Travel and Student Accommodation in Germany - Discounts, Costs, Flatshare, Hostel

by ashmita.tamta

The best part about living in Germany is that there are several ways to get around the country without your own car. The transportation system is well-connected.

As an international student, before setting your foot in Germany, it is essential to figure out the way to get from the airport or train station to your accommodation. Also, find out the location and working hours of the International Office which will serve as your first point of contact in Germany. 

Pre-departure checklist 

Personal documents 

  • Passport or personal identification card for students from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland (valid for the entire duration of your study)
  • Student visa (if applicable)
  • Residence permit
  • Acceptance letter from your university
  • Proof of financial standing
  • Certified original documents in English/German
  • Secondary school-leaving certificate
  • University diplomas (if applicable)
  • Scores of language proficiency tests
  • Health insurance certificate
  • Vaccination card (if applicable)
  • International driving license
  • Passport photos
  • Other travel documents including air ticket

Other useful items

  • Prescribed medicines
  • International credit card or traveler’s cheques
  • Cash in euros for your arrival
  • Contact number and address of the International Office
  • Contact details of your accommodation
  • Electrical adapter (voltage in Germany: 220 V)

Way to Travel in Germany

Cycling

  • Fastest and most popular mode of transportation in Germany.
  • Every city has marked lanes reserved for cyclists called Radwege.
  • Many bicycle stands available in public areas for parking bikes.
  • You can participate in weekend cycling tours with friends.
  • You can easily rent a bike in Germany
  • CAMPUSbike and nextbike are the most popular bike rental companies.

Special bike rental rates for students in Germany

For the first hourUSD 0
For every half an hourUSD 1.15
Maximum daily rate (24 hours)USD 574

Taxis

  • More than 50,000 taxis in Germany.
  • Relatively expensive and hence, not preferred by students.
  • Use it if you miss the last bus/tram.
  • Travel in groups for a more economical ride.
  • Most popular taxi app in Germany - mytaxi
  • Taxis are also available at taxi stands located throughout the city.
Minimum fareUSD 2.30 to USD 3.45
Charges per kilometerUSD 1.72 to USD 2.30

Buses and Local Railway

  • Used by most residents and students to get around cities.
  • Three major types of railway systems in Germany: underground trains, suburban railways, and trams.
  • Timetables and route maps are available at all bus stops and railway stations. They are also available online on the official portal of the German transport office
  • The frequency of public transport is more on the weekdays than weekends (Saturday and Sunday) and public holidays.
  • Students with semester tickets do need to buy another ticket. If a conductor asks, you have to produce your personal identification proof such as a passport.
  • Public transport companies offer low rates to students with no semester tickets.

Railway 

  • Fast, comfortable, and ideal for long distances.
  • Rail travel in Germany is not cheap, especially for spontaneous trips. Book in far advance to save costs.
  • Tickets for Intercity, Intercity Express, and Eurocity trains are more expensive than Regionalbahn trains and local trams.
  • Tickets are cheaper if you book them online. Credit cards are mostly the only accepted form of payment.
  • BahnCard 25 or BahnCard 50 reduce the prices by 25 percent or 50 percent. It is good for frequent railway travelers.

Car Pooling 

  • Economical and environment-friendly mode of transport.
  • Student councils at various universities have a special bulletin board, Mitfahrerbrett, where students can offer and find carpools.

Driving in Germany 

  • Only European country to have no set speed limit. Although 130km/hour is recommended.
  • Average cost of gas in Germany - USD 1.15
  • Students need a valid driving license for driving in Germany. You can apply at the local driving license registration office.
  • Legal blood alcohol content limit: 0.5mg/ml.
  • Drivers under the age of 21 are not permitted to consume any alcohol.
  • If involved in an accident, call the police at the toll-free number 110.

Airlines

  • Germany has nearly 60 airports.
  • Many ‘budget airlines’ cater to German airports.
  • Busiest airports - Frankfurt and Munich airports
  • Book in advance to save costs.
  • Several airlines have special deals and low rates on long-distance flights for students.

Student Accommodation in Germany 

German uni­versities rarely have traditional campuses with student accommodation. Unlike other countries, students enrolled in German universities are not automatically granted rooms on campus.

The cost of student accommodation in Germany is more in some regions than others, ranging from USD 254 to USD 398 per month. Rental prices in metropolitan cities like Hamburg, Munich, Cologne or Frankfurt am Main are relatively higher.

Students have to look for accommodation by them­selves. In some university towns, finding affordable accommodation is a challenge. It is better to reserve accommodation before arriving in the country.

Types of Student Accommodation in Germany 

There are mainly two types of accommodation for students:

  • Room in a student hall of residence
  • Private accommodation
Room in a student hall of a residenceUSD 254
Room in a flat-shareUSD 306
Individual private accommodationUSD 392

Student Halls of Residence

  • The most economical form of accommodation.
  • More than 180,000 rooms in student halls of residence are available every year.
  • Present in every university town.
  • Every hall of residence is different in terms of location, size, and furnishings.
  • Include rooms in singles, doubles, or even small apartments.
  • Provided by the state-run Studentenwerk organization.

How to Apply?

  • Submit your application to your university’s Studentwerk as soon as you receive your acceptance letter from the university. Early applicants have high chances to get accommodation.
  • For a few universities, the International Office is in charge of assigning rooms at student halls of residence to international students.

Private accommodation

  • The price and quality of private accom­modation greatly vary.
  • In Germany, you can rent a room, for example in a shared flat.
  • A flat-share, also known as Wohn­ gemeinschaft or WG, is a living arrangement in which two or more people share the expenditure together in one flat.
  • Shared flats are very popular among students due to affordability.
  • Every student has their own bedroom along with a shared kitchen, living room, and bathroom.
  • The cost of telephone, internet, and other amenities are mostly shared too.

How to Apply? 

At home country

  • Explore the listings of free rooms and flats from your home country.
  • Visit the International Office. The office usually has a list of addresses of landlords who rent rooms and flats to international students. It can also advise you on your accommodation search.
  • Fix appointments to see probable flats via e-mail.

Note: Most landlords like to meet their prospective tenants in person before signing the agreement. Hence, you can rent private accommodation only when you arrive at your German university town.

After arriving in Germany

Studutenwerk and the student council can help you in flat hunting with their accommodation finding services. They gather the addresses of free accommodation.

You can find advertisements for rooms and flats here:

  • Large notice boards near the student dining halls, in the institutes, and seminar halls.
  • City magazines and stu­dent newspapers
  • Local newspapers print adverts usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • Online accommodation services including Mit­wohnzentrale (flat-sharing agency) and HomeCompany.

Popular online student accommodation services in Germany

  • www.studenten-wg.de
  • www.studenten-wohnung.de
  • www.easywg.de
  • www.wg-gesucht de

These portals also let flat seekers post their own flat-wanted advertisements without any charges.

Landing in Germany without prior living arrangement

Do not worry if you are unable to find a place to stay before you arrive in Germany. The International Office can come to the rescue. The Studentenwerk and student organisa­tions of many universities offer foreign students temporary housing for their initial nights in Germany.

The German Youth Hostel Association, an association of 536 youth hostels in Germany, is also a good option. It can cost you from USD 15-45 per night. German hostels are open to only members of Youth Hostel Association. To become a member, you have to pay a small membership fee of USD 9.

Staying at a local hotel is a little expensive. The tourist information office of your university town can reserve a room for you at a nearby hotel or guest house. You can also book a room online.

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