Cost of Living in Germany for a Family: Guide


Moving to Germany as a family can be a challenge but also a rewarding experience, thanks to the country’s high quality of life. The cost of living is the first thing that comes into our mind when moving to a new place. How much money do families need to live comfortably in Germany?

In Germany, families with one child spend 3,275 EUR per month, on average. Families with two children spend 3,906 EUR. Families with three or more children spend 4,026 EUR per month on average.

As in many other countries, the costs of housing, food, and items have risen steadily, but German salaries are also not far behind! Today, middle-class families live a comfortable life that is supported by the government and welfare system from all sides.

What is the cost of living in Germany for an average family?

According to a 2018 study by the Federal Statistical Office, in Germany, couples with children spend an average of 3,483 EUR per month, where 1,142 EUR goes to housing, which corresponds to 32,8% of total expenses.

Moreover, 14,9% of the budget is spent on food and groceries, 14,1% on the car or public transport.

While single parents spend an average of 1,929 EUR per month, where 753 EUR is spent on housing (39%). Other percentages are similar to families with children.

On the other hand, according to the Federal Statistics Office, German households spend an average of 2,704 EUR per month, where 908 EUR goes to housing, energy, and maintenance.

Most Germans spend around 356 EUR on groceries, 351 EUR on transport, and 284 EUR on leisure per month.

Cost of raising a child in Germany

On average, German couples spend about 763 EUR on their child.

Family life in Germany

In Germany, a traditional family is considered to belong to the middle class. Spouses have a steady and secure job, the ability to comfortably raise a family, a home, and an annual vacation.

Based on income alone, about half of all families in Germany belong to the middle class.

A typical German family contains two spouses and two kids. Both of them have a job, and where women usually work part-time. Their monthly take-home income is about 4,000 EUR on average.

In Germany, 49,7% of families live in their own properties, and about 50,3% prefer to rent accommodations.

Compared to the USA, in Germany, a family with two kids spends $3,471 (3,068 EUR) per month while it’s $4,413 (3,900 EUR) in the US.

Typical monthly expenses for a family with two kids living in Germany (EUR)

Rent 1,100
Groceries and dining out550
Transportation520
Clothing and shoes220
Telecommunication80
Home supplies160
Free time and leisure400
Insurances and credits660
Others, miscellaneous 160
Childcare300
Total: 4,150

The monthly distribution of the income for the average family in Germany:

  • 37% – rent
  • 22% – others
  • 15% – food and drinks
  • 13% – transportation
  • 10% – free time and leisure
  • 4% – clothes and shoes

In addition, insurance and loan payments are also calculated in the total expenses.

The average income of families in Germany

Furthermore, the average German couple with children is doing great financially. On average, they have a net household income of 4,981 EUR, which is even more than childless couples make (4,046 EUR).

According to the German statistics, each 4-person household (family with two children) has an average gross monthly income of 6,470 EUR or an average net income of 4,840 EUR.

After deducting all expenses, it leaves an average of 620 EUR in disposable income that families can invest in the future of their children, but also in another vacation together.

However, single parents have an average net income of 2,394 EUR, while single people make about 2,070 EUR per month.

Cost of living for a family of 3

The average cost of living for families with one kid is distributed as follows:

ItemPrice (EUR)In %
Total expenses3,103100
Food and drinks45714,7
Clothing and shoes1555
Housing97231,3
Home supplies1815,8
Health 1113,6
Transportation57617,6
Telecommunication782,5
Free time and leisure3009,7
Eating out1575,1
Others, miscellaneous 1173,8
Source: www.mystipendium.de

Cost of living for a family of 4

According to the German Statistical Office, families with two children spend an average of 4,220 EUR per month.

From other sources, the average cost of living for families with two children is distributed as follows:

ItemPrice (EUR)In %
Total expenses3,543100
Food and drinks53115,0
Clothing and shoes1694,8
Housing1,05629,8
Home supplies2366,7
Health 1123,1
Transportation50914,4
Telecommunication852,4
Free time and leisure42412,0
Eating out2116,0
Education812,3
Others, miscellaneous 1303,7
Source: www.mystipendium.de

According to the German statistics, each 4-person household (family with two children) has an average gross monthly income of 6,470 EUR or an average net gain of 4,840 EUR.

Cost of living for a family of 5 and more

The average cost of living for families with three and more children is distributed as follows:

ItemPrice (EUR)In %
Total expenses3,582100
Food and drinks54515,2
Clothing and shoes1654,6
Housing1,18233,0
Home supplies1975,5
Health 1193,3
Transportation54715,3
Telecommunication942,6
Free time and leisure36710,2
Eating out2115,9
Education310,9
Others, miscellaneous 1243,5
Source: www.mystipendium.de

Cost of living in Germany

The cost of living in Germany could be surprisingly affordable if you know where to shop and how to save.

German cities are less expensive than other European metropolises like London, Amsterdam, and Paris.

However, the cost of living in Germany varies greatly depending on the city you plan to live in. For instance, Munich is the most expensive place to live in the country.

The average cost of living in Germany is 28% less expensive than in the US. Furthermore, Germany ranked 32nd in the list of the most expensive countries globally. The United States holds place 10th.

The average family (couple with kids) spends about 3,560 EUR every month.

It makes Germany a relatively inexpensive place to live by Western European standards. Your main expenditure is likely to be accommodation, which tends to be slightly more costly in Germany than in neighboring countries.

The cost of living varies within Germany, where the financial & industrial cities like Munich, Frankfurt, and Hamburg are more expensive than Berlin, Dusseldorf, and Leipzig.

Gas, in particular, will be a surprise for anyone moving to Germany from the USA, where a gallon of gas in Germany costs 6,54 EUR compared to 3,3 EUR in the US. However, you can easily get by without a car if you live in a major city.

Groceries also can be purchased at an affordable price when buying in bulk at discount supermarkets and local produce. Clothes can be as cheap or expensive as you want them to be.

A single person making EUR 2,000 per month net of taxes and social security contributions can easily afford a comfortable life here. Rent will be around 37% of your budget as a single, but it can go up to 45-50% if you live in Munich, compared to 25-30% if you live in Leipzig.

Despite this fact, major urban centers with international companies are likely to have a higher cost of living but will also generally have more employment opportunities for foreigners.

So, in the end, higher living expenses are balanced by higher salaries.

Location

Some German regions and cities are more expensive than others. In the table, you can see the difference in the percentage from the average cost of living in the country by location.

CityRegionvs Average
MunichBavaria+ 44 %
StuttgartBaden-Württemberg+ 27,1 %
FrankfurtHesse+ 24,3 %
FreiburgBaden-Württemberg+ 19,4 %
HeidelbergBaden-Württemberg+ 17 %

The cost of living in regions of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, and Hesse is the highest in Germany. Yet, cities like Hamburg, Cologne, or Düsseldorf are also significantly above the average.

Moreover, some regions and cities are actually cheaper than average. Most of them are located in Eastern Germany.

CityRegionvs Average
BremerhavenBremen-22,6 %
ChemnitzSaxony-21 %
MagdeburgSaxony-Anhalt-17,1 %
Halle (Saale)Saxony-Anhalt-17 %
PaderbornNorth Rhine-Westphalia-14,5 %

For example, families pay more than 500 EUR per month in Munich, Heidelberg, Bonn, and Aachen when it comes to childcare.

According to the study, Leipzig is the cheapest in this category. There, the cost of full-day childcare will cost you less than 150 EUR per month.

Due to the significantly low rent, Leipzig is one of the cheapest cities to live in for families with children. Only 42% of the salary is spent on housing, daycare, and travel costs.

Whereas, cost of living in some German cities is almost unbearable for single parents. For instance, a single parent in Munich spends around 89% of the salary on rent, daycare, and travel costs.

Consequently, families and single parents should carefully select a place to live in Germany, as it just might cost too much.

Cost of living in Germany Single vs Family

ItemSingles (EUR)Families (EUR)
Total expenses1,6293,812
Food and drinks204559
Clothing and shoes64201
Housing6641,202
Home supplies79228
Health 60119
Transportation4789
Telecommunication782,5
Free time and leisure166409
Eating out86224
Others, miscellaneous 62133

1. Housing

Most expats in Germany rent apartments instead of buying, and so do Germans. Apartments often come unfurnished and even without a kitchen (which surprises many).

Read this article on the dilemma “why German apartments don’t have kitchens.”

Typical monthly rent rates for apartments in Munich (EUR):

  • One bedroom in the city center: 1,000 – 1,500
  • One bedroom outside city center: 750 – 1,200
  • Two bedroom in the city center: 1,500 – 1,900
  • Two bedroom outside center: 1,200 – 1,500
  • Three bedroom in the city center: 1,900 – 3,000
  • Three bedroom outside city center: 1,300 – 2,200

Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, and Berlin are the most expensive cities to rent a place. They also have seen some of the most significant increases in rent costs in recent years.

However, despite being the capital, Berlin still has affordable rents in some areas.

Another expense to consider is whether or not the apartment has a kitchen. It’s not unusual for outgoing tenants or homeowners to take their kitchen cupboards, sink, and appliances with them.

Buying a kitchen, light fixtures and installing them can easily cost thousands of euros. So check this article about kitchen price in Germany and how much it cost to install it.

Your apartment will almost definitely be the largest influencing factor on your cost of living as a family in Germany.

If you decide to live in a major metropolitan area, this will definitely have the most significant impact on your living costs. Furthermore, some cities have a particularly tough market for tenants. It might take a while until you find a place to live.

Expats can expect to pay around 17-20 EUR per square meter in cities like Munich and Frankfurt for a solid furnished apartment in a better-than-average neighborhood.

The price falls to 14-15 EUR in the other large cities, and in Berlin, rents are around 12 EUR-13 EUR.

However, rents drop significantly for families who choose to stay away from major German hubs, or prefer more rural locations. You can find homes at around 6 EUR to 8 EUR per square meter.

For example, in Leipzig, you will get the best value for your money not only in terms of rent but also when it comes to other goods and services across the board.

Don’t forget about the rental deposit. Landlords require 2 to 3 rents to be paid as a security deposit before the moving-in date. The money will be paid back to you after you move out.

Bills

Bill for utilities comes in addition to the rent as a monthly expense and is paid by the tenant (in most cases).

Average utility costs are around 200 EUR for a family living in a 2-3 bedroom apartment.

In Germany, people pay around 2,50 EUR per square meter for utilities when living in an apartment. Utilities include:

  • heating
  • hot water
  • gas or electricity (usually you will not have both)
  • trash collection
  • snow removal
  • janitorial and landscaping services

A phone line and fast internet connection cost you an additional 30 EUR per month. German households also pay an extra 15 EUR for TV (which is mandatory).

You can also get a VPN and enjoy your Netflix and Amazon Prime. NordVPN is the best VPN provider you can find.

Electricity also comes as an additional bill of around 50-60 EUR every month, depending on your expenditure.

Furthermore, you can choose your electricity provider and switch to the cheaper one. Learn more about electricity in Germany in this article.

German homes rarely have AC or a ceiling fan, so another way to save some money.

2. Groceries

In Germany, the average family spends 414 EUR on shopping for food and drinks. 

Standard groceries are generally very affordable in Germany compared to most other European countries. Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl offer unbeatable prices.

Only in some Southern and Eastern European countries you find lower average prices for a standard shopping basket.

However, German middle-class families also like to shop in the next price category supermarkets, such as Rewe, Edeka, and Kaufland. In those stores, items cost significantly more, but the quality is often higher.

3. Transportation

Monthly public transport pass costs between 56 EUR and 90 EUR on average depending on the city.

Transportation is very efficient in Germany but can cost you a buck. Particularly intercity trains are expensive. Traveling by bus is usually cheaper than by train. Monthly passes within one city are generally quite affordable.

Monthly tickets give you access to all public transport in the city, including subway, trains, trams, and busses.

Owning a car isn’t cheap in Germany, especially regarding fuel, insurance, parking, and maintenance. Read this article about the costs of owning a car in Germany.

Taxis are costly in Germany and should be avoided. You will quickly pay 10 EUR even for a very short trip.

4. Childcare e.g. Kindergarten

German families pay 319 EUR per month for childcare on average.

Childcare isn’t very expensive in Germany but can be of a significant amount in cities like Munich or Frankfurt. People usually get a place in the public kindergarten or childcare facilities for around 150-400 EUR per child per month.

Whereas schooling and higher education are free in Germany and of excellent quality.

Furthermore, the government supports families with children and grants child benefits of 219 EUR per child every month for your first two kids. It rises to 225 EUR for the third child and 250 EUR for the fourth and each additional child.

You can apply for child benefits after receiving a residence permit in Germany.

5. Mobile and Internet

German families pay 80 EUR per month for telecommunication on average.

We all need to stay connected nowadays, especially with our children and partner. A typical rate for a SIM card with enough internet data is around 20 EUR per month.

Children of school age can enjoy some cheaper packages for teenagers for around 7-10 EUR per month.

There are several options for the home internet connection like 1&1, O2, M-net, Vodafone, etc. They all have different rates and speeds. On average, you can expect to pay 35 EUR per month for the okay speed. 

6. Health insurance

Families spend between 400 EUR to 800 EUR on health insurance.

In Germany, everyone with public health insurance pays the same amount, which is 14,6% of the gross monthly salary. The employer contributes half of it. Therefore, employees pay only 7,8% of their gross income.

An employee with salaries up to 64,350 EUR can enjoy public health insurance; however, self-employed and people with salaries above 64,350 EUR can opt for private coverage which has its benefits.

Generally, the cost of public health insurance tightens to the employee’s income and, hence, can’t be reduced. Yet, private insurance rates are calculated differently and usually are lower than a public one.

The private insurance rate isn’t based on income and varies from provider to provider. As a result, you might save a buck by getting private coverage instead of public. 

Besides, in Germany, you almost never have to pay additionally from your budget when using health insurance. It covers your medical bill completely in nearly 100% of the cases. 

6. Leisure

Families like to spend time together, whether it’s a lunch in the restaurant, a visit to a museum or movie, and maybe a weekend trip to nature. All costs have to be considered.

Eating out

German families spend between 400 EUR to 800 EUR on eating out. It includes lunches during the workweek and dinners from time to time.

Whereas, average German eats out in a restaurant 136 times a year. The average spending for eating out for one person rages between 147 EUR and 226 EUR per month. 

Meals in restaurants generally have good value. Prices are slightly higher than in southern and eastern European countries. Expect to pay around 12-15 EUR for a meal.

Bakeries, takeaways fast food shops are 2-3 times cheaper.

Drinks are around 3-4 EUR a half-liter draft beer and approximately 5-6 EUR for a glass of good quality wine. A coffee costs around 2-3 EUR in a local coffee shop or major chain.

Cinema tickets are priced at around 12-15 EUR.

If you want to hire help with a household or a babysitter, the hourly wages are about 12 EUR-15 EUR.

For relaxed weekends away, you can look into three or four-star hotels, including breakfast, averaging between 80 EUR – 125 EUR per night.

Check other resources on cost of living in Germany

Numbeo is the best tool for checking the cost of living in each German city. It has a more detailed overview of individual items. You can also compare one German city to another. 

Taking out a loan in Germany

If families don’t have enough income to afford larger purchases (e.g., a car) or unexpected expenses, they could get a loan at a very low interest rate.

Furthermore, families planning to buy their own homes in Germany can apply for a mortgage.

Read more about mortgages in Germany here.

Before approving the loan request banks will calculate your living expenses. It’s needed for the estimation of the monthly loan installment. The difference between income and living costs (disposable income) is the most significant.

The bank uses this to measure to determine your monthly loan installment.

Most lending institutions in Germany won’t look at the real living costs of the applicant. Most of them use a guideline value called a “household flat rate,” which is between 600 EUR to 800 EUR for one person in the household.

This number doesn’t include rent, utilities, maintenance payments, mortgages, and other existing loans. Hence, a family of four will need to have at least 2,400 EUR as their disposable income per month.

The difference between a family’s income and flat household rate plus other additional expenses determines how much loan you can afford.

How high are salaries in Germany?

According to the StepStone Salary Report 2021 the average gross salary in Germany in 2021 is 56,985 EUR or 4,748 EUR monthly.

Where a monthly net income between 2,500 EUR and 3,500 EUR is considered to be a good salary in Germany.

With that income, you can afford a decent life in a large German city, including renting a two-bedroom apartment and some leisure activities.

Overall, Germany’s very good annual average salary is between 64,000 EUR and 81,000 EUR. A family of four and more can live comfortably on that money.

Salary varies depending on the location. In Munich, a salary of 50,000 EUR won’t be enough for a family, whereas, in Leipzig, it’s a good wage.

Here are top paying German regions:

  1. Baden-Württemberg – €46,620
  2. Hesse – €46,329
  3. Hamburg – €45,571
  4. Bavaria – €45,124
  5. North Rhine-Westphalia – €43,829

Furthermore, these German cities pay the most to the skilled workers and executives:

  1. Stuttgart – €54,012
  2. Munich – €53,662
  3. Düsseldorf – €50,626
  4. Wiesbaden – €49,611
  5. Hamburg – €45,780

Wondering how much is the average salary for your profession? Check the Gehalt.de – the best German resource which provides information on all wages in the country. You can add filters like location, experience, skills, size of the company, and others to see the most accurate numbers!

Read more about salaries in Germany.

Recommended products and services in Germany:

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