If you are moving to Germany to work or study, the cost of living is one of the most essential aspects. You need to ensure your salary or savings provide you with a good quality of life in a new country.
In Germany, a single person spends on average about €1,695 per month. This includes common expenses like rent, groceries, transportation, and free time. Your cost of living will mainly depend on the location and the housing situation. Major cities like Munich and Hamburg have the highest prices nationwide.
Germany is a desirable country to live in for singles, couples, and families. However, average monthly expenses are different for everyone. This article looks at the budget and the cost of living for a couple in Germany.
How much does it cost to live alone in Germany?
A single will need around €1,600 per month to cover all basic expenses in Germany and afford to rent an apartment.
Average income and expenses of a single in Germany:
|Income after tax||€1,842||%|
|Personal expenses, e.g., food, rent, clothing, etc.||€1,695||92%|
The average income of a single in Germany:
|Type of income||Total gross income: €2,403||%|
|Income from a job||€1,231||51,2%|
|Income from self-employment||€119||5,0%|
|Income from properties||€214||8,9%|
|Income from rental properties||€142||5,9%|
|Deductions for taxes and social insurance premiums||€561||23,3%|
|Income and church taxes; Solidarity surcharge||€256||10,7%|
|Compulsory social security contributions||€305||12,7%|
|Income after tax||€1,842||76,6%|
In Germany, the average single lives in an apartment under 40 square meters. The cost of an apartment of that size ranges but can be as high as €1,200 in cities like Munich. The general rule is: that the smaller the apartment, the higher the price per square meter.
With that said, in Munich, singles spent €14 per square meter in 2011, in Freiburg and Frankfurt am Main between €11.40 and €12.80, and in Karlsruhe €7.80. However, this data is from 2011. Nowadays, you will pay significantly more.
If you move in with someone, you can reduce your housing costs by 32% on average.
Minimal cost of living for a single
As a single, you will need to have a minimal amount of income or savings to survive in Germany. This number was set at €9,744 per year or €812 per month in 2021. If you are earning this amount or less, you are exempt from income taxes in Germany.
Minimal wage and cost of living
A single person working 37.7 hours a week (average) and earning a minimum wage of €12.00 (2022) would get a gross monthly wage of €1,809.6. After taxes, there isn’t much left – €1.436,8. Therefore, managing average living expenses (€1,695) is barely manageable as a single.
To cover all essential expenses and be able to live in a separate apartment, you need to earn above minimum wage.
Average monthly expenses for a single person in Germany
According to the statistics, the average single living in Germany spends an average of €1,695 per month on typical living expenses. From this amount, €669 goes to housing, energy, and maintenance.
Most singles spend around €211 on groceries, €214 on transport, and €174 on leisure per month. At the same time, singes have an average gross income of €2,403 and spend most of it just to pay the bills.
Therefore, as a single, you must have a budget of over €1,700 per month to live comfortably in the average German city.
Between €1,000 and €1,500 per month can be enough in smaller, less expensive cities. Here is an overview of average expenses for a single person living in Germany:
|Item||Amount (EUR)||In %|
|Food and drinks||211||12,5|
|Clothing and shoes||64||3,8|
|Free time and leisure||174||10,3|
If you take the average monthly income of €4,330 (€52,000 annually) before taxes and €2,651 after taxes in Germany, as a single, you will spend about 64% of the income on living expenses.
Cost of living vs location
The cost of living in Germany significantly differs from city to city. So some places are almost half more expensive than the average:
Consequently, the South and West of Germany are the most expensive areas to live in. Yet, also metropolitan cities in other parts of the country like Hamburg, Cologne, or Dusseldorf are above the average.
On the other hand, the cost of living is significantly lower in East Germany. Here is an overview of the largest cities in the Eastern part of the country and how local expenses differ from the average. Prices for housing, groceries, transport, and free time were considered.
Cost of living for single employees
The cost of living for a single will also depend on whether they are working or not. So employees with a regular income can afford more; thus, their average expenses are higher.
Although the average salary in Germany is at least €3,700 per month, only a tiny number of singles have such income.
According to the statistics, the majority of singles in Germany have an average net income between €1,000 to €2,000 per month (2021). This is more than enough to cover living expenses for a single person.
Yet, the average salary in Germany for a full-time employee is €49,200 in 2022. For a single without children, that means an after-tax wage of €2,553 per month. Consequently, you can easily cover your expenses as a single earning average salary.
Cost of living for students
The average student spends around €861 a month to cover their living expenses in Germany. This number can be as high as €1,000 in most expensive cities like Munich. Generally, recommended budget for a student is between €850 and €1,000, depending on the location.
Singles usually live in smaller apartments than couples or families, yet, the price per square meter is higher the smaller the apartment. Additionally, singles don’t have anyone to share rent and utility bills with.
Hence, they end up paying more than people living together. Therefore, a single person in Germany spends about 40% only on housing, while this number lies at 25% for families.
Besides, apartments often come unfurnished and even without a kitchen. So, you should budget for this as well. Read this article on “why German apartments don’t have kitchens.”
Buying a kitchen and light fixtures plus installation can easily cost thousands of euros. So check this article about kitchen prices in Germany and how much it costs to install it.
Here is an example of typical monthly rent prices for apartments in Munich (EUR):
|One-bedroom in the city center||1,000 – 1,500|
|One-bedroom outside the city center||750 – 1,200|
|Two-bedroom in the city center||1,500 – 1,900|
|Two-bedroom outside the center||1,200 – 1,500|
|Three-bedroom in the city center||1,900 – 3,000|
|Three-bedroom outside the city center||1,300 – 2,200|
Despite being the capital, Berlin still has affordable rents in some areas. Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, and Berlin are the most expensive cities for renting. They also have seen some of the most significant increases in rent costs in recent years.
Expats can expect to pay around €17-€20 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 in the other large cities, and in Berlin, rents are around €12-€13.
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 to €8 per square meter.
For example, in Leipzig, you will get the best value for your money in terms of rent and 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.
Renting a room vs an apartment
Renting a room in a shared apartment is widespread among singles in Germany, even if they are working and have enough income for an apartment.
Sharing a flat with someone has its benefits: you save a significant amount of money every month and have someone to spend a free time with, given you are befriended with roommates.
The cost to rent a room in a shared apartment depends on the city, so in an expensive Munich, you might pay between €500 – €600 per month for a 15-square-meter place. At the same time, in cities like Dresden, this amount will get you a decent one-bedroom apartment. For a room, you might spend about €300.
Generally, a middle-sized room (15 square meters) in a shared apartment can cost anything from €250 to €600 across the country.
Besides shared accommodations, singles often choose to rent a separate apartment to have more space and privacy. This comes at a higher cost – so the price for a studio starts at €500 across all German cities. Depending on the location, a one-bedroom apartment can cost anything from €500 to €1,000.
Bills for utilities come in addition to the rent as a monthly expense and are paid by the tenant (in most cases).
Average utility costs are around €100-150 a single living in a studio or one-bedroom apartment.
In Germany, people pay around €2,50 per square meter for utilities when living in an apartment. Utilities include:
- 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 per month. German households also pay an extra €15 for TV and radio (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 every month, depending on your expenditure.
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 it provides another way to save some money.
In Germany, the average single spends €211 on food and drinks. Standard groceries are generally affordable in Germany compared to most other European countries. Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl offer unbeatable prices.
Supermarkets like Rewe, Edeka, and Kaufland are more expensive but offer greater variety and quality of products.
There is a rule that buying larger quantities usually saves you a good amount of cash. Whether cheese, sausage, or toast – often smaller quantities are offered at comparatively higher prices.
Hence, as a single household, you might opt for the latter, which will, therefore, increase your average food expenses.
Monthly public transport pass costs between €56 and €120, depending on the city and the number of zones included. Singles spend about €214 per month on transportation by using public transport or private cars.
Monthly tickets give you access to all public transport in the city, including subway, trains, trams, and busses.
If you want to drive a car as a primary way of transportation, consider its costs in the first place. Owning a car isn’t cheap in Germany, especially regarding fuel, insurance, parking, and maintenance. Read this article about the costs of owning a vehicle in Germany.
Taxis are costly in Germany and should be avoided. You will quickly pay €15 even for a very short trip.
4. Mobile and Internet
On average, a single person in Germany spends about €48 per month on mobile and the internet. That includes bills for smartphones and home internet. A typical rate for a SIM card with enough internet data is around €20 per month. Yet, you can get a deal for as low as €9,99.
There are several options for the home internet connection like 1&1, O2, M-net, Vodafone, etc. They all have different rates and speeds. You can expect to pay 35 EUR per month for the okay speed. To find the best rates check out online calculators like Verivox and Check24.
5. Health insurance
If employed, you will spend 14,6% of your gross income on health insurance. This applies to people with public health insurance. Nonetheless, statistics say that singles in Germany spend about €67 on health on average. That includes medicaments and prescriptions. All other expenses are covered by your health insurance.
In Germany, everyone with public health insurance pays the same amount, 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 the employee’s income and, hence, can’t be reduced. Yet, private insurance rates are calculated differently and usually are lower than public ones.
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 rarely have to pay additionally from your budget when using health insurance. It covers your medical bill completely in nearly 100% of the cases.
In Germany, singles spend about €17 on free time and leisure. It might include a pub visit, gym, ticket for a museum or movie, and maybe a weekend trip to nature. All costs have to be considered.
Singles spend, on average, about €96 on eating out. It includes lunches during the workweek and dinners from time to time.
Whereas the average German eats out in a restaurant 136 times a year. One person’s average spending for eating out ranges between €147 and €226 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 for a meal.
Bakeries and takeaways fast food shops are 2-3 times cheaper.
Drinks are around €3-4 for a half-liter draft beer and approximately €5-6 for a glass of good quality wine. A coffee costs around €2-3 in a local coffee shop or major chain.
Cinema tickets are priced at around €12-15.
For relaxed weekends away, you can look into three or four-star hotels, including breakfast, averaging between €80-€125 per night.
Going on holiday as a single is more expensive than a couple or friends. You will need to cover the accommodation on your own, and it’s typically the largest expense.
For example, for a good twelve-day package tour to Spain, two or more people spend an average of €1,071 per head, but solo travelers have to pay at least €100 more.
Salaries in Germany
Generally, someone earning between €2,500 and €3,500 has a decent salary for 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 and €81,000 before taxes. For a single, however, earning such a wage is very rare.
Salary varies depending on the location. In Munich, a wage of €40,000 might not cut it for a single, whereas, in Leipzig, it’s a good wage.
Here are the top-paying German regions:
- Baden-Württemberg – €46,620
- Hesse – €46,329
- Hamburg – €45,571
- Bavaria – €45,124
- North Rhine-Westphalia – €43,829
Furthermore, these German cities pay the most to the skilled workers and executives:
- Stuttgart – €54,012
- Munich – €53,662
- Düsseldorf – €50,626
- Wiesbaden – €49,611
- Hamburg – €45,780
Read more about salaries in Germany.
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