Cost of Living in Germany

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Expats will find that the cost of living in Germany is generally high, but near average for western European countries. Obviously, living in major cities is substantially more expensive than in more rural areas.
Accommodation prices range from about 300 EUR to 1,000 EUR per month, depending on the neighbourhood and accommodation type (flat-share, apartment, house etc.) Private healthcare is also quite expensive, as are school fees for international schools. Non-essential items such as clothing and cellular phones aren’t cheap either.
Germany pays high taxes, which will expend a major part of one's income. Incomes are often high, which can offset some of the added expenditures.
By way of illustrating the cost of items, a one litre bottle of water costs about 0.90 EUR and coffee at a café is around 2.20 EUR. A mid-range meal should cost less than 20 EUR and a movie ticket is about 7 EUR.

Cost of accommodation in Germany

The cost of housing in Germany is generally quite high but property prices to vary from one city to the next.

Germany is a country of renters with very few people opting to buy property here. For instance only 13 percent of people living in the German capital Berlin own their homes. While there are no major restrictions in place to prevent non-Germans from buying property, most expats do opt to rent rather than buy homes in Germany.

In most German cities expats will find that the accommodation available varies widely in price and availability. Rents in major cities such as Berlin and Munich tend to be high – it is common for people to spend up to half of their monthly salary on rents. The type of accommodation required by expats tends to be fairly expensive as it is typically furnished or partly furnished.

On average expats should expect to pay EUR 950 for a two-bedroom property and EUR 300 for a room in a house.

Cost of education in Germany

Schooling and education in Germany are of an excellent standard.

Public schools in Germany charge no fees and are a potential option for expats moving with children who are young enough to pick up the German language or those who plan on moving to Germany on a permanent basis.

However, the fact is that most expats choose to send their children to international schools in Germany. These tend to come with a hefty price tag. Tuition fees at international schools cost of average EUR 13,000 per year and vary according to the institution and age of the child.

Cost of transportation in Germany

There are a lot of different options when it comes to travelling around Germany, but not all of them are cheap.

Train travel is often the most fast and efficient way to get about.  Travelling on the InterCity Express trains tend to be expensive with a one-hour journey from Frankfurt to Cologne setting you back around EUR 70 for a single journey. Regular InterCity trains provide a cheaper alternative.

Expats who plan on travelling by train should keep an eye out for special offers. The Bahn card is also a good investment as it is valid for a year and offers a number of discounts on train travel in Germany.

Bus travel tends to be cheaper than travelling by train in Germany. If you book your ticket well in advance you can get a seat for as little as EUR 9.

Generally expats living in any of Germany’s major urban hubs such as Berlin or Munich will find no need to own a car as public transport networks are well developed. For those that do choose to drive in Germany, it is not cheap – petrol costs around EUR 1.60 per litre.

Cost of health insurance in Germany

Germany is home to first-class healthcare facilities and expats can be reassured that they will be in good hands if they were ever to fall ill during their stay. However, it is compulsory to have some form of health insurance in Germany.

Expats who are formally employed by a company operating in Germany can take advantage of the state health insurance plan, which offers them subsidised health insurance.

Freelancers and those that are self-employed will need to purchase private health insurance which can cost a great deal, especially as expat freelancers won’t be entitled to use German health insurance providers as they are unlikely to have a residence card. As a result, expats who are not formally employed will need to opt for cover with an international health insurance provider.

International health insurance premiums start at around EUR 800 per year and vary according to the age and health of the individual as well as the type of cover needed. 

See Word Travels for currency exchange rates

Cost of Living in Germany Chart (2012)

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)
Furnished 2 bedroom house EUR 950
Unfurnished 2 bedroom house EUR 800
Furnished 2 bedroom apartment EUR 700
Unfurnished 2 bedroom apartment EUR 600
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 0.90
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 0.29
Monthly electricity (100sq.m apartment) EUR 120
Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner EUR 7-15
Eating Out & Entertainment
Three-course mid-range restaurant meal EUR 36
Big Mac meal EUR 5.60
Cappucino EUR 2.20
Coca-Cola (500 ml) EUR 1.90
Beer in a bar EUR 3
Taxi/km EUR 0.75
City bus EUR 1.60
Petrol per litre EUR 1.60

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