Living Expenses in Germany for International Students

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Living Expenses in Germany and How to Budget Them?

According to DAAD statistics, the average monthly living expense for a student in Germany is 867 euros (864 USD*). Thus, the annual living expenses can be calculated as 10,368 euros per year or 10,334 USD per year. This is far lower than other European countries, including the UK, Switzerland, Denmark, etc. Hence, it is safe to say that Germany is a moderately affordable study destination for international students. 

So, what exactly comes under the living expenses or the cost of living? These expenses include costs related to rent, food, transport, etc. to maintain a minimal standard of living in Germany. The following guide includes information about various living expenses that you have to bear as an international student in Germany. It also offers advice on how to budget your expenses to prevent overspending.

Living expenses in Germany

Accommodation and utility expenses in Germany

Currently, there are 400,000-440,000 international students in Germany, who make up ~0.5% of the overall population (83.7 million). Since there are many student cities in Germany, finding accommodation is fairly easy. Yet, one factor that makes it challenging is that German universities do not automatically provide housing to accepted students. Thus, students must start registering for accommodation when they receive an acceptance letter from a higher education institute.

There are two options for accommodation in Germany: private housing or university residences. You can apply for either depending on your preferences. Also note that, within a week of obtaining housing, you should register at the local Residents’ Registration Office. Otherwise, you will have to pay an administrative fine.

Student dormitories and halls

Dorms are popular and in demand in Germany as they are less expensive than private accommodation. The likelihood of admission to the dorms will therefore drop with any delay as universities can quickly run out of rooms. You can contact the university’s International Office (‘Akademisches Auslandsamt’) to book a student hall. As per DAAD figures, there are 1,174 student residence halls available for students in Germany. The monthly cost can range from 180 to 332 euros per month (2,184 to 3,984 euros per year) for dorms. These dorms come equipped with WIFI, TV, and shared facilities like the laundry room, kitchen, gym, etc. 

Private housing 

Private accommodations are easier to find but are a bit more expensive. You get a variety of apartments, from unfurnished to fully furnished. You can expect to pay between 400 and 600 euros per month (4,800 and 7,200 euros per year) for a single housing unit or apartment. 

Citywise housing cost in Germany

Large German cities like Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt have high rents. University cities like Freiburg or Tübingen are also pricey. In Frankfurt, a studio flat rents for 595 euros a month (7,140 euros or 7,102 USD a year). Compared to western German cities, eastern ones are more affordable to live in. Leipzig is one such fantastic city where you can rent an apartment for 379 euros per month (4,548 euros or 4,524 USD per year).   

Note: Beware of scammers, especially when renting private accommodation. Do not make a rent payment until you have visited the apartment. 

If your rent does not cover utilities then you will have to pay them separately. These include electricity, water, heating, etc., and can cost 32 euros per month (384 euros or 382 USD per year). 

Cost of food in Germany

Food in Germany can cost 154 euros per month or 1,848 euros (1,838 USD) per year. You can eat at the university canteen or cook your own food. The table below lists the costs of some everyday items that come under the cost of food. 

1 loaf of bread (500g) 2 euros 
1 kilogram of potatoes 0.99
1 lunch in the canteen  2.50 
1 liter milk  0.90
1 cup of coffee 2.5 euros 
1 bottle of mineral water  0.80

Cost of health insurance in Germany 

In Germany, having health insurance is mandatory for all, including international students. In the event of an accident or illness, health insurance makes sure that the costs of medical care and medicines do not have to be paid privately. A student health insurance will cost around 96 euros per month or 1,152 (1,145 USD) euros per year. 

Transportation expenses in Germany 

You will have to move around a lot as a student in Germany to attend classes, go grocery shopping, meet friends, etc. Germany has many options for transportation like buses, trains, taxis, rental cars, bicycles, etc. Taxis and rental cars are expensive, they charge 1.5 to 3 euros per kilometer. International students choose the less expensive options including bicycles, buses, and trains. Buses and trains fall under public transport and are called öffentlicher Personennahverkehr (ÖPNV). Depending on the area and transportation options, you should budget 116 euros each month (1,392 euros or 1,384 USD a year). Tickets can be purchased online or through an app. Several universities provide students with a semester ticket that allows them to use public transport at a reduced rate. They usually charge between 100 and 350 euros per semester.  

Personal expenses in Germany 

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” After a long day of classes and study, students need to engage in recreational activities to reenergize themselves. However, you do not have to break the bank to go out with your friend for movies and other fun activities. Tickets to the theatre, museums, opera houses, cinemas, and other cultural places are often discounted for students. You just have to show a valid German Student ID to avail of the discount. 

Price with student discount 
1 cinema ticket  6 euros
1 theatre ticket 6 to 30 euros
1 museum ticket 2 to 8 euros

Other personal expenses can include buying books, stationary, clothing, etc. Thus, you can keep aside 137 euros per month or 1,644 euros (1,635 USD*) per year for all your personal expenses. 

Tips for international students on budgeting in Germany 

You might be surprised at how much money you can save on your living expenses in Germany with a well-planned student budget. We have compiled a list of things you can do to cut your expenses

  • Instead of using public transport use a bicycle to move around in the city 
  • Go for shared apartments and split your rent with flat mates
  • Eat at the university canteen or cook your food
  • Eat less frequently at restaurants
  • Live in less populated and small cities like Leipzig 
  • Do not over splurge on shopping and outings with friends 
  • Earn extra money by doing a side job 

As a student you can work side jobs such as a waiter, academic assistant, nanny, courier, or private tutor. Many of these jobs are advertised via the university’s student services. Your skills and the status of the labor market will determine how much you are paid for these jobs. The typical hourly minimum wage in Germany is 10.45 euros.

Scholarships also enable students to manage their budget for living expenses in Germany. Such scholarships are provided by a number of German universities. Additionally, federal government scholarships like the DAAD and Deutschlandstipendium are also available for international students. To explore university-provided scholarships in Germany click here. 

*Note: The living expenses are converted based on the current exchange rate, i.e., 1 Euro = 0.99 USD. Exchange rates can fluctuate from time to time.

Frequently Asked Questions

The average living expense in Germany is 867 euros per month, which equates to 10,404 euros per year.

Eastern German cities are less expensive to live in than western ones. Also, the less populated German cities like Leipzig are affordable for international students. The average rent in Leipzig is 379 euros per month. 

To budget living expenses in Germany, students can choose to live in dorms, eat food from university canteens, or use public transportation/bicycles. If you are renting a private home, you can split the rent with roommates. You can also try to live in a city where rent is affordable.