Student dormitories of Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW – German National Association for Student Affairs) are most popular amongst international students in Germany. Studentenwerk (student services organisation) is an organisation whose task is to provide services as accommodation or cheap meals to German students.
If you are inscribed to a German university you can apply for a room at DSW. Don’t forget to do this as soon as possible, because there are much more applicants than places.
Many students who prepare for German university language exams are not yet inscribed to a German university, that’s why they cannot apply for a student dormitory. So there’s no other way than to look for private accommodation.
The easiest but in most cases most expensive way to find a room is to let your language school do the job for you. Language schools for international students usually offer all types of accommodation such as private apartments, shared flats (WG), hostels, hotels, guest stay in families, and so on. But surely they’ll charge you for their services.
So, how to find a place to stay on your own? Remember that it might not be too easy to find a good place depending on what city you want to stay especially if your financial resources are limited. That means that you should start your research as early as possible.
Many German students live in WGs (Wohngemeinschaften). WG means that several students share one apartment. Each student has his own bedroom, but they share the kitchen, the bathroom and perhaps other rooms depending on the apartment. Also they have to care about cleaning the shared rooms.
Perhaps this may not seem too attractive to you, but once you have studied rental charges in German university cities you’ll find that this is not the worst alternative. ;)
Please keep in mind that most offerings around there are reliable but be cautious anyway especially if you ‘ll have to pay something in advance.
If a WG does not conform with your ideas and you have enough money in your pockets you can take a chance on the “normal” real estate market. You can check one of the big real estate portals in Germany as Immobilienscout or Immowelt.
Unfortunately all the big ones are only available in German language. On Google you’ll find smaller portals for speakers of English, but offerings there are very limited.
Mind that usually you’ll have to be in Germany to sign a rental contract – what I would recommend anyway because you’ll be able to see whether everything is as you expected.
If you are already in Germany you can also pay a real estate agent to do the work for you. Many real estate agents charge three month’s rent as a commission.