For those that dream of packing up their belongings and moving to Europe, Germany has a very real attraction. It is not only their fun loving spirit, detailed eye for engineering and love for hearty food and beer that draws Brits to live in the country. Germany enjoys a fantastic quality of life, with some sources suggesting that it is in the top ten within the entire world.
But before you book your removals to Germany and join an estimated 100,000+ British expats in Germany, you'll need to plan your move. A great place to start is by considering the financial logistics of your new life abroad. In this guide, we explore the average costs of living in Germany, and your potential earnings once you have secured a job there.
It costs around €1,100 a month to live in Germany, which takes into consideration rent, bills and living expenses for a one bedroom flat in a main city centre. However, these living expenses widely depend on the location you choose to live in and the lifestyle that you choose to have. As with any country there are wide discrepancies in costs between living in popular or very expensive cities and cheaper alternatives.
In the rest of this article we will seek to provide more details on these discrepancies and help you to understand the real potential cost of making the move overseas and living in Germany.
When you look at the costs of living in Germany compared to living in the United Kingdom there is not a huge difference when studying the overall picture. However, when looking at more granular detail some cost differences are huge. This becomes particularly apparent when it comes to living in the capital cities of each country, with London being much more expensive when compared to Berlin. In fact, Berlin is estimated to be a massive 16.72% cheaper to live in than the capital of England.
Compare My Move have studies figured released by statistics website Numbeo and have discovered that overall living costs in Germany are as a general rule 1.57% lower in Germany than they are in the UK. Although there are a number of stats that bring the cost of living in Germany closer to those of living in the UK, some key figures such as the average cost of rent being 15.76% lower in Germany and other costs such as restaurant prices being 15.41% lower lead to Germany being a reasonably more affordable country to live in than the UK.
Living expenses such as healthcare and monthly bills also differ between the two countries. For example, healthcare is free under the NHS and is paid for by the taxpayer. In Germany they have a state run healthcare scheme but it is run in a different way, with each employed person paying up to 14.6% of their total salary to opt-in to the healthcare scheme.
However, you can opt out of the scheme and use private health insurance separately. When it comes to monthly bills including electricity, heating, cooling, water and garbage figures show that on average these cost around 25% more in Germany in than in the UK.
In terms of the taxes you will pay when living in Germany, these vary widely on how much you earn. In 2018 the tax free allowance is €9,000 which is significantly less than the £11,500 allowed in the UK. However, the basic tax rate starting after these points is as low as 14% in Germany and much larger at 20% in the UK.
Working out the cost of everyday living will give you a much better idea as to whether moving to Germany is a very real and affordable option. To do this you must understand three main costs associated with living in the country, these include the cost of rent or purchasing a property, the cost of bills and utilities and the often overlooked cost of paying for everyday items such as groceries and dining out.
The exact cost of these everyday purchase vary widely depending on where you live and therefore where you purchase them. Costs in the major cities are likely to be higher than in more rural locations or smaller towns and cities. Below we highlight the average cost of some of the most popular items you may purchase and the average cost you may expect to pay for them, according to Numbeo data.
Loaf of Bread
Chicken Breasts 1kg
Water 1.5ltr bottle
Bottle of Mid-Range Wine
German Beer 0.5ltr
Dining Out: Inexpensive Restaurant Meal
Dining Out: McDonalds Meal
Dining Out: Regular Cappuccino
Dining Out: German Beer 0.5ltr
Dining Out: Coke/Pepsi 0.33ltr
The amount you will spend will vary widely on your lifestyle and the amount you consume, as well as how many others depend on you to provide. However, as a general rule you would want to budget around €200 per month per person for everyday items and occasional dining out.
Renting or purchasing a property will also impact in a big way on how much you spend on a monthly basis and understanding how this can vary between the locations you may live in will likely impact on where you choose to move to. To help you understand this we have highlighted some popular cities below and the associated average costs:
|Location||One Bed Rent (City Centre)||Three Bed Rent (City Centre)||Purchase per m2 (City Centre)|
We have included Leipsig in the comparison chart above as it is considered to be the cheapest place to live in Germany. With rent and purchase prices being less than half the price of more expensive alternatives such as Munich, it is clear that there is quite the gap in potential costs across the country.
Interestingly the cost of living in Berlin is not the highest the most expensive in terms of renting or purchasing a property, with other cities including Munich, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Frankfurt all being more expensive in these aspects.
In fact in comparison, Munich is estimated to cost as little as 6.54% less than living in London whereas Berlin is estimated to cost 16.20% less in total. Check out our guide to where to live in Germany for extensive information on the best areas to settle down in.
Knowing how much you may expect to pay in terms of utilities including electric, heating, cooling, water and rubbish collection will also help you understand the affordability of a move. In the table below we give some examples of how much you may expect to pay for these on a monthly average, according to Numbeo data:
|Location||Average Monthly Utility Costs|
It is all very well Germany on average costing 1.57% less than the UK to live in, but if your earning potential is not comparable or more then this cheaper level of living can mean very little to those looking to better their quality of life by moving to the country.
With this in mind, according to Numbeo in Germany as a whole salaries where at 8.18% higher than those in the UK. This is a good step up, especially when you combine it with the lower living costs.
If you decide for a career change or that you want to earn a bit more money when moving then you may want to consider a few of the following options. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of careers that are well paid both in the UK and in Germany. These include roles such as an investment banker, who when in a senior position could be making upwards of €300,000 in total.
Those high up in medical professions like attending physicians could make between €85,000 and €150,000. Some of the top salaries in Germany differ from those in the UK such as laboratory managers which could get paid around €123,000 and engineers who can typically earn around €64,000 a year as a starting salary, raising up to €138,000 to €168,000 for experienced technical managers.
Before you move to Germany you will want to understand how much it will cost you in total to make the move itself. Most of this money will be needed up front to make the move and therefore should be saved ahead of the move date. These aspects can include anything from the physical cost of flying yourself and your family out to the country and the cost of having your belongings moved.
It will cost you on average around £1,500 to £2,000 for your house removals costs by road. The cost of moving your belonging depends widely on how much you want to take with you and by which method you choose to do so. Sending your items by air freight is a much more expensive option however, though faster than road freight. You can check out our guide to international removals costs for more details and considerations.
The cost of flying out may be relatively cheap if you plan the flight well ahead of time. For example you may be able to get budget flights from London to Berlin for around £35 if they are booked a month or more in advance.
In terms of getting visas and other costs associated with getting work and living in the country, whilst we are still part of the EU you will not need any visa to work in the country. However some other paper work that is required in terms of securing yourself residency in the country may have small admin fees attached.
You will also need to assess any loss of funds as a result of any gaps in work. For example, even if you have secured a new job in Germany before moving you may need to take a week or more of unpaid leave to move and settle into your new home, this may be even longer if you have not managed to secure a job. So it is a good idea to save a pot of funds to cover expenses during these times.
We hope this guide has helped you understand the range of costs associated with living and moving to Germany. With higher average wages and lower cost of living than the UK, moving to Germany is an attractive prospect. For more information on planning your move to Germany, including where to work and live, check out our guide on moving to Germany from the UK.
When the tiem comes and you're ready to book your international removals, remember to use Compare My Move to save time and money when it matters most. We'll connect you with up to 6 professional removal companies to take your door to door to your new life in Germany. Just one quick and easy form, and you could save up to 70% on your removal costs.