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Your guide to living and studying in Cologne

From Kölsch to Carnival—studying in Cologne is an action-packed experience. Read our student’s guide on finding accommodation, financing your studies, living in Cologne and more to get started!

5 min read

From packing up your things, finding a rental flat, and getting around in the city—your new student life in Cologne has quite a few challenges in store. But have no fear—we’re here to help you master all of them with this handy student guide. Here, you’ll learn where to find a student room, how to decide on and find a part-time job, how to get from A to B on a budget, and where to head for some weekend fun. So read on to get your affairs in order and kick off your studies in Cologne in style!

How to find housing in Cologne

Our first tip: try to find housing as soon as possible, even if it’s just for the short-term. Like other German cities, Cologne’s housing market is characterized by high demand and low supply. Given this, many students decide to rent a room in a shared flat or a student residence hall. The upside here is that you can split the rent and other living expenses—or get a cheaper deal with campus housing—and make friends quickly. 

Studying abroad? Many students sublet their room on platforms like WG-gesucht or WG-Suche. Alternatively, you can look for furnished rooms in student apartments run by private companies such as HousingAnywhere, YOUNIQ, or JAIMEE. Sure, short-term rentals might not be ideal—however, you’ll have a fully furnished room to get you started and can keep for an apartment in Cologne without the time-crunch. Once you’re ready, use platforms like ImmobilienScout24, Immowelt, or Immonet. We also recommend skimming through local newspapers, or checking out bulletin boards at your uni, on Facebook groups, and building collective websites. And remember to ask around—sometimes fellow students, friends or family know someone that knows someone that knows someone!

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How to finance your studies

Even with student financial support or help from your parents, living and studying in Cologne can be quite expensive. You’ll have to think about rent, semester fees, groceries and toiletries, books, and much more. A student job can help you cover the costs of living and studying in Cologne. But where can you find the ride side hustle to fit your student schedule? A great place to start is Stellenwerk Köln. Simply create a profile and start searching for student jobs at private companies, universities, or non-profit organizations. On top of that, you can find helpful tips and training with the University of Cologne’s career services.   

Other popular platforms and apps include Zenjob, Univativ, GoStudent, and Indeed. There are lots of different job opportunities for students. You can do online tutoring, work as a cashier at the supermarket, check tickets at a venue, deliver food, or work at the university itself. Not only will you earn some extra money to cover your monthly expenses—you’ll gain valuable experience and might even be able to save up some money!

Our top tip for saving money as a student

Dreaming of saving but not sure how to get disciplined about it? With N26 Spaces, you can create up to 10 sub-accounts with individual IBAN numbers. Then, make a habit of saving with Rules and automatically transfer money each month to one of your sub-accounts. Or, you can have your paycheck sent directly to a designated space and then drag and drop a portion of it to your main account. This way, you can start saving for your emergency fund, a dream vacation, or future student loan payments. But there’s more! Thanks to Shared Spaces, you can share your sub-accounts with up to 10 other N26 users! This comes in super handy when you live in a shared flat and want to manage your budget together in a transparent, easy way.

Things to do in Cologne on the weekend

Looking for a place, finding a side hustle, saving money—somehow your student life just got pretty packed. Luckily, you don’t have to miss out on the fun in the carnival capital of Cologne. Here, locals are known for being good-natured—and they do love to party! It’s no wonder the old city streets are bustling with fun and cheerful people. Explore the rustic bars and pubs on every corner and enjoy the local Kölsch beer and a hearty meal—or sample the city’s stable of currywurst with fries. Prefer more international fare? Try a fruity Belgian beer or pale ale at Delirium Café and spoil yourself with the best hummus and falafel in the city at Mashery Hummus Kitchen.

Had a long night out? Take a walk along the Rhine to take in the scenery, and the fresh air. The river is a stone’s throw from the Old Town and worth seeing at any time of the year. Make sure to visit the marvellous Cologne Cathedral with its high towers and modern treasure chamber, and add the Heumarkt, the Alter Markt, Museum Ludwig, and the Chocolate Museum to your list of top things to see in Cologne. The Cologne Opera, the Kölner Philharmonie, Phantasialand, and Cologne’s many cinemas offer even more fun and culture. By the way—did you know that with your student ID, you can benefit from loads of discounts? And, your free student bank account from N26 offers you quite a few perks from top brands!

Tired of the historic center? Discover Cologne, as well as Bonn, Bergisch Gladbach, Königswinter, and much more via public transport. You can travel cheaply by bus, tram, and train with your network-wide transit pass, or your VRS-Semesterticket. You can even take your bike with you for free at certain hours—perfect for planning a bike tour in nature during the summer months! You can also visit nearby Düsseldorf, the Netherlands, and Belgium the easy and budget-friendly way with FlixBus, or discounted travel fares from Deutsche Bahn. Get even more tips on getting around as a student in this guide.

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Your money at N26

Are you ready to start your new life as a student? We’re certain that you’ll have lots of fun in Cologne—and N26 is here to make things even easier for you. With N26, you’ll get a free bank account that’s just as flexible as you. Enjoy 100% mobile banking with innovative features that help you save and spend with confidence. Add your N26 Mastercard to Google Pay or Apple Pay and start making contactless payments with your smartphone. Send and receive instant payments via MoneyBeam and split expenses with your friends effortlessly right from your N26 app. Statistics helps you keep an eye on your monthly spending—and thanks to withdrawal and spending limits you’ll be able to stick to your budget. Open your 100% mobile bank account now—it’s free and only takes 8 minutes.

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