Looking for housing in Germany is SUCH a hassle, if you know what I mean. They say it’s so difficult to find a place in Berlin and Munich because everyone wants to live there, but why is it the case for even Tuebingen? In case you don’t know, Tuebingen is a small university town where almost half of the population is students.
It’s normal here to send out 100 applications to hear back from just a few, paying over 500 euros for a small room, feeling lucky if you have sunlight in your room. I’ve been there, done that. So in this post, I’ll share some strategies to look for housing in a city where you have way more demand than supply.
(FYI. I found YouTube videos showing dorms in Manheim (typical student town) and Munich (one of the biggest cities in Germany). These are roughly what you can expect for a student dorm! )
Step 1: Check the location of your university.
Check the location of the university and learn about different districts. Some people like the busy city lifestyle whereas others prefer a quiet place away from the central location.
Briefly look at what’s available outside the campus, in the neighboring towns. Although I agree that commuting can affect your mental health adversely, you can potentially commute to school depending on what’s available.
I found YouTube videos showing dorms in Manheim (small student town) and Munich (one of the biggest cities in Germany). These are roughly what you can expect for a student dorm!
Step 2: Check the provincial/city boundary your student transit ticket is valid.
Use Google Maps to see the frequency and the length of the commute from nearby towns where you can commute with your student ticket. For example, Reutlingen is a town where students can commute while studying in Tuebingen. It’s 15 minutes train ride which runs quite frequently.
Step 3: Join FB group, your faculty events, international office housing chat, and keep reaching out to the international office and ASTA.
You can find your potential flatmates or even get introduced to someone who is looking to rent out a spare room. In the former case, contact the listings as a team and visit houses with your new friends. In the latter case, contact your friend’s friend’s friend who is looking for a flatmate and see if you like the room!
Step 4: Send out as many applications as possible on WG gesucht and reply promptly.
When you go for a visit, make sure to ask about warm/cold rent, internet, deposit, and whether the furniture is included.
Deposit is usually three months' rent in Germany, and you have to pay attention to the terms in your contract as they are binding. Remember to take a picture of everything when you move in, so that you won’t be liable for anything broken prior to you moving in.
Step 5: Move in!
Congrats on finding a new home for yourself!
If you are looking for housing and are are still hearing crickets for weeks, I know it's so frustrating. But have faith, it will work out if you repeat steps 2-4. I was in so many group chats and talked to even more people. Everyone I know contacted SO many people to get their current housing, so don’t feel discouraged. You can move close to school first and stay at an Airbnb for a couple weeks while looking for a place. I find that it’s so much easier to book a viewing when you are actually going in person since the landlords prefers that.
*Bonus Tip: Business apartments
You can get a “business apartment” for nearly double the market rate if you don’t want to go through this process. It’s expensive, but it's more flexible and convenient than most student housings.
Last but not least, here are some questions to ask yourself when you are looking for housing.
1) Is the neighborhood safe?
2) Are you okay with the noise from the neighborhood, and will your new neighbors be okay with the noise coming from you?
3) Do you and your flatmate(s) have a compatible lifestyle, including daily routine and personalities?
4) Are there any upcoming constructions that might change the current bus/subway schedule?
Here's a checklist you can refer to for deciding what to take to your new home!