• Germany's news in English

Student gives up flat to live on trains

The Local · 24 Aug 2015, 15:26

Published: 24 Aug 2015 15:26 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

It is a problem which ever-more young people who skip from one city to the next in pursuit of work, education, and love face.

Leonie Müller was trying to balance between studying in Tübingen and living in Stuttgart - both in the south west of the country - with visiting her boyfriend in Cologne and her grandmother in her hometown Bielefeld - both in west Germany - and still finding time to see her mother, who had recently moved to Berlin in the northeast.

Something had to give.

So Müller decided to give up her apartment and buy a year's unlimited travel ticket from rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB), which would allow her to travel wherever she wants, whenever she wants.

The ticket costs €340 per month, considerably less than the €400 she was paying for her apartment.

In any given week the intrepid student travels between 1,200 and 2,000 kilometers in zigzags across the country, reports Der Spiegel.

A wink and a smile

"As far as we know this is the only case of someone using the card this intensively," DB spokesman Jürgen Kornmann told The Local, "but in principle it's a flat-rate and I can imagine that there might be other heavy users.

"The product is there to give people the tools to organize their train travel however they like."

While Kornmann insisted that DB had nothing to do with Müller's living arrangements, he acknowledged that "of course it's good PR for us."

"Our advertising slogan recently has been 'this time belongs to you' - it's not the same on the train as in a plane or the car. It's great that this student has brought this to others' attention," he said.

"Of course, we wouldn't encourage everyone to quite their flats and use the Bahn to stay with their friends and relatives, but we see Müller with a smile and a wink."

21st Century Nomad

With Müller she takes her university work, a tablet, a change of clothing and toiletries. A jacket that she has with her also serves as a duvet for when she wants a nap.

Through writing a blog about he experiences she has gained media attention and has something to use in her Bachelors work for her media studies course.

She came to the idea after travelling for nine months around the world.

She asked Spiegel why it was seen as normal to be homeless when one travels the world but not when one travels domestically.

“At home no one perceives it as travel,” she said. But she sees herself as a traveller rather than an extreme commuter - a lifestyle that has liberated and challenged her in equal measure.

“I always have to ask myself what I want, what I need,” she said.

And for her semester break she has decided to visit the four furthest corners of Germany – naturally by train.

Story continues below…

But some people simply don't understand this decision, she said.

“Some people feel attacked, as if I'm bringing the very order of their existence into question,” she said. One person recently asked her how long she plans to go on scrounging off other people. 

But she is careful to ensure that she never becomes a burden on people and has told the friend whom she stays with in Stuttgart that if it ever becomes too much, she should say so.

As for the more practical difficulties she has tended to find ways around them. Even washing her hair can be done while she travels in the on-board bathroom.

“The time between Mannheim and Stuttgart is perfect for it," Müller said.


For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd