The two most common forms of living for students in Germany are shared flats (“Wohngemeinschaften”, often shortened WG) and dormitories (“Wohnheime”). Most of the exchange students in Karlsruhe are living in dormitories, some of which have a fixed number of rooms which always is rented on one- or two-semester contracts. The dormitories are also usually the little bit cheaper option. In both cases, it is common to share kitchen and bathroom with several other students, while having your own room to sleep in.
A lot of the dormitories in Karlsruhe are operated by a public student service called “Studierendenwerk”. It is highly recommended to apply there.
Another option worth considering is the Hans-Dickmann-Kolleg (HaDiKo). With 999 rooms it is by far the biggest dormitory in Karlsruhe and also biggest self-administered one in Germany. Due to its large offer of rooms, it is also the most common place for exchange students in Karlsruhe to stay.
There are several more dormitories, which are privately managed or also self-governed. Notable examples are:
- Hans-Freudenberg-Kolleg (HFK)
- Kolleg am Ring (KAR)
- Augustin Bea Haus (ABH) und Reinhold Schneider Haus (RSH)
- Hermann-Ehlers-Kolleg (HEK)
- Domus 7
Renting a room in a shared flat is the alternative to dormitories. In many cases it is possible to sub-rent a room for a limited time from students who temporarily left the town for an internship or to go abroad. There are several websites for finding shared flats in Karlsruhe, the biggest one being wg-gesucht.de. Other platforms include immonet.de and wohnungsboerse.net
While shady flat offers are not that common in Germany, it is always advised to be careful. Rooms offered on a suspiciously low price often belong to fraternities (usually with a big number of flat-mates and often male-only). Fraternities in Germany are not comparable to those in the United States and some other countries. They do not have the best reputation in the student body and some of them might be less than welcoming towards international guests.
“Zwischenmiete” is a German term you might find useful. It is often used for the sub-renting an apartment, usually for a period of 5-6 months.