The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs

It's the start of autumn, which means the start of the university year. But along with the excitement comes the stress of finding housing - and in some glamorous locations this can be a nightmare.

The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs
Photo: DPA

Student apartments are too expensive, there is too much competition and they are normally too far out of the city. That, at least, is the conclusion of a study by the Moses Mendelssohn Institute for real estate firm GBI, published on Monday.

The study looked at all university towns with student populations over 5,000 and rated them out of 100 for factors including rent increases, quantity of available space, student numbers and competition for rooms with other trainees. Scores closer to 100 meant poor conditions from students.

It came to the conclusion that in 19 university towns, the situation is critical.

“Since 2013, the strain on student housing has risen continually – in the big cities and the internationally recognized university towns the trend has been way above average,” said Dr. Stefan Brauckmann, director of the Moses Mendelssohn Institute.

Here are the cities currently giving homeless students sleepless nights (and unfortunately they're some of the most desirable places to live and study in Germany).

1. Munich (79/100)

Student housing in Munich. Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital is a famously difficult place for students to find any sort of place to stay, let alone one that is affordable and well located. Once again it was rated the worst city in Germany for student students to find housing.

Too bad then that Ludwig Maximilian University is consistently rated as the best uni in Germany in global rankings, making it a hot ticket for international students.

2. Frankfurt (77.5)

Whereas the situation in Munich is unchanged since last year, in Frankfurt it has deteriorated sharply. Two years ago the metropole on the Main lay ten points behind Munich, last year five and this year only 1.5, meaning the Bavarian capital may no longer hold this dubious crown come next autumn.

3. Cologne (76)

The Cathedral City is another one fast catching up with Munich. With a plus of nine points in this year's rankings, it is the city in which the student living situation has declined most clearly in the last 12 months.

4. Hamburg (74)

In the Times Higher Education rankings published in 2015, none of Hamburg's universities made it into the global top 100, making it the only one of Germany's million-man cities not to gain this distinction (Berlin had three, Munich two, and Cologne one.)

Given that Hamburg has some of the most expensive rents in Germany and is now also considered one of the hardest places to find digs, the harbour city would appear to offer students little other than a reputation for wild partying.

Photo: DPA

5. Stuttgart (73)

The story was similar in the capital of Baden-Württemberg. The physical location of the city in a valley has already contributed to the highest levels of traffic congestion and pollution in the country. Now it can add one of the worst places for students to find an apartment to the list. It also gained four points on last year.

“While Munich used to be exceptional in terms of the difficulty for student of finding a place to live, students in these cities [Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart] are now having a similar experience,” said Brauckmann.

6. Freiburg (66.5)

Students at Freiburg University. Photo: DPA

Freiburg is the most expensive place in Germany when it comes to rentals, so anyone planning to start their studies at the venerable Albert Ludwig University had better have a bit of spare cash in the pocket.

According to this study, they'd also better have sharp elbows if they want to secure themselves their own four walls in the town near the French border.

7. Darmstadt (66.5)

Darmstadt Technical University may not yet have cracked the upper echelons of the world university rankings charts, but it is popular with international students, with almost one in five of its student population coming from abroad.

It saw a significant worsening in the living opportunities for students in comparison with 2015, gaining six points.

8. Berlin (64)

Student housing in Berlin. Photo: DPA

The German capital used to be famed for its plentitude of empty and cheap space. Those days are long gone.

With tens of thousands of people migrating to the capital of cool every year, students are facing the fight  of their lives to find a roof to put over their heads. But the situation in Berlin didn't get much worse in comparison to 2015, only rising by a point in the chart.

9. Tübingen (62.5)

Another storied and idyllic southern town, another nightmare when it comes to housing. On the plus side, the living situation in the town in central Baden-Württemberg hasn't gotten too bad since last year, increasing by only two points. 

10. Konstanz (60)

Konstanz. Photo: DPA

The fact that Konstanz makes the top ten shows you don't need a university from the Middle Ages to have students breaking down in tears at the thought of commuting from their parents' house at the other end of the country.

Konstanz University was founded in the 1960s but is already renowned as one of the best in Germany. The highly desirable location on the stunning Lake Constance no doubt plays a role in making the start of the uni semester one of the most stressful times for students hunting for affordable digs.

On the bright side…

The study wasn’t all bad news, though. In seven of the 91 cities which were named in the study, finding a room this year will be a little less stressful than in 2015. These were: Bielefeld, Hanover, Kaiserslautern, Kassel Münster, Osnabrück and Würzburg.

With DPA

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.