Cost of Living in Berlin

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As one would expect in any European capital city, the cost of living in Berlin is fairly high. However, 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 are very high in Berlin. 

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.

Expats living in Berlin will easily find a furnished four-bedroom apartment for around EUR 2,500 per month and a room in house share for about EUR 350 per month. In fact, rent is Berlin is also significantly cheaper than that in other German cities, like Frankfurt and Munich. 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 will cost around EUR 15-20, 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 summers 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 which costs on average EUR 75 per month. This is valid on all modes of public transportation. Single tickets cost between EUR 2.90 and EUR 3.20, depending on the length of the journey.

Those that do choose to drive in Berlin will find that while the price of petrol is fairly low at EUR 1.56 per litre, 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.  

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-employwed 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 moving to Berlin with children should expect to pay on average EUR 15.000 per year in school fees.

Expats who are not lucky enough to be given an allowance for their childrens 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 or no cost, which makes them far more affordable that international options. 

Finally, 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 living in Berlin chart (2014)

(Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices)
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 - 1,200 
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment EUR 800 - 1,200
Food and drink
1 litre milk EUR 1.10
12 eggs EUR 3.50
Loaf of bread (white) EUR 1.90
1 kg rice EUR 1.70
1 litre Coca-Cola EUR 1.50
1kg chicken (whole) EUR 3.30
1 packer of Malboro cigarettes (20) EUR 4.90
Monthly internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable) EUR 35 
Mobile call rate (per minute - mobile to mobile) EUR 0.34
Monthly electricity (100sq.m apartment) EUR 120
Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner EUR 8-20
Eating out and entertainment
Three-course mid-range restaurant meal EUR 45
Big Mac meal EUR 7
Cappucino EUR 2.50
Coca-Cola (500 ml) EUR 1.90
Beer in a bar EUR 4
Taxi/km EUR 4
City bus EUR 2
Petrol per litre EUR 1.60

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