Living in Germany: costs, trends and tips

Several apartment buildings in Berlin Prenzlauer-Berg, in the background you can see the Berlin TV Tower.
© Getty Images/3dan3

Are you coming to Germany? Then there is of course a whole range of aspects to consider and arrange. Housing is high on the list. This doesn’t just involve how you want to live. It’s also important to know how much housing costs.

Germany has a huge rental market

You don't necessarily have to buy your apartment In Germany. The Federal Statistical Office reports that Germany is the number 1 tenant country in the EU. More than half of the population in this country was living in rented accommodation in 2021. This therefore means that there is a huge rental market and strong tenant protection.

Unlike in many other countries, the apartments in Germany are mainly rented unfurnished and sometimes even without a kitchen. And one further peculiarity: the rents stated in advertisements are usually so-called net basic rents. There are additional costs for water, electricity, heating, etc., which can be quite high.

How do you want to live?

If you’re studying or working at a university, your apartment should be as close to the university as possible. It’s also important that it is well connected to public transport. Proximity to shopping facilities or possibly to a day care centre can also make life easier. And then there are the costs: Germans spend an average of 966 euros a month for housing. The average rent for students is 410 euros a month.

There are however major differences here: rents are higher in large cities than in smaller towns and average rents are lower in the eastern federal states than in the west. A place in a hall of residence is also significantly cheaper than a small apartment on the open market. 

Easy German: Tips for Searching for an Apartment in Germany (in German)

Easy German: Tips for Searching for an Apartment in Germany (in German)
Easy German: Tips for Searching for an Apartment in Germany (in German) ©

Student halls of residence are very popular

A place in a hall of residence is very popular, especially among international students. This involves individual rooms within a residential group, individual apartments and multi-room apartments for couples or students with children.

The average rent at the student unions is just under 290 euros. Privately run halls of residence are usually more expensive. It’s all the more important to apply here early, given that there are not so many of these halls of residence.The makes the search easier.

Living together in a shared apartment

Sharing an apartment with others can be good not only for students. You’re not alone, you quickly make friends in a new city, and a room in a shared apartment (Wohngemeinschaft – WG) is usually much cheaper than an apartment of your own. Shared apartments can be found in almost all university towns and cities.

There are also special options, such as together with disabled people or the (Living for Help) project. This form of housing involves people who have a spare room making it available to others rent-free. In return, the renter helps for example with care, the gardening, childcare or housework. The general rule here is: 1 square metre of living space for 1 hour of help a month.

The special online platforms that arrange shared rooms also contain other alternative forms of shared living for large university cities, such as multi-generational shared apartments, shared apartments for women or shared apartments for single parents or people with children.

Small apartment – major price differentials

Anyone who would like to live alone or with their partner generally wants a small apartment. This isn’t easy, particularly in university towns and cities at the start of semesters, since the demand here is especially high.

Differentials between the individual towns and cities are considerable: the  (Student Housing Report) suggests that a model student flat of 30 square metres in Munich would cost 787 euros a month, in Chemnitz only 198 euros.

The so-called rent index can be used to discover how high the local rents actually are. Many cities, towns and municipalities collate the data and post it online.

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