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Cost of living in Germany for international students in 2021 – Everything you need to know

Cost of living in Germany for international students in 2021 – Everything you need to know

October 28, 2021

Germany is not very expensive. The costs of housing, feeding, clothing and other cultural activities are a little above the EU average. On average, students in Germany spend an estimated 850 Euros monthly on living costs. The biggest expense is rent (As expected). 

 There are many reasons to study in Germany, but one may begin to wonder, is studying in Germany affordable. With questions like:

  • Can I work during my studies?
  • How expensive is tuition?
  • How much is food, rent, and transportation for a student?
  • What is the average cost of living in Germany?

We realize that traveling to a foreign country is a big move, so we’ll go into how much it costs students to live in Germany in depth. Fortunately, Germany is a well priced place for students to live. With many advantages such as reduced premiums, a semester pass with unrestricted public transportation usage, and discounts at live concerts, movie theaters, parks, and restaurants. While studying in Germany, you can do 120 full days or 240 half-days of paid work and take small student jobs to support your stay in Germany.

While several institutions have reinstated tuition fees for foreign students, the vast majority continue to provide free higher education. The semester contribution is the only university payment you must make as a foreign student in Germany. A set fee charged for basic university programs such as administrative support, athletic equipment, bus transportation, dining halls, and so on.

A triangle of the three most important issues for an international student usually is housing, food, and travelling. Once you get confident in handling these three, other problems will be easy to take care of. 

Student housing

Almost all universities in Germany offer student housing. Student housing is not free but is well discounted compared to the average costs of living in each city. While there is no standard rate for student housing at a federal level and the costs depend on the university and city. Students have many different options in choosing their housing. Even under the category of university student housing, there are usually different price categories depending on the type of flat you’d like to live in, if you prefer to live alone or in a shared flat, and wherein the city you’d like to live. Student accommodation can range from 250 – 350 € on average, depending on some conditions and location you choose. Remember that university housing invariably has very high demands, so be sure to apply for a spot when you receive your acceptance letter, as students typically wait months to receive an offer for housing.

If you opt-out of university student housing and choose to find accommodation on your own, you still have different options such as a single flat, furnished room, or shared apartment. In Germany, the word for a shared flat is “Wohnungsgemeinschaft”, which means “group housing” or “group living.” This is usually abbreviated as “WG”. There are online platforms where you can search for an open room in a WG. This is a trendy option among students who opt out of living in university housing. The prices for a WG room vary and depend on the location, city, and house type. In Berlin, for example, a WG room can range from €350 – €600 whereas, in smaller cities such as Bremen, the price can range between €300 – €400. Alternatively, a WG room in Munich would cost between €500 – €700 on average as it is a richer city with higher rent prices. Learn how to find cheap student accommodation here.

University tuition fees in Germany

In Germany, there are no tuition fees for Bachelor’s and master’s courses in public universities. This is because the government subsidies higher education. Degree courses are available in German and English. About 6% of the student population attends a private university, but tuition fees will be payable here.

How much does it cost to get a degree in Germany?

Because there are no tuition fees in Germany, you can attain a degree for a lot less money than elsewhere. There are still other costs you need to pay for, such as rent, semester fees, bills, and food, which usually comes to around €850 – €1,000 a month.

In Germany, the amount of tuition fees does not reflect the quality of the education provided. Degree programmes that are free of charge are also of very high quality.

Although there is no study fee in Germany, all students need to pay a semester fee to the university. This is charged each semester and is usually in the region of €200 – €500. When you’re budgeting your student costs in Germany, be sure to include this amount which will need to be paid in advance each semester.

Which universities in Germany are free?

A common misconception is that universities in Germany are only free for nationals but international students are mandated to pay tuition. However, the German government subsidises education for international students and national ones, which means that provided your application is accepted, you won’t need to pay any tuition fees.

How do I apply to study in Germany for free?

Because there are no tuition fees at German public universities, you can apply for a normal course, and you do not need to make any special application to study for free. In some cases, students will have to pay to study a Master’s course.

Health insurance for international students

Germany has an excellent public health care system that suits most German residents and international students. It’s advisable to take public health insurance – such as Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) – as the cover is more comprehensive.  You can choose between public and private health insurance. Either way, you need to be covered before you will be allowed to begin your studies.

Average utilities and bills Cost

Besides housing rent, you will need to cover monthly bills for heating, electricity, water, and garbage. Unfortunately, the price of electricity in Germany is relatively higher despite a slight decrease introduced in 2018.

Currently, in Germany, you will have to pay 29.42 cents for a kilowatt-hour (CT/kWh).

If you live with roommates, you will, of course, share these expenses. In some cases, these bills are included in your rent, so you don’t have to pay any extras for these utilities.

Other expenses you need to consider

Other than the basic needs already mentioned here, there are some other expenses you have to cover while studying and living in Germany. For example, you may need to get yourself a pair of new shoes or buy some new clothes to adjust to the new season.

In Germany the quality of clothing is high, but so is the price. A pair of jeans will cost you around 50 and 100 euros, while a pair of shoes (Nike Running shoes, for example) will cost you between 60 and 120 euros. You will have to pay a higher price for a pair of business shoes ranging between 70 and 150 euros.


Money-saving tips for students

International students are only permitted to work 120 days or 240 half days per year, limiting earnings and means you need to know how to save money as a student.

Consider these ideas to save money:

Student ID for discounts

Remember to carry your student ID with you at all times and actively seek out businesses that offer a discount. Many retailers, restaurants, museums, cinemas, bars, and nightclubs provide a student discount, usually around 10-20%.

Save on living expenses.

You can lower your living expenses in several ways. You can always choose student accommodation if you can and opt for a house or flatshare rather than a studio or one-bedroom accommodation. You can often find cheaper house shares on the outskirts of the city. Ensure a reliable tram, bus, or metro (S/U-Bahn) that you can use to get to both the university campus and the city centre.

Living in student halls

Student halls are a low-cost option, but they are almost always very close to university campuses. Apply for student accommodation as soon as possible, as the rooms are in high demand, especially for the winter semester.

Food shopping

Avoid expensive grocery stores and food halls and stock up on essentials at discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. Open-air street markets are common in many cities in Germany and can be a great place to buy fresh produce, meat, fish, and other treats at low costs.

Transportation

A student ID gives you access to many discounts for transportation throughout Germany as well. Many students take advantage of this and travel during their studies throughout Germany and Europe. Students have many affordable travel options to choose from. The Deutsche Bahn (DB) is the main railway in Germany to take trains to travel worldwide. DB offers a student price for their Bahncard 25, a year-long membership card that gives you access to discounted train ticket prices and exclusive offers. Anyone can purchase a Bahncard 25, but students have a special price available only with their student ID. So get ready to hit the road and explore Germany!

So, keep these considerations in mind. Look at the various Universities in Germany that you can apply to, check out the eligibility requirement and the exams required for Germany and start preparing. Germany is called the land of ideas, and with good reason. Find your perfect fit and start planning your higher studies in Germany.




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