Cost of living in Germany: Your guide

5 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.

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 online currency converter - but here’s a rough guide:

  • 1000 USD = 897 EUR
  • 1000 GBP = 1139 EUR
  • 1000 AUD = 678 EUR
Comparing basic cost of living 1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent) Lunch for 2 (3 courses, mid range restaurant) Transportation (monthly pass)
Berlin, Germany EUR 739 EUR 40 EUR 81
Munich, Germany EUR 1,030 EUR 50 EUR 65
London, UK EUR 1,919 EUR 62 EUR 149
New York City, USA EUR 2,675 EUR 67 EUR 105
Sydney, Australia EUR 1,757 EUR 54 EUR 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 TransferWise, which applies the same rate you’ll find on Google. With a quick service, and low flat fees to transfer your cash, 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 cost Munich average cost
Single person, per month EUR 733 EUR 799
Single person, per year EUR 8,796 EUR 9,588
University student, per month EUR 588 EUR 613
4 person family, per month EUR 2,497 EUR 2,747
4 person family, per year EUR 29,964 EUR 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 Germany Average annual salary
Cashier EUR 13,316
Copywriter EUR 37,349
Financial analyst EUR 47,023
Graphic designer EUR 28,179
Mobile developer EUR 32,751
Product manager EUR 45,956
Receptionist EUR 19,131
Software engineer EUR 44,469
Teacher EUR 28,194
Web developer EUR 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 Germany Average monthly cost (Berlin) Average monthly cost (Munich)
One bedroom apartment (city centre) EUR 739 EUR 1,030
One bedroom apartment (outside of city centre) EUR 548 EUR 790
Three bedroom family home (city centre) EUR 1,439 EUR 1,950
Three bedroom family home (outside of city centre) EUR 1,050 EUR 1,456
Internet EUR 25 EUR 24
Utilities (gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment) EUR 232 EUR 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 service Average cost to you
Family doctor check-up EUR 62
Cold medicine for 6 days EUR 6
Antibiotic prescription EUR 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 Germany Average cost
Gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon) EUR 1.33
Monthly bus/transport pass EUR 81
Bus ticket, single use EUR 2.70
Taxi tariff, 8km/5mile journey EUR 20
Toyota Corolla, new EUR 18,023
VW Golf, new EUR 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.

School Average cost
Preschool / kindergarten (monthly fee) EUR 60
Private school for lower grades (annual) EUR 16,000
University tuition Currently 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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