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Study Shows: Students Suffer from Expensive Rents

Affordable housing for students is becoming increasingly scarce. But the housing situation in Bremerhaven is more relaxed compared to Bremen. These are the findings of a study by the Institute for Labour and Economy (iaw) and the Institute of Geography at the University of Bremen.

The study titled “Student Housing in Bremen and Bremerhaven” was commissioned by the Senator for Science, Health, and Consumer Protection. The background is the increasingly tense situation of the urban housing market. It is important for the Senate to know the preferences of the students in order to plan targeted and appropriate student housing. How do students in the state of Bremen react to the tense market with their housing decisions?

Representative Survey

The study is based on a representative survey of a total of 1,136 students at the University of Bremen and other higher education institutions (HEI) in Bremen, as well as 382 students at University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven. It was carried out in the summer semester of 2018. Among other things, the focus was on questions about preferred residential locations and forms of living as well as the amount of rental expenses.

Main Problem: High Rent Burden

The survey shows that the lack of affordable housing for students, regardless of personal characteristics, is an extraordinary problem. “Around 70 percent of the students surveyed at Bremen HEIs currently rate the search for accommodation as ‘very difficult’ or ‘rather difficult,’” says Dr. Günter Warsewa from the Institute for Labour and Economy (iaw) of the Bremen Arbeitnehmerkammer (“chamber of labor”) and the University of Bremen. “This is a circumstance that could have a medium-term effect on Bremen’s attractiveness as a place to study,” he believes. In Bremerhaven, on the other hand, the living situation for students is more relaxed. The main criticism here is the structural condition of the available housing.

Shared Apartment Most Popular Living Arrangement in Bremen

The most common form of accommodation for students at Bremen HEIs is shared apartments (32.7 percent). A growing proportion of students are switching to living with their parents or relatives. In total, only 12.4 percent of students at Bremen’s HEIs would like to live in a dormitory. Compared to the actual population of 11 percent of all students living in dormitories, there is therefore only a small additional demand.

Neustadt and Bremerhaven Mitte Preferred

In terms of its advantageous location, Neustadt clearly stands out from the other areas of Bremen. According to the students, the general satisfaction with the living situation in the Neustadt neighborhood is noticeably higher than in all other parts of the city. Bremerhaven Mitte is clearly the preferred district for student housing in Bremerhaven.

Rising Rent Costs Lead to Displacement of Students

Another result of the study is that students in Bremen spend an average of 372.80 euros per month on rent. The average rent expenditure of students in Germany in 2016 was 323 euros. Compared to a previous study from 2009/10 – at that time only for the University of Bremen – expenses for rent including heating costs rose by 26.8 percent. Compared to the overall development of rent levels in the city of Bremen (+30.1 percent), the increase in student housing expenditure has been lower. “However, there are displacement effects at the expense of students, since their income cannot keep up with the increases in rent,” says Professor Ivo Mossig from the Institute of Geography at the University of Bremen.

Rental Expenses Account for up to Nearly 50 Percent of the Total Budget

Mossig also found that students who do not live with their parents or relatives spend almost half of their monthly budget (49.1 percent) on rent. This represents an extremely critical rent burden that, according to the Professor Mossig, reveals a clear need for action with regard to the student housing situation in Bremen. The situation in Bremerhaven is somewhat less tense in terms of housing costs. Students, except those living with parents, pay an average monthly rent of 305.45 euros.

Additional Information:

The study results have been published in the series of publications from the iaw and can be downloaded at:


Professor Ivo Mossig
Institute of Geography
University of Bremen
E-mail: mossigprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de
Tel.: +49 421 218-67410

Dr. Günter Warsewa    
Institute for Labour and Economy (iaw)
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-61700    
E-mail: warsewaprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Studierende vor einer Zettelwand mit Wohnungsinseraten
Finding affordable housing is becoming increasingly difficult for students. This is confirmed by a new study by the Institute for Labour and Economy (iaw) and the Institute for Geography at the University of Bremen.