Cost of Living in Germany

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The cost of living in Germany is relatively highThe cost of living in Germany is generally high, but near average for Western European countries. Obviously, expats in major cities will have higher living costs than they would in more rural areas.
Accommodation prices range depending on the neighbourhood and the size and type (flat-share, apartment or house). Private healthcare is also quite expensive, as are school fees for international schools. Non-essential items like clothing and cellular phones aren’t cheap either.
Taxes in Germany are also high, but expenses for expats are likely to be offset by higher salaries.

Cost of accommodation in Germany

The cost of housing in Germany is generally quite high but property prices vary depending on the area.

Germany is a country of renters and few people buy property. For instance, only around a tenth of people living in Berlin own their homes. While there are no major restrictions on non-Germans buying property, most expats rent rather than buy homes in Germany.

The kinds of accommodation and their prices vary widely in most cities. Rent in major cities like Berlin and Munich tends to be high – it's common for it to take up half of a person's monthly salary. Expat accommodation tends to be fairly expensive as it's typically furnished or partly furnished.

Cost of education in Germany

Schooling and education in Germany are of an excellent standard. Public schools don't charge fees and are a potential option for expats with children young enough to pick up the language or those who plan on moving for the long-term.

But most expats send their children to international schools in Germany. These tend to come with a hefty price tag, although tuition fees vary according to the institution and the child's grade level.

Cost of transport in Germany

There are many options when it comes to transport in Germany, but not all of them are cheap.

Trains are often the fastest and most efficient way to get around. Travelling on the InterCity Express trains tends to be more expensive, 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's valid for a year and often gives discounts.

Bus travel tends to be cheaper than travelling by train. If commuters book their tickets in advance they can get seats at reduced prices.

Generally, expats living in major urban hubs like Hamburg or Munich won't need to own a car thanks to well-developed public transport networks. For those that do choose to drive in Germany, it isn't cheap – especially when it comes to fuel.

Cost of health insurance in Germany

If expats fall ill during their stay, they can rest assured that they will be in good hands thanks to good quality local hospitals. It is, however, compulsory to have some form of health insurance in Germany.

Expats who are employed in Germany can take advantage of the state health insurance plan, which offers subsidised health insurance. But those who are self-employed will need to purchase private health insurance which can cost a great deal.

International health insurance premiums vary according to the age and health of the individual as well as the type of cover they need. 

Cost of living in Germany chart (Prices for Berlin, 2016)

(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 1,500 -2,500
Unfurnished two-bedroom house EUR 1,000 -1,500
Furnished two-bedroom apartment EUR 800 - 1,200
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment EUR 600 - 1,000
Food and drink
1 litre milk EUR 0.79
12 eggs EUR 1.70
Loaf of bread (white) EUR 1.55
1 kg rice EUR 2
1 litre Coca-Cola EUR 1.20
1kg chicken breasts EUR 8
1 packet of Malboro cigarettes (20) EUR 6
Monthly Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable) EUR 40
Mobile call rate (per minute - mobile to mobile) EUR 0.15
Monthly electricity (100sq.m apartment) EUR 125
Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner EUR 15
Eating out and entertainment
Three-course mid-range restaurant meal EUR 35
Big Mac meal EUR 7.50
Cappucino EUR 2.50
Coca-Cola (500 ml) EUR 1.90
Taxi/km EUR 1.80
City bus EUR 3
Petrol per litre EUR 1.50

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