Costs of Living in Germany

Costs of Living in Germany

Anyone planning on moving to Germany needs to know exactly how much it is going to cost to live there. Part of planning this exciting relocation will include calculating the monthly cost of living in Germany, which will include rent, bills, food, and health insurance. The good news is that residents in Germany can enjoy a relatively low cost of living considering the standard of living in the country.

This page will provide a comprehensive overview of how much it should cost to live in Germany (for both students and non-students) and how this compares between German cities and to the costs of other European countries.

Costs of Living in Germany

Despite the fact that it is one of the richest countries in the world, living expenses in Germany are not as high as you would expect; they are similar to those of other EU countries. In fact, Germany is ranked the 15th highest in terms of cost of living, making it cheaper to live in Germany than it is in the UK, Italy, Denmark, Norway, France, or the Netherlands.

Is Germany expensive?

Generally speaking, Germany is not considered expensive, especially when compared to the average cost of living in Europe, although there are always exceptions to this, and what your budget must be will depend on where you are and your lifestyle requirements. Anyone looking for a self-contained apartment in the center of Munich will see their budget eaten up more quickly than someone looking to live in a flat-share in Berlin, for example.

Good decisions about where to live

Making a few good decisions about where to live and how to cut everyday costs can make a big difference. If you can be flexible with your location and living situation, you should adjust this to match your budget (read on to find out more about these topics!).

What is the cost of living in Germany?

It would be hard to get by for less than €1,000 a month in Germany, and this rises to around €1,500€ - €2,000€ in the cities where rents are higher. Students can usually cover living costs for around €850 a month. Travel is fairly affordable, even in big cities, and food and drink prices are average for Europe. An important topic for all people moving to German to consider is health insurance costs. You can find out more about medical costs on our German Health Insurance pages.

What is the average cost of living in Germany?

The average monthly living expenses in Germany (for non-students) is around €1,200, but there are many factors which can affect this, especially location.

How do the costs come together?

The general, rough costs of living in Germany per month for a single person are as follows:

  • Rent: from €300 (student halls or room in a shared flat) to €700+ (one-bed flat in city)
  • Utilities: €220 (inc. internet, mobile & TV)
  • Travel: from €0 (students) to around €100
  • Food & Drink: €150 to €200 
  • Health insurance: €105 (rate for long-term care for students in a public health insurance provider. For others, it can be more, but can also be partially covered by your employer and come directly from your gross paycheck, if you’re employed)
  • Going out: from €50 to €150 (depending on lifestyle)
  • Other: €20
  • Total: from €850 to €1,500

The cost of living in Germany for a couple who share accommodation is about 50% more than this.

How much would it cost to move to Germany?

Good to remember is that those who plan on relocating to Germany will need to factor in more than just the monthly costs at first. To rent an apartment, you normally need to pay a deposit in advance plus two or three months’ cold rent (Kaltmiete), which is the base rent without utilities and extra bills.

Additional costs

Make sure you also think of the additional costs when it comes to the actual relocation to Germany, such as rental administration fees, moving services, healthcare, and transport (getting there).

Living costs in the major German cities

Cost of living in Berlin

Despite being the capital, Berlin is one of Germany’s cheapest cities. Rental prices vary massively, but as a rule of thumb, the west remains much more expensive than the east. You can rent a one-bed flat in Berlin for €600 upwards.

Thanks to a multicultural population, it’s easy to find low-cost street food such as kebabs and the city’s famous Currywurst as well as open-air produce and street-food markets in Berlin.

Cost of living in Munich

Munich has a much higher cost of living than Berlin. Despite its provincial feel and distance from the northern powerhouses, it has remained a city with a strong economy where rents and living costs are relatively high. You may find it hard in Munich to find a one-bed apartment for less than €1,000.

Students moving to Munich should always try and secure student accommodation to keep costs down. It’s best to do this as far in advance as possible, as these spaces are high in demand.

Cost of living in Cologne

Cologne is not as expensive as Frankfurt or Munich, but it’s still pricier than Berlin, with one-bed flats starting at around €800. Cologne has a huge student population and like Berlin is home to a wide number of world-food restaurants which means that although rents are high, socializing and eating out can be cheap if you do your research.

Cost of living in Hamburg

Hamburg is comparable to Cologne with slightly higher rental prices and living prices than Berlin. A one-bed flat will typically cost around €900 per month. This is a popular city for students and young professionals, and the demand for flats and housing is high, like in Berlin.

Cost of living in Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt is certainly one of the more expensive cities to live in Germany, coming second only to Munich. A one-bed flat will you cost in excess of €900 per month. Luckily, there are a few ways to live in Frankfurt for less; enjoy after-work drinks at a farmers market rather than a bar, a cheaper option which is commonplace in Frankfurt.

Which is the cheapest city in Germany?

Berlin is the cheapest of the major cities, and given that it’s the capital and also one of the most exciting places in Germany. It’s little wonder that it’s increasingly popular with those moving to the country. There are a few cities that are comparable to or even cheaper than Berlin, too, including Leipzig, Bochum, and Kiel where one-bed flats can, with some luck and searching, be found for around €500 a month.

Which is the most expensive city in Germany?

Munich typically thought of as the most expensive city in Germany, followed closely by Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Heidelberg. The most expensive factor of living in one of these cities is the rental prices. If you can find a house-share or a property on the outskirts of the city, you should be able to save a significant amount of money on living costs in these cities.

Students can find out more about the price of accommodation in Germany on our Student Housing page.

Cost of living in Germany compared to other European countries

Cost of living in Spain vs. Germany

Germany and Spain sit close together on the ‘Cost of Living in Europe’ rankings, with Spain being ever so slightly cheaper. The big cities in Spain such as Barcelona are certainly comparable to the big cities in Germany such as Berlin, where you find the accommodation and eating-out prices are pretty much in line with each other.

Cost of living in Italy vs. Germany

Germany living costs are lower than those in Italy, but not by a huge amount. However, there is no minimum wage in Italy, so those looking for unskilled work may find it hard to cover living costs.

Cost of living in Poland vs. Germany

Poland has a much cheaper cost of living compared with Germany. Here, you can easily find accommodation rates, even in major cities, for just €500 a month. Food, drink, going out, and bills are also low in cost. The minimum wage in Poland, however, is just under €3.50 per working hour.

Cost of living in Switzerland vs. Germany

Switzerland is the most expensive county in Europe when it comes to costs of living. This means that choosing to move to Germany over Switzerland means you can get by on a much smaller budget. That being said, wages in Switzerland are much higher than almost anywhere else in Europe.

Cost of living in Austria vs. Germany

Given that Austria has a smaller economy than Germany, you may be surprised to discover that residents actually have to pay a higher cost of living. Especially when comparing capital cities. The average rent for a one-bed flat in Vienna is €850, compared to €700 in Berlin.

Cost of living in France vs. Germany

France is the seventh most expensive city to live in in Europe, although the cost of living in France is sharply skewed by the cost of living in Paris. If you move to rural France, or even a small town or city that isn’t Paris, you will find most day-to-day prices are comparable to Germany’s.

Cost of living in UK vs. Germany

Germany has a slightly lower cost of living than the UK, although Berlin is much cheaper than London, which, like Paris, skews the country's average living costs. If you're choosing a country to study in, it’s certainly worth considering that tuition fees in the UK are almost £10,000 a year (€11,700) but an appealing zero in Germany.

Cost of living in Germany vs. Sweden

Sweden is the eighth most expensive country to live in Europe, making it a much pricier choice than Germany. Having said that workers in Sweden enjoy relatively high wages and a progressive social benefits system.

Comparing different countries

When you’re comparing the cost of living between different countries, it’s really important to take into consideration both the average salary and the minimum wage as well. A country with a low cost of living might seem appealing until you discover how low the wages are. Germany has an excellent ratio when it comes to the average wages and costs of living. Those looking to study should also always check the cost of tuition fees, which in Germany are almost non-existent.

Tips for saving money in Germany

Flat or house share

Sharing accommodation with others is much cheaper than renting your own apartment. Finding a single room in a house or flat can see you save hundreds of euros a month.

Student accommodation

If you're planning on studying in Germany, the cheapest accommodation will almost always be student accommodation. Student rent is lower than the average at about €300 a month, even in some big cities. Find out more about costs of living as an international student on our Living Costs for a Student in Germany page.

Student discounts

Students can get excellent discounts at all kinds of places including restaurants, cinemas, and clothes shops. Make sure you keep your student ID on you at all times to take advantage of this.

Travel card

Students under 27 can buy a BahnCard50 card to get 50% discount on rail and some bus travel. You should also find a university that offers a free travel card as part of your semester fee, potentially saving you up to €100 a month. Find out more about the cost of getting around on our Transportation Costs in Germany page.

Find the discount supermarkets

Germany is the world leader in discount supermarkets, having been the birthplace of Lidl and Aldi. You’ll find these national favorites everywhere around the country in both major cities and small towns. Netto and Penny are other good, low-cost options. Find out more about the cost of shopping on our Food and Groceries Costs in Germany page.

Go SIM-only

Save on the cost of mobile phone contracts by getting a SIM-only deal and using internet-based messenger services such as WhatsApp to send texts. You will need reliable WiFi if you choose to go SIM only. You can find out more about how to save on our Mobile Phone Rates page.

What is the minimum cost of living in Germany?

Provided you take note of the above tips, choose a low-cost living location, and look into even more ways to save money, you can live in Germany for around €850 a month, bringing your costs almost down to the level of a student budget.