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Relocating to and living in Germany as an international student

Study, published 12/2020

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About the Whitepaper

Expatrio in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft internationaler Studierender (DeGiS) and with academic support from the Institute for Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IGEI) conducted a survey in July 2020.

There were over 1,200 survey respondents, who are international students from across the globe living in Germany. The participants are Expatrio customers and DeGiS members. Most have gone through the relocation process before the CoVID-19 pandemic hit.

The results reveal some insights on the relocation to and life in Germany.

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Major findings

Study Destination

59% of respondents decided on Germany without considering any other study destinations first. The top deciding factors were tuition-free German universities and their reputation. 13% considered the USA before selecting Germany and 11%, Canada.

Cost of Living

The average monthly expenses for those living in Munich, Berlin and Cologne are the highest, ranging from €770 to €874. Dresden has the lowest average monthly expense of €627 among the representative cities of this survey.


75% of respondents gave a satisfaction rating of between 8 and 10 for their city of residence in Germany. The majority of those who gave the highest ratings reside in Hamburg and Dresden.


The survey results show that the biggest challenge during the visa process is the long waiting period for visa appointments and processing times. Almost half of the respondents had to wait between one and nine months to get an appointment.


36% of respondents considered language barrier in Germany as a major challenge. Finding accommodation and dealing with German bureaucracy are also top challenges.


Overall, over 60% of the respondents are planning to remain in Germany after graduation.

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Suggestions derived from the Study

Given the survey results that highlight the pain points for international students in Germany, some suggestions for improvement have been made.

Public-private partnerships

There could be public-private partnerships between the government and digital solution providers like Expatrio through system integration to optimize processes for visa handling, blocked account verification, city registration and other relevant services


English documents and guidelines should be made available for services required by international students and expatriates.


There needs to be a fundamental shift from postal mail to secure, encrypted digital communication amongst governmental institutions, essential service providers and to the public (including international students and expatriates).Innovative solutions such as a decentralized Blockchain and Smart contracts should be applied

Country-wide communities

A lot of international students could benefit from country-wide international communities such as DeGiS, instead of ones that are just based on cities, universities, study majors, and nationalities.

Skilled Labor Act

It is imperative that international students remain in Germany after graduation. Therefore specific programs have to be launched to further qualify for the German labor market and the integration into the society

By and large, there are a lot of opportunities to make Germany more attractive for young international talent in the face of a demographic shift and a shortage of skilled labor

Expatrio: List

Table of Content

Key Findings


Study Destination


Life in Germany

Cost of Living




Outlook What Can Germany Improve?



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