In this article, we take a look at student accommodation tips; a really friendly student accommodation advice and guide to getting your own place 🙂
The first four walls of your own: a student accommodation advice for students
Student Hostel Life is comfortable and simple, but at some point your own independence becomes more important.
At the latest when you have been accepted for a place at a university in another city, it means: Get out of the children’s room and into your own apartment or room in a shared apartment.
But with the first four walls of your own, not only freedom, but also a lot of responsibility awaits you.
So that nothing goes wrong with the first steps towards spatial independence, we have put together the most important information and numerous helpful tips for you.
What types of housing are there?
Before you ask yourself where you can find the right apartment, you first have to decide how you want to live at all.
In addition to the offers on the housing market, personal preferences and expectations, financial aspects also play a decisive role.
In order to meet your own requirements and to find affordable accommodation, you need patience and time. But often the time between the acceptance – for a conventional university or college as well as retraining and distance learning – and the start of the semester is tight and you compete with thousands of students who are also looking for an apartment.
That is why an organized approach is all the more important.
Even if your first apartment should correspond to your personal preferences and you should feel comfortable there, the apartment must of course above all be affordable.
So before you start looking for an apartment or decide on a type of housing, you should calculate your financial resources carefully. In addition to the actual rent, there are many other costs and ultimately you also need money to live on.
When you move out of your home, there are numerous types of housing you can choose from.
Like everything in life, each variant has its advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed up.
Student Accommodation Tips: Flat share (Shared Apartment)
A shared apartment is probably the epitome of student living.
If you don’t like to be alone and don’t have a generous budget, a shared flat is ideal for you.
Although you have your own room that you can retreat to, you share the kitchen, bathroom and sometimes a larger common room with your roommates.
In addition to the apartment, you will of course also share domestic duties.
These should be clearly regulated in advance and adhered to in order to live harmoniously with one another.
But even if you have already decided to live in a shared apartment, there are still more decisions to be made.
How many people would you like to share an apartment with?
Would you like to live in a purpose-built flat share purely for cost reasons, in which you share the apartment, but otherwise do not have much to do with each other?
Or do you want to make new friends in addition to a new apartment and cook, party and talk at the kitchen table with your roommates until early in the morning?
If your friends are studying in the same city, you can also start a new flat share.
Then you are not just looking for a single room, but an apartment suitable for shared accommodation.
Show yourself cooperative
Regardless of whether you live in a shared flat for 2 or 6, with strangers or with friends, you should be aware that you will rarely be alone.
When you live with the right people, living in a shared apartment has many advantages. If the chemistry between the roommates is not right, anger is inevitable.
Regardless, there are a few things to keep in mind when moving into a shared apartment.
As in family and social life, you should be willing to compromise and help, show understanding for your roommates and respect their needs and views.
Apart from that, you should also have a clear and personal vision of life and draw your limits if necessary.
You should make arrangements in a shared apartment.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to approve of everything and say yes to everything.
If you are moving into an existing shared apartment, you should first check the rules, orderliness and cleanliness of your future roommates and ask yourself whether you can come to terms with them.
When you finally found a suitable flat share or even have a viewing appointment, you have mastered the first hurdle, but the next one is waiting for you immediately afterwards.
Since rooms in shared apartments are scarce and sought-after in university cities, there are often hundreds of applicants for one room. So that you get the room in the flat you want, you should consider a few things.
Above all, you should act as soon as possible when you discover an offer that suits you.
Other moving boxes will be in your favorite room sooner than you think.
The best thing to do is to call in person and introduce yourself briefly.
This sets you apart from the other applicants who might just write an email.
Due to the large number of inquiries, it is also possible that an email disappears unopened in the trash because someone appeared before you. In the afternoon you get the best impression of the light conditions and the noise level in the apartment.
If you have a long journey, it is of course advisable to put several viewing appointments on one day.
However, you should plan enough time for each day and be prepared to stand in line with many other applicants and have to go through a casting.
If you are not yet familiar with the new city, you should also explore the residential area to find out whether you can feel comfortable there.
Cost of a room in a shared apartment
In contrast to a complete apartment, rooms in shared apartments are usually comparatively cheap. The price of course depends on the size of the entire apartment, your room, the location, the condition and the city. With an average of just under 300 euros, students spend around a third of their monthly budget on rent.
The rental prices vary greatly between cities. The east-west divide is particularly large.
While there has been a real hype around cities like Las Vegas and Nevada (United States) in recent years and living space there is becoming increasingly scarce and therefore more expensive, in many cities in the new federal states you can still get a lot of living space for relatively little money.
It looks completely different in big cities like New York, Berlin, Paris, Auckland, Sydney or London.
Prove perseverance in your search
The most important tip, however, is that you shouldn’t let yourself get down.
Of course, this does not only apply to the search for a suitable flat share, but also to every apartment search, regardless of the type of living.
The countless inquiries, viewings and cancellations can be frustrating.
Especially when you’re pressed for time. Stay positive.
After all, you get to know the city a bit and you know what you want and what you don’t want and of course with whom you want to live and with whom you don’t.
In an emergency, you may have to deviate from your original plans and ideas for the transition period and perhaps compromise on the situation and move to the outskirts.
And let’s be honest: a room without a balcony is still better than none at all. With a roof over your head, WiFi and enough time, you will soon find your dream flat share.
Perhaps you will find new friends among your fellow students and you will found your own flat share.
Checklist for the right flat share/shared apartment
- How is the room laid out? Is it big enough for your furniture?
- What kind of flat share is it and what do you want? Purpose-built flat share or friendly coexistence?
- Is the flat share quiet or is it often celebrated?
- Are the apartment and the room bright enough?
- How many roommates are there and how many would you like to live with?
- Is the flat share close to the university? Are there good transport links and shopping facilities?
- Do the roommates seem personable and well-groomed?
- Is the apartment clean?
- Can you identify with the existing rules and plans?
- Does the rent fit your budget?
- How high are the additional costs?
- Do you have to pay a distance?
- How is the rent payment regulated?
- Who communicates with the landlord?
- Are you the main tenant or subtenant?
Student Accommodation Tips: Dormitory
Many students are drawn to the dormitory, especially in the first semester.
In addition to the cheap accommodation, students appreciate the social life there.
If you would like to have contact with other students outside of the university, like community life and lots of people around you, enjoy celebrating and concentrate and study for university in a lively environment, the student dormitory is ideal for you.
Student dormitories also have the advantage that you usually don’t have to worry about anything and only have to move in with your personal belongings.
Most of the rooms are furnished and the rent even includes internet use.
The equipment and distribution differs from dormitory to dormitory.
While in some dormitories you have your own apartment with a kitchenette and bathroom to yourself, there are also those in which the rooms are lined up in the hallway and you share common rooms, kitchen and bathroom with the other students.
Student unions allocate dormitories
Student dormitories are usually not only in the immediate vicinity of the university, but are also the cheapest form of living. For example, in all of Germany, the German Student Union alone offers around 193,000 dormitory places, with the average gross rent for heating around EUR 240.
Since this is an average value, you should note that rent in large cities can be more expensive and demand can be disproportionately higher. According to the Federal Statistical Office and the German Student Union, 342,649 of the 2,842,225 students at German universities and colleges opted for a place in the dormitory in the 2019/20 winter semester.
Since the places in the student dormitory are very popular, they are quickly filled.
In popular university cities in particular, the waiting lists are often very long.
For this reason, you should contact the student organization at your future university location as soon as possible and preferably before the start of the semester and apply for a place there.
You can also find all the information about the application process and the dormitories on the relevant website.
The award criteria vary depending on the location. In some dormitories, the available places are drawn by lots, in others the “first come first serve” principle applies.
The most expensive and quiet option is your own apartment.
If you need your peace and quiet after all the hustle and bustle of the university and also want your unrestricted freedom, your own apartment is ideal for you.
But you should keep in mind that not only is the rent more expensive, but there are also many other costs.
Apartments are usually not rented furnished.
Sometimes even a kitchen is missing, which you then have to get and install yourself.
If a kitchen is available, it is not uncommon for a discount to be due.
In addition, of course, not just a single room but an entire apartment including household needs to be furnished.
From large purchases such as kitchen, washing machine and vacuum cleaner, to medium-sized purchases such as coffee maker and microwave, to many small utensils such as towels, dishes,Cutlery and trash can add up amounts.
Unlike in a dormitory or in a shared apartment, you naturally live quite isolated from your fellow students. For this reason, you should make sure to make and maintain contacts during the times you are at university.
Your friends are sure to be happy if you not only come to flat-share parties, but also invite them to your apartment.
You have even more responsibilities in your own apartment than in a shared apartment.
Nobody reminds you of the cleaning schedule, but you can expect a lot of rules and duties as the sole renting company. The search can also be more difficult than looking for a room in a shared apartment.
Small apartments for singles and 1-room apartments in particular are more popular than ever. Here, too, it is again true that the housing market in the large metropolises and popular university towns is very tense.
Landlords can hardly save themselves from inquiries and most apartments are already gone before you have even dialed the landlord’s number.
Rent prices for your own apartment
According to surveys by the online housing exchange Immowelt, single apartments up to a size of 40 square meters are particularly expensive. In 2019, the average rent per square meter there was almost 10 euros. In comparison, the price per square meter for an apartment up to 80 square meters was 6.90 euros and for an apartment up to 120 square meters 7.50 euros. For apartments up to 40 square meters, you not only compete with other students, but also with working singles and pensioners.
Munich is not only one of the most expensive cities in terms of shared accommodation, but also in this category. With a square meter price of 19.70 (2016), you had to pay 788 euros cold rent for a 40 square meter apartment in Munich.
It’s more about everyday help and human interaction.
As a rule, you have to work one hour per month for every square meter of personal living space.
Individual agreements are regulated in a cooperation agreement.
If you have very little time and possibly a part-time job besides your studies, you can, for example, arrange half of the hours and pay rent for the other half.
You have to pay ancillary costs such as electricity, water and gas on a pro rata basis.
Course of the project
Most of the universities or non-profit organizations and charities also take care of the handling and finding suitable matches.
If your place of study is also included and you would like to take part in the project, you have to fill out a questionnaire, for example by answering questions about your studies and your hobbies.
You can also make preferences regarding your landlord / living partner.
Potential landlords also fill out a questionnaire. If your details match, you can get to know each other and see whether you can really live together.
We advise you to really take part in the project through an official organization. So you always have a contact person for questions or problems.
Student Accommodation Tips: Your duties as a tenant
But you also pay for your independence and freedom with some obligations. Because having your own apartment also entails a lot of responsibility.
Of course, some points also apply to all other types of housing in which you are the tenant of a property.
How and where you can find the right accommodation
Regardless of whether you are looking for your own apartment, a room in a shared apartment or a sublet option – there are countless ways you can find what you are looking for.
The more options you use, the faster you will surely find what you are looking for.
- Housing portals
- Daily newspapers
- Facebook group
- Write / call advertisers and landlords personally
- Student unions
- Bulletin board
- Place an ad
- Brokers, agencies, shared accommodation centers
Tips for the visit
If you are lucky and are invited to view the apartment, the landlord usually requires a tenant self-assessment, which also requires proof of income from you.
Since you will probably not have a regular income as a student, you should be able to show a guarantee from your parents.
Landlords often ask for a complete application portfolio.
In addition to proof of income, this should contain a short application or letter of motivation , your resume , a valid credit report and a rental debt-free certificate.
Even if not every landlord requires such a folder, it can’t hurt if you have the documents to hand at least.
In any case, you should arrive punctually and well-groomed for the viewing appointment.
In large cities in particular, there are often open viewing appointments where you can view the apartment together with all other interested parties.
That’s why you should stand out from the crowd.
Your application portfolio and a friendly and appropriate appearance will help you with this. If you get the opportunity, you should talk to your potential landlord and support your interest with specific questions.
Checklist for finding accommodation
Even if your first apartment will most likely not be your last, you should of course feel comfortable there.
Four walls do not automatically make a home.
Your wishes and ideas have to be compatible with your budget, but especially if you are moving to a new city and everything is unfamiliar and new to you during your studies, you should have a place of retreat where you feel comfortable.
It is true that looking for an apartment with a lower budget is not a dream and landlords often prefer working tenants with a regular income.
Still, it can’t hurt if you ask yourself a few questions beforehand.
Based on the criteria that are more or less important to you, you can already make a preselection.
Make small notes that your ideas do not match the offer and your budget, you can always adjust them.
To make a preselection, you should think about the following questions:
- How much money do you have available for rent and utilities?
- How much is the bail-out?
- Would you like the peace and quiet in an apartment to yourself or do you want to live with others?
- How much space do you need?
- Can you also imagine living on the top floor or on the ground floor?
- Is a balcony or even a garden important to you?
- Are you taking a pet with you?
- Do you need a cellar or a parking space for your car?
- Is there a kitchen in the apartment?
- If so, does a discount have to be paid for this?
- If not, do you have enough money to buy a kitchen?
- In which area should the apartment be located so that you can get to university quickly?
- Which transport connections and shopping opportunities are important to you
The lease – what you have to consider
You finally have the long-awaited commitment and would like to move in immediately.
But regardless of whether you have your own apartment, room in a shared apartment, student dormitory, subletting or living for help – the rental agreement must be signed first.
Out of sheer joy, you shouldn’t fail to read the rental agreement carefully and make sure that it complies with the agreements.
Because once signed, you have contractually bound yourself to compliance.
In the case of invalid clauses, you do not necessarily have to insist on deleting them, but can rely on the law, according to which they are invalid anyway.
If you are unsure and no one from your social environment can help you, you can contact the tenant protection association.
In principle, the lease stipulates that the tenant pays the landlord a certain sum and in return the landlord lets him use the apartment.
In addition to the rent, there are a few points that are also recorded in the rental agreement and that you should definitely check before signing.
Basically, of course, you have already decided on the apartment with a corresponding rental price.
Nevertheless, you should make sure that the agreed rent is exactly as it is in the contract.
There is also a rent index for all larger cities, which shows you the local rents.
This way you can better assess whether the rent demanded is justified or not.
In the case of new rentals, however, it is not uncommon for the rent to be above the local average.
In municipalities with rent controls, the rent may be up to ten percent higher; in municipalities without rent controls, it is at the landlord’s discretion.
You should also pay attention to whether the rent is an inclusive rent or whether you have additional costs. In this case, you should check whether the information is realistic.
To do this, you can have the landlord show you an earlier utility bill.
Index or graduated rent?
In the case of an index lease, the rent rises in parallel with the rise in the cost of living, whereas in the case of a graduated rent, the basic rent increases in previously agreed graduations.
A proper rent increase on the part of the landlord is also not possible if the rent level or the price index rise above the agreements.
At the same time, it can of course also be the case that at some point you will pay significantly more rent than with a normal rental agreement and the rent is above the local rent index.
Description of the apartment
The size of the apartment should also be listed and consistent in the rental agreement.
In the end, it was still legal for the apartment to be up to ten percent smaller than specified in the rental agreement, but the landlord must now state the exact size, especially in the event of rent increases.
You should also check whether the rented parts that are stipulated in the contract are actually part of the apartment and do not show any defects.
If a fitted kitchen or a bicycle storage room is listed in the rental agreement and you may have decided in favor of the apartment for this reason, you are also entitled to it.
Information about the tenant
All persons who also live in the apartment must be listed in the rental agreement.
Even underage children have to be listed for the ancillary costs, even if they are of course not contractual partners.
This information is interesting for shared apartments. There are usually three types of rental agreement there. The landlord makes the decision.
1. Main tenant and sub-tenant
The main tenant communicates with the landlord and is responsible for reporting any damage and transferring the rent on time and in full, even if one of the roommates has moved out.
On the other hand, the main tenant can choose his roommates.
When moving out, the sub-tenants must hope that they will still be able to stay in the apartment.
Otherwise the landlord can look for a new main tenant.
If you move into a shared apartment as a subtenant, it should be stated in the rental agreement that you can stay in the apartment even if the main tenant moves out.
2. Main tenants only
The second option is for all residents as the main tenants to sign the lease with the same rights and obligations.
Then, although all tenants have equal rights, they can only terminate the rental agreement together.
If a main tenant just moves out, they will still have to pay their rent.
If he does not do this, all other residents have to pay for him jointly and severally. If a roommate moves out, there is always a new lease, in which the landlord can even increase the rent.
For this reason, you should make sure that the tenants are allowed to exchange roommates according to the rental agreement.
3. Individual rental agreements
In the third variant, an individual rental agreement is concluded for each room in a shared apartment, which, like a rental agreement for the entire apartment, regulates all rights and obligations of the tenant, but only for their room.
This means that the tenants are not entitled to the choice of roommates, which the landlord alone decides on.
A fixed-term rental contract is only valid if there is a reasonable reason for the fixed-term lease.
For example, if the landlord plans to use the apartment for himself in the medium term.
For the tenant, this means that he may not terminate the apartment prematurely and must move out immediately after the deadline.
If there is no reasonable reason for the fixed term or if this ceases to exist over time, the temporary lease becomes an open-ended lease with a three-month notice period.
Such a temporary lease only has disadvantages for the tenant, but it can be an option for you as a student, for example for a practical semester in another city.
Mutual protection against dismissal can be agreed in the rental agreement in order to prevent frequent tenant changes.
What on the one hand promises security and continuity is particularly dangerous for shared apartments and students.
Since you as a student never know for sure how long you will stay at your place of study, you should definitely refrain from such a clause in the contract.
With such a clause, both tenants and landlords agree on a waiver of notice of up to four years. What sounds fair for tenants with long-term intentions, but it is not.
The landlord may only terminate the rental agreement if there is a legal reason for termination.
As a tenant, however, you can always terminate a contract without a termination clause and only comply with a three-month notice period.
Beauty and minor repairs clauses
With such clauses you take on obligations that go beyond the legal regulations.
Not all clauses are effective and some are even invalid by law.
Effective minor repair clauses say, for example, that the assumption of costs is limited to frequently used parts of the apartment and that the amount of the costs of individual repairs must also be clearly limited.
Cosmetic repair clauses ensure that renovation deadlines are flexible and that the apartment must be handed over to the tenant in a freshly renovated condition.
Student Accommodation Tips: These costs come your way
Moving out of your home involves a lot of costs. In addition to the rent, which makes up a considerable part, you also have to pay the ancillary costs, a deposit, your living expenses, all household items and the moving costs.
Rental prices and financing
The rental prices are extremely different from city to city and also from district to district. As already mentioned, it is worth taking a look at the rent index to get an overview.
The type of housing chosen also has an impact on rental costs. Consider:
- Own apartment
- Flat share
It should be noted that these are pure average values that can fluctuate considerably depending on the city and district.
A rent brake was decided in 2015, but it is not yet effective in all countries and does not stop the exploding rental costs in most mega-cities.
When specifying rental prices, you have to pay attention to whether the rent is warm or cold and what additional costs you will have to pay. The cheapest apartment is of no use to you if the additional costs are beyond your budget.
In most cases, heating, water and gas costs, as well as garbage disposal, are included in the ancillary costs.
Sometimes the electricity is included in the additional costs, in other cases it has to be paid for separately and sometimes even requested.
It is similar with the cable connection.
In some rental houses, the cable connection is included in every apartment and is passed on to all tenants – regardless of whether you want a connection or not.
Student Accommodation Tips: Monthly expenses
In addition to rent and ancillary costs, which usually include water, heating, garbage disposal and house cleaning, you have a lot of other running costs.
Of course, we cannot say in general how much you actually spend and need, but we will give you an overview of the cost items.
Depending on how much money you have available, you may spend more or significantly less.
It is best to write down your expenses in the first few months to get an overview for yourself e.g. you should write some of these:
- Telephone and internet
Hygiene and cosmetics
Student Accommodation Advice: One-time expenses
The one-off costs depend on which type of housing you have chosen and what is still around with your parents at home.
If you move into a shared apartment or dormitory and the kitchen is already fully equipped there, there is a washing machine in the bathroom and a vacuum cleaner in the storage room, you will of course save considerable costs.
If you move into an empty apartment by yourself, you have to buy everything from spatulas, crockery and cutlery to furniture.
Since the list would never end and the prices cannot always be calculated, since you also needed a lot and got a lot from friends and relatives, we limit ourselves to the most necessary and most important tasks. Some of these are:
- washing machine
- vacuum cleaner
Unlike health or car insurance, household contents and liability insurance, contrary to their name, is not a legal requirement, but it can save you a lot of trouble and costs. For a small monthly fee, you can insure yourself against damage to your private property, break-ins and damage you have caused yourself.
Your new apartment will probably not have any precious treasures. Still, you’ve got yourself a bunch of items that cost you a lot of money on your student budget.
If you even moved into your own apartment, you had to save up an entire household.
The contents insurance covers you against all damage to your private belongings.
So you don’t have to pay for the costs after a fire or break-in.
Everything in your home belongs to household effects.
In addition to furniture and electrical appliances, there are also textiles, cash, groceries, books, games and even your pet.
If you installed a new sink when you moved in, you will be reimbursed for that too.
If your apartment has a basement, storage room or garage, the insurance cover also covers all items that are stored there. The same applies to outbuildings that are on the same property.
If the bike shed is located there, your bike is also protected against possible damage. There is also the option of taking out so-called external insurance.
If you travel a lot or are planning a semester abroad, your belongings are also covered by household insurance. If your belongings are really damaged, you can even get the replacement value reimbursed with household insurance.
Not only your possessions can be damaged. You can just as easily damage someone else’s property in a careless moment.
If you damage the stairwell or overflow the bathtub when you move house because you still wanted to get the Power Point presentation ready for your next lecture, it is not only annoying, but also expensive.
Liability insurance protects you from the high costs and debt.
If people are damaged in addition to objects, the costs skyrocket, which even working people without insurance can rarely afford.
Depending on the policy, personal liability insurance covers all costs for damage caused to third-party property or persons.
But you should make sure that you have to book protection for certain damage.
For example, if you have a part-time job in a supermarket or café and have a key to the building, you should also think about additional key insurance so that you do not have to bear the costs in the event of loss.
Since personal liability insurance is not required by law and is not an integral part of the rental agreement, you are not forced to take out.
It can happen, however, that the landlord insists on protecting himself against damage to the equipment of the apartment and not sitting on the costs if the tenant has no money for it.
Since damage occurs faster than you think and, despite all your vigilance, you are certainly not going through life without errors, it is advisable to take out personal liability insurance.
Student Accommodation Tips : Financing
As a student, your main job is your studies. Unlike apprentices, dual students or working people, of course you don’t get any money for studying or even have to pay something if you study at a private university.
You only really notice how expensive life is when you move out.
If you already worked during your school days, you could spend the money on nice things.
Now rent and groceries have to be paid first.
And you could have made a short trip to Mallorca with the money for the washing machine.
But before you can spend the money, you have to earn it first or take advantage of other financing offers.
Permit for subsidized housing
In principle, child benefit is only paid until you have completed your first vocational training.
However, you have to be able to provide credible evidence that you are serious about studying.
Simply registering somewhere does not work, as proof of performance can also be requested in addition to the certificate of enrollment.
If you do an internship instead of studying directly after graduating from high school, you are also entitled to child benefit as long as the internship is related to your future studies or training.
This is the case, for example, if the internship is an admission requirement.
Job as a student
If the state support is insufficient and your parents cannot support you sufficiently, you will have to work in addition to your studies.
As a student, however, you are not allowed to work more than certain hours a week during the semester.
Otherwise you are no longer considered a regular student and have to pay for your health insurance or other obligations yourself.
This is also the case if you earn more than certain amounts or are older than set age limits.
With statutory health insurance companies, you get a student rate from around 100 dollars per month.
If you regularly earn more than certain amounts a month, you also have to pay social security contributions, which are based on the level of your income.
Student Accommodation Tips: Checklist for your move
Once you have received the letter of admission, found an apartment or a room and clarified the financing, you can finally start. But there are also a few things to consider when moving.