Moving to a 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 you should budget? To make your relocation a little bit easier, we wrote this article with estimated costs which you can expect when relocating to Germany from overseas.
Estimated costs of moving to Germany:
- Visa: 110 – 140 EUR
- Flight: 600 EUR
- 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
- Shipment of personal items: 1,000 EUR
- Minimum: 3,640 EUR (without shipping)
- Maximum: 9,670 EUR
Planning your budget when relocation is crucial. Before moving to Germany, you must know how much it will cost. This will determine if you can relocate to another country in your current situation. Let’s look into the details.
Moving to Germany: What you need to prepare
Here is the list of steps you need to take to move to Germany; by looking at this, you can understand all the processes and costs involved in this.
1. Organize a visa
All non-EU citizens, except for some countries such as the USA, South Korea, Australia, Israel, and Japan, must apply for a visa before moving to Germany. Therefore, there are some additional costs involved in this process.
Luckily, German visas are the most inexpensive in Europe; you will pay 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 you organize. Sometimes, a company where you will be working supports foreign employers in these processes. Students will need to arrange it on their own.
The main costs there are the translator services, if needed, a notary, and visa fees. From my experience, I will estimate it to be around 500 EUR.
2. Estimate costs of living
You need to be aware of the living costs of the country where you are moving so you can budget accordingly. We will describe the average cost of living in Germany later in this article.
3. Find a place to live
You probably won’t be able to rent long-term accommodations before moving to Germany. The best option is to find an Airbnb for the first month or two and look for an apartment in the meantime.
Depending on the location, finding a suitable place might take several weeks. In cities like Munich and Berlin, the competition for housing is high.
Also read: Best websites to find apartments in Germany.
4. Manage and plan your financials
Consider all costs involved in moving to Germany and your first months there. You might not have a job yet, so you must have some savings to live on until your first paycheck arrives.
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 pretty pricey.
It is also worth considering aspects like pensions, taxes, 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.
5. Organise your insurances
If you reside in Germany, you must have health insurance. Your insurance from your home country won’t work here.
To avoid any problems, sign up for expat insurance like this one from Feather, before your arrival. US citizens can take out coverage from Cigna Global.
If you need a visa to Germany, you must have health insurance for your visa application. Besides, personal liability insurance is also some of the essential insurances in Germany. It will cover the most unfortunate events around you and your property.
You also need European insurance for your car, if you have one.
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 Wise – the best international money transfer provider with the lowest fees and best exchange rate.
Read how to send money from the USA to Germany in the best possible ways.
For all those steps, you will need a reliable banking account; get an easy online setup with this German bank at zero costs!
5. Transport your belongings and vehicle
The best option is to move to Germany with as few belongings as possible. In some cases, transporting things can be more expensive than buying a new one.
If you are from the same continent, shipping your car can be a good idea; otherwise, selling it and buying another in Germany is better. If you want to transport your items, you can use air or sea cargo services.
Many companies and providers will help you with that, but it might be quite expensive, especially air transport.
Also read: The costs of owning a car in Germany.
The city you move to
Living in a large city with an international airport is always better if it’s your first time in Germany. So you will be surrounded by other foreigners and have more travel opportunities.
Your costs of moving and living will vary depending on the city you move to in Germany. The reason for this is regional differences in the economy and, therefore, in living costs, e.g., 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.
The 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 standards of living.
Apart from this, the country has many reasonably cheaper cities, including Leipzig, Dresden, Bochum, Magdeburg, Bamberg, Rostock, and Kiel.
How much should you have in savings?
So, if you come from a developing country, expect to spend more but earn more. However, during the first months, you might not have any income, or if you have a job offer already, your first income will be after around 1 month of living in Germany.
When you are moving to the country/city, the challenge is to invest first to settle down and start your everyday and steady life.
Here is the breakdown of expenses you can expect when moving to Germany and 2 months after. Some of them are fixed costs, and some can vary:
Some fixed costs will be:
1. 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 the next 2 months: 1,000 EUR*5 or 400 EUR*4 = 5,000 EUR (apartment) or 1,600 EUR (room).
3. Emergency savings: 1,000 – 2,000 EUR.
4. Insurances for the current and next month:
- Health insurance: 150 EUR*2
- Liability insurance (inc. for an apartment) for a year: 50 EUR
- Car insurance for a year: 500 EUR (if you plan to have one).
5. Other expenses:
- Gym membership: 30-70 EUR
- Public transport card: 60-80 EUR
Total maximum: 9,000 EUR
Total minimum: 3,640 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 out: 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 what you need to buy in a new country, what is missed in your new apartment, kitchen equipment, and other critical living items.
So the minimum will be 500 EUR, but you almost 100% will need more unless you move into a 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 support yourself for the first two months.
Monthly expenses while in Germany
In 2022 the average salary in Germany was around 3,700 EUR gross per month. It’s not that bad; consequently, living costs are relatively high too.
As an adult in Germany, it would be hard to get by for less than 1,000 EUR a month; you will need at least 1,500 EUR – 2,000 EUR per month to rent an apartment and have a modest lifestyle. 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 some considerably more, depending on what you get used to at home.
If we compare Berlin and New York, eating out is 50% cheaper than in New York, and you’ll also save more than 50% by buying groceries in Berlin instead of New York.
With a monthly ticket for excellent public transportation, you will save up if you use a car.
Rent is the biggest expense. It’s very must depend on in which city you are living. Prices wildly 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 studio. See more detailed information on housing below.
To see how much you will pay for rent, check out the article about rent prices in Germany.
Groceries can be cheap and expensive at the same time. Products from discount supermarkets are much more affordable than from average supermarkets.
Overall, groceries tend to be much cheaper in Germany than in many other European countries.
This is especially true for meat, cheese, milk products, bread, beer, wine, and vegetables, mainly because Germany produces and grows much of its food. Beer and bread are fairly cheap because it’s a Grundnahrungsmittel or staple food for Germans.
Alcohol is overall inexpensive in Germany; if you look at Scandinavian countries, it’s at many times, cheaper in Germany!
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, since 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 throughout the week.
Be prepared to pay more for local food, but the quality is unbeaten, and the environmental impact is lower.
Going out is an important part of our lives, and people tend to spend their free time eating in restaurants and exploring new cafes, coffee shops, bars, and clubs. So how much will you pay for the joy in Germany?
Your social life will cost you considerably less than in most northern European countries. Eating out and drinking (especially beer) are offered for a reasonable price.
Dinner will cost you around 20 EUR for a good meal and a couple of beers. Eating out is more expensive than in Eastern European countries but cheaper than in France or the Netherlands, for example.
A budget lunch in a fast-food or takeaway restaurant costs between 5 EUR and 11 EUR, while an evening meal in a typical restaurant can cost between 10 EUR and 20 EUR per person. Don’t forget to tip around 10%.
Health insurance is one of the most important things to prepare for when moving to Germany. Germany has one of the best-funded public healthcare systems in Europe, although residents can choose from private or public coverage depending on their needs.
Healthcare 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 tools like Tarifcheck; the platform will give you the best results accordingly to your situation. You could also opt for Ottonova, the best health insurance for expats.
Read more about the cost of medical treatment in Germany.
If you plan to work in Germany, you will usually get public insurance, premiums for which will be deducted from your salary. It’s about 7,6% of your gross income. Or you can choose private 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.
On average, you will pay between 80 EUR and 400 EUR for health insurance, depending on the provider; 150 EUR is the average for employees with public insurance.
Public transport in Germany is of an exceptionally high standard and reasonably priced compared 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 to 90 EUR a month, depending on the city and whether you are a student.
Traveling by train can be expensive; opting for a shared ride such as a BlaBlaCar or bus from 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 doesn’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.
Germany has an excellent childcare system, but sometimes you must 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.
Most state-owned kindergarten costs an average of 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 relatively 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, and Hamburg, is high, and 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:
|Location||One Bed Rent (City Centre)||Three Bed Rent (City Centre)|
As you can see, Munich is the most expensive place, and Leipzig is the cheapest place to live in Germany.
The rent prices vary depending on the location, condition, and 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, sometimes even excluding light fittings. You might want to look up furniture ahead of time on 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. That could be 3,000 – 5,000 EUR in many cases, so be prepared.
In the 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. The cost breakdown would be monthly rent of 400 EUR a deposit of 2*400 EUR.
Shared apartments are a very common housing way in Germany, not only for students but also for working adults. You will have your room and share 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 a 70 square meter apartment.
Electricity isn’t included in these payments and is billed separately, as is your phone line and fast Internet connection. Together, these will cost around 70 EUR monthly for a 1-bed apartment.
Also, keep in mind that you need insurance for your apartment or house in case something bad happens. Check the best coverage here.
This brings us to the 220 EUR in total for a 1-bedroom apartment in utility costs.