Cost of Living in Berlin

As one would expect in any European capital city, the cost of living in Berlin is fairly high. Berlin was ranked 100 out of 207 cities surveyed in the 2016 Mercer Cost of Living Survey. According to the survey, living in Berlin is cheaper than in other major German cities such as Frankfurt (88) and Munich (77).

Regardless, expats will find that certain things like the cost of rental accommodation are just a fraction of what they would be in other European cities, like Paris or London. 

On top of housing costs, expats moving to Berlin will need to consider the expense of commuting to and from work, the cost of groceries, entertainment and eating out.

Health insurance is an expense that no one moving to Germany can avoid, so expats are advised to make a provision for this within their employment contracts wherever possible. While expat parents moving to Berlin will have the widest variety of choices when it comes to schooling, the cost of international school fees is very high in Berlin. 

Expats should be aware that taxes in Germany tend to be quite high. Income tax increases progressively depending on how much an individual earns and rates go up as high as 45 percent. VAT is 19 percent, but the rate is reduced on some items of food and transportation. Thankfully, Germany is signatory to a number of treaties that avoid double taxation for expats. 

Cost of accommodation in Berlin 

As is the case throughout much of Germany, the majority of Berlin residents opt to rent rather than buy property. Expats who move to Berlin also generally tend to rent property due to the short-term nature of their assignments.

Rent in Berlin is significantly cheaper than that in other German cities. Generally, there are even cheaper accommodation options as one moves further away from Berlin’s city centre.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Berlin

Naturally, the cost of entertainment and eating out will vary in accordance with an individual expat’s tastes and preferences. However, those moving to Germany will find there are opportunities to spend and splurge in accordance with most types of budget.

When it comes to food Berlin has everything from upscale bistros to street food stalls, so expats are sure to find good quality food to satisfy any craving and fit any budget. While entrance to Berlin’s top nightclubs comes with a small fee; the city has lots of bars and eateries where visitors can grab a drink and listen to live music at no cost. 

Other activities on offer in the city such as enjoying a summer day in the park, visiting local markets or going for a cycle can be done at little or no cost. Therefore, even those that want to save while living in Berlin can do so without missing out on a social life. 

Cost of transport in Berlin

Berlin has an excellent public transport network and it is generally more affordable than transportation in Frankfurt and Munich. It is not necessary to have a car in Berlin and most expats prefer to make use of buses, trams and the metro.

Expats who plan on utilising public transport to commute to and from work on a daily basis will save money by investing in a travel pass. This is valid on all modes of public transportation.

Those that do choose to drive in Berlin will find that, while the price of petrol is fairly low, the cost of obtaining all the relevant documents for owning a car and the price of car insurance is higher in Berlin than elsewhere in Germany.  

Cycling is popular amongst the local population in Berlin and is by far the most cost-effective way to get around the city. Furthermore, Berlin's infrastructure caters well for cyclists with plenty of cycle lanes and storage faciliities for bicycles scattered throughout the city. 

Cost of healthcare in Berlin

Berlin is home to some excellent hospitals and new arrivals can be reassured that they will be well taken care of if they were to fall ill during their stay in the city. However, it is compulsory for everyone in Germany to have some form of health insurance, so this is something that expats moving to Berlin must budget for. 

Anyone who is employed by a company operating in Germany can take advantage of the state health insurance plan, which is well subsidised. Freelancers and those who are self-employed will need to purchase private health insurance, which is significantly more expensive. Private health insurance varies according to the age and health of a person as well as the type of cover required. 

Expats are advised to try and negotiate a healthcare allowance within their contract of employment. 

Cost of education in Berlin

While Berlin has a large number of international schools, expats will find that tuition fees are particularly high. Expats who are not lucky enough to be given an allowance for their children’s school fees should investigate the prospect of bilingual schools in Berlin. These are public schools where children are taught in both German and another language. Bilingual schools in Germany operate at a low to no cost, which makes them far more affordable than international options. 

Cost of living in Berlin chart

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices for July 2016.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

Furnished two-bedroom house

EUR 1,300 - 1,500

Unfurnished two-bedroom house

EUR 850 - 1,200

Furnished two-bedroom apartment

EUR 900 - 1,300 

Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment

EUR 800 - 1,200

Food and drink

1 litre milk

EUR 0.76

12 eggs

EUR 1.54

Loaf of bread (white)

EUR 1.44

1 kg rice

EUR 1.89

1 litre Coca-Cola

EUR 0.86

1kg chicken (breasts)

EUR 7.54

1 packet of Marlboro cigarettes

EUR 5.20


Monthly internet (uncapped ADSL or cable)

EUR 25

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

EUR 0.11

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

EUR 140

Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner

EUR 10 -15

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course mid-range restaurant meal

EUR 40

Big Mac meal



EUR 3.08

Coca-Cola (500 ml)

EUR 1.90

Bottle of local beer

EUR 3.50



EUR 3.40

City bus

EUR 2.80

Petrol per litre

EUR 1.49