Living in Berlin
Berlin is the most exciting destination on the planet for producers, musicians, sound engineers, DJ’s, filmmakers, performers and artists. It’s bold, it’s gritty, it’s cutting-edge and it pulsates with a creative youthful energy which never fails to put a smile on your face.
Once the working day is done that energy translates into Europe’s best and cheapest nightlife. Dance barefoot at a beach bar along the banks of the Spree, party in a 6-story squatters’ tenement/art gallery/movie theatre/bar, and finish the night at the infamous Berghain. If something looks like a regular wall in the daylight, come back at night and it’s probably an entrance to the greatest bar you’ve ever visited.
For culture vultures there are over 600 art galleries, 7000 resident artists, some of Europe’s finest museums and the Berlinale International Film Festival – largest public film festival in the world.
Or just take a seat at one of Berlin’s laid back cafes, order your artisan coffee with a tasty ‘kuchen’ and watch the world go by.
This is the most important thing you can do when you settle in Berlin (usually within 14 days). Without this piece of paper, called your Anmeldung, you will not be able to open a bank account or receive a tax number (if you’re choosing to work whilst studying).
You can go to any Bürgeramt in Berlin to get your Anmeldung. However, there are lots of Bürgerämter that require you to book an appointment in advance (which can take up to 4-8 weeks). The following link will allow you to check to check and make an appointment at one of the multiple Bürgeramt locations across Berlin: https://service.berlin.de/terminvereinbarung/. On the appointment page you can click on one of the dates that are marked blue to see which Bürgerämter still have vacant appointments.
Registering at the Bürgeramt is a relatively simple process which only takes a couple of minutes. You will need to bring your passport and a sheet of paper of your landlord confirming that you’ll move into the apartment.
You can live for years in Berlin and never have to speak a word of German. However it will undoubtedly make your life easier if you do. You will feel more confident in taking on new challenges and discovering more of what the city has to offer. You will find it easier to make German speaking friends. And at the very least you will get a warmer welcome because you at least made the effort. We've teamed up with Speakeasy to offer discount courses to Catalyst students.
They offer both intensive and evening courses and one-to-one sessions with their tutors. Check out their course plan online and get your German skills up to speed.
For students applying for a German language visa, Speakeasy offer a low cost, highly supportive and very welcoming option. They offer ongoing support such as assistance & tips for completing your visa application, access to affordable health insurance and even options for accommodation.
Berlin on a budget
Still one of the cheapest cities in Europe to live and study
Low budget living
You will have heard a lot about how cheap it is to live in Berlin. The bad news is that it’s not as cheap as it used to be. The good news is that it’s still much cheaper than comparable cities across Europe and beyond especially if you see evening and weekend entertainment as part of your living costs! It's a cheap place to have a lot of fun.
The following websites have information on everything including cheap accommodation. Click on 'Read more' to read an extensive blog article on the subject.
Being a student in Berlin also has a lot of perks that you can enjoy around the city. With your student card, you will be able to apply for all sort of useful discounts from annual tickets for transport, cinemas, fitness activities and art galleries to discounts for events, gigs and more.
- BVG transport - A guide on how to apply for a monthly student public transport card.
- Berlin Museums - Discounted access to a range of museums and galleries in Berlin
- Urban Sports Club - Student discount of 10€/month for Urban Sports Club (USC) membership.
- Student Rabatte - A student discount website
- Speakeasy - Speak German. We teamed up with Speakeasy to provide a student discount for their low cost courses.
Finding a (mini) job in Berlin
While it's possible to work and study at the same time, you must consider finding a job that doesn't deviate you too much from your study objectives.
Linkedin and Indeed are useful platforms to find work opportunities.
There are also some platforms focusing specifically on jobs for students:
Relocating to Berlin
Finding your new 'home away from home'
Finding a new 'home away from home' takes time and a fair amount of preparation. During the summer, those officially enrolled on our courses will gain access to our student Facebook group, where our community also posts about rooms on their radar or available spots in their own WG (shared apartment). Start as soon as possible and aim for a long term solution.
There's a great in depth guide to moving to Berlin here. It's not specific to students but it provides lots of good background info.
Special deals for Catalyst students:
The Student Hotel
Centrally located in a prime spot in the Mitte district - with the Museum Island and the Holzmarkt nearby. With plenty of transport connections to help you navigate easily through the city, this hotel also offer long term accommodation solutions for travellers and students. A fully-furnished room, private bathroom, spaces to work and relax, gym use, free bikes, laundry, 24-hour security… comes in one great value package. On-site laundry facilities; all utilities (yes, all of them!); access to an on-site gym and cool VanMoof bikes; linen and cleaning services and even a free night’s stay for parents, are also all included in one great-value monthly rate.
>> Catalyst students receive 3% discount on all semester bookings for all length of stays visible on their website. To enjoy this offer, please contact our Admissions team during the application process.
Neon Wood offers stylishly designed living spaces in two locations: Frankfurter Tor and in Mitte near Mauerpark. From September 2022 there will be more options with the brand new Neon Wood Adlershof. Neon Wood have about 1.500 student apartments, fully furnished and partly equipped with high speed internet, a 24-hour laundry lounge and very spacious community areas including study corners, billiards, table tennis, air hockey, a private gaming room and more. On top you will have access to the in-house located Gym, Cinema Room and Community Kitchen depending on the property. Apartments start from 559€ with an all-in flat rate rent and bespoke incentives and opportunities thanks to their comprehensive partnership network.
>> There is a contingency of apartments reserved for Catalyst students starting at €695/month for the Frankfurter Tor and Mitte-Wedding locations until 30.06.2022. To enjoy this offer, please contact our Admissions team during the application process.
Though the waiting list for studierenWERK’s affordable student housing can be lengthy, this is a potential option to consider for students who are enrolling in three-year Bachelor courses and wish to plan ahead. You can access the application portal here.
You can also find a useful search tool for shared accommodation (WG) and sublets by private landlords here. However, studierendenWERK and Catalyst hold no guarantee or liability over these private housing exchanges and offers.
Besides accommodation, StudierendenWERK provides Catalyst students with access to a wide range of benefits, including access to food trucks and canteens in the city, counselling, workshops and access to locations for creative projects around the city. Learn more about these opportunities here.
More student housing options:
House of Nations
Sitting directly on the M21 Tram line, these brand new apartments provide a super convenient connection between our Funkhaus campus and the city. The fully furnished apartments are all inclusive and include kitchenette, bed linen, laundry facilities (coin operated), wifi, concierge and (for confirmed Catalyst Students) they even provide support obtaining your Anmeldung and household insurance.
In the iconic Kreuzberg district close to countless bars, restaurants and clubs. The student apartment complex features 212 fully furnished single and double apartments on seven floors. The booking season for the upcoming summer semester starts from January 17th, 2022.
Shared apartments / Private housing
The most common practice for young people and students is to live in shared apartments (WG). The most popular source for finding a room is the website WG gesucht. Other options are easywg.de or the App Dreamflat, which claims it can help you find the perfect roommate.
You can also try and find a new WG with people you meet here or rent an apartment for yourself. It's a bit more complicated but not impossible.
STW Housing Finder
Short term accommodation solutions
There are lots of good, cheap hostels in Berlin. They can be a great opportunity to meet new people in a new city and give you a base to explore Berlin before finding a more permanent accommodation solution, with a lot located in Friedrichshain which is a short tram hop to our school.
Short term apartments:
- Short term sublets
- Various Facebook groups
Documentation required for renting
If you want to rent an apartment on your own or set up a new flatshare, be prepared to go to a lot of flat viewings. Often there are many people applying for the same flat, so having your documents ready and leaving a good first impression with the estate agent will increase your chances! You’ll need your last three payslips (or bank statements showing that you have sufficient funds) and a copy of your passport. You usually need to fill out a questionnaire that’s given to you by the landlord or agent, so try to request this before the viewing so you’re properly prepared.
To apply for a room in an established flatshare (WG), respond to the ad telling the current flatmates about yourself and what you’re like as a flatmate, i.e. why you’ll be great to live with! It’s good to include your expectations about WG-life (cleanliness, noise etc), your hobbies and what you’re doing in Berlin. Please be aware that sometimes it’s completely normal to send a lot of messages before finding the right fit.
If the WG likes your description they will invite you to a “WG-Casting”, where you can meet and find out whether you get along. Sometimes there are several applicants there at the same time, sometimes they will have appointments one after the other. You’re much more likely to be successful if you’re in Berlin already, as most people prefer to choose someone they’ve met in person.
When moving into a sublet, please make sure you draw up a contract with the landlord (or main leaseholder) before moving in. This should cover you in case of any dispute over rent, length of tenancy and deposit.
Beware of scams
There are a lot of people looking for flats in Berlin, and people will take advantage of this. If an apartment looks too good to be true, pay attention, it could be a scam! If you get an email with an elaborate story about how the owner is currently not in the country and needs you to transfer money to them in order to secure the apartment – it’s definitely a scam. Never send any money to someone before you’ve seen the apartment!