How to budget for student accommodation in Germany
Heading off to a university in Germany? In this article, Archit Singh walks you through the ins and outs of budgeting for student accommodation in Germany, whether it's student housing in Frankfurt or Munich, buying groceries, or getting around, so you can focus more on your studies and less on your wallet.
So you've got your acceptance letter to a German university - amazing! But let's be real: finding a place to live in Germany can be a bit of a financial puzzle. How much should you set aside for rent? What about bills and groceries? Worry no longer, in this article we’ll look at how much you should budget for all different aspects of your student life in Germany.
Navigating the costs of student accommodation can be tricky, but rent is the expense that will likely take up the biggest chunk of your budget.
When it comes to budgeting for accommodation, you need to take into account not only your monthly rental costs, but also potentially bigger one-off payments like your security deposit (Kaution) and administration fees (Verwaltungsgebühren).
To get an idea of how much you’ll need to set aside for rent, you need to determine the base monthly rent for your destination city. Check out the local rent index to get an idea of what other people are paying. Bear in mind that accommodation in Germany is usually listed with its “cold rent” (i.e. service charges). The “warm rent” is the amount you pay including any service charges (Nebenkosten) like maintenance fees. You also need to factor in a deposit, that could be up to three months’ rent.
Put all this together and you’re looking at a monthly budget of between 300 and 700 euros, depending on the city and accommodation type.
Here are some extra budgeting tips:
- Scrutinise your rental contract for any additional costs.
- Look for accommodation in areas with a balance of affordability and accessibility.
- Engage in rent negotiations if you’re committing to a long-term lease.
After you've sorted out your rent, the next major set of expenses often comes from utilities like electricity, water, and internet. On top of your rent and service costs, you’ll need to factor in additional costs for electricity, gas, water and internet.
To calculate how much you can expect to pay, investigate the average costs in your city or consult current students, and add up the separate utility bills to get a monthly total. You should also check if any utilities are included in your rent.
You can expect to spend somewhere between 50 and 100 euros per month on utilities, depending on your personal use and which are included in your rent.
You can save money on utilities by:
- Opting for energy-efficient appliances to lower electricity costs.
- Limiting water usage by taking shorter showers and fixing any leaks promptly.
- Considering bundling internet and phone services to get a discounted rate.
One of the most flexible yet essential parts of your budget will be groceries. However, eating well doesn't have to break the bank if you plan carefully, and luckily groceries in Germany tend to be very affordable, depending on where you shop and what kind of products you buy.
When calculating a budget for groceries, think about what kinds of produce you tend to buy, like fresh fruits and vegetables, store cupboard staples like rice and pasta, and extras like snacks and drinks.
To arrive at a figure, list out the foods you consume regularly and their average prices. Add special items that you buy occasionally and calculate their average monthly cost, then tally up these numbers to get an estimate of your monthly grocery expenses.
You can reckon on spending somewhere between 150 and 250 euros per month on groceries, depending on your dietary needs and choices.
Here’s how to save money on groceries:
- Use loyalty cards and apps to take advantage of discounts and cashback offers.
- Consider buying in bulk for non-perishable items to save in the long run.
- Plan your meals ahead of time to avoid impulse buying and reduce waste.
Getting around can vary in cost dramatically depending on your location and choice of transportation. It's essential to budget for this to avoid any unexpected expenses. The good news is that almost all students in Germany (as long as your institution is enrolled in the scheme) get a so-called Semesterticket when they enrol at university and pay their semester fees. The semester ticket allows you to travel free of charge on local public transport in the federal state where your university is located.
Germany has also recently introduced a scheme known as the Deutschlandticket, which permits the holder unlimited travel on public transport (not including InterCity trains) throughout Germany for just 49 euros per month.
Budgeting for public transport is therefore fairly easy, but you’ll need to make additional calculations depending on which modes of transport you use. For instance, if you have your own car, or if you take taxis or other forms of transport.
To calculate, determine the frequency and type of transport you'll be using and find out the cost per ride or monthly passes. If using a personal vehicle, calculate average fuel costs and consider maintenance expenses. Include occasional or emergency travel options like taxis or ride-sharing services. Your budget should be somewhere between 30 and 100 euros per month, factoring in whether you'll be using public transport or a personal vehicle and the frequency of travel.
To save money:
- Investigate student discounts on public transport passes.
- If possible, use cycling or walking as free and healthy alternatives for short distances.
- Carpool with friends or classmates when possible to share fuel costs.
Budgeting for student accommodation in Germany involves careful planning across various expenses. amber student accommodation helps you secure accommodation when you’re studying abroad. Having served 80 million students (and counting), amber is your one-stop shop for all your accommodation needs, with great choices for student housing.