Studyıng ın Germany

My Personal Research and Experıences

Living in Karlsruhe as a Student – 2023


Karlsruhe is known in Germany as the “Fächerstadt” (Fan City). In 1715, Karl Wilhelm wanted to build a summer residence for himself and, according to legend, inspired by a dream, he designed a fan-shaped city with a baroque castle in the middle, which can still be described as the center of the city today. It is even said that Thomas Jefferson, a former US president, was so impressed by this city that he sent the plan of Karlsruhe to Pierre L’Enfant, the most famous city planner of his time, for the plan of the capital Washington, DC.

Apart from the plan, one of my favorite things about the city is that it is one of the warmest cities in Germany. Although the state of Baden Württemberg is generally known for its mild climate, like Freiburg, Karlsruhe’s climate is very mild compared to Germany in general. In addition, the fact that this region is very close to France also affects the food culture. The culinary culture, which is weak throughout Germany, suddenly comes under French influence in cities neighboring France such as Freiburg and Karlsruhe. Here you can taste dishes, vegetables and sauces that you cannot find in Germany.

With a student population of up to 13%, Karlsruhe is one of the most popular student cities in Germany. The city is known for its numerous technical programs. Karlsruhe is a reasonably sized city, but life is designed for student life. In addition to university life, there are plenty of cinemas, clubs and bars for leisure activities. The fact that it is relatively far away from big cities is probably the most important factor in this.

There are 7 universities in Karlsruhe. The largest of these is the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Although the city is famous for its technical education, Karlsruhe offers all kinds of engineering as well as social sciences and arts. The city is mostly home to companies operating in the fields of communication technology and IT, so IT professionals are in the majority. (That’s where my interest comes from)

Karlsruhe city center

Student Accommodation Options in Karlsruhe

The city, especially the city center, has many old baroque buildings and a castle, as you can see in many cities in Germany. The campuses of all the universities in the city are also located close to the city center. Most of them are concentrated around “Innenstadt-West” to the east of the city center. This area is therefore the students’ first choice for accommodation. Besides being a short walk from the campuses and the city center, the area has beautiful old buildings and lots of green spaces. 

Due to the planning and size of the city, most places can be reached quickly by bike. Karlsruhe prides itself on being a bike-friendly city, rivaling Münster in this regard. (Some even claim to be more advanced than Münster.) If you don’t prefer cycling, bus and tram options are also very convenient.

Rents in Karlsruhe are about average when it comes to rents in German student cities and, as in most of them, it is quite difficult to find a place to stay in the city with a reasonable rent. This problem is said to have persisted for many years. Therefore, it is a better idea to look for a room in a shared apartment instead of looking for a rental on your own. For more information on how to do this, please read my article on finding accommodation for students in Germany.

Important Reminder!

The biggest problem you will face when you go to Germany is housing. If possible, take care of this before you go. Most of the private dormitories accept credit cards for the first registration, but they will ask for a SEPA form for subsequent rents. (SEPA form is similar to our direct debit mandate) You will also be asked for a SEPA form for WG or private apartments you will find outside the private dormitory. However, you must have a bank account for the SEPA form. In other words, you must open a bank account. You must also have a residential address for the bank account. For a residential address, you need to get a “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung” from your landlord. So it is a vicious circle. 

You need a bank account to rent a house, you need a house for your bank account. So you might need a place where you can stay temporarily until you find a permanent place, but where you can get a “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung”. Or you can open a Belgium-based SEPA account using Wise. I explained the process of “opening a Wise SEPA account” in a previous article.

Fortunately, some apartment hotels in Germany will provide you with a “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung” for stays of 30 days or more. Below is a link to independent apartments in Karslruhe where you can stay for a longer period of time and cancel free of charge. Once you have clear dates (try to make them as early as possible, or if not, plan for 1 week before the opening date of your school), book one of these options. Immediately afterwards, make an appointment with the Karlsruhe Citizenship office to apply for residency a day or two after your arrival date (if you don’t act early, it can be very busy at the beginning of the semester and appointments can be pushed back by up to 20 days). Once you have the residence certificate, you have no obstacles to open a bank account. I felt the need to remind you because I have readers who have had a lot of trouble with this.

Here you can browse and book apartments in Karlsruhe.

Studierendenwerk Karlsruhe provides dormitory accommodation for 2770 students. However, as in all German cities, these dormitories are very popular due to their reasonable prices and the waiting lists are quite long. Therefore, you should apply early and be prepared to wait for an average of 2 semesters.

There is also the option to commute to Karlsruhe without any problems, as there are good transportation links to the suburbs of the city. For this reason, you might also want to consider living a little outside the city.

How are the rental prices in Karlsruhe?

I mentioned above the difficulty of finding a rental apartment in Karlsruhe. It is very difficult to find a 1 bedroom apartment in the city center near the universities. If you can find one, you will have to pay quite high rents. The average rent (cold rent) for a 30 – 40 m2 apartment in the city center is around 500 Euros. As you get closer to the center, this figure rises to around 650-750 Euros.

A view from the city center

In the map below you can see the areas in Karlsruhe where the rents are higher. You should know that the darker the colors, the more luxurious the neighborhoods and therefore the higher the rents. “Neureut” in the north and “Durlach” in the east of the city offer the most options and cheapest rents, but are relatively far from the center. “Innenstadt-West” is popular with students due to its location close to schools, so although prices are higher, it is an option to consider if living on your own is not your first choice.

Prices for rent apartments in Karlsruhe

Are there any private dormitories in Karlsruhe?

In Karlsruhe, there are many private dormitories in addition to those run by the Studentenwerk. Some of these dormitories are more expensive than those run by the student union, so you are more likely to find a place. Some of these private dormitories are sponsored by religious or political organizations, others are commercial enterprises. In sponsored dormitories, rents are cheaper, but finding a place will be a problem. Here are some of the private hostels in Karlsruhe:

The Karslruhe public transportation map is useful when looking for accommodation options and areas. On the map, the red lines are buses, the green and blue lines are tram and metro, and the orange lines are suburban train lines.

Is it expensive to live in Karlsruhe?

Karlsruhe is about average in terms of cost of living when you look at Germany as a whole. Rent is the largest item in the cost of living for students, followed by food and entertainment costs. Students are privileged to have access to good quality and cheap food. In the student union Mensa, you can get a good quality and filling meal for roughly 4 to 5 Euros. Other than that, meals will usually be taken at cheap fastfood restaurants.

Karlsruhe cost of living price index

How do students spend their time in Karlsruhe?

There is no area in Karlsruhe that can be categorized as a student district, where students hang out in their free time. You can usually see students in groups in the city center. During the daytime, the center, especially Kaiserstraße, is popular for walking and shopping. There are many shops to shop in the area, as well as a few museums such as the Art and Media Center and the Natural History Museum. Of course, the many cafes, bars and clubs are another attraction for students.

Das Fest

Although the city is not very big, it offers many options for students. In addition to the entertainment venues in the city center, barbecues in the park around the castle, hiking and sports are also popular activities for students. The student-organized Unifest and “Das Fest” music festival on the KIT campus always attracts many visitors. 

Karlsruhe by numbers

City Population  308.436
Number of Students39.324
Student/resident ratio% 12,7
Number of beds provided by Studierendenwerk2.775 
Rents for accommodation provided by Studierendenwerk164-382  €
Source- CHE Ranking

I hope it was useful. For your questions, you can reach me at recep[at] e-mail address, my social media accounts and the comments section.

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