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 depending on the neighbourhood, size and accommodation type (flat-share, apartment or house). 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 expends a major part of one's income. Incomes are often high, however, which can offset some of the added expenditures.

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 around a tenth of people living in Berlin, the German capital, 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.

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 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 fastest and most efficient way to get about. Travelling on the InterCity Express trains tends to be more expensive, however, while 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 commuters book their ticket well in advance they can get a seat for a greatly reduced price.

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 and petrol is especially costly.

Cost of health insurance in Germany

Germany is home to first-class healthcare facilities and expats can be reassured that they would 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 vary according to the age and health of the individual as well as the type of cover needed. 

Cost of Living in Germany Chart (Prices for Berlin, 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 1,000 -1,500
Unfurnished two-bedroom house EUR 850 - 1,000
Furnished two-bedroom apartment EUR 800 - 1,000 
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment EUR 600 - 900
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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