How Much Does it Cost to Live as an International Student in Germany (2021)

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Tuition fees, accommodation, health insurance, food and other expenses for (international) students cost monthly between 450 to 850 euros. Why it varies and how to manage your expenses?

In Germany, the cost of living is considered to be relatively lower than other top EU countries such as the UK, France, Switzerland and Scandinavian countries. Yes, in Germany most public universities offer free higher education or relatively have little tuition fee for International students like in the state of Baden-Württemberg. However, it still can be tough to manage living expenses in Germany as an international student during the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, we provided a detailed breakdown of the monthly living cost as an international student in Germany.

German Blocked Bank Account and 10,332 Euros Deposit

You might know that you have to make a German blocked account and deposit an amount of 10,332 euros into it which will be blocked for a year. When you enter Germany and activate your blocked account then you can withdraw up to a maximum of 861 euros per month.

For visa extension, you don’t need to block an amount until you are specifically asked. You have to prove to the Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) that you have enough financial resources e.g. the amount in your account and a student job if you have one. If you don’t have enough amount in your bank account, the job alone will not be very helpful. When I was extending my visa and presented a letter from my employer with an unlimited termination period, the immigration authority visa worker argued what if you lose the job? Even the unlimited termination period was not enough while I earning double my expenses. Some of my friends had sometimes no issues with less amount while other times they were issued short period visas according to the amount in their bank statement. So, it depends on your visa caseworker of the Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) too.

Takeaway: Try to keep your bank statement amount as close to 10 thousand euros as possible to not have any issues at the time of visa extension. Always try to have a job besides studies as that will help a lot.

Estimated Monthly Expenses of International Students in Germany

The monthly expenses vary from student to student and city to city because of the difference in way of living and personal interests. However, some costs are fixed. The monthly expenses of international students have been estimated between 550 to 861 euros.

An Estimated Overview of the Monthly and Semester Expenses for International Students in Germany

861 euros is the maximum amount a student can withdraw from the German blocked bank account. 550 euros might seem a bit unrealistic but it can be enough if you know how to manage your expenses in a certain way. Just for a note, some students spend between 450 to 550 as their monthly expenses depending on a few factors which we will discuss in detail below. Although around 850 euros is recommended for international student’s monthly expenses to avoid any inconvenience. The different types of living expenses are as follow

1. Student Accommodation Expense in Germany

Accommodation is the major cost of living for an international student in Germany. Monthly rent for a student room or apartment is estimated between €200 to €400, depending on your university city and whether the accommodation is in a student residency or private apartment (WG). Student halls and shared apartments are cheaper than studio apartment To know more about student accommodation and its cost, I will write an article soon and link it here. Let me know in the forum about the urgency of the article.

2. German Student Health Insurance

International students studying in Germany must have health insurance and usually cost between 40-112 euros depending on many factors. In fact, you will need to present proof of health insurance (Mitgliedsbescheinigung Krankenkasse) when you enroll at university and apply for a residence permit. Make sure to take care of your health insurance status before you come to Germany. The estimated health insurance cost is as follows.

Public (governmental) health insurance contribution costs on average 110 euros per month as a discounted price for students under 30 years. Students older than 30 years are not eligible for the discounted price and have to pay a higher price of i.e. approx. double the amount as compared to under 30 years old.

Private health insurance costs on average 40-100 euros per month depending on the health condition, age and premium. The cost also depends on the medical treatment coverage you have included in the premium. I have personally seen many times on different forums students complaining about private health insurances that their treatment was not completely or partially covered. It’s not the private health insurance that doesn’t cover the treatment but that the students choose a cheaper premium that offers only limited coverage.

From my and many others’ experience it is not recommended to consider health insurance based on the price tag only. If you want the same treatment as the public covers, private gonna cost you similar or maybe more. There are many other factors that you should consider before applying for any health insurance either private or public. You should not rely on the information of your peers who might not know the details or can only have limited experience. You should read this article about German health insurance which covers enough detail to help you make a proper decision. In my opinion, there is nothing more important than good health and bad times come uninvited. I wish you always stay healthy and fit.

3. Food

Food costs differ for every student. Some might cook their own meals while others eat at the cafeteria or sometimes go to restaurants or buy ready to go. However, the estimated cost of food per month ranges from 100 euros to 140 euros for someone who cooks their own food and once a while eats outside. We recommend students to cook their own meals if they want to save money because, at the moment, a meal for one person at an average restaurant may cost you from 10 to 20 euros. At a one window restaurant – diner, the price for a meal may vary between 6 to 12 euros.

4. Radio Tax, Mobile, Sim and Internet

Monthly mobile and internet and radio expenses are estimated between €25 – €100.

Radio tax also known as TV tax (GEZ or Rundfunkbeitrag) is around 17 euros and every household has to pay it including students except that you have some special funding from the government like Bafög (only German students are eligible for Bafög). There is a possibility that you can pay it shared with your roommates.

There are different tariffs applicable to mobile phones and personal internet connections. The cost mobile phone tariff depends on the mobile phone, sim card if any and time period of down payment. Typically it could range from 15 to 60 euros or even more.

For just a sim card depending on tariff, you might pay 5 to 20 euros per month for a post paid. For a prepaid depends on how much is your use.

Internet is essential for students. Some student’s accommodations do provide shared internet. However, you might want to have your own internet connection because shared internet can be insufficient. You can also share with your neighbors. Just like a mobile sim, the tariffs are different but as a rough calculation, it could between 5 to 30 euros. Some fixed time tariffs charge less for the first month or year and it jumps later.

Note: Make sure that you know about the details of your tariff contracts for sim, mobile and internet. They may automatically extend if you don’t inform your provider timely.

5. Semester Contribution 

Students are required to pay semester contribution fees every semester twice a year, in winter and in summer. It ranges from 50 to 400 euros. The average is usually around 200 euros. This covers your semester tickets in most states and university cities, and other student facilities like sports activities and a discounted price at the university cafeteria (mensa), and other academic facilities. If you are studying in the state of Baden-Württemberg you’ll have to pay 1500 euros each semester. If your university is private, your semester fee could be somethings between 1000 to 10,000 euros depending on the university’s reputation and study program.

6. Transportation expenses

Semester ticket covers traveling through public transport within a city, a specific region or state. From city to city there are multiple transportation means available. Buses, car sharing, public and now newly introduced private trains are available. Buses and car-sharing are cheap while trains can be expensive. Some students who often need to travel get special train tickets and yearly train cards. If you are traveling in a group, there are Group tickets or other cheap deals available for German trains in some states. I would write on it in detail some other time as it’s difficult to travel during the pandemic anyway.

7. Clothing

These types of expenses largely vary from student to student depending on their budget and choice. You may need warm clothes as it is quite cold in winter in most of Germany and winter lasts longer. We keep our eyes open for sunny and warm weather. The quality of clothes in Germany is high but so is the price. A pair of jeans will cost you around 20 to 100 euros. For winter jackets and shoes which are going to the most part of this expense, you should invest one to two times in good quality that is cold, rain and windproof. If you buy cheap quality, the next year you have to spend again unless you are a seasonal buyer. But seriously if you are coming from warm weather, make sure you have a good quality of wearing for the cold, rainy and sometimes windy German weather. In some places, it snows a lot where in others it’s medium to less. I am living on the north sea coast in Kiel and it’s pretty windy. Some days people could fly without wings.

8. Leisure activities

Life as a student in Germany can be exciting and boring depends on your surrounding. Well in Corona times it’s boring unless you know how to carry along. However, you may need some time for recreational and leisure activities while studying in Germany. Its cost also depends on the students and how they spent their free time. For sports, German universities offer a large variety of activities and great facilities at the lowest possible prices. For traveling, there are cheap and expensive options available. There are different festivals from time to time in different regions and attract tourists from all around. They are very appealing to the international students to get a taste of the German culture.

Summary

The above guide would help you calculate your own expenses. If you are already in Germany then you would have already got to know most of the above and I am sure there might have been still something helpful. For students who are planning to come, you should thoroughly do your research about each of the aspects and make sure you don’t spend any extra amount. To have financial -peace and -happiness, you should find a student job in Germany as soon as possible and manage your expenses very wisely. Germany is still a lot cheaper than many other countries that provide quality and almost free education to all students.

As soon as I get some time, I will share with you tips on saving money to be always in a sustainable financial position as a student in Germany (probably in another article). Keep visiting to read the articles. Let me know what topics I should be covering in upcoming articles.

Also, Read This:

Am I allowed to work as an international student study in Germany? Yes, here is an article that could explain you everything.

Working as an International Student in Germany >>

Student Jobs in German Universities >>

Admission Requirements for Master in Germany >>

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