Cost of Living in Germany for International Students

Discover the cost of living in Germany for international students in this comprehensive guide. From tuition fees to accommodation, food, and transportation, we cover all the factors that influence the overall cost of living. Learn how to save money while studying abroad and get tips for affordable living in Germany.

Cost of Living in Germany for International Students
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Apr 17, 2023 07:15 AM
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Germany is ranked first in Europe for education, even surpassing the United Kingdom. It has some of the best universities and educational programs in the world, making it the preferred choice for many international students.
Compared to other study destinations around the globe, the overall cost of studying in Germany is relatively low. The cost of living in Germany depends on various factors, such as rent, food, transportation, entertainment, and more. In this document, we will discuss the different factors that impact the cost of living in Germany from an international student's perspective.

1. Tuition Fee

As most of the universities and colleges in Germany are funded by the state, there is a belief that education in Germany is free, which is true but only to a certain extent. Though there are some undergraduate and graduate programs that have no tuition fee, others are not free. However, the tuition fee is comparatively lower than other top educational institutes around the world.
The private universities in the country have higher tuition fees for their degree programs than the ones that are publicly funded. Since the winter semester of 2017/18 the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg have decided to charge non-EU citizens pursuing their undergraduate and graduate degrees in German universities with a tuition fee of 1500 euros.
Nevertheless, all students studying in Germany need to pay a semester contribution apart from their tuition fee at the start of every semester. It may range between 100- 350 euros and may vary depending on the education institution you have been admitted to.
For example the University of cologne does not charge a tuition fee; however all students need to pay a semester contribution of 250 to 500 euro per year to the university.

2. Living Cost

When living in a foreign country, international students have to take care of basic living expenses such as accommodation, food, travel, commute, healthcare, insurance, etc., which are discussed at length in the below section.

Accommodation Cost

When it comes to your monthly expenses, your accommodation cost is your major contributor. Your rent mainly depends on the city and the type of accommodation you choose to live in. DAAD states that the average student rent per month in Germany is 323 euros. However, two different places in Germany may have extremely different prices depending on the urbanisation. While the rent in Munich may cost around 720 euros, rent in Leipzig costs 379 euros on an average.
The total rent or Warmmiete is the addition of Kaltmiete, Nebenkosten, Kaution. Kaltmiete or basic rent, Nebenkosten includes the cost for electricity, heat, waste disposal and amenities and Kaution- is the initial deposit that you pay to your landlord. Finding the right accommodation could be difficult; therefore, it is suggested to start your search as soon as you get an admit.

Food Expenses

In comparison to top study-destinations like the US and UK, the cost of food in Germany is low. The reason for the lower prices is because Germany largely depends on agricultural products produced in the country itself. However, there is a considerable difference between the food price between metropolitan cities and small towns. While the cost of 1 liter of milk in Munich is 0.84 euros, it is 0.69 euros in Hamburg.
Groceries are readily available everywhere, be it rural or urban area. Some of the popular supermarkets and food halls in Germany are Edeka, Lidl, Aldi and Kaufland, where you will find many discounts on groceries. A person who follows a diet where the consumption of meat is less or nil and decides to cook his/her own food can limit their weekly spending on food to 50 euros.
You can also adopt a routine that is the mix of home cooking and ordering or eating from a restaurant.
Listed below is the average cost of daily grocery items :

Commuting and Miscellaneous Expenses

In Germany, there are plenty of public transportation options for students to choose from. From intercity trains, regional trains, buses to tram services you can reach any part of the country with public transportation.
DAAD states that a single trip via bus or tram may cost anywhere between 1 to 2 euros and the average monthly travel cost is around €80 to €90. Ticket for a trip by train may cost you at least 20 dollars, assuming that you book your ticket well in advance.
One can also invest in a travel card that allows you to travel by rail, bus, tram and some ferries without buying a separate ticket for each. However, this might vary depending on the city you choose. For example, the price of a monthly travel card in Munich is 66 euros whereas in Frankfurt it is 89 euros.
Here is an article on how to get around Germany, with details on student discounts for public transportation services.

Healthcare Cost

All international students need to have health insurance to study in Germany. Health insurance covers the basic illness such as your check-up cost, treatment cost for an illness or accident. DAAD states that students who are under the age of 30 or have not completed their 14th subject-related semester have a student tariff of 110 euros per month.

3. Other Expenses

Academic Materials

Students might need to buy new book or special text books in order to draw level with their new academic curriculum. On an average, students might spend around 20 euros on academic materials.
Some students might invest in a new phone and other electronic gadgets in order to adapt to the new environment. As of 2019, the average price of a smart phone in Germany was 492 euros.

Internet

Internet access has become very essential, especially for international students for whom internet is the only way to connect with the family and friends. Students can access the internet either by registering with a service provider or getting a mobile internet access. Some of the popular internet providers in Germany are Blau, Telekom and Vodafone.
The following table shows the price of the data plans/month by the above mentioned providers:
However, being a student could be a huge benefit when it comes to internet access, as students can obtain free Wi-Fi within their campus.

Entertainment

You need to have some kind of entertainment to relieve yourself from your weekly stress. You can either engage yourself in sports or other extracurricular activities or simply go watch a movie or drama either on Netflix or in a theatre.
In case you plan to watch a movie you can also check for available student discount at the theatre. The following are the average prices for various tickets after a student discount, cinema ticket- 6 euros, theatre ticket- 6-30 euros, museum ticket -2-8 euros

Clothing

The climate in Germany is classified as moderately continental with an average temperature of 0°C or more, which is considered as cold by most tropical countries. You will have to buy warm clothes in order to survive the cold weather. The cost of clothing in Germany is cheaper than many of its neighbouring countries in Europe. The average amount spent on clothing by students is 42 euros.

How Can You Save?

Here are a few tips on how you can save money.
  • The easiest way to save money is by limiting your food expenses. You will have to cook your own food rather than spend money on takeaway or restaurants.
  • Buy smart. Shop for cheaper good quality food, clothing and other essentials at your local mart or at supermarket that offer major discounts such as Aldi and Lidl.
  • When it comes to buying vegetables and fruits, shop for seasonal ones, as they are cheaper and will have less harmful chemicals.
  • A 70 % discount on clothes can be a tempting deal but do not buy more than you need, be it clothes or groceries.
  • Stores in Germany charge you for plastic and glass bottles, this is a part of the Pfand scheme. You can collect all the bottles you purchase and return it to the retailer and get the deposit refunded.
  • You can also search for a part-time job that can help you earn money for your monthly expenses.

Cumulative Cost of Living in Germany for International Students

You must have searched for the total tuition fees while shortlisting your desired universities; however, you need to calculate your entire living cost before you plan to pursue your studies in any given country. Having an idea about the total cost of living in Germany will help you arrange funds for your higher studies in Germany. The following is the estimated cost of living in Germany, excluding the tuition fees.
Item
Average Cost (per Month)
Tuition fee
Depends on the program
Semester contribution
100-350 euros
Rent (accommodation)
323 euros (average)
Food
50 euros (weekly)
Transportation
80-90 euros (monthly)
Health insurance
110 euros (monthly)
Academic materials
20 euros
Smart phone
492 euros
Internet
Depends on the provider
Entertainment
Varies
Clothing
42 euros

Conclusion

This article provides an overview of the cost of living in Germany. We discuss the average cost of accommodation, food, healthcare, commuting, and other miscellaneous expenses. Additionally, we provide tips for affordable living and saving money while studying. Being smart and reasonable in your spending can help you keep track of your expenses and focus on your studies without worrying about financial hardships.

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MS in Germany
MS in Germany

Your trusted consultancy for pursuing higher education in top German Public Universities.