What is a “WG”?
When searching for a place to live in Bavaria, you are likely to come across the German abbreviation “WG” a lot. It stands for “Wohngemeinschaft”, meaning shared accommodation. WGs are usually private flats or houses that are shared between two or more people. Being relatively cheap, they are a popular choice for students. You normally have your own room in a WG but share the kitchen and bathroom. Sometimes there are also other shared facilities, like a living room, washing machine, telephone or TV. It is useful to enquire which facilities are included in the rent before you move in.
Apart from saving you money, living in shared accommodation also has other benefits: Many students who live in WGs like to spend their free time together. So sharing an apartment is a great way to make new friends. And you can even improve your language skills while you are cooking or doing the washing-up.
Finding a WG
Start searching for WGs early, especially if you are moving to a big city like Munich. Many shared flats are advertised online on accommodation websites and the pages of local newspapers. Sometimes you can also find offers on university notice boards. Or you could take out your own ad, as many local newspapers offer cheap advertising rates for students.
Moving into Halls of Residence (Dormitories)
Moving into accommodation provided by the Bayerische Studentenwerke (Bavarian Association for Student Affairs) is usually the cheapest choice for students.
Rooms are furnished and sometimes even resemble little apartments with your own bathroom and kitchen. However, especially in larger cities, rooms in halls of residence are often in high demand and not all students can be guaranteed a place or there are long waiting lists. So it pays off to apply for accommodation early.
You will quickly make new friends if you live in halls of residence. Often there are shared kitchens on each floor and events such as film evenings are frequently organised for all residents.
Finding a Room in Halls of Residence
The Bayerische Studentenwerke (Bavarian Association for Student Affairs; website in German only) can help you find accommodation in halls of residence. Some even offer special service packages that include a room in halls of residence as well as public transport tickets or health insurance for a set price. There are also some private or church-owned halls of residence, where the Studentenwerke may help you find a room.
Finding Your Own Flat
If you prefer your own space, an apartment or studio may be a good option. Again, in big cities you may have to spend a long time looking for one that is both suitable and affordable. Often, you also have to pay fees to estate agents (“Provision” in German) and a deposit when you move in. You should also keep in mind that rental flats in Germany are usually unfurnished. Most people take all their furniture and even their kitchens and light fittings with them, when they move out. Sometimes you can arrange to buy kitchen fittings or even furniture off previous tenants or the landlord will provide some and charge you for their use.
The Studentenwerke (Association for Student Affairs; website in German only) can often help or guide you towards organisations that assist students with finding accommodation in your area. You should also check out the ads on accommodation websites and in local newspapers.
Look in Advance – Rent in Time
No matter what type of housing you prefer, make sure to arrange your accommodation early – preferably while you are still in your home country.
In Germany, people often sign contracts on apartments well before their move-in date, sometimes several months in advance. This is why it is highly advisable to search for accommodation as soon as possible, as it may be difficult to find a place at short notice. If you arrive a few weeks before the start of the university term, you will have more time to look for accommodation, sort administrative matters and get settled in your university town. As some students sublet their rooms during holidays you may also be able to find temporary accommodation for a few days while you search for something more permanent.