Your guide to studying in Berlin
Planning to study in Berlin? Before diving in, you’ll need to find a room, learn how to get around, and figure out how to finance your studies. Read on for practical tips on all this—and more!
6 min read
Planning to study in Berlin? That’s great! As you set out to conquer the German capital, you’ve likely got a few items on your to-do list—including finding an apartment, securing funding, and figuring out how to move around the city on a budget. If you’re not sure where to get started, you’re in luck—we’ve compiled some tips to get you started off on the right foot.
Finding accommodation in Berlin
When it comes to studying in Berlin, arguably the most important thing is finding a place to live. These days, securing an apartment or room takes some work—after all, housing in the German capital has gotten pricier over the past few years. But don’t give up hope! When it comes to accommodation, there are still plenty of options for students.
It's best to start looking early, across channels, and with relative regularity. If possible, get started a few months before you’re planning to move. You’ll find a wide range of offers on online platforms like WG-gesucht.de, Immoscout24.de, immowelt.de, and Immonet.de, but also in various Facebook groups. Be aware, however, that you’ll need to be quick. Listings are often online for just a few minutes or hours.
You can also find offers offline. Many landlords still rely on good old-fashioned newspapers, in addition to their online listings. As the world becomes more digital, print ads are often overlooked by the majority—meaning you’ll have less competition. Do you already know someone in Berlin? Perfect! Why not ask if they can connect you with someone looking for a new roommate or tenant. They may also be able to put up a few paper ads for you in the district you’d like to live in. If you haven’t had any luck before your move date, you can find temporary accommodation on platforms such as Wunderflats.com or Airbnb. These options are generally more expensive, but they offer you some flexibility while you look for a permanent solution.
As soon as you’ve found an apartment or a room in a shared flat, you can turn your focus to other things—like getting around the city affordably.
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How to get from A to B in Berlin on a budget
When you arrive in the sprawling metropolis of Berlin, you’ll quickly notice that it can take a while to get from place to place. But there are lots of fast, cheap, and environmentally friendly ways to get around. Here are the main options:
- When it comes to getting around as a student, a bicycle is a worthwhile investment. Cycling is an excellent way to stay fit while keeping your costs and environmental impact low. You’ll also get a good overview of the different neighborhoods and the city’s general scale. Plus, you can stop anytime something catches your eye. Buying a bike doesn’t have to mean digging deep into your pockets, either. You can find affordable used bikes in many bicycle shops, and on platforms such as ebay-kleinanzeigen.de.
- Need to commute cheaply to university and stay dry on rainy days? Try public transit! The German Semesterticket—the universal student transit pass—is already included in the semester fees of around €300 at most Berlin universities. This gives you access day and night to all regional trains, subways, trams, and buses operating in the ABC-fare zones. Plus, you can take your bike with you for free. If your university doesn’t offer Semestertickets, you can buy weekly or monthly passes as a cheap alternative. This way, you can stay flexible and switch to public transit during winter months or on rainy days.
- With electric kick and motor scooters, you can travel fast and keep your environmental impact low. You’ll find electric scooters for rent almost anywhere within the Ringbahn train line. Simply download Lime or any other scooter app, scan the QR code, and start riding. When you arrive, simply park the electric scooter just about anywhere—even on the sidewalk. However, make sure that there’s still enough space for wheelchair users and strollers. Since most rental electric scooters don’t come with a helmet, it’s a good idea to always have one with you.
If you’re lucky enough to live close to your university, you may be able to commute by foot. Alternatively, try carsharing for a more comfortable journey. You can even share expenses with fellow students by carpooling. In our guide to student transport, you’ll find even more practical tips on how to stay mobile as a student.
Financing your studies
The question of how to finance your studies should be high on your agenda. After all, as a student, you’ll need to cover the costs of accommodation, utilities, semester fees, and study materials—as well as food and leisure.
If your parents can’t support you financially, you could apply for BAföG—a state-funded interest-free loan of up to €735 per month. If you’re not eligible for the BAföG, you also have the option to apply for a KfW loan of up to €650 a month. The conditions for this loan are very attractive and interest rates are extremely low. However, the downside of both BAföG and a KfW loan is that you’ll have to repay them once you finish your studies. Therefore, it’s a good idea to start putting money aside early on.
If you want to avoid all that, you might want to consider applying for a scholarship. Platforms such as Stipendienlotse.de and Mystipendium.de serve as a good starting point. Even if you don't have the very best grades, it’s worth your time to do some research. Some scholarships take other criteria into account besides your grades. For example, there are scholarships for children from working-class families or those who want to work in a specific profession.
If you’re still not able to cover your costs with these options, or if none of the above are a possibility for you, consider finding a part-time job. To find a part-time job in Berlin, try browsing some online platforms such as Stellenwerk-berlin.de or Jobruf.de. Alternatively, you could check the job offers in the major daily newspapers such as Tagesspiegel, Berliner Morgenpost, or BZ.
If you want to find out more about how you can finance your studies, check out our guide to student financial support.
Studying? Bank for free!
Your money at N26
Are you all set for your new life in Berlin? Herzlichen Glückwunsch! But what about finding the student bank account that’s right for you? If you still need one, look no further than N26—a bank account that’s just as mobile as you are.
With Shared Spaces sub-accounts, one of our most popular premium features, you can manage common expenses with your flatmates the stress-free way. Simply invite up to 10 N26 customers to your Shared Spaces and keep track of your expenses and savings together. You can also use your own Spaces to save and budget more easily. Create up to 10 Spaces with individual icons and names, and set a savings goal for each one. Turn on Round-Ups to save your spare change—it automatically rounds each card purchase to the nearest euro and stashes the difference in your chosen space.
But there’s more! With MoneyBeam, you can send and receive money from friends at lightning speed—and pay your classmates back quickly. And thanks to the N26 app’s push-notifications, you’ll always know exactly where your money is going. So what are you waiting for? Open your N26 bank account in just 8 minutes and enjoy 100% mobile banking. Whether you choose a free N26 Standard account or one of our premium accounts, you’re always in control of your finances. Find the plan that’s right for you today. Plus, switching your bank account to N26 isn't only straightforward, but also free of charge. Discover how to switch banks with our tool to facilitate the process.
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