Moving to Germany: How Much Does It Cost?

Jun 2, 2020Get Started, Move to Germany

Moving to the new country is never easy. It always has to be well planned and organized. Are you wondering which costs are involved in moving to Germany and how much should you budget? To make your relocation a little bit easier I wrote this post with estimated costs which will expect you in Germany and on a way to.

Estimated costs of moving to Germany:

  • Visa 110 – 140 EUR
  • Flight 600 EUR (depends)
  • Security Deposit for the apartment plus rent for the next 2 months 1,600 – 5,000 EUR
  • Emergency savings 1,000 – 2,000 EUR
  • Health insurance 150 EUR
  • Mandatory monthly costs without rent 780 EUR (630 + health insurance)
  • In case of shipping items 1,000 EUR

Minimum3,640 EUR (without shipping)

Maximum: 9,670 EUR

Financials are a very important part of our life and planning your relocation from the financial side is crucial. Let’s look into details.

Moving to Germany

Here is the list with steps you need to take to move to Germany, by looking on this you can understand all the prozess and costs involved in this.

1. Arrange a visa

All non-EU citizens with an exception for some counties such as the USA, South Korea, Australia, Israel, Japan will need to apply for a visa before they move to Germany. Therefore, there are some additional costs involved in this prozess.

Luckily, German visas are the most inexpensive in Europe, you will pay in 2-3 times more in the UK or Belgium for example.

The costs for arranging the visa depend on where you come from and which visa are you organizing. Sometimes a company where you will be working supports foreign employers in these processes. Students will need to arrange it on their own.

Main costs there are the translator services if needed a notary and visa fees. From my experience, I will estimate it for around 500 EUR.

2. Analyse costs of living

I will describe this below, but this is an important step no-one should skip. You need to be aware of the living costs of the country where you are moving, but also traveling, so you can budget accordingly.

3. Find a place to live

Or maybe your employer will help arrange for housing, and moving you to Europe, or do you have to do that yourself? If so, be sure to get estimates of average rent costs on the market.

After you know this and also which cost of living on the average in Germany you can look for a place to live with some orientating numbers in mind. So you will understand what is expensive housing looks like and what is a cheap jackpot.

Also read: The best websites to find an apartment in Germany

4. Manage and plan your financials

This what we are doing here right now.

Which costs do you need to think of when moving to Germany? Don’t forget about your travel costs to get here, it can be quite pricey too.

When moving to Germany, it’s essential to organise your finances to ensure you can support yourself and your family if such.

This includes any short-term money needs as well as long-term financial management for example:

  • Organizing a new banking account
  • What about pension, tax, and investments?

Can your pension be transferred to Germany? Will your investments be affected by your relocation? Which tax will you pay in the new country? If you are a student you don’t need to question this.

  • Insurances

If you reside in Germany you are required to have health insurance. Your insurance from home country won’t work here.

To avoid dangerous situations prepare all insurances you need before you leave. Health insurance you will need when applying for a visa but others such as liability insurance will be very useful to have in place immediately after landing, so you and your family are protected 100%.

You also need European insurance for your car, if you have one.

Related: The best liability insurances for students in Germany

To help cover your finances in the short-term, you may also need to transfer money internationally quickly and easily. To do this, check out Transferwise, the best international money transfer provider with the lowest fees and best exchange rate. Read here how to send money from the USA to Germany in the best possible ways.

Related: Best banking accounts for students in Germany

For all those steps you will need a reliable banking account, get an easy online set up with this German bank at zero costs!

5. Transport your belongings and vehicle

I would suggest moving with as few belongings as possible because sometimes transporting things can be more expensive than buying the new one.

If you are from the same continent transporting your car can be a good idea, otherwise, I will sell it and buy-in Germany another one.

In case you really want to transport your items and luggage isn’t enough you can use services of air or sea cargo.

There are many companies and providers which will help you with that, but it’s might be quite expensive, especially air transport.

Also read: The costs of owning a car in Germany

After coming to Germany you will need to think about new tasks such as finding the job, accommodation, registering at the town hall, health care, phone SIM cards, setting up a bank account, and maybe learning German.

The city you move to

I recommend moving to the big city with an international airport, so you will be surrounded by other foreigners and have more opportunities.

First, when you come to Germany it is smarter to rent an only room in a shared apartment until you will be securely employed and happy with the location. After you can move to your own accommodation.

So your costs might drastically vary depending on the city you move to Germany. The reason for this is regional differences in the economy and therefore in the costs of living inc. housing, goods, food, entertainment, transportation, etc. 

If your future base will be in the south or southwest of Germany be ready to spend significantly more than in the east or northwest. 

Most expensive cities in Germany are: Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Bonn and Heidelberg. Not all of them are the biggest cities, but they still have very high prices and standard of living. 

Apart from this, the country has many cities that are reasonably cheaper than mentioned above, including Leipzig, Dresden, Bochum, Magdeburg, Bamberg, Rostock, and Kiel.

How much should you save up?

So if you are coming from developing countries expend to spend more but also earn more. However, during the first months, you might don’t have any income, or if you have got a job offer already, your first income will be after around 1 month living in Germany.

The challenge when you are moving to the country/city is you need to invest first to settle down and start your normal budget life.

Here is the breakdown of expenses you can expect when moving to Germany and 2 months after. Some of them are fixed costs some can vary:

Some fixed cost will be:

1. Your flight – 600 EUR, depending on the time of year, where exactly you’re flying from, and how much luggage you want to bring.

2. Security Deposit for the apartment (usually 2-3 months rent) plus rent for next 2 months – 1,000*5 EUR or 400*4

3. Emergency savings – 1,000 – 2,000 EUR just in case some unexpected costs

4. Insurances for current and next month: 

  1. Health insurance 150 EUR*2
  2. Liability insurance (inc. for an apartment) for a year 50 EUR
  3. Car insurance for a year 500 EUR (if you plan to have one) (read types of car insurance in Germany)

5. Other expenses:

  1. Gym membership 30-70 EUR
  2. Public transportation card 60-80 EUR

Total maximum: 9,000 EUR

Total minimum3,640 EUR (if choosing a shared apartment and no car)

The variable costs for the first month would be:

  • Household costs 500 EUR
  • Groceries and eating outside 200 – 400 EUR
  • Miscellaneous 100 EUR
  • Utilities and Internet 100 – 300 EUR
  • Personal care items 50 – 100 EUR
  • Clothing & shoes 100 – 200 EUR
  • Entertainment 100 – 300 EUR
  • Phone – 30 EUR

Variable costs total average: 1,205 EUR for the first month, 330 EUR from them is mandatory.

Variable costs total maximum: 1,930 EUR

With the household costs, you never know ahead what you need to buy in a new country, what is missed in your new apartment, in the kitchen equipment, and other important for living items. 

So the minimum will be 500 EUR but you almost 100% will need more unless you are moving in the shared apartment where you will get everything ready. 

Conclusion: you will need to save up a maximum of 10,930 EUR and a minimum of 4,845 EUR to be able to move to Germany and pay you for the first two months.

What will be your monthly expenses in Germany?

For 2020 the average salary in Germany is around 3,700 EUR gross per month. It’s not that bad, consequently, living costs are relatively high too.

It would be hard to get by for less than 1,000 EUR a month as an adult in Germany, you will need at least 1,500 EUR – 2,000 EUR per month to be able to rent an apartment instead of a room. Students can usually cover living costs for around 850 EUR – 1,000 EUR a month.

When moving to Germany, you will pay for some things significantly less and for some significantly more, depending on what you get used to at home.

If we compare Berlin and New York eating out and buying beer is 50% cheaper than New Your, you’ll also save more than 50% buying groceries in Berlin instead of New York.

With a monthly ticket for excellent public transportation, you will save up if using a car.

Rent

Of course, rent is the biggest expense, dent matter in which country you are living. Prices are very vary depending on location. As a student, you can pay as much as 300 EUR for a room in a shared apartment or 600 EUR for a small flat. See more detailed information on housing below.

To see how much you will pay for rent check out the article about apartment search in Germany.

Cost of groceries

Groceries can be cheap and expensive at the same time. Food from the discounts supermarkets in times cheaper than from more luxury ones and not worse in quality.

Overall, groceries and other sundries tend to be much cheaper in Germany than in other western European countries.

This is especially true of meat, cheese, bread, beer, wine, and vegetables, largely because Germany produces and grows a lot of its own food. Beer and bread are fairly cheap because it’s a Grundnahrungsmittel or staple food for Germans.

Alcohol overall inexpensive in Germany, if you look at Baltic countries it’s in many times cheaper!

Look for Aldi, Netto, and Lidl to save money, this way your weekly shopping won’t extend 40 EUR mark.

If you need special international ingredients such as Asian, Indian, or even Russian, you can find various special supermarkets for this around the country. But expect to pay more for these products, such they weren’t produced in Germany but imported from faraway countries.

If you want locally grown food, head to farmers’ markets in the old part of the city or a square. In Germany, farmers sell their products most of the time on the weekends and some days under the week.

Be prepared to pay more for local food, but the quality is unbeaten, and also environmental impact is lower.

Cost for going out

Going out is an important part of our life and people tend to spend their free time going out, exploring new cafes, restaurants, and clubs. So how much will you pay for the joy in Germany?

Your social life will cost you considerably less than most northern European countries. Eating out and drinking (especially drinking beer) is offered for a good value.

Dinner will cost you around 20 EUR for a good meal and a couple of beers. Eating out is more expensive than in eastern countries but cheaper than in France or The Netherlands for example.

A budget lunch in a fast-food or takeaways restaurant costs between 5 EUR and 11 EUR, while an evening meal in a standard restaurant can cost between 10 EUR to 20 EUR per person. Don’t forget to tip around 10%.

Healthcare costs

One of the most important things to prepare when moving to Germany is health insurance. Germany has one of the best-funded public healthcare systems in Europe, although residents can choose from private or public cover depending on their needs.

Health care is also inexpensive, your health insurance covers everything and you just need to pay monthly fees.

For good quality health insurance for Expats in Germany check tool Tarifcheck, the platform will give you the best results accordingly to your situation. You could also opt for Ottonova, they offer English speaking services and packages with great value!

Read more here about the costs of medical treatment in Germany.

If you plan to work in Germany usually you will get public insurance, which costs will be deducted from your salary, 7,3% exactly. Or you can choose a privat health insurance where the monthly rate will be fixed and won’t be based on your salary. This is a better option for higher earners.

Public health insurance in Germany? Read more about it and how much it costs.

On average you will be paying between 80 EUR and 400 EUR for health insurance, 150 EUR is an average for employees with public insurance.

Related: Best health insurance for students in Germany.

Transportation costs

Public transport in Germany is of an exceptionally high standard and reasonably priced in comparison to transport systems elsewhere in Europe, which can help further reduce the cost of living in Germany. 

Prices for monthly tickets range from 60 EUR – 90 EUR a month depending on the city and if you are a student or not.

Traveling by train can be quite expensive, opting for a shared ride such as a BlaBlaCar or bus from company Flixbus is always cheaper.

Owning a car in Germany is more expensive. If you live in cities like Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt and your work don’t require much traveling you don’t need a car.  

The taxi ride is expensive in Germany, and there is no service such as Uber. The taxi rate starts between 3 EUR and 4 EUR and then 1-2 EUR for a km.

Costs of childcare

Germany has a very good childcare system, but sometimes you need to wait a long time to get a spot for a child in Kindergarten. So register there early, months and months before your kid will need it.  

The majority of state-owned kindergarten costs an average between 100 EUR to 400 EUR per month, while private centers range between 600 EUR and 900 EUR.

Housing in Germany

General housing costs in Germany are fairly high but vary considerably depending on the type of property you choose and the city in which you live.

Most people in Germany live in apartments and others in their private houses. Demand for housing in the most popular cities such as Munich, Berlin, Hamburg is high, and as such, so are the prices.

Example: average prices for rents in Frankfurt, Germany:

  • 1 bedroom apartment – 700 – 1,000 EUR
  • 2 bedroom apartment – 1,000 – 1,400 EUR
  • 3 bedroom apartment – 1,200 – 1,800 EUR
  • 4 bedroom apartment – 1,500 – 3,000 EUR

In the table below you can see average prices for renting in Germany in different cities:

LocationOne Bed Rent (City Centre)Three Bed Rent (City Centre)
Germany (Average)€708€1,362
Berlin€866€1,661
Munich€1,188€2,210
Hamburg€878€1,698
Stuttgart€844€1,565
Düsseldorf€694€1,500
Frankfurt€978€1,933
Leipzig€508€1,025

As you can see Munich is the most expensive place and Leipzig is the cheapest place to live in Germany.

The rent prices are very variable depending on the location, condition, how new and modern the apartment is. Therefore you can be lucky and get a house for a relatively low price or you will be overpaying. 

Be aware that most accommodation comes unfurnished – which sometimes even excludes light fittings. You might want to look up for furniture ahead on time on the resources such as eBay Kleinanzeigen.

Keep in mind that in Germany, you would need to pay a security deposit together with your first-month rent. In many cases that could 3,000 – 5,000 EUR, so be prepared.

In case of a shared apartment, a deposit isn’t always necessary, but if required you will pay 1 or 2 monthly rents and first-month rent as well. Cost breakdown would be: monthly rent 400 EUR, deposit 2*400 EUR.

Shared apartments very common housing way in Germany, not only for students but also for working adults. You will have your room and shared the kitchen, living room, and bathrooms with your flatmates. 

It does not only help to save some money from the beginning but also to socialize and build some friendships with locals.

The most expensive cities in terms of housing and cost of living are Munich, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Heidelberg.

Utilities, internet and service bills

Utility costs are relatively high, you will spend about 2.50 EUR per square meter on heating, hot water, municipal charges, and management costs if you live in an apartment. So it’s 60*2.5= 150 EUR per month for 70 square meter apartment.

Electricity is not included in these payments and is billed separately, as is your phone line and fast Internet connection. Together these will cost around 70 per EUR month on top for a 1-bed apartment.

Also, keep in mind that you need insurance for your apartment or house in case something bad happens. Check all coverages here.

Which brings us to the 220 EUR in total for a 1-bed apartment in utility costs.

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