Student housing prices in Germany increasing up to 70 percent: study

Flats in university cities in Germany are becoming increasingly more expensive. Since 2010, prices have risen between 9.8 percent (Griefswald) and 67.3 percent (Berlin), according to a student price index published on Monday by the German Economic Institute in Cologne.

Student housing prices in Germany increasing up to 70 percent: study
More students are searching for flats in big cities, causing prices to spike. Photo: DPA

In the past year alone, rent prices have increased by 2.2 percent in Griefswald and 9.8 percent in Berlin.

“More needs to be built, but this alone can’t stop the quickly growing prices of big cities,” said study director Michael Voigtländer.

Students in Munich pay the most, an average of €600 per month, followed by Frankfurt am Main at €488 a month. The most affordable flats are in the eastern German city of Magdeburg, with prices set at €200 per month.

The best priced university cities, where students can still snag accommodation for under €300 per month, are Leipzig, Jena, Greifswald, Kiel, Göttingen und Aachen.

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The study includes an interactive map of Germany in which showcases how much flats 20 to 40 square meters costs based on if they are furnished or not, and how far they are located from an university.

The study is based on data from the websites Immobilienscout24 and The Economic Institute wanted to investigate what advertisements students would find if they moved to a new city, did not receive a dorm room, and relied solely on online services. “The number of listings is still high, but declining,” said Voigtländer.

In addition to the strong demand for housing in large cities, there is another reason for the rapid rise in prices, according to the Economic Institute: “The furnishings of the apartments have improved,” Voigtländer said, pointing out that the quality of new buildings is higher than in the past.

According to the latest study from the Deutsches Studentenwerk (German Association for Student Affairs), students have €918 at their disposal per month. In 2012, the average was still €842 – so income has only risen by around nine percent since then.

Depending on the university location, students foot down between one and two thirds of their monthly budget on rent.

Meanwhile, the number of students in Berlin, the Ruhr area, Munich, Cologne and Hamburg has risen sharply. In the winter semester 2010/2011, 2.22 million people attended universities there, compared to 2.84 million in the previous winter semester.

SEE ALSO: In graphs: Number of international students in Germany quickly growing

For this reason, first-semester students were increasingly considering whether they wanted to study in cities with fewer students, says Voigtländer.

The expert sees opportunities in this development: In Germany there are numerous regions that have a considerable need for skilled workers, but where rents are significantly more affordable, states the study.

Examples of this are the regions around Jena, Upper Franconia or South Westphalia. But it is not only students who benefit from the comparatively lower rents there: Because the universities trained the young people and they often stayed in the region after their studies, the region also profited from the influx.

SEE ALSO: East German boom town breaks populist, backward stereotype

It was also said that the universities were  that secured competitive advantages for local companies.

Nevertheless, according to the study there are clear regional differences: not all university locations have grown – in the East German cities of Jena, Magdeburg and Greifswald there are even fewer students today than seven years ago.

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EXPLAINED: Can foreigners apply for student finance in Germany?

Germany has a system of financial support for students known as BAföG. In many cases foreigners are just as entitled to apply as Germans. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Can foreigners apply for student finance in Germany?

What is BAföG?

Bafög is an abbreviation for a word that would surely be the longest in pretty much any other language expect German: Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz. This tongue twister breaks down to mean Federal Training Assistance Act. 

Ever since the 1970s it has helped Germans from poor backgrounds to take up a place at university to at a training colleague, with the idea being that financial hardship should never prevent someone from entering higher education.

In its current form the law provides for students form poorer families to receive €853 a month, half of which is a stipend and half of which is a loan that you will need to pay back once you’ve entered the workforce. 

The maximum you are expected to pay back is €10,000.   

Some 460,000 students were being assisted with Bafög payments in 2020, the last year for which there are numbers.

READ ALSO: How to finance your master’s studies in Germany as an international student

Who is entitled to BAföG?

There are two basic conditions attached to BAföG: you have to be under the age of 30 to apply and you parents have to be low-wage earners.

There are some exemptions for the age restriction. If you can show that you were not able to start a course of study before your 30th birthday due to health or familial reasons then you might still be eligible later. Also, if you are applying for support for a Masters degree then you can apply for Bafög up until the age of 35.

According to German law, your parents have an obligation to financially support your education. This means that German authorities ask for evidence of their income to assess whether you are in need of state support.

And this applies whether your parents work in Germany or abroad, the Education Ministry confirmed to The Local.

“Income calculation under the BAföG rules takes place regardless of whether one’s parents live in Germany or abroad. This applies both to German nationals and to people with non-German nationality who are eligible for support under BAföG,” a spokesperson for the ministry confirmed.

What about foreigners?

Bafög is by no means only available to Germans. A whole variety of foreign nationals can also apply.

The rules on which foreign nationals are entitled to financial support are fairly complicated. But the following list on eligibility is somewhat exhaustive:

  • If you are an EU citizen, or from an EEA country, and you have lived in Germany for at least five years
  • If you are married to, or are the child of, an EU citizen who has lived in Germany for at least five years
  • If your are an EU citizen who lives and works in Germany and whose intended course of study is connected to your current job
  • If you are not an EU citizen but have obtained permanent residency in Germany
  • If you have received refugee status
  • If you have lived in the country for at least 15 months as a ‘tolerated’ person (ie you applied for asylum and weren’t given full refugee status)
  • If at least one of your parents has lived and worked in Germany for three of the past six years
  • You are married to a German national and have moved to Germany.
  • You are the spouse or child of a foreign national who holds a permanent residency permit.

Due to the relative complexity of these rules it is advisable to speak to local organisations that support students such as the Studentenwerk Hamburg, the StudierendenWERK BERLIN or the Studentenwerk München.

READ ALSO: Essential German words to know as a student in Germany

How do repayments work?

The Federal Education Ministry states that you are expected to pay back your loan even if you return to your home country after completing your studies.

Repayment begins five years after you received the last installment of the loan at which point you are expected to pay back €130 a month. Although this amount can be reduced if your salary is low.

If you haven’t paid everything back after 20 years then the rest of the debt is dropped.