends over to listening to music on speakers, you'll need to make compromises.

  4. Dealing with changing roommates: Constantly changing roommates can become tiring as you’ll need to adjust to a new routine each time. Depending on the type of rental contract, you may also be responsible for finding a replacement tenant or paying rent for the empty room. To save yourself from trouble, look for a WG where each tenant has their own rental contract.

  5. Costs for damages: If a tenant causes some damage to the common areas, you all may be responsible for replacing or repairing the damage. Try to come to an agreement with your roommates early on to avoid issues.

How to find a WG in Germany? Tips for internationals

  1. Search online: Since student residences in Germany are in high demand, you need to book in advance. So, the best way to book accommodation from abroad is to use reputable online platforms. Look for platforms that protect your rent or allow you to pay until after you move in for safety.

While or are popular, HousingAnywhere allows you to search in and speak to landlords in English, making house hunting stress-free.

  1. Decide on a location: Look at which neighbourhoods are near your university and have a look at neighbourhood guides to get a feel of the area. When looking for a shared flat on online platforms, use the map feature to narrow down your search.

  2. Determine your preferences: Do you prefer living with students, and if so, with how many? Do you wish to have a balcony? Do you want to share the house with other smokers? Make a list of these preferences and watch out for these in the property descriptions.

  3. Pay attention to the rent breakdown: Ask the landlord or check the property description to see if utilities are included or not. If you see Warmmiete (warm rent), it means utilities are included in your rent. If you see Kaltmiete (basic rent), don’t forget to account for extra costs.

  4. Visit the flats: If you’re already in Germany, visit the shared apartments to meet your potential flatmates, ask questions, and make a good impression.

Student dorms in Germany

According to Rishi, a guest on a recent HomeAbroad episode, 'You should apply for a student dorm via the studierendenWERK website or your university as soon as you get your admission.'

He also notes that 'the waiting period for each apartment or each room is roughly about 12 to 18 months.' These are just some of the valuable insights shared on the podcast, which is a must-listen for anyone searching for student accommodation in Germany. Check out the full episode on Youtube or Spotify to learn more.

More than 40% of international students who come to Germany move into student dorms. If dormitories in Germany weren’t so limited, the percentage of students would probably be much higher. So what is it that attracts international students to dorms in Germany?

Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of living in this type of student accommodation in Germany.

The pros of student dorms:

  1. Affordability: Student dorms, such as those by Studierendenwerke, are often more affordable than shared apartments as they’re supported by the state.

  2. Location: Dorms in Germany tend to be located near the university campus. Waking up five minutes before class will be no problem!

  3. Furnished and with facilities: Student dorms in Germany are fully furnished, saving you the cost and hassle of finding furniture. You’ll often get access to furnished common areas, such as the kitchen, living room, laundry room, and study room.

  4. Social life: Especially for international students, student dorms are the perfect place to settle in and make friends.

  5. Support services: Student dorms often have staff on site who will help solve any problems related to issues, housing or finances.

The cons of student dorms:

  1. Competitive spots: Because of the cheap rent and low availability, student dorms in Germany are in extremely high demand. So as soon as you've received your acceptance letter, it's time to apply for a room at your university's dorm!

  2. Lack of privacy: Living in a dorm means sharing common spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms with others. So you need to compromise on things like cleaning schedules or shower time.

  3. Limited flexibility: Most of the time, the maximum length of stay is the standard study period. However, some universities in Germany limit this period to 1 year.

  4. Limited space: The rooms in student dorms tend to be relatively small (11–18 square metres), making it challenging to have guests or store belongings.

  5. Noise levels: Living with other people at a close distance can mean dealing with noise and disruptions, especially during exam periods.

Now that you’ve got an in-depth comparison of living in a WG (shared flat) versus a student dormitory, you’re ready to make the right choice!

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