Home abroad – living and finding an apartment in Mannheim

In an earlier blog post, I already wrote a few lines about my experience of finding a flat here in Mannheim. In a nutshell, there are only so many dorm rooms available. It has been almost a month since the semester started, but not everyone seem to have found accommodation yet. For the sake of peace of mind, it is worth being early with the apartment hunt. There are several websites to keep an eye on, for example the portal for students of UniMa and Studenten-WG.de. Unfortunately, I have heard of a few scams during my stay in here, so I would advice to start with the UniMa portail and to be mindful about to whom and when to send money.

Studierendenwerk Mannheim is responsible for the dorms which are scattered all over Mannheim. Most of the flats are shared with one or several people (WG), but to my knowledge, there are also some studios available. The condition of the flats varies, although the most usual problem residents seem to have is related to locking oneself out of the flat. Most of the rooms are rented furnished, as was mine. I still managed to spend surprisingly high amount to home decor, wooops.

The rent is quite similar everywhere, on average between 250 to 350 euros a month for a room. The living space and the number of flat mates might vary considerably, and there are also some budget finds of closer to 200 euros per month to be snatched.

My flat is located in Neckarau, a 10-minute tram journey away from the city center and the Uni. The tram drives by every 10 minutes during the day and once in an hour in the night. Neckarau is a peaceful neighbourhood, it is easy to feel safe in here. The streets are narrow and lined with colourful houses. The Neckar river, flood dam area, a strip of forest, tennis and football courts and something I believe to be a community garden with some horses, chickens and other animals are to be found only a few blocks away. It is the perfect location to go jogging or for a walk.

From my flat, it takes only five minutes by foot to reach two food stores. If the walking time is increased to 10 minutes, the number increases to four. There are a few pubs, not noisy and disturbing at all, and some pizza and döner places. Several bakeries and a variety of other stores are clustered in the center of Neckarau. Two churches chime one after another on Sundays.

If one is into clubbing and nightlife, the optimal flat location would probably be Jungbush or the Quadrat. If one wants to be close to the nature and yet within a short commute to the centre, I’d recommend Neckarau. In any case, it is easy to move around with trams, buses and bikes all over Mannheim. And if your flatmate is as nice as mine, there won’t be any additional trouble of having a “private” contract instead of a university dorm.

Finally, some practical aspects about living here.

  • Tap water is drinkable although contains a lot of  limestone, which is why many people filter the water before use. I got used to the taste quite soon. Mannheimers seem to be fond of carbonated water, hardly a day goes by without seeing someone with a six-pack of 2 liter bottles of carbonated water.
  • Houses do not have climate control as a default. Especially people from hotter climate were surprised coming to the +35 degrees Celsius summer weather and not being able to seek shelter inside.
  • Likewise, at least in my flat the floors get cold already in +15 degrees. My flatmate changes his shoes to slippers when coming home, which I properly understand only now when the temperature drops. A good thing I brought woolen socks with me.