Living in Berlin

Student life

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.

First steps

Registering in Berlin

This is the most important thing you can do when you settle in Berlin. Without your Anmeldung, a stamped certificate personal to you, 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 (citizens office) in Berlin, regardless of where you’re living, to get your Anmeldung. To book an appointment follow this link and click on the blue button to the right called “Termin berlinweit suchen” and then on one of the dates in blue to see which Bürgerämter have appointments. The government requires that you do this within two weeks of moving into a new apartment.

Registering at the Bürgeramt is a simple process. You will need to bring:

  • Passport (with visa, if relevant)
  • “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung” form from your landlord / WG stating that you’re renting a flat / room

After having done this, the person at the Bürgeramt will hand you a piece of paper called “Anmeldebestätigung”. This paper (your Anmeldung) is very important, so make sure to keep it safe!

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.

Read more
Student discounts

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 – We recommend a Deutschlandticket for transport, this is €49 per month and applies to all public transport and regional transport in Germany (does not apply on long-distance trains such as IC, EC and ICE).
  • 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.
Finding a (mini) job in Berlin

While it's possible to work and study at the same time, you must check the conditions of your study visa (if relevant) and 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. Those enrolled on one of our short summer courses can also ask for access to a Whatsapp group in which current long-term students may sublet their apartments over summer.

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.

Recommended areas
Student housing
Special deals for Catalyst students:
The Social Hub - Student Stay

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. A fully-furnished room, private bathroom, spaces to work and relax, gym use, free bike-sharing, laundry, 24-hour security... all yours, in one great value package. On-site laundry facilities; all utilities (yes, all of them!); access to an on-site gym, linen and cleaning services and even a free night’s stay for parents, are also all included in the monthly rate.

Catalyst students receive 3% discount on all semester bookings for all length of stays visible on their website. Discount code will be shared with you once you have enrolled.

Neon wood

Fully furnished apartments with high-speed internet, 24-hr laundry lounge with a spacious community lobby. Neon Wood currently has 3 locations in Berlin, with Frankfurter Tor offering the most convenient location for Catalyst students as the 21 Tram (the public transport line to Funkhaus) is right outside the door!
We have an allocation of apartments reserved for Catalyst students at the Frankfurter Tor and Adlersdof locations. Discount code will be shared with you once you have enrolled.


A complete property listing that provides Catalyst students with a 25% discount on the service fee (one time fee). Discount code will be shared with you once you have enrolled. Get more info here.

More student housing options

The Fizz

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.

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.

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.

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:

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!

Berlin's historic Funkhaus

We are located at the extraordinary and internationally unique Funkhaus complex, adjacent to the river Spree and overlooking the Planterwald forest.