In the early 2000s, Berlin’s mayor at the time declared, “Berlin ist arm, aber sexy”. Berlin is poor, but sexy to be sure. However, you won’t be going poor any time soon studying abroad in this trendy European capital.
Poppin’ nightlife empire after dark and buzzing tech startup hub by day, Berlin enjoys a reputation as an up-and-coming cultural center. If you’re looking to study abroad here, you’ll find more than just a deeply rich history and hip vegan restaurants. That’s because the Berlin student living cost is dramatically cheaper than most European capitals.
Yup, that means more bang for your buck. In other words, more budget for the fun stuff.
With a reputation for affordable rents and amazing cheap eats (we’re looking at you, currywurst), you probably won’t need much convincing that Berlin is a solid affordable study abroad option. Here’s a deeper dive into the question, “Is studying abroad in Berlin cheap?”
How to calculate the cost of living in Berlin for international students
If you’ve dug around a bit into the idea of studying abroad in Germany, you may have found a delightful fact. There is no tuition for public universities in Germany, although some parts of the country reintroduced tuition as of 2017.
Yet even those with reintroduced tuition are nowhere near the exorbitant costs most American students expect from their own universities at home. Well-known public universities in the capital, such as Humboldt University of Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, have no tuition for domestic and international students pursuing a bachelor’s. Definitely a welcome change!
However, if you’re studying abroad through your university, you may still have to pay your own tuition and fees to receive credit. Third-party study abroad organizers also require a program fee that typically includes room and board. In addition, those directly enrolling in a German university to take advantage of no tuition will likely expect to dish out a few hundred Euro a semester to cover admin and student fees.
All in all, zero tuition makes the Berlin student living cost a steal.
- How much does it cost? ~300€ (~$330 USD)/semester at a public university
2. Public transportation
Remember that small student semester fee we mentioned above? Yup, that’s also your transportation ticket.
There are tons of great perks and discounts for students across Germany, and Berlin is no exception. Your student ID also counts as your ticket on local public transportation in the Berlin metro area. More specifically, you can hop on regional trains, the subway, streetcars, and buses to catch your lectures or meet up with friends somewhere else in town.
The cost of Berlin study abroad may be a bit higher, however, if you want to expand your transportation options to include taxis or ride-sharing services. For a more sustainable option, you can also join the huge cycling community in Berlin and commute on the popular bike-lanes. And of course, it’s worth mentioning that Berlin is a bustling city, so many day-to-day things will be conveniently walking distance (aka, free!).
- How much does it cost? Nothing!
If you’re suspicious that all the good news is over, you’ll be pleasantly mistaken. That’s because grocery costs in Germany are notoriously low compared to other wealthy nations. If you stick to widely popular discount grocers like Aldi, you’ll have absolutely no problem getting by on a few bills a week.
As a student abroad, you’ll be tempted to sniff out new culinary delights out on the town, and that’s totally okay! Just remember to budget for the occasional journey out. Costs of dining out are comparable to those in the United States. For example, a casual meal from a street vendor will cost around 5€ or less and a sit-down meal comes in at 10-15€ plus tip.
- How much does it cost? ~30€ (~$33)/week
Apartments in Germany are oftentimes fully furnished near college campuses, making it ideal for international students, and more affordable, too. This includes university dorms, as well as shared flats.
If you’re looking to lessen your Berlin student living cost as much as possible, then dorms will most likely be the most affordable way to go!
- How much does it cost? ~300€-800€ (~$330-880)/month
5. European travel
Sure, there’s so much to explore in Berlin alone that the rest of the continent may be a tight squeeze. However, studying abroad anywhere in Europe almost guarantees that you’ll venture out at some point to see new horizons.
Luckily, discount airlines across Europe make international travel cheap and accessible, often costing only 30 euros round-trip from Berlin to Milan, for example.
Youth hostels abound a’ plenty and you’re bound to find student discounts wherever you go as well. So, if you’re stressed about galavanting around, from the Swiss Alps to the Portuguese coast, there’s no reason your wallet should be!
- How much does it cost? $200/month
6. Phone bill
While many domestic phone plans now offer international service as part of plans, they are often limited to data, have spotty service, or may cost an additional fee. A great option to ensure reliable connection and lower costs is to purchase a prepaid phone card at any major Berlin supermarket or a number of other cell phone providers.
Make sure you get your smartphone unlocked at home, though — otherwise a prepaid SIM card won’t work! You can also brush up on all the ways to avoid international data charges to keep that phone bill waaaay down. Your parents will thank you.
- How much does it cost? ~5€-20€ (~$5.50-$22)/ month
7. Personal expenses
Is studying abroad in Berlin also cheap when it comes to personal expenses? Well, this depends on what you’re used to spending back home and the wiggle room in your budget.
Personal expenses while living abroad include everything from grabbing some brews with friends, to clothes, to entertainment options like festivals or movie theaters. All these costs are pretty comparable to the United States, so the amount you spend should be fairly easy to predict.
Plus, don’t forget that you can actually work while studying abroad in Germany! That might sound like a buzzkill, but it’s an excellent way to cut costs and save up even more money for all the fun stuff you want to do before you’re done studying abroad.
- How much does it cost? Up to you!
FundMyTravel can help with your Berlin student living cost
Whether you’re hoping to study abroad in Berlin for a full year or pass through for a summer, having the right funds saved up will give you peace of mind to focus on the experience. Through FundMyTravel, you can share your unique story and motivations for studying abroad by starting a campaign.
Once you’ve polished off your narrative to be authentically you, you’re ready to start spreading the word to your networks and beyond! And just like that, you can start crowdfunding your away across the Pond and into Berlin to start one of the most impactful experiences of your life.
The cost of Berlin study abroad will be worth it!
Without a doubt, global adventures can get pricier than the day-to-day at home. However, the cost of living in Berlin for international students is hard to beat, especially compared to other European cities.
If you play your cards right and start early, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to build a travel fund before you go. From study abroad scholarships, to hustling at a side gig, to fundraising online, there are tons of ways to get started.
Even when you’re in the middle of a scholarship essay and losing steam, all you have to do is think of the living history lining every Berlin street, the vibrant cultural neighbors contributing to a mouth-watering foodie culture, and the friends you have yet to meet. And of course, who could ever forget the “study” part of study abroad…everyone’s favorite part, right?!