Accommodation and living in Berlin

Accommodation in Berlin

As a student at ASH Berlin, you can apply for university-affiliated housing (a student dorm) or search for private accommodation. Both options have their pros and cons and it is up to you and your wishes and needs whether you should opt for one or the other. The student dorms tend to be less expensive, but private accommodation offers a more diverse range of locations in Berlin.

The studierendenWERK BERLIN runs several student dorms all over Berlin. ASH Berlin has a (limited) contingent to accommodate exchange students in the student dorm "Victor Jara". A single apartment in this dorm costs between 295 and 360 EUR per month and is located 25 minutes away from campus. If you wish to apply for accommodation in this dorm, please do so by completing the appropriate section in your general online application. Beforehand, you should check our student dorm info sheet for more details (info sheet winter term 2019-20, info sheet summer term 2020). Please note that we only have a limited number of apartments available in the dorm and that we will probably not be able to consider all students. By mid or end of June / mid or end of December, we will inform you whether or not we could consider your student dorm application.

If you would like to live in one of the many other dorms of the studierendenWERK BERLIN or if we couldn't consider your application for the "Victor Jara" dorm, you can also apply at the studierendenWERK BERLIN directly. For that, you'll need our Letter of Acceptance (which you'll receive three months before the start of the term via e-mail in our Info-Package I) as well as a confirmation that you've paid the semester fees. We will issue this confirmation for you upon request. For any questions about how to apply for a dorm at the studierendenWERK BERLIN directly, please contact their InfoCenter IC studi@home: via e-mail to wohnen@ avoid-unrequested-mailsstw.berlinor call them at +49 30 93939 8990.

Due to limited availability of student dorms, the majority of German and international students lives in private accommodation, most of them sharing a flat in a so-called Wohngemeinschaft (WG). An average room will cost between 280 – 400 EUR (including bills).

If you opt for private accommodation, you should search for offers and contact the offering persons as early as possible. Often, people living in flatshares want to get to know their future flatmates personally before deciding on whom to choose ('WG-Casting'), so please be aware that you might not find a shared flat before being in Berlin in person. This being said, seeing the room and meeting your potential flatmates in person is the best way to make an informed decision.

Popular websites to search for a (shared) flat are the following:

The International Office is not responsible for the contents of external links. Only the page owners are accountable for their website's content.

Please note that if you live in a shared flat, not only your flatmates but also the actual landlord / landlady and/or owner of the flat need to approve you living there. Therefore, you should discuss this with your flatmates. If you don't have that approval, you and your flatmates risk problems with the German registration law. You should, at the latest, have this sorted out when you register your address at the Bürgeramt (which is a legal requirement for anyone living in Germany for more than three months), since you will need a confirmation of your moving in for that.

Whether you live in a shared or single flat, do not under any circumstances pay any rent or rental deposit if you haven't received and signed the rental contract and seen the flat or room and/or received your keys. Students repeatedly tell us of attempted frauds when they were asked to pay rent and/or deposit without a rental contract and without having seen the flat .

Please note that for university dorms and rooms in a private shared flat, you will probably be asked to pay a deposit (usually equivalent to 1-2 times the monthly rent) which you will get back at the end of your lease if there haven’t been any damages made to your room.

If necessary, you should arrange short-term accommodation for the first days or weeks in Berlin. We recommend staying in a hostel. Please keep in mind that ASH Berlin is located in the eastern part of Berlin in the district Hellersdorf, so a place close to the S-Bahn line S5 or the U-Bahn line U5 would be most convenient. You can search for hostels via Berlin.de or other search engines. Please make sure to book your hostel as early as possible to get the best price.

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Living in Berlin

Berlin is Germany’s capital and cultural metropolis. As a vibrant and constantly changing city with more than 3 million inhabitants, it attracts people from all around the world and is a centre of cultural, political, and economic life.

Berlin is an exciting and affordable city to live in and has proven a very popular place to study. With four universities and numerous universities of applied sciences and colleges, Berlin is an important region for education and research. Academic aspects aside, Berlin is known for its outstanding cultural profile with world-famous museums, opera houses, concert halls, and theatres. Berlin also boasts an unparalleled alternative festival, club and nightlife scene. And while Berlin’s most famous sights may be the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag parliament building or the TV Tower, the city’s creative and urban atmosphere also draws its vibe from numerous galleries, cafés, vintage shops, and flea markets.

Berlin’s urban landscape features extensive forests and gardens. Parkland such as Grunewald, Tiergarten or the Gardens of the World as well as numerous rivers, canals and lakes contribute greatly to the quality of life and give Berlin a feeling of spaciousness and green beauty. Berlin has a moderate and continental climate. While the weather in summer (June – August) will be relatively stable and warm, at times humid, the Berlin winter (December – February) is notoriously grey, cold and often snowy. Spring and autumn tend to be chilly to mild. Students are therefore recommended to pack enough warm and water-proof clothing.

Berlin is easy to reach by airplane, train or bus. If you are on an international flight, you will probably land at Berlin-Tegel (TXL). Local and budget flights usually arrive at Berlin-Schönefeld (SFX). A new international airport (BER) is being built near Schönefeld which will replace Tegel in the future. If you arrive by train, you will most likely arrive at Hauptbahnhof, Südkreuz, Ostbahnhof or Spandau. The central bus station is located near the Funkturm in Charlottenburg.

All parts of Berlin including the two airports as well as all train and bus stations are well connected to the public transport system. The system is run by two different companies, the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) and the S-Bahn Berlin. Together they operate the local trains, the underground railway, trams, busses and ferries in three tariff zones A, B and C. You can find connections and maps at their websites but also via the BVG apps FahrInfo Plus and the BVG Ticket-App which will allow you to buy tickets directly in the app (both are available for android and iOS). If you choose to purchase the semester ticket, your ticket is valid for all three zones for the entire period of the semester.

On Friday and Saturday night, many (but not all) trains, trams and busses will operate 24 hours. On Sundays and during the week, there is only a limited number of public transport services that run during the night. If they do not operate during the night, some of them are replaced by night busses.

Please note that there are ticket inspectors who will regularly ask passengers for their tickets. Please show your (signed) semester ticket and an official photo ID (e.g. passport or personal ID).

Berlin is also great to explore by bike. There is an ever expanding network of cycle paths which makes riding a bike safe and convenient. The semester ticket allows you to take a bike on the public transport for free. You can plan your cycle path route online.

Berlin is a safe city. However, as in every major city in the world, you should always take a few precautions and use your common sense – do not leave personal belongings unattended and be aware of pickpockets, particularly in busy areas, train stations and tourist hot spots. Should you be affected by theft or other criminality, please contact the Berlin Police. If you experience sexual harassment or sexual violence, you can find additional advice, links and support at the website of the women's* representative of ASH Berlin as well as via bff - women against violence e.V. (website available in English, Turkish and Arabic) for an overview of external support services.

Please also note that some behaviour or substances that may be legal in your home country are illegal in Germany. For example, downloading movies or music files which are protected by copyright from filesharing or torrent websites is illegal in Germany. Please refrain from using any torrent programmes while you are in Germany, since you could be tracked by your IP address and be fined for it by a lawyer.

Berlin offers a huge range of cultural, political, academic and non-academic activities. In addition to the extracurricular activities offered at ASH Berlin, you can for example use the sports and gyms from other universities in Berlin. The courses cover almost every imaginable type of physical activity, from American Football to Zumba, and will cost 20-50 EUR per semester and are a great way to meet students from other universities. Students interested in music can join one of the university choirs or orchestras.

The table below gives a first impression of extracurricular activities, although Berlin has a lot more to offer than we can list here. Don’t let the countless clubs, theatres, associations and initiatives overwhelm you!

Cultural programme for exchange students:

Cultural calendar of the studierendenWERK BERLIN:

Sports

Music

Student jobs / volunteer work

LGBTIQ* / Queer Berlin      

Public education centres

In comparison to other European capitals, Berlin is a relatively affordable place to live. Naturally this depends on individual lifestyles, but the average cost of living can be estimated as follows:

Per Month:

  • Accommodation: 295-450 EUR
  • Broadcasting license fee: 17,50 EUR
  • Food and beverages: 150-250 EUR  
  • Personal expenses: 100 EUR
  • Mobile phone contract: 10-15 EUR 
  • Books and scripts: 5-10 EUR

Per Semester:

Social fee and the semester ticket: 58.89 or 252.69 EUR

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Emergencies and medical services

In case of an emergency, please call the police at 110 or firefighters and ambulances at 112. These numbers are free of charge.

If you need to see a doctor, you will usually go to a general practitioner first who will then refer you to a specialist if necessary. However, you can also consult the specialist directly without seeing a general practitioner first. Make an appointment with the doctor via telephone or go and see them during their emergency opening hours.

Note: Not all doctors offer emergency opening hours, and please always call them before going in order to avoid long waiting times. When you see the doctor, always take your health insurance card (EHIC) or your health insurance policy with you.

The best way to find a doctor is to search online at Ärzte Berlin where you can also search for certain areas of Berlin, specialists or English, Turkish or Spanish speaking doctors (as well as further languages). 

As a helpful source of information, the illustrated health dictionary compiled by the studierendenWERK BERLIN explains important health and medical terms in German and English.

Please buy all your medication from a pharmacy (“Apotheke”). Pharmacies are usually open Mon–Fri from 9am–7pm / Sat 9am–1pm. If your doctor prescribes medication, you may have to pay between 5 and 10 EUR per prescription.

If you need medication outside of their opening hours, you can call 0800 00 22 8 33 or check online for an emergency pharmacy. In addition to the emergency pharmacies, the pharmacy at Berlin Hauptbahnhof is open 24 hours every day of the year and the pharmacy near Oranienburger Tor is open Mon–Sun 8am–midnight.

In case of a medical emergency, please always go straight to the closest hospital or call an ambulance (telephone: 112).

You can search for the closest hospital online. If you are at ASH Berlin, the closest hospitals are the Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin (UKB) and the Vivantes Klinikum Kaulsdorf (both approx. 5 km from ASH Berlin). Again, take your health insurance card (e.g. EHIC) with you.

If it’s not an urgent emergency, but you still need to see a doctor during the night or on the weekend, you can contact the doctors on call service at +49 116117 who will then come to see you at home.

Psychological counseling is available in German and in English at the studierendenWERK BERLIN. The counselling is free of charge and confidential.

If you experience sexual harassment or sexual violence, contact the Berlin Police(emergency call: 110). You can find additional advice, links and support in case of sexual harassment and violence at the website of the women's* representative of ASH Berlin as well as via bff - women against violence e.V. (website available in English, Turkish and Arabic) for an overview of external support services.

Overview of emergency contacts

What Telephone / Website
Police 110
Firefighters / ambulance 112
Doctors on call service 116117
Dentists on call service 030 89 00 43 33
Emergency pharmacies 0800 00 22 8 33
Counselling and crisis 030 390 63 00
Sexual violence www.frauen-gegen-gewalt.de/en/local-support-services.html
Poisoning emergency 030 19240
Drug emergency 030 19237

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