Germany has become a global hub for immigrants from around the globe due to the stable economy and diversified job openings it offers. Whereas, students also prefer Germany now because of the quality of education in universities and also because of free tuition fees.
So before you make any plan to move to Germany, it’s a better option to have an idea about what it could cost to live in Germany. In comparison to other countries where English is the primary language like US, UK etc. Germany is comparatively less expensive. In contrast to other European countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg or other Scandinavian countries, Germany is still a cheaper option. However, cost of living in Germany is high in comparison to eastern European Countries.
🔶 Related Topic: Cost of Living in Germany
How Much is Living Cost in Different Cities in Germany ?
The cost of living in Germany can be different, and it depends upon which city you live in. Generally, southern part of Germany is quite higher in living cost in comparison to eastern part which is much cheaper. For instance, Cost of living in Munich is expensive whereas, Berlin despite being a big city has a low cost of living if compared.
How Much Does Single Person Need Per Month in Germany?
This depends whether this single is a student or a working professional because this could change few things. If you are a single studen which are looking to save money and are living in Germany. Then according to Government, you only need 934 EUR in Germany per month to make your survival, This is the amount you will get per month if you open a blocked account in Germany. Nonetheles, this depends on your city and living style you can save some bucks from this amount.
This amount will change if you are a working professional because then you might need to buy the monthly transport ticket, you will live in the private apartment this could easily cost more than a student dormitory. In this article, we will mention all the things you need to know about cost saving in Germany which we believe is the need of an hour in the coming recession in Germany.
If you are working or studying in a big city like Berlin, Munich or Hamburg then you can expect to pay more than those who live in smaller cities like Ulm, Karlsruhe. On the other hand, you have more chances of employment and socializing than in the smaller cities.
Major and Minor Expenses in Germany
Rent is the biggest expense in Germany, Usually you pay almost one third of your net salary to your accommodation. If you could find an accommodation where you pay only one fourth of your salary then you are saving a huge chunk of your income
After that we have Grocery and Transportation. If you are living in a big city then having a monthly or semester ticket is quite common. In many big cities, you can expect to pay approx 60-80€ per month for transportation. If we talk about grocery then it all depends what you would like to eat and where do you shop.
If you are a student, then you are also paying your own insurance then you can count this also as a major expense. These are the expenses which you can get rid of. Beside these we have some minor expenses, like utlity costs,banking fees, Phone, Internet, dining out, gym and clothing. All these expenses depends on your lifestyle, We will talk about all this in this article and you can then decide how you would like to save money.
How to Rent an Apartment Cost Effectively?
When it comes to renting an apartment or even a shared apartment, it all depends how much you are willing to spend monthly or how much you think you can afford. We suggest, that in the beginning try to look for cheaper apartments.We know, it is hard but if you could go for cheaper apartments then you can save alot and maybe invest in something useful. Sometimes, the housing which is located little bit in the outskirts of the city is much cheaper than in the main city. If you don’t mind daily commuting then it is a good deal.
Related Topic: How To Find an Apartment in Germany – Step by Step Guide
How to Find Budget Friendly accommodations?
In our Guide above, we have mentioned everything you need to know about renting an apartment in Germany but we also have some tips which can save you some money at the end.
One-third Rule: If you paying one third of your income to the accommodation then your are at the sweet spot. You are neither paying more or less than the average.
International Areas: Due to the demand of immigrants in Germany, now each city have an area where you will find a lot of internationals. Somehow, locals don’t prefer to live in such areas that’s why your chances of getting an accommodation is also high and these places are also not that expensive.
Subsidized Apartments: Each city also have some apartments which you can rent for extremely cheap prices but as they are subsidized therefore there is a huge waiting list for such house. If you know that you will in a city for longer period of time then adding your name in this waiting lists is not a bad idea.
Suburbs or Outskirt: As we mentioned before if you widen your radius of your search then you could probably find a spacious and affordable apartment in the outskirts. The only downside is the time wasted in daily commute but giving yourself some tough time in your initial bachelors years is not a bad idea because you can save some money and invest in something.
Sharing Apartment: The cost of living in Germany can also be lowered if you choose to live in a shared flat with other students. This is very common yet very popular among students. As shared flats are cheaper than private, these can cut down the cost of living in Germany significantly.
What Other Costs you Should Keep in Mind When Renting a Place?
Renting Deposit: When you rent a flat then usually you pay a deposit or in German, it is called Kaution. Please keep in mind that you need to give this amount before renting an apartment. A deposit of one to three months of the amount of rent has to be paid initially. This money is a kind of security for the landlord that if you run away without paying rent or if you damage anything in the apartment then the landlord can deduct the money from your deposit. When you move out of the apartment and if everything is fine with the apartment then you get all your money back, this could also take 1- 2 months from your moving out date.
Cost of Liability Insurance: In most residential contracts, it is already written that you need to have liability insurance. You never know when something could happen and you damage your landlord’s property or anything similar. In such cases, liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) plays a huge role in Germany. This will cover the cost of damages you have done to the third-party property. Our recommendation is to get GetSafe liability insurance for this purpose, as it does not require any paperwork and offers support services in English. We have written a detailed guide about the best liability insurance in Germany. We have also mentioned what is covered and not covered in it. Check out this guide
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Best Liability Insurance in Germany
Can I Save Money in Utilities in Germany?
After renting, another thing which you should be concerned about is the utilities in Germany. Usually, when you rent an apartment some of the things are already included in your Warm Rent like heating and water. In some cases, electricity and Internet are also included but it is rare. If you are going for furnished apartments then there is a high chance that electricity and internet are also included in your rent.
An average of 2.5 EUR per square meter in terms of utilities should be expected if you are looking to rent an apartment. There is an exception when it comes to renting a shared flat. At sometimes, tenants will only have to pay a warm rent and all the utility costs are included in that.
Radio Fee: Every household in Germany pays public service broadcasting license fees, which is mandatory. This fee is called Rundfunkbeitrag. Registration with GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale) is mandatory and 18.36 EUR has to be paid per month. This cost is applicable per household. Also, this can be shared if you are living with someone in a flat.
Switching Electricity Providers: It is quite common for locals in Germany to switch their electricity providers. Usually what you get by default from the city in which you live is expensive. In order to save costs, a regular change in electricity service providers can help. It is easy and requires a few minutes online to do so. Also, there is no need to change the electricity structure of your home.
🔶 Related Topic: How to Change Electricity Provider in Germany
Internet: It has become a basic necessity of life. Most of the time, in private accommodation, you need to get your own internet connection. Nowadays, everything is so connected, either if it is your PlayStation or streaming platforms like Netflix & Amazon Prime. Even now, if you are working from home then you also need a stable internet connection.
Television & Fixed phone line: If you watch TV often and are also interested in German TV Channels then you can also get an internet package with Television. Moreover, you can also add some more money and get a fixed phone line. Landlines or fixed phone lines are almost dead in private households. Only companies are still using it as their business numbers.
Mobile Phone: Mobile phone and SIM packages are easily affordable these days. It is very important for you to have a German phone number while you are living in Germany. An affordable package with 4 GB of mobile data and unlimited telephone minutes is quite cheap and will cost you around a few Euros per month. If you want to compare different German mobile phone or Sim packages, click here.
Where to Buy Cheap Grocery In Germany?
We would say that grocery is the third biggest expense after rent and utilities. As many economists are predicting that Germany is going towards its recession. Let’s see how winter 2022 will turn out.
We have experienced a price increase in all the basic necessities of life, like bread, eggs, milk etc. People have adjusted their grocery budgets to meet their monthly needs. Some people also started going to cheaper stores like Aldi, Lidl and Norma. We have written an article on a different grocery store in Germany and which one is suitable for you.
If you are a single person then on average you spend 150-200 euros per month on your grocery. It could be more or less. It all depends on what you buy the most and where you buy it. For the couples, you double this amount, couples usually spend around 250- 400 euros per month.
We recommend that If you are looking for lower-priced groceries, supermarkets like LIDL, NETTO, ALDI and PENNY offer good discounts and are a must place to visit. Also, using a payback card can get you to collect points and save some money.
How much does Transportation Cost on Average in Germany?
As Germany promotes public transport and also encourages people to ride bicycles. Therefore there is a number of ways in which you can do to save some money on transportation in Germany.
Public Transport: If you live in the city and travel every day to work using public transport then you probably need the monthly ticket. Different cities have different monthly ticket prices and it also depends on the zones. For example, in Munich, you can easily expect to pay 60-90 euros monthly depending on your zones. Berlin is also similar. If you are living a little bit in the outskirts, and you commute daily then you can expect to pay more.
As Germany has a really great transport network, you can go from one part of Germany to another part with public transport without any worry.
Owning A Car: If you own a car in Germany, then you can expect to pay your car insurance and its maintenance and also gasoline. Having a car in Germany is almost kind of a luxury. Depending on your usage, the car could be one of the costly options. Usually, if you live in a city, you prefer to go by public transport because, in rush hours, it is very hard to drive and in the end, it will take you some time to drive to work than on public transport.
If a car is a must, then we would recommend that buy a hybrid or electric car. You can also buy it secondhand. Electric cars are perfect if you only use them in the city and hybrids are best in the city and on the longer route, it gives you the same mileage as any fuel-efficient car.
Car Sharing Services: Car sharing services are perfect for those who only need a car occasionally. Most of the major cities have a lot of different car-sharing options like car2go, ShareNow, Stadtmobil, and Flinkster. Usually, you just need a membership with any one of these car-sharing service providers and you can rent their car whenever you need and you pay only for the usage. Each one of them has different tariffs some of them charge per minute, some per hour, and per km. This way, you don’t need to worry about car maintenance, insurance, and gasoline.
Carpooling: Suppose you live in Augsburg, and you commute daily to Munich for your job, then you can do carpooling with your car. You can use the BlaBlaCar app, and offer rides. This way, you can save yourself a good amount of money, or also you can plan to travel in groups.
Taking a Taxi: Taxis are not a common way to commute in Germany and also are quite expensive compared to other countries. Starting from 2.5 EUR, taxi fares can go up to 6.1 EUR depending upon which city you are in. On average, a taxi could cost around 1.6 to 3.2 EUR per kilometre. Also, people usually pay a small tip as a good gesture. So, even a very short trip in a taxi can cost 10 EUR or more. We have a complete article on how to take a taxi in Germany
Cycling: Biking can be utilized as a good option if you live nearby your university campus or your workplace is not far enough. We are in Freiburg and it is a cycling city, you can go from one end of the city to the other end in just 30-45 minutes. So if you want to save money and stay healthy then using a bicycle for your daily commute would be very budget-friendly. Keep in mind, if you buy a good bike then buy a good cycle lock because bicycle stealing is quite common in Germany.
Bahncard: is also a good option as it comes at a very low price and offers great discounts while travelling by rail or bus. If you are less than 27 years of age, you can get a BahnCard. For more details, click here.
Can I Find Cheaper Health Insurance in Germany?
The Healthcare system in Germany is quite good. Health insurance is a must if you are in Germany to study or work. Regardless of your residence status in Germany, Health insurance is compulsory to have. Also, when applying for a visa, health insurance is required at that time too.
It is actually a good thing that in Germany, health insurance is compulsory. Because it makes it easier for people to visit doctors whenever they need and that too without worrying about how much it would cost.
Private or Public
Two types of health insurance are available in Germany, Public and Private. For private heath insurance, the price depends on the insurance companies and the coverage plan that you may choose. Our recommendation for ex-pats will be Ottonova, due to its excellent support service in English.
Public insurance will cost significantly less (In between 105 EUR – 120 EUR per month) If your age is below 30, and you’re a student and have not completed the 14th semester. Depending upon your monthly income, the price can go up to 195 to 476 EUR after that. You’ll have to pay more with the increase in your income. Employers do cover half of the cost for their employees. On the other hand, you’ll have to pay for the whole amount by yourself if you are self-employed.
Check out this in-depth article about private and public insurances in Germany
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Private and Public insurance in Germany
Can I Pay Less Taxes in Germany?
Due to the strong social system in Germany, it has a high tax rate comparatively. Germany has a progressive income tax rate. Due to this, if you earn more, you have to pay more tax.
Income tax rates in Germany for 2022 for single persons. Apart from the income tax, a church tax which is around 8% or 9% of your income tax must be paid. You have to pay this if you are registered as a church member in Germany.
Solidarity Tax: You are liable to pay a solidarity tax apart from your income tax, which is up to 5.5% before 2021 (if you paid taxes more than 972 EUR per year). Costs which are related to German unification are being catered to with the Solidarity tax and these costs are the reason behind this tax.
90% of the taxpayers will not have to pay the solidarity tax starting from 2021 which is good news for taxpayers. A reduction in solidarity tax will be observed for 6.5% of the taxpayers. Whereas, solidarity tax will have to be paid in full by 3.5% of the taxpayers. In the future, you may not be eligible to pay this tax, but that depends upon your income.
Other Taxes & Contributions: Pension costs and social security, these taxes are deducted from your income. Germany has a progressive income tax, which means that how much tax you pay, depends on your salary. It can go up to 42%. So if you earn more than the threshold then you Although, many people think that they are paying too much taxes, what they don’t recognise that you are paying, is that in this 42%, unemployment, pension, health insurance etc, are covered.
Do You Pay Church Taxes in Germany?
In order to skip the church tax, please refrain from mentioning your affiliation to the church in official documents. Besides the high tax rate in Germany, You can claim many things in terms of the tax returns. In order to claim tax returns, it is advised to keep all paperwork and expense receipts with you.
How to Maximize your Tax Returns?
Many employees don’t bother to file tax returns because it is too much hassle. Finding a good tax consultant which also speaks English is also not that easy. This could be a one-time thing, but once you find the one. You can stick with him/her and do your tax returns. We have these platforms where you can find tax consultations, you can get your first free consultation.
There are also several apps which have an English interface. You can also use them and do it yourself. These also give you suggestions on what you can add. There are many things which you can claim in your tax returns.
- Travelling to and from the work
- Things bought for your work like work clothes, table & chair (if you work remotely)
- Moving to another city if your job requires.
- Maintenance expenses for your apartment
- Remittance to your parents
- Double household expenses
You can check the following site and get a free estimate about how much money you can tax return you get.
Other Expenses & How to Saving With Them?
Expenses other than basic needs may also arise when you start to live in Germany. These expenses are related to clothing, sports or entertainment.
Where to buy Cheap and Good Clothes?
Sooner or Later, you need to buy clothes for the next season, when you first time come to Germany. You bring some clothes but they might be useful for one type of season but for the next season you need other clothes. You can buy good quality affordable clothes from the following brands.
- H&M: All kinds of fashion clothes can be found here
- New Yorker: If you are into young and hip kind of fashion
- C&A: All kinds of fashion clothes can be found here
- Primark: Cheapest store
Where to buy Cheap Shoes in Germany?
In Germany, you walk a lot, as you walk to the tram stop from your university, work or home. As most of the city centres are car-free zones in Germany. So you probably are doing a lot of walking. Therefore, you need a good pair of shoes.
For this, we would recommend Deichmann and Footlocker. If you already know the size of your favourite brand then you can also order from eBay & Amazon.
Flea market (Flohmarkt) is also an option to save money if the budget is not big. In the flea market, people sell off their second-hand shoes, clothes and many other things which you can think of buying at a very cheap price. I remember buying a pair of shoes and a jacket for 3 EUR each from a flea market. You can search for flea markets near you as they happen on weekends
How Much Gym Membership Cost in Germany?
Gym memberships also vary in cost. A normal gym membership can cost around 30 EUR per month. A premium gym may charge you around 100 EUR per month for the membership. Please keep one thing in mind if you start a contract for 1 year then you can’t cancel it in the middle. You can only cancel it if you change your city or anything similar so be very careful before signing any long-term contract with Gym. It is ideal if you find a gym where you have a monthly cancellation policy or you can transfer the contract to somebody else.
How Much do Cinemas and Theatre Cost in Germany?
Movies and entertainment are also not very costly. A cinema ticket for a normal day will cost 10-12 EUR. Weekends ticket may cost you more so if you plan to go, try going during the day. You can also get a one-month subscription for 10 EUR. if you want to watch movies at your place. Here you can find different streaming options that are safe to use In Germany.
We found one hack, which is cost-saving if you want to buy popcorn and drink during your move. In Cinamaxx Cinemas in Germany, you can buy the 26 euro gift pack for two people, which this you can book any 2D movie and you will also get two drinks and one popcorn which you can upgrade for just 22 cents. Normally this whole package will cost around 35 – 40 euros but this gift package only costs 26 euros.
How Much Does Maid or Babysitter Cost in Germany?
If you require cleaning services, you can hire a maid in Germany at 12-15 EUR per hour depending on your city. A babysitter will normally cost the same. Depending upon the qualification of a babysitter, it can cost up to 20-25 EUR per hour.
How Much Does Dining Out Cost in Germany?
Not many people are used to making food on their own and therefore they tend to go outside to eat or order something at home. Well, this could be expensive if you want to save money. Depending on your city, the average meal could easily cost from 8 to 15 euros. So it is better to start and learn how to cook food. We would say, for this, YouTube is your friend. You can find anything on YouTube these days, even easy-to-make dishes in under 10 minutes or so.
If you are a student, then you can easily eat at the university’s canteen which is called “Mensa”. The food in Mensa is not the best but it is acceptable and also budget-friendly.
If you are a working person, then canteens at the workplace are also quite cheap in price and can provide low-priced meals.
If you want to eat Fast food, then we would recommend downloading McDonald’s, and Burger king apps. Usually, you find some coupons on their app which will help you save alot.
Another app which is perfect for people who want to save money is called “Too Good To Go”. In this app, you will find some restaurants, bakeries and Cafes. They sell their food at very cheap prices because they don’t want to throw their food away, that’s why they give their food at very cheap prices. Highly recommended app.
Everybody has their own spending habits, we know some of the tips we have given are easier to adopt but some of them are not if savings help you to organize yourself financially and you can easily spend your saved money in some kind of investments. You can maybe buy some Stocks & ETFs, or you can buy some Crypto or you can invest in other types of investments.