Munich: a neighbourhood guide for expats

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Updated on Aug 10 • 6 minute read

There are many guides that tell you what to do when you’re in Munich for a few days. But, what if you’re moving there to study abroad, start an internship or make moves in your career? As soon as you know Munich is your destination, your next step is to find accommodation for your stay in this bustling city. With this guide, HousingAnywhere will help you find your new home in ‘the Milan of Germany’, Munich.

Where should I live in Munich as an expat?

Munich is a beautiful city with numerous districts that all have their own distinct character and charm. As most Germans will tell you, Munich is one of the more expensive cities in Germany. So, regardless of where you'll go, pricing is going to be above the national average. Thankfully, most internships and jobs have salaries to match! Besides budget, internationals like you have different requirements at different stages of your adventures abroad. So let’s zoom in on the best neighbourhoods for international students, young professional expats and veteran expats moving to Munich with their families.

The best neighbourhoods for students

Neighbourhood requirements

As a student, the requirements for the best neighbourhood mean finding a fine balance between affordability (as far as that’s possible in Munich), a short distance from or a fast connection to your academic institution and, last but not least, the city’s bars, clubs, restaurants, parks and other fun places that will be the reason you decide that your deadlines are future-you’s problem.

Schwabing

Schwabing, to the north of the Altstadt City centre, is a district popular among students. This is mostly due to the presence of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) campus, the Technical University of Munich and the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in the neighbouring district Maxvorstadt. This neighbourhood can be easily explored by bike, offering easy access to the various bars, restaurants and other hangout spots in Schwabing and neighbouring areas. Schwabing is also well known for its historic architecture called Altbauwohnungen, giving the neighbourhood its classic look favoured by the hipster crowd. This has led to gentrification in recent years, making sure Schwabing becomes more and more of a coveted residential area.

Glockenbachviertel (Isarvorstadt)

The Glockenbachviertel is an upcoming and popular district, officially part of Isarvorstadt. With its position close to the river Isar, an abundance of bars, shops and restaurants as well as being well known for its lively nightlife, you could do worse than to score a room or studio in this area. For some, this area offers something extra, as it’s also the jewel in the crown for the LGBTQ community in Munich! Additionally, Glockenbach is relatively close to the various academic institutions in the city, meaning a bike ride or a 15 minute trip by public transport can get you where you need to be.

Garching

For those who want to live close to Munich, but are looking to flee the high rent and the bustle of the city centre, the university town of Garching might be a solution. Garching’s full name is Garching bei München, so it shouldn’t surprise you that you’re only 20-30 minutes away from Munich city centre. Additionally, Garching has a large academic campus, housing a number of departments of the Technical University as well as the LMU. Additionally, it’s also home to some advanced research facilities, including a research nuclear reactor! Though the town itself doesn’t compare to Munich in terms of nightlife, it has the necessary restaurants, bars, a park and, no surprise with so many students nearby, a biergarten.

The best neighbourhoods for young professionals

Requirements

You’re moving to Munich to make moves in your career! At the same time, your inner student might still rear its partying head, so as a young professional with some money to spend, a room, studio or even an apartment in or near the bustling city centre, or an up-and-coming neighbourhood close to your new job is what has you itching to pack your bags as soon as possible!

Ludwigs- Isarvorstadt

We’ve already taken a look at the Glockenbach district, but the Ludwigs- Isarvorstadt area is an overall central district that is known for its variety of international restaurants and a large number of unique bars. It’s quite a busy district, so it’s the perfect place to live if you want to experience the bustle of the city. There’s also room to escape that same bustle, simply by visiting the nearby Südfriedhof, where you’ll find plenty of greenery, joggers and tombstones. Yep, it’s a park and old graveyard, full of statues and tombs. A great place to gather your thoughts and contemplate life!

Au Haidhausen

Au Haidhausen is situated on the opposite side of the river Isar, where its inhabitants spend their summers picnicking in the sun and shade-kissed Biergartens and riverside parks. It’s a very trendy neighbourhood with a bit of a French flair, filled with cinemas, theatres and terraces. You’ll share these terraces with a mix of young families and hipsters, as well as the many tourists who stray from the city centre. There’s plenty of variety if you don’t feel like cooking, with everything from American bars and Mediterranean food to pubs where you can pop in for a few pints and some grub.

Maxvorstadt

If you want to be at the heart of everything, Maxvorstadt is the place to be. If you plan on moving here, you should make arrangements as far ahead as possible, as this is the most coveted district in the city. Amalienstrasse, Türkenstrasse and Schellingstrasse form the core of the district, being lined with quaint shops, cafés and art galleries. With the many academic institutions nearby, you’re sharing this bustling district with over 100.000 students who chill out and come to party in the area. It’s not completely a concrete jungle, though, as there are some oases of greenery in the district that fulfill all your jogging, picnicking and outdoor fitness needs. The district is also home to the city’s best Biergarten, at the Augustiner-keller, which is the perfect location to cool down after a long day at work.

The best neighbourhoods for expats with families

Requirements

Munich is your destination because you’re making moves in your career. You’ve been at it for a while and this is probably not your first time moving abroad. This time, though, you’re bringing your family along. Bringing your partner, kid (or cat?) and belongings makes you set some different expectations, this time around, however. Instead of clubs and bars, you’re looking for something a little more suburban, with a nice park and a nearby school.

Berg-am-Laim

From 1996 to approximately 2018, Berg-am-Laim was actually one of the nightlife centres of Munich. In recent years, however, some of these party areas have been demolished to make space for calm, suburban residential areas. Going back to its roots as a working-class neighbourhood; the area now attracts expats as well as young families. It has ready access to areas of greenery and is in relatively close proximity to some of the city’s international schools. Berg-am-laim also features the München Ost train station, making getting around very easy, even if you work outside Munich city centre.

Neuhausen - Nymphenburg

If you’re looking for quiet, well-off areas with free-standing houses, then Neuhausen and Nymphenburg are the place for you. The name Nymphenhausen is borrowed from the nearby Palace Nymphenburg, the former summer residence of Bavarian royalty. The area is full of green and many homes are like palaces of their own. Major employers in the area are the police, the military and the various hospitals in the area, so there’s plenty of work to go around for a talented expat like you! The upper-middle class character as well as the rich variety in greenery allow this area to provide a very high standard of living. It’s no surprise that this quiet residential area is one of the most expensive and exclusive in Munich. But, if you’ve got the salary to match, this could be the perfect place for your family to settle.

Giesing

Giesing can be found in the south park of Munich, below the river Isar. It’s relatively far from the city centre, resulting in a quiet more suburban area. Far is still a relative term, as the city centre is only 15-20 minutes away by public transport. Giesing is known to be something of an expat enclave, with numerous international and expat communities in the area. Additionally, the Giesing district is cheaper than the other neighborhoods we recommend for expats with families. Often, the cheaper areas of a city mean that you need to compromise on safety and security. Lucky you! Munich happens to be the safest city in Germany! So, even super far south, you should have no worries bringing your family along.

Conclusion

Despite its reputation as one of the most expensive cities in the country, Munich has something to offer for every walk of life, making it an interesting choice for many expats. Even the cheaper areas of the city are among the safest places in Germany, so it’s particularly attractive to the middle and upper-middle class. So, take your pick of the neighborhood that sounds the most inviting to you, and we’ll see you at the Biergarten!

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