From fertile Bavarian landscapes to hip modern cities, Germany is rich with different lifestyles to latch onto. You can tap into the cosmopolitan vibes or indulge in outdoor pursuits. However, Germany is particularly popular with graduates, who flock to the cities (particularly Berlin) to benefit from the abundance of job opportunities available. Whatever draws you to life in Germany, you are in very stable hands.
The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, release their Global Prosperity Index annually. The survey ranks the most prosperous countries in the world. Many assume prosperity is used in reference to the financial standing of a country and, while this is included, the Legatum Institute considers more factors in its ranking.
Ranking in 11th place in 2016’s report (out of 149 countries) was Germany. This puts Germany in the bottom 8%, with its rankings for economic quality (5th), natural environment (6th) and safety and security (7th) helping it nudge towards the top 10. Germany’s ranking only fell outside of the top 20 once, receiving 21st place for personal freedom.
Championed for its job and economic security, as well as its affordable living costs, it is not hard to understand why many move to Germany. However, how much does it truly cost to live there?
Germany is the founding member of the European Union and the Eurozone. The country has the largest national economy in Europe and it took over, in early 2017, as the fastest growing G7 economy. Experts explain that Germany’s growth is due to consumer spending, which is predicted to fuel further GDP development in 2017. Although consumer spending will undoubtedly take a dip, in a nutshell, Germany’s economy is strong and is likely to continue to be for years.
Since 2002, the currency of Germany has been the Euro (the official currency of the Eurozone). Each euro is divided into 100 cents and you will see the currency displayed using € or EUR. Euro notes are issued in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. There are also €1 and €2 euro coins, as well as 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c and 1c.
How to Rent or Buy a House in Germany
In most countries, it is the dream to own your own property, but this is not the case in Germany. The population is extremely balanced, with the country being championed for its rental market. Although both house prices and rental values have increased over the years, property in Germany is still affordable and around 66% less than London. Most German people and expats spend no more than one-third of their income on housing.
There are no restrictions on foreigners buying a home in Germany. Whether you are an EU national or a non-resident, you are welcome to spend your earnings on property within the country as you see fit. Typically, it can take just over a month to complete a property sale, with the process usually abiding by the following pattern:
- Decide upon a budget and investigate mortgages
- Find your dream property
- Put in an offer
- Sales contract is drawn up following acceptance of offer
- Finalise mortgage with provider
- Sign the contract
- Register the sale
- Pay property sale tax four weeks later
Expats should take note that additional costs, such as agent’s fee, notary’s fee, and the property tax usually settles at around 10% of the purchase price of the property.
If you are leaning towards renting a home in Germany, be prepared that the turnover in cities such as Munich and Berlin is quick. Once expats have found a property they like, it is best to secure a viewing with the estate agent or landlord. Sometimes you may be viewing a home with others, particularly if the property is popular so be prepared to haggle! Expats should make sure their paperwork is ready to go so housing applications can be made quickly. This usually consists of a copy of your passport, a work permit and pay slips or contract of employment.
Usually, to secure a home, expats will be expected to put down between one and three month’s rent. It will depend upon the landlord or agent entirely. Usually, contracts are for 12 months, but shorter leases can usually be negotiated.
Expat Healthcare in Germany
Germany’s health care system is universal and multi-payer. This means that law enforced and private health insurance are utilised. The standard of healthcare in Germany is championed and the country as a whole leans towards a healthy way of living.
Expats who are employed in Germany can make use of the statutory health insurance provided by the state. Self-employed or non-working foreigners must take out a private medical insurance policy. Many employed expats like to supplement their state insurance in this way also, to have access to private facilities.
All German employers, regardless of whether the expat has chosen private or statutory health insurance, usually foot half the bill per month.
Jobs in Germany for Expats
Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, hitting a record low of 5.8% in March 2017. If you are highly skilled or hold a university degree, have experience and a grasp on basic German, your chances of getting a job are much higher as these qualities are valued. In return, expats can look forward to an average working week of around 38 hours and a minimum of 18 days holiday a year.
Many expats living in Germany end up working as:
- Medical experts (especially nurses)
- Hospitality professionals
- Tradesmen (carpenters, plumbers, electricians)
Comparison to UK
The world’s largest database, Numbeo, has a vast selection of user contributed data in regards to Germany. Compared to the UK, the cost of living is lower in Germany.
The tables below provide an over view of the differences in costs between Germany and the UK. Please note that all German prices have been converted into British pounds.
|Groceries||UK Price (£)||German Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|White bread (500g)||£1.00||£1.12||UK|
|Local Cheese (1kg)||£5.39||£6.52||UK|
|Transport||UK Price (£)||German Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Utilities (Monthly)||UK Price (£)||German Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Electricity/Heating/Water for 85m2 apartment||£147.29||£191.88||UK|
|1 minute of PAYG talk time||£0.13||£0.09||Germany|
|Internet (10 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)||£23.98||£22.29||Germany|
|Clothing||UK Price (£)||German Price (£)||Cheaper Country?|
|Jeans (Levi or similar)||£62.48||£68.13||UK|
|Dress (chain store)||£31.24||£30.15||UK|
|Nike running shoe||£66.04||£75.92||UK|
|Leather business shoes||£78.92||£94.67||UK|
|Eating Out||UK Price (£)||German Price (£)||Cheaper Country?|
|Fast food meal||£5||£6.72||UK|
|3 course, mid-range, 2 people||£50||£40.32||Germany|
|Property||UK Price (£)||German Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Price per ²meter to buy (city)||£4,831||£3,639||Germany|
|Price per ²meter to buy (outside city)||£3,100||£2,466||Germany|
|1 bed apartment rent (city)||£763.07||£587.56||Germany|
|1 bed apartment rent (outside city)||£621.58||£441.87||Germany|
|3 bed apartment rent (city)||£1,242.13||£1,129.50||Germany|
|3 bed apartment rent (outside city)||£957.54||£840.98||Germany|