Although moving your family to Germany may be challenging, you have many rewards to enjoy, including a high quality of life.
Before you move, it’s wise to find out if you can handle the cost of living in the country. How much does a family need to cover expenses in Germany comfortably?
Germany’s average cost of living ranges from $1,056 to $2,112 per month. The expenses are, however, determined by your family size, lifestyle, and the city you live in. Although food, housing, and other costs have increased like in many other parts of the world, German salaries are fair enough.
Additionally, the German government supports middle-class families, so living a comfortable life is possible. In this guide, I will break down the monthly cost of living so you can know what to expect.
Let’s get started!
What is the average cost of living in Germany for a family?
On average, the cost of living for a family in Germany per month is approximately $2,112. The amount might be less for a family with one child.
A big percentage goes to housing, while another 14.9 percent goes to food. This cost might be high if you move to cities like Munich and Stuttgart since they are the most expensive cities in Germany.
Consider moving to Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dresden, and Hamburg if your income is low since life is cheaper there.
Here is a breakdown of the significant family expenses in Germany.
The most significant part of your income will be for mortgage or rent.
Your rental price will be cheaper if you live further from the city center. So how much is the cost of housing in Germany?
On average, a one-bedroom house in the city center is between $1,053 and $1,581 a month, while you may pay $790 a month for the same house outside the city center.
Before renting a house in Germany, you need to consider several factors that directly affect the cost of the rent. Below is a brief discussion of these factors.
Your rental costs may include or exclude utilities when you rent a house in Germany. The landlords determine the choice of what to include in the rent cost, but heating and water are always included.
The other extra costs that the landlord may add are maintenance costs for the apartment and cable TV.
In this day and age, the Internet is a must for every household, but it’s hardly a part of the rental price.
The price of Internet in Germany depends on its speed, your location, and the company offering the services. On average, you will spend between $32 and $42 a month for an Internet connection.
The cost of electricity entirely depends on your consumption. This is why most landlords don’t include it in the rent.
On average, the monthly electricity bill is between $53 and $158. This cost may be higher during winter because you must keep the house warm throughout the season.
What other factors affect the rent price in Germany?
When renting a house in Germany, you must pay a deposit first. The deposit may be for two to three months of rent.
Why do landlords demand a deposit? They use it to cater for any damage caused to the building. If you take care of the apartment, the landlord will refund your deposit immediately after you leave the property.
Some apartments in Germany are fully furnished, so you won’t need to buy furniture.
Most schools in Germany are free thanks to federal government funds that cater to primary, secondary, and vocational education.
Nevertheless, parents are charged for extracurricular activities such as school excursions, trips, and sports days. Families with low incomes get subsidies and bursaries.
You will have to pay if you want to enroll your child in a private school. However, to avoid discrimination between poor and affluent families, German private schools charge reasonably and provide different scholarship schemes. The education boards in every federal state determine the fee a private school charges.
Private school fees can be deducted from the parent’s annual income if they agree with the deduction. This ensures that German private schools are affordable compared to Western European ones.
The best part of the German education system is that foreigners can study for free regardless of where they’re from.
You only have to pay the administration fee, but that’s only in a few public schools. This explains why many international students prefer moving to the country for studies.
Germany’s food costs are generally low, unlike in neighboring countries. This is more so for products like beef, bread, cheese, and vegetables, mainly because the country grows many foods thanks to its advanced agricultural industry.
So how much is the cost of food in Germany? On average, a family of four will spend between $421 and $631 per month on food. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
However, the cost of food you need depends on the size of your family, dietary preferences, the number of meals you prepare, and where you shop. Your location also determines how much you will spend on food. For instance, food prices in the major cities are higher than on the outskirts.
There are many lovely places to buy food in Germany, including farmers’ markets, food halls, small grocery stores, and supermarkets like Aldi, Edeka, Kaufland, and Carrefour.
If you want locally grown and fresh foods, I recommend you go to the farmers’ markets. Although you will pay more, the quality is unbeatable.
The healthcare system in Germany is among the best in the world, as everyone must have health insurance.
The monthly healthcare insurance deduction is 15 percent of a person’s gross income. Half of that percentage is contributed by the employer. Public healthcare providers are also permitted to charge an extra 1.8 percent, which the employer pays.
Germany has two types of healthcare systems: private and statutory health insurance (public health insurance). There is a huge difference between these two types of healthcare insurance, and it’s crucial that I mention a few.
For one, not everyone is eligible for private healthcare insurance. To qualify, you must earn more than $68,024 per year, whether self-employed or a civil servant. You also must pass a medical test before being approved for this type of insurance.
The case is different for public healthcare insurance because your income doesn’t matter.
The other main difference between the two types of insurance is the cost. Public health insurance is more affordable, while private insurance is almost only for those with a high income.
The best places to live in Germany
Finding a nice place to live with your family in Germany comes down to personal preferences.
I understand that being new to a place can be confusing. That’s why I put together this list of the best places to live with your family in Germany.
This is the third largest city in Germany. Munich is a hub for culture and history, and it’s known for its high quality of life.
Additionally, Munich offers many employment opportunities and boasts a clean environment, excellent transport links, and cultural attractions.
Schools and universities are great here, not to mention excellent healthcare services. Munich boasts many gardens and urban parks that are ideal for family picnics and relaxation.
Undoubtedly, Frankfurt is one of the best places to live in Germany. This explains why most people from across the world live here.
This cosmopolitan city features affordable houses and offers ample facilities to families. It also boasts a thriving economy and great employment opportunities, and it’s popularly known for its friendly people, fun, and famous business hubs.
This town is also easily accessible thanks to its state-of-the-art infrastructure. There are many options for schools to enroll your kids.
If you’re looking for a comfortable place to live with your family in Germany, Berlin won’t disappoint you.
First, the quality of life here is good, with top-notch safety, an excellent healthcare system, and a reliable transport system.
The cost of living is also low compared to other major cities in Germany. This makes it a perfect place for anyone keen on saving money.
The city is also suitable for families with university students because higher education is free. Besides, you will find the best universities in Europe here.
This city also has many family-friendly things to do, so you will have quality family time anytime.
This is one of the most liveable cities in Europe. Dusseldorf has many attractions, and you can be sure of excellent schools and quality healthcare services.
You don’t need to worry as a foreigner because Dusseldolf boasts many international schools, so your kids will adapt quickly.
Being a small city, you can easily navigate by walking or using buses, taxis, or bicycles. Some of the best neighborhoods in Dusseldorf include Pempelfort, Bilk, and Flingern. You will also have a lot of lovely places to hang out if you settle in this city with your family.
How to find a job in Germany
One thing that scares most people when moving to a new country is finding a job.
You can easily move from one company to other thanks to the Internet. You can search for a job on online platforms such as Kununu, JobStairs, and Monster.
EAA, EU, and Swiss nationals can use EURES, a job portal network that helps people move across Europe for free.
Other ways of finding a job in Germany are through recruitment agencies and networking.
How to find a house in Germany
Finding a house in Germany is also easy if you have Internet. You can find apartment listings on well-known real estate websites.
Besides, you can search for German daily newspapers, and you may be lucky to find excellent an accommodation for your family.
The supply and demand of housing in Germany depends on the region you want to move to. For instance, getting a house in larger cities may take time since the demand is high, unlike in rural areas.
When searching for a family house, you should consider the size, price, and facilities.
8 essential tips for living in Germany
Moving to Germany allows you to live in one of the world’s most organized and developed countries. Here are some essential tips to help you and your family settle right in.
1. Always carry your ID
German law requires everyone above 16 years old to carry their ID at all times. Ensure you have a copy of the same at home. If you’re a foreigner, bring your residence permit card, also known as eAT.
2. You will pay taxes
Besides the income tax, households and individuals must pay some additional taxes.
One of the taxes is the church tax paid once you join a congregation. Church tax is usually between eight to nine percent of a person’s income.
The other special tax you pay here is the public broadcasting tax.
You may be entitled to the Social Security Service retirement benefits if you work in this country for many years. You will enjoy these benefits even if you retire in a different country.
3. Learn the language
Consider taking a short German course immediately after settling down or relocating. Most foreigners learn German at adult education centers because they are affordable.
Although many natives here know English, it might be hard for you to live in this country, especially if you stay outside the major cities. By learning the language, you will integrate into society and not struggle at your place of work.
4. Get to know the German garbage system
The garbage collection system in Germany is unique, and it’s essential to familiarize yourself with it.
The system uses six differently colored bins. The color classification tells the user the kind of a waste to put in a particular bin.
For instance, a blue or green bin is for cardboard and papers, yellow for plastics, white for clear glass etc.
This system enables the government to recycle all household wastes easily.
5. Meeting people in Germany is easy
Germans are social people. If you want to meet new people or make friends, I recommend joining some clubs. The other fast way of meeting new people is at work or school.
6. Smoking is not allowed in some parts of Germany
Smoking in public places is illegal in Germany, including in restaurants and bars. Non-smoking laws are set by individual states, so they differ depending on where you are.
Also, don’t be surprised to find cigarette vending machines in designated areas. If you want to smoke, you must insert your bank card or driver’s license to prove you’re not underage.
7. Public holidays are different
Each German year has nine official national public holidays. Public institutions and businesses may have reduced hours or be closed on public holidays.
8. Children are more independent
Don’t be surprised to find children roaming around the streets in Germany. Any child above six years old is permitted to ride the bus or train, go to the shops, or walk to school without being accompanied by their parent.
If childcare is a struggle, you can leave the kid’s home for up to six hours, provided they are above 10 years old. Also, kids above 11 can babysit for family members or close friends.
The size of your family, your lifestyle, and your city determine the cost of living in Germany. Unlike small towns, life in major cities is expensive. However, the salaries are fair, so you can live comfortably with your family.