Germany vs Austria: Cost of Living

Germany and Austria are often the two countries expats, students, and immigrants choose from. They both have excellent universities and job opportunities and rank at the top of the list of the best countries for quality of life.

According to German statistics from 2021, the cost of living in Austria is 5% higher than in Germany. Yet, Berlin is 11% more expensive than Vienna. Moreover, according to other data, a single person needs about €2,183 in Austria and €2,153 in Germany to keep the same lifestyle.

The cost of living is one of the crucial aspects if you are considering moving to one of these countries. Besides living expenses, you need to take into account how much money you will make in Germany vs Austria. The first country often pays the most. Nonetheless, this article breaks up the average prices and expenses you will encounter while living in both places.

Also read our comparison of living in Germany vs Austria.

Is it cheaper to live in Germany or Austria?

According to the German state’s statistics (EVP and Eurostat) from July 2021, Austria is about 5% more expensive than Germany regarding the cost of living. The comparison was made across all European countries, where Germany was positioned as 100%. You can see this in the graph below.

Switzerland is the most expensive country to live in the region, with average living expenses 51% higher than in Germany. Austrian took 5th place. Even France is 4% more expensive than Germany.

The cost of living in Austria is comparable to Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Consumers in these countries have to pay between 4% and 7% more than Germans.

That said, consumer prices are lower in Germany. When shopping in the supermarket, you pay less in Germany.

Summary of cost of living in Germany vs Austria:

  • Due to the lower VAT, the majority of products are cheaper in Germany. The VAT in Austria is 20% and 10% compared to 19% and 7% in Germany.
  • The German market is much large than Austria; hence, more competitive, and so consumer prices are also lower.
  • That said, In Austria, workers and employees have 14 wages per year instead of 12 as in Germany.
  • Housing is more affordable in Germany. You can choose to live in the regions in the East, where rent will cost you half of what you would pay in Austria. Austria doesn’t have regional differences.

You can see the full comparison of prices in both countries in the graph below:

Source: livingcost.org

Cost of living in Germany

So how much should you expect to spend in Germany?

The cost of living in Germany varies significantly depending on the city. For example, rent prices in Munich are about 44% higher than the German average. At the same time, you will need significantly less if you would live in Chemnitz. You can see the data about housing prices in the table below.

CityRegionvs Average
MunichBavaria+44 %
StuttgartBaden-Württemberg+27,1 %
FrankfurtHesse+24,3 %
FreiburgBaden-Württemberg+19,4 %
HeidelbergBaden-Württemberg+17 %
CityRegionvs Average
BremerhavenBremen-22,6 %
ChemnitzSaxony-21 %
MagdeburgSaxony-Anhalt-17,1 %
Halle (Saale)Saxony-Anhalt-17 %
PaderbornNorth Rhine-Westphalia-14,5 %

Generally, for rent, you expect to pay from €600 to €1,000 for a one-bedroom flat, excluding utilities.

Overall, Germany is cheaper than Austria, with some exceptions like Munich, Hamburg, and others. However, employees will receive a salary in accordance with living standards in that city or region. So, if you live in expensive Munich, you will also get a higher salary.

Read our detailed articles about the cost of living in Germany:

Single person

As a single, you should have a budget of over €1,700 per month to live comfortably in the average German city. However, according to Expatistan.com, a single person living in Germany needs about €2,153 monthly.

According to the statistics, the average single living in Germany spends an average of €1,695 per month on typical living expenses like rent, groceries, transportation, and free time. From this amount, €669 goes to rent and utility bills.

Besides that, 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 (€1,842 net) and spend most of it to pay the bills.

Family

In Germany, families with one child spend about €3,275 per month, on average. Families with two children spend €3,906. An average budget for families with three or more children is €4,026 per month.

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

Here is an overview of how much average German families spend in each category:

ExpenseAmount
Rent €1,100
Groceries and eating out€550
Transportation€520
Clothing and shoes€220
Telecommunication€80
Free time and leisure€400
Insurances and credits€660
Childcare€300

Cost of living in Austria

What about living expenses in Austria? As mentioned, the cost of living in Austria is 5% higher than in Germany. According to the Numbeo, the average cost of living in Austria in 2022 is as follows:

  • A family of four spends about €3,066 without rent
  • A single person spends about €882 without rent

If we include rent, these numbers rise to €2,183 for a single and €4,274 for a family of four.

Generally, an adult would need around €2,000 per month to live comfortably in Austria. This includes:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the good area
  • Buying average and high-quality food
  • Eating out
  • And even saving at least €100 – €200 every month

If you are a student, you can live on less. Renting a room in a shared apartment will cost between €350 and €500 per month. Therefore, €950 – €1,100 is a comfortable amount to live as a student in Austria.

Housing in Austria

As far as average housing costs are concerned, you can expect the following expenses in an average Austrian city:

  • One-bedroom apartment in an urban area: €880
  • One-room apartment outside a big city: €630
  • Three-room apartment in an urban area: €1,500
  • Three-room apartment outside a major city: €1,200
  • Utilities for a one-bedroom apartment: €100 – €150
  • Internet: €33

Food will be your next biggest expense. A single person might spend anything between €200 and €400 per month on food.

Similarly to Germany, Austria has several discount stores where you can buy food more affordably. You can get a cheap meal in a bakery that includes a coffee for €3 and a sandwich for €3.5.

Germany vs Austria: healthcare costs

For employees, healthcare costs pretty much identical amounts in both countries. With public health insurance, you pay about 7,65% of your gross salary to the insurance fund.

Your employer pays another 7,65%. However, private insurance will cost you a fixed amount independent of your income. Self-employed and freelancers pay a whole 15,3% for public health insurance.

Read more about the cost of private insurance in Germany in this guide.

Private health insurance is often cheaper than public one. In Austria, expats can take out coverage with Care Austria for a very reasonable price (starting from €51 per month). It’s one of the best insurance for expats and international students in Austria.

In Germany, we recommend companies Ottonova and Feather.

Germany vs Austria: rent prices

In Germany, a typical person lives in an apartment under 68 square meters. On average, Germans spend €908 per month on housing, energy, and maintenance. 

The cost to rent 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.

In Germany, the national average rent per m2 is €9,82. In 2022, rent prices in major German cities are as follow (per m2):

  • Munich – €18,48
  • Berlin – €13,68
  • Hamburg – €13,50 
  • Cologne – €11,13

In Austria, you will pay between an average of €700 and €1,300 per month for a one or two-bedroom apartment in major Austrian cities. The rent per m2 was €8,29 in 2021 across the country. However, in Vienna, renting in the city center can cost as much as €25,64 per square meter.

Moreover, tenants pay above €12 per m2 in cities like Bregenz, Innsbruck und Innsbruck-Land, Kufstein, Kitzbühel, and Salzburg. In Vienna, the average price of rent lies between €11 and €12 per square meter.

All prices are mentioned, excluding utility costs.

Read more about rent prices in Germany in this guide.

Are groceries cheaper in Germany or Austria?

Hands down, groceries are cheaper in Germany. Therefore, Austrians living close to the German border prefer shopping at their neighbor’s supermarkets.

It’s a fact that groceries are noticeably more expensive in Austria. That said, Austria produces many high-quality goods and sells them at a high price.

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.

In Austria, you can expect at least €300 on groceries as a single. Austrian products have high quality, but they are also more expensive; you might find some German products that are sold for a lower price. See the full comparison in the table below:

Vienna vs Berlin: cost of living

You might be surprised, but Berlin is 11% more expensive than Vienna.

Due to the rising popularity of Berlin among younger professionals, expats, IT professionals, and various freelancers, the cost of living in the German capital has been noticeably increasing year after year.

Berlin is ranked 2074th in the list of the most expensive cities in the world. Vienna is only in 2475th place. The average cost of living for a single in Vienna is €2,196, while it’s €2,451 in Berlin.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in Berlin’s city center costs €1,154 vs €882 in Vienna. A three-bedroom place costs €1,829 in Vienna and €2,114 in Berlin.

In Vienna, you can buy a public transport ticket for €365 for a whole year. Which, in the end, will be cheaper than the monthly transport pass in Berlin, which costs €80.

Nonetheless, Berliners also have a higher disposable income compared to Vienna residents. So, the average after-tax salary in Berlin is enough to cover living expenses for 1.8 months compared to 1.5 months in Vienna.

Moreover, Vienna is more affordable than other European capitals, including Paris, Copenhagen, London, Luxembourg, and Amsterdam.

Salary in Germany vs Austria

Will you make more money in Germany or Austria?

Germany

The average gross salary in Germany in 2021 was  €51,009 or €4,250 monthly.

The majority of German employees earn between €2,000 and €3,500 per month. This income is enough to cover all basic living expenses in most large cities, including renting a two-bedroom apartment, eating out, and even doing some leisure activities in a free time.

However, gross annual salaries above €65,000 are rare, and only highly qualified professionals can enjoy this income level.

Salary varies depending on the location. In Munich, a wage of €40,000 might not be enough for a single, whereas, in Leipzig, it’s a good wage.

Besides, these German cities pay the most:

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

Read more about salaries in Germany.

Austria

On average, Austrians earn around €52,000 gross per year or €2,876 monthly after taxes. The most typical annual salary in Austria is €47,812 before tax. Besides, Austrian employees receive 14 salaries per year.

However, according to Austrian sources, not everything looks that positive. That said, the median gross annual income in 2020 was €30,257. This translates to an average monthly gross income of €2,161 (14 times a year).

The lowest salaries have been seen among blue-collar workers (€21,969), while a typical Austrian employee earns about €34,220.

In 2022, a salary between €2,000 and €3,000 after taxes is considered to be good. With this income, you can cover all main expenses, such as the rent of a one-bedroom apartment, food, and leisure.

This translates to an annual salary of about €40,000 – €55,000 before tax (including bonuses). This level might be hard to achieve if it’s you just start your career. But it’s more realistic for workers with experience and good educational background.

Furthermore, salaries range within Austrian regions. Full-time employees in the region of Vorarlberg have the highest income, whereas people working in Tyrol have the lowest wages. Salaries in Vienna are in the middle. 

Nevertheless, on average, specialists and executives tend to earn the most in the Austrian capital. For example, in Bregenz average income is €55,600; in Innsbruck €51,700, Graz – €51,000 and in St. Pölten – €50,250. Below you can see the average salaries in all Austrian regions in 2021:

  • Vienna: €54.931
  • Vorarlberg: €54.101
  • Upper Austria: €51.979
  • Salzburg: €51.703
  • Styria: €49.752
  • Lower Austria: €49.285
  • Tirol: €49.028
  • Carinthia: €48.152
  • Burgenland: €44.169

Anna

Anna is an enthusiastic expatriate with experience of living in Germany, Austria and Greece. She shares her passion for living abroad on this website.

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