Cost of living in Germany: Your guide

Wise
19.07.17
4 minute read

Germany is Europe’s economic powerhouse, so it's no surprise that many expats arrive here to pursue job opportunities in one of the major cities. However, with world class universities, which in most cases offer free tuition, it’s also the perfect place to come as an international student to complete your studies. Finally, with some cities offering pleasingly low costs of living with excellent amenities and infrastructure, retiring in Germany is also an increasingly popular choice for foreigners.

Whether you’re retiring, going to work, temporarily relocating, or moving to Germany for good, it’s helpful to have a picture of what life there will cost as an expat. Here’s a quick guide.


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How expensive is Germany in comparison to the UK, the EU, the USA and Australia?

The official currency in Germany is the Euro (EUR or € on currency exchanges).

You can find out the exact value of your money in EUR, using an onlinecurrency converter - but here’s a rough guide:

  • 1000 USD = 897 EUR
  • 1000 GBP = 1139 EUR
  • 1000 AUD = 678 EUR
Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Lunch for 2 (3 courses, mid range restaurant)Transportation (monthly pass)
Berlin, GermanyEUR 739EUR 40EUR 81
Munich, GermanyEUR 1,030EUR 50EUR 65
London, UKEUR 1,919EUR 62EUR 149
New York City, USAEUR 2,675EUR 67EUR 105
Sydney, AustraliaEUR 1,757EUR 54EUR 109

One major factor that adds expense for expats in Germany, is the cost of converting cash to EUR from your home currency. Even if your bank says it offers fee-free money exchange, you can be sure that its cut is rolled up in the exchange rate it uses. To get the best deal, you should use an exchange service like Wise, which applies the same rate you’ll find on Google. With a quick service, and low flat fees to send money to Germany, this can be a much better deal than relying on your home bank.

What are the general living expenses for Germany? How much can you get by on?

The costs of living in Germany are fairly reasonable compared to other European countries. However, there’s significant variance between individual cities, with the capital Berlin actually far cheaper for rent and daily expenses than other cities such as Munich. If you're on a fixed income, however, it's good to know that a great life in Germany could be even cheaper if you move away from the big cities.

Living expenses in Germany (excluding rent)Berlin average costMunich average cost
Single person, per monthEUR 733EUR 799
Single person, per yearEUR 8,796EUR 9,588
University student, per monthEUR 588EUR 613
4 person family, per monthEUR 2,497EUR 2,747
4 person family, per yearEUR 29,964EUR 32,964

What are the average salaries in Germany?

Salaries in Germany are above average with IT and engineering roles among the best paid choices in Berlin. However, reflecting the higher cost of living, Munich has higher salaries on average than the capital. With an emerging startup and tech scene, the focus in Munich is also on IT and engineering based professions. In fact, Munich is home to the 15th best paid QA engineers in the world. For reference, the figures below are for the capital, Berlin. Check out what you could earn, here:

Salary averages for GermanyAverage annual salary
CashierEUR 13,316
CopywriterEUR 37,349
Financial analystEUR 47,023
Graphic designerEUR 28,179
Mobile developerEUR 32,751
Product managerEUR 45,956
ReceptionistEUR 19,131
Software engineerEUR 44,469
TeacherEUR 28,194
Web developerEUR 35,392

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Germany?

One of the major factors determining how expensive life in Germany will be for you, is where you choose to live. Berlin offers low rents, despite its status as a major European capital - although prices are now rising rapidly here too.

Most of Germany’s major cities have excellent public transport facilities, which allow people to live outside of the city and commute easily for work. This widens the choice of accommodation significantly. Naturally, if you move outside of the big cities, you can rent in Germany for even less. See what it might cost you here:

Renting in GermanyAverage monthly cost (Berlin)Average monthly cost (Munich)
One bedroom apartment (city centre)EUR 739EUR 1,030
One bedroom apartment (outside of city centre)EUR 548EUR 790
Three bedroom family home (city centre)EUR 1,439EUR 1,950
Three bedroom family home (outside of city centre)EUR 1,050EUR 1,456
InternetEUR 25EUR 24
Utilities (gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment)EUR 232EUR 242

What about healthcare and dental costs in Germany?

The German healthcare system is very strong. It's compulsory for all citizens and residents to have either public or private health insurance, which is often provided in part through your employer. Having private health insurance can mean you get access to services quicker than you might through the public system.

Healthcare serviceAverage cost to you
Family doctor check-upEUR 62
Cold medicine for 6 daysEUR 6
Antibiotic prescriptionEUR 7

How much is travel and transportation in Germany?

The cost of travel in the major cities in Germany is very reasonable. In fact, across most of Germany you'll find a very strong public transportation system if you prefer not to drive, but instead need to commute to a job in one of the towns or cities.

Transportation and vehicle prices for GermanyAverage cost
Gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon)EUR 1.33
Monthly bus/transport passEUR 81
Bus ticket, single useEUR 2.70
Taxi tariff, 8km/5mile journeyEUR 20
Toyota Corolla, newEUR 18,023
VW Golf, newEUR 18,269

How much does education cost?

From 2014 it has been free to study at all German public universities - for both home and international students. All you had to pay was some admin costs. However, the costs of this programme are currently under review, and some states are planning on reintroducing fees for non EU students in the near future.

SchoolAverage cost
Preschool / kindergarten (monthly fee)EUR 60
Private school for lower grades (annual)EUR 16,000
University tuitionCurrently free - however costs to non EU students are under review

Whether it's an exuberant Oktoberfest or a magnificent Bavarian castle, most people have a mental image of Germany. Few, however, really know how much there is on offer in this large and varied country. In fact, you can still find yourself ‘off the beaten track’ here in this very heart of the EU. This makes Germany a great expat destination, whether you’re considering a permanent move, or just looking to spend a year or two exploring somewhere new.

Good luck with your new life in Germany!

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