Germany vs Canada: Best for Living
Germany and Canada are on top of the list for best places to immigrate to, with Germany ranking fifth and Canada leading. Each country offers incredible benefits for all foreigners, including skilled workers, expats, students, and others. Both places are attractive in terms of ease of getting a residency and the strength of their economies.
Germany and Canada offer high living standards and superior salaries. Germany has the fourth-largest economy globally, while Canada has a tolerant society towards other cultures. Consider different variables like healthcare and job opportunities to decide which country would suit you the best.
Germany and Canada are two world’s leading counties regarding immigration. But how comfortable are they for living as a foreigner? In this article, we take a deeper look into what life in each country looks like. It will help you to make the next decision.
Either of the countries has something about them that stands out, and in the end, you can choose to go with what favors you.
Read our comparison between living in Canada vs Switzerland.
Germany vs. Canada
Living in Germany: pros and cons
- A large country with various cities from big to small
- The fourth-largest economy in the world
- Free healthcare
- Proximity to all the major European countries such as the Netherlands, France, Austria
- Affordable cost of living even in the capital
- Straightforward immigration policies
- High-quality free education
- Offers plenty of employment opportunities for immigrants
- High salaries
- Greats infrastructure
- High standards of living
- 4 weeks of average vacation
- Traveling is incredibly cheap
- Cheap and well-developed public transport
- Cultural heritage
- Cutting-edge technology
- Great work-life balance
- Genuine, helpful, and trustworthy people
- High taxes
- Less opportunities for non-German speakers
- Germans are pretty rigid when it comes to embracing other cultures
- Real estate is prohibitively expensive
Living in Canada: pros and cons
There are significant differences in the advantages and disadvantages of living in Canada and Germany. It is essential l to examine and reexamine conditions that could work against your goals of settling in Canada.
- Country of immigrants – Canadian are tolerant to foreign nations and appreciate cultural diversity.
- Affordable prices on real estate
- A large number of jobs available
- Proximity to the US
- Low tax rates
- High-quality and still non too expensive education
- Free healthcare
- People are friendly and welcoming
- English and French language
- High cost of living
- Public transport is horrible unless you live in the center of a major city
- Food is unhealthy, made with hormones and preservatives
- A considerably high rate of unemployment
- Challenging immigration process
- Weak currency
- Traveling is expensive
- 2 weeks of the average vacation
Living in Germany and Canada: similarities
Both Germany and Canada have a lot of good things to offer. Here are some common pros they share:
- High standard of living
- Free health care with excellent quality and facilities
- High taxes accompany high salaries
- Students have the opportunity to acquire residence permits after their studies – post-study residence permit
- Stable political systems
- Foreigners-welcoming immigration law
- Growth opportunities for those willing to work for it
- Work-life balance
- Social security
- International environment
Germany vs. Canada: quality of life
These are just a few things which might be different in the quality of life in both countries. But for someone, it maybe is a big deal. With some of this information, you may be able to draw your own conclusion about living in Germany and Canada.
Germany’s economy is one of the largest ones in Europe. It is home to the world’s leading automotive and tech companies.
On the other hand, Canada’s economy relies on resources rather than manufacturing. Both countries offer a high standard of living. The quality of life in Germany is better than in Canada.
Cost of living
What about the cost of living in Germany vs Canada?
In Canada you will pay:
- 35.1% more for groceries
- 25.6% less for transportation
- 26.6% more for housing
- 46.1% more for childcare
- 17.5% more for entertainment
- 19.2% less for clothing
A three-bedroom apartment in Toronto will cost you about CAD$2,700 – 3,500 (1,855 – 2,400 EUR) per month. In German Munich, the same apartment, with similar stats and in a neighborhood, will cost you about 1,800 EUR outside of the center.
However, if you consider purchasing a property, prices in Canada are lower by at least 5%, and in some locations more significantly. For example, in Canada, you will pay around 2,719 EUR per m² on average, while in Germany, it’s averaging about 3,572 EUR.
Nonetheless, property taxes and mortgage rates increase annually in Canada while they remain stable in Germany.
When comparing utility costs in both countries, the average Canadian will pay almost 77% less than the Germans. Utilities like water, gas, garbage, and electricity cost an average of CAD$140 in Canada. While in Germany same utilities add up to about CAD$250.
Prices for transportation are high in both countries. A monthly pass will cost you about CAD$80 in Canada and CAD$87 in Germany. Buying and having a car is cheaper in Germany (well, no surprises here). A VW Golf will cost you 27% more than in Canada. German taxi, however, is more expensive.
Your daily groceries, which may include items such as milk, bread, vegetables, and meat, can cost up to 20% more in Canada. A typical shopping basket will cost you CAD$75 in Germany and about CAD$95 in a Canadian grocery store.
Items include wine, which is about half the price in Germany as compared to Canada. There isn’t much difference between both countries when it comes to eating in a restaurant.
For shoppers: clothing is clearly cheaper in Canada. CAD$50 will be enough for a pair of Levi’s. In Germany, you will need twice as much.
Lastly, Canada also has a free (insurance must be paid) universal healthcare system, the same as Germany.
In Germany, a family with a single child spends about 2,300 EUR – 3,000 EUR on average, with variables like religion and lifestyle playing a significant role. Read more about the cost of living for a family in Germany.
The cost of living in Germany can vary significantly within a location. In cities like Dresden or Leipzig, you will spend half as much as you pay in Munich or Frankfurt.
Therefore, the most expensive cities to live in Germany are:
Average household expenses in Canada are around CAD$7,400, which is more than 4,500 EUR with about CAD$1,600 going to housing, CAD$730 to food, CAD$ 1,300 to taxes, CAD$1,030 for private transportation, and CAD$188 for education.
The average costs for a family in Canada are hard to estimate. Numbers can fluctuate significantly depending on the province, region, city, or even neighborhood in which you live. Some places can be extremely cheap, while cities like Toronto beat all rankings for the cost of living.
Example of some common monthly expenses in Toronto:
- Housing: CAD$2,000
- Phone and internet: CAD$127.50
- Public transportation: CAD$176.25
- Groceries: CAD$383.60
- Insurance: CAD$52
For example, in Vancouver, you will pay the highest price for a two-bedroom apartment – about CAD$3,200 per month. Yet, food and groceries are more pricey in Toronto – about CAD$400-520 for a month.
The monthly pass for public transport is also the most expensive in Toronto – CAD$145 per month. Entaintenment and leisure activities will set you back on at least CAD$500 per month.
The list of the most expensive cities to live in Canada looks like:
Consequently, the cost of living for a middle-class family of four is higher than in Germany. Furthermore, Canadian car and home insurance can take away a considerable amount every month.
Thousands of students each year come to Canada and Germany. In 2020 this number was 642,480 just in Canada. In recent years, the amount of international students has increased, in 2000 it was just 100,000. At the same time, Germany welcomes around 350,000 international students every year.
Germany is the third most popular destination among international students globally and the most popular destination in Europe.
Education is accessible for everyone in Germany. You can study bachelor’s and master’s programs for free. Be aware, though, that bachelors’ degrees are exceptionally in the German language, and masters can be found in English. But all German university degrees are recognized abroad.
Generally, there are over 380 universities and 32 thousand schools in the country. So, you and your kids will have a choice!
Moreover, from some people’s experience, the quality of higher education in Germany was seen as significantly higher than in Canada.
Studying is also affordable in Germany. You will get cheap housing, many discounts, and deals as a student. 10,000 EUR per year is more than enough to live in Germany as a student.
Canada is also one of the favorite destinations for international students. Many prefer it for various reasons, such as quality, campus life, high quality of living, research opportunities, and of course, the English language. There aren’t many countries with a high-quality education that offer programs in English.
But education in Canada isn’t free. An undergraduate course costs between CAD$6,000 and CAD$35,000 annually. The cost of living for students in Canada falls between CAD$10,000 and CAD$12,000. Yet, degrees obtained from Canadian universities have a high value worldwide.
Four of the highest-ranked universities globally are in Canada. Your decision on where to study depends on the quality of education and how much you are willing to spend on it.
The two highest-ranking universities are the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Northern British Columbia, and others.
Higher institutions in Germany often don’t provide accommodation for students, while Canadian universities have campuses where you can live.
Canadian Universities rank in place 18 when the first German university appears as 98 on the world list. There are a total of 26 universities in Canada, of which four are in the world’s top 100.
Both countries have excellent healthcare, which is part of the welfare. Germany healthcare is ranked 10th in the world, while Canada is in place 16th. The cost of the Canadian healthcare system is about 20% more expensive than in Germany.
In Germany, public healthcare is prevalent where citizens have public health insurance. It’s paid automatically within your gross salary of a total amount of 14,6%. Employers contribute 7,3% of the employee’s salary to the health insurance, and employees pay the other 7,3%.
If you are self-employed, you pay this entire amount yourself. That’s why we recommend private health insurance, rates of which are fixed and don’t depend on your income.
Healthcare in Canada is also one of the renowned in the world, with private and public sectors. In Canada, similar to Germany, the national government funds health insurance.
Most of the medical services that you receive from the hospital or general practitioner office are covered by government insurance.
While in Germany, public healthcare will cover all your medical needs, in Canada, government (public) health insurance plans give you access to basic medical services. Private health insurance often pays for things that government plans don’t cover.
Here’s what public health insurance plans typically don’t cover:
- Prescription medicine
- Ambulance services (except in the Yukon Territory)
- Dental care
- Eye care
- Hearing aids
- Limb prostheses
- Psychologist care
- Tests required for official documents (e.g. driver’s license)
Public health insurance in Canada is covered by your monthly taxes. For additional services, you can take out private coverage yourself. We recommend Cigna Global. However, costs are pretty low: between CAD$50 to CAD$100 per month.
In general, with public health insurance, you won’t have to pay for:
- most health care services
- emergency medical services, even if you don’t have a health card (there may be some restrictions depending on your immigration status)
When talking about international traveling, Germany is a clear winner. But what about domestic travel and accessibility?
Well, Canada’s population is tiny, and the country is huge, meaning that most modern cities are many hundreds of kilometers apart from each other. Due to the high cost and long trip duration, people in Canada generally don’t travel between cities.
On the other hand, in Germany, it’s easy to visit other cities/towns/countries, since everything is close and well-connected.
Germany offers incredible travel opportunities. We can’t even compare it to Canada. As a non-EU citizen, you can access every country in the EU with a German residence permit/visa. Taking a train, bus, or a short flight is super easy and affordable.
Additionally, excellent public transportation gives you easy access to all the cities in Germany. You certainly don’t need a car to live in Germany and be mobile.
As you might expect, travel can be challenging in Canada simply because of its location. Traveling is expensive and takes many hours. Generally, air travel in North America is much more costly than in Europe.
Trains are slow and not great overall. Plus, they’re even more expensive. Even if you go to another city in Canada, it will have the exact same stores and restaurants. There are a few exceptions Victoria/Montreal/Quebec City. The rest cities are quite the same.
If you want to go somewhere different from Canada or the USA, you need to fly for at least 6 hours, such as Toronto to London or Toronto to Mexico.
Maybe this is why so many Canadians never travel and even haven’t left the country.
Stay vs. return ratio
In which country you might stay forever and in which you might return home?
Statistically, most immigrants to Germany stay there for their whole life. At the same time, 60% of immigrants to Canada return to their home countries within 10 years and 50% of them even within the first 2 years. That sad fact should tell you something.
Let’s be honest, the German language is difficult. Not everyone wants and can learn it. Many foreigners don’t become fluent even after years of living there.
Despite that, you don’t necessarily need to learn German to live in Germany. There are plenty of English-speaking jobs available, and people speak English fluently. Yet, there is no way you integrate into German society without speaking German.
English is indeed the primary language in Canada, but if you want to live in a French-speaking part of the country, be prepared to learn French. Hence, there are two official languages, English and French. If you are going to Quebec, make sure you know French as well.
Attitude to foreigners
Well, generally Canadians are very friendly people while Germans can appear as cold and less friendly. There are just some cultural differences. Canadians also are easier to make friends with. German reservedness can scare many people, and it takes a while until they open up.
Generally, people are friendlier in Canada, especially outside the big cities like Toronto. They’re more open, chatty, and a bit happier in general.
Canada is well-known for its official multiculturalism. The country makes great efforts to ensure that new immigrants embrace Canadian culture and become a part of it while still being able to retain their roots.
Hence, it’s much easier to integrate into the Canadian society and succeed in life as a foreigner than in German.
Many people with immigration backgrounds have had the experience of not being accepted by German society and constantly felt like outsiders, despite being born in the country (as immigrants of the second generation) and speaking German fluently.
Germany vs. Canada: job opportunities
What jobs are available in these countries, and what are your chances? Generally, Germany’s unemployment rate is lower (3,1%) than in Canada (5,7%).
In Germany, there are plenty of job opportunities in all industries, but the majority of them are concentrated in the STEM fields. Alongside jobs in German, many English-speaking positions are available for expats.
Tech and IT have the majority of positions for non-German speakers. These jobs involve little to no human interaction.
To get them, you have to meet specific qualifications and have experience. Jobs of the lower caliber are usually German-speaking unless you want to work in tourism or hospitality.
Employees enjoy several benefits when working in Germany. It includes health, pension, unemployment insurance, paid vacation, and parental leave. Workers also rarely do overtime.
Germany needs many foreign workers, from experienced high qualified expats to regular laborers. The biggest opportunities with the highest salaries can be found in STEM industries, e.g., engineering, research, and IT.
Read more about benefits for employees in Germany.
It’s essential to have qualifications to work in Germany as a non-EU national. Sticking to the job for at least two years can get you permanent residency in Germany when coming on an EU Blue Card.
You can come to Germany without a job and find employment while already living here. Just apply for a Jobseeker visa.
Read more about Permanent Residence Permit in Germany.
Read about the high-demand jobs in Germany in 2021, so you can get a job for sure.
Highly skilled workers will find many job opportunities in Canada. With over 41,500 tech companies, IT specialists have the best chances of employment. Apart from IT, manufacturing, service, real estate, and communications are all essential sectors in Canada and have been growing continuously over the years.
Moreover, Canada is ready to take more immigrants in the next two years. If your specialization falls into the IT, medicine, engineering, oil, or gas industries, you are more than welcome.
Location-wise, most expats prefer to work in Toronto. However, this doesn’t mean that Toronto offers the best job opportunities for foreigners. In fact, many skilled laborers come to the northern parts of Canada, where the demand is the greatest.
The western part of the country has more to offer, for example, in Saskatchewan province.
Regions like Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan have a higher demand for skilled foreign workers. The three provinces have higher employment rates for foreigners than large cities like Toronto and Montreal.
Besides, finding a job in Canada depends on how prevalent an occupation is. Also, some careers in Canada usually concentrate in certain cities or provinces. If you are looking for a job in tech, you have a better chance of getting it in cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.
On the other hand, jobs in the healthcare sector are available in every part of Canada. Besides healthcare, jobs in the mining, construction, and engineering sectors are available across the country.
When looking for a job in Canada, it’s essential to know some facts about getting a job there:
- Employers are looking for qualified individuals
- Techs jobs are in the highest demand
- Graduates can find work after finishing school through programs like Post Graduate Permit
How is working in Canada differ to working in Germany?
Working in Canada is substantially different from working in Germany. Work-life balance is undoubtedly superior in Germany than in Canada.
Canadian employees receive employment insurance, family benefits, pension insurance, education and training benefits, housing benefits, and maternity and paternity leave as part of the benefits. German employers will offer you the same.
Payments are made biweekly in Canada, while you get paid once per month in Germany. So a few budgeting skills will be required when working in Germany.
The work culture in Canada involves dedication, passion, and hard work. Unfortunately, you will only get ten days of vacation while working in Canada (4 weeks in Germany). Sick days are also limited.
In many Canadian companies, overtime is normal, and workers are expected to prioritize work over family and free time. Employers can fire you fairly easily, not like in Germany, so you don’t have a lot of job security unless you’re a very valuable worker (engineer, programmer).
Germany vs Canada: salaries and taxes
So, who gets paid more, Germans or Canadians?
The official average salary in Germany in 2022 was 56,985 EUR or 34,126 EUR after-tax for a single person. It’s about CAD$50,000 yearly or CAD$4,166 monthly.
Read more about salaries in Germany: What is a good salary in Germany?
Wages in Germany obviously depend on the job. Here are some examples of how much someone makes in different positions and industries in Germany.
1. No skills, no experience job:
A cleaner, waiter, or cashier at a supermarket makes around 28,700 EUR annually on average or 2,300 EUR per month. Most casual, low-skilled jobs are low-paid.
2. Middle-level jobs
A secretary makes around 34,700 EUR per year or 2,900 EUR per month. A kindergarten teacher earns 3,320 EUR gross per month, and a high school teacher gets 3,900 EUR gross on average.
3. High-level, respected jobs
A project manager in a middle-sized company earns around 56,600 EUR annually or 4,700 EUR per month. An accountant makes on average around 41,000 EUR annually or 3,400 EUR gross monthly.
Doctors are among the highest-paying jobs in Germany. For example, a radiologist earns 84,000 EUR per year on average, which comes to 7,000 EUR per month.
Furthermore, managing directors can enjoy the highest salary across the country – 174,600 EUR annually or 14,550 EUR monthly.
The average salary in Germany in 2022 in different industries:
|Profession||Avg. Gross salary (2022)|
|Distribution and Sales||€59,000|
The average salary in Canada in 2022 was around CAD$54,630 for full-time workers. While the most typical wage was CAD$59,769 before tax.
The average salary in different job sectors and annual growth:
- Accommodation and Food Services – $24,027.64 (+5.0%)
- Administrative and Support – $50,084.32 (+5.7%)
- Arts, Entertainment and Recreation – $37,700.00 (-6.3%)
- Construction – $71,399.64 (+4.4%)
- Education – $61,726.60 (+5.8%)
- Finance and Insurance – $75,977.72 (-1.3%)
- Forestry and Logging – $67,057.12 (+14.2%)
- Health Care and Social Assistance – $51,264.72 (-3.1%)
- Information and Culture Industries – $86,197.80 (+20.3%)
- Management of Companies and Enterprises – $82,704.96 (+10.9%)
- Manufacturing – $62,551.32 (+2.7%)
- Mining, Oil and Gas Extraction – $116,592.84 (+3.1%)
- Professional, Scientific and Technical Services – $80,285.40 (+5.5%)
- Public Administration – $76,752.00 (+1.3%)
- Real Estate (Rental/Leasing) – $63,319.36 (+8.1%)
- Retail – $34.476.00 (-0.1%)
- Transportation and Warehousing – $61,727.64 (+1.2%)
- Utilities – $97,522.36 (-3.9%)
- Wholesale Trade – $70,382.52 (+4.4%)
For the same income of 60,000 EUR (CAD$87,476) as a single, you will have 35,770 EUR after-tax in Germany and 44,427 EUR (CAD$64,828) in Canada. Hence, in Canada, you will save a whopping 8,657 EUR per year on taxes.
Singles with no kids will be definitely poorer when working in Germany for the same salary.
However, keep in mind that your comprehensive health insurance is already paid with taxes in Germany, while in Canada, many people sign for a private package in addition to public healthcare. It’s about CAD$50-CAD$100 per month for an individual.
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Health, pension, unemployment, long care insurances – all are paid automatically with taxes.
Tax overview in Germany for a gross annual salary of 60,000 EUR for a single with no kids:
- Income Tax: 11,872 EUR
- Solidarity Surcharge: 652 EUR
- Church Tax: 949 EUR
- Taxes: 13,475 EUR
- Pension Insurance: 5,580 EUR
- Unemployment Insurance: 720 EUR
- Health Insurance: 4,359 EUR
- Care Insurance: 998 EUR
- Social Charges: 11,657 EUR
- Net Salary: 34,866 EUR
Tax overview in Ontario, Canada for a gross annual salary of 60,000 EUR (CAD$87,552) for a single with no kids:
- Federal tax: CAD$12,368
- Provincial tax: CAD$6,248
- CPP/EI Premiums: CAD$4,056
- Total tax: CAD$22,672
- Average tax rate: 21.33%
- Marginal tax rate: 31.48%
- Net Salary: CAD$64,880 or 44,427 EUR
Federal tax rates in Canada in 2023:
- 15% on the first CAD$53,359 of taxable income, +
- 20.5% on the next CAD$53,359 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $53,359 up to $106,717), +
- 26% on the next CAD$53,359 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $106,717 up to $165,430), +
- 29% on the next CAD$53,359 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $165,430 up to $235,676), +
- 33% of taxable income over CAD$235,676
Additionally, employees have to pay a provincial tax depending on their work.
With an average annual income of CAD$54,630, you will pay CAD$$12,335 or 22,58% in tax. This will leave you CAD$42,295 or CAD$3,524 per month.
Germany vs. Canada: business and self-employment opportunities
In which country is it easier to do a business if getting a job isn’t in your plans?
The easier path to becoming self-employed in Germany is to work as a freelancer. That way, you can get a Freelancer visa. An essential part of working as a freelancer in Germany is securing the job first. You can either have clients from abroad or in Germany.
Read more about German Freelancer visa and its requirements.
The main requirement for a German Freelancer visa is to present a few past or current contracts with German clients and valid in Germany health insurance.
Sometimes the visa gets approved without having a contact in Germany, but Freelancers will need some experience in the past and respective qualifications.
Companies don’t directly employ freelancers in Germany, they will hire you as a contractor instead. You can also provide your services to private clients.
After getting your Freelancer visa and moving to Germany, you have to register with the tax office to receive a business’s tax ID. Don’t forget about Freelance bank account.
A freelancer will get it after submitting the complete Tax Number Registration Form. Fortunately, as a freelancer, you don’t need to register a trade or business; hence you aren’t subject to trade supervision, commercial law, trade law, and you don’t have to keep books.
Read about how to start a business as a foreigner in Germany and how much does it cost.
You can also become a freelancer in Canada, in fact, over 15% of all workers are freelancers. Canadian system recognizes freelance work as a business entity. It requires that you comply with the legal requirements for paying taxes.
As a freelancer in Canada, you are likely to work in writing, tech outsourcing, artistic work, or remote work administration.
To become self-employed in Canada, you can register a sole proprietorship with the province where you live or incorporate. The second option is more expensive but makes sense, as you’ll have many more tax deductions available and have more personal protection from liability.
To find freelancer gigs while living abroad, you can use job boards like Upwork, Fiverr, or Problogger.com as a writer. Leveraging social media and creating a portfolio will also increase your chances of success.