This is how much it costs to live in Berlin, and elsewhere in Germany. This guide helps you make a budget before you move to Germany, and save money every month.

Cost of living berlin germany

Taxes, insurance and pension

Cost: use the tax calculator

In Germany, a part of your gross income (Brutto) is for taxes and social contribution. Your employer automatically takes them from your salary. The money you keep is your net income (Netto).

If you are self-employed, don't pay unemployment insurance, and pension insurance is optional. You might also pay a trade tax (Gewerbesteuer).

If you make money with stocks and other investments, it's taxed separately. You pay a capital gains tax (Kapitalertragsteuer) of 25%1. Cryptocurrencies are taxed differently.

How to pay less income tax

  • Deduct expenses in your tax declaration. It reduces your taxable income, so you pay less income tax. Tax advisors and tax software can help you find expenses to deduct.
  • Contribute to your retirement pension. Pension contributions are taxed later, when you get a pension. It's a way to defer income tax.

How to pay less for health insurance

How to pay less pension insurance

How to pay less church tax

Rent

Cost: 400€ to 750€ per month (room), 600€ to 1,500€ per month (apartment)

Rent is often your biggest expense. Many immigrants get very expensive furnished apartments, because they can't find anything else. After a few months in Germany, you should look for something cheaper.

In Germany, there is the cold rent (Kaltmiete), and the warm rent (Warmmiete). The warm rent includes heating and hot water (the Nebenkosten).

How to pay less for rent

  • Live in a WG — share an apartment with other people. You split the rent, the internet, the TV tax, and other bills.
  • If you are a student, live in a dormitory (Studentenwohnheim). StudierendenWerk housing is much cheaper than regular apartments.
  • Move to a cheaper area. In Berlin, apartments are cheaper outside the Ring, but they are still close to the centre.
  • If your rent is over the legal maximum, get it lowered. This is your right. Your landlord can't punish you.

How to find an apartment in Berlin ➞

Food

Cost: around 250€ per month

If you only eat at home, you should pay around 250€ per month for groceries. If you eat out, you will spend a lot more.

Cost of food and restaurants in Berlin — numbeo

Public transit

Cost (Berlin): 44€ to 86€ per month (monthly pass), or 3€ per ride

How to pay less for public transit

  • Get a yearly subscription. It's much cheaper than a monthly pass.
  • In Berlin, get a 10-Uhr-Karte if you don't use public transportation between 3AM and 10AM on weekdays.
  • If you are a university or Hochschule student, your get a very cheap Semesterticket from your school1. It's usually included in your school fees.

Electricity

Cost: 60€ to 100€ per month

In Germany, the heating and hot water are usually included in your warm rent (Warmmiete). You still need an electricity contract for the lights and appliances.

How electric bills work ➞

How to pay less for electricity

Internet

Cost: around 35€ per month

For 35€ per month, you can get a 100 Mbit/s internet connection.

How to pay less for internet

  • Use a price comparator to find a internet service provider
  • When your internet contract is about to expire, call your internet company and ask for a better price. They will renew your contract, but give you a better plan. For example, I got a free upgrade from 100 Mbit/s to 300 Mbit/s.

Mobile phone

Cost: 5€ to 40€ per month

How to pay less for phone service

  • Use a price comparator to find a cheaper phone plan.
  • Get a prepaid phone plan. A prepaid phone plan with 3 to 5 GB data costs around 10€ per month.
  • Buy your own phone. It's cheaper to buy the phone you want, than to get a 2 year mobile phone plan with a new phone.

TV tax

Cost: 18.36€ per household per month

In Germany, every household must pay the TV tax (Rundfunkbeitrag). If you live with other people, you can split the cost. In some cases, you don't have to pay it.

You will receive a TV tax invoice by mail every 3 months. You can pay manually with a bank transfer, or automatically with a debit authorisation.

What is the Rundfunkbeitrag? ➞

How to avoid the TV tax

  • If you receive financial aid (ALG II or BAföG), you can fill this form to stop paying the TV tax.
  • If you live with other people, you only need to pay the TV tax once. You can split the cost.

Banking

Cost: 0€ to 10€ per month

Some banks charge a monthly fee. It's usually around 10€ per month. Some banks also charge 5€ to 10€ when you use an ATM from another network.

How to avoid banking fees

Liability insurance

Cost: around 5€ per month

Liability insurance is optional, but it's a really good idea. If you cause an accident, and someone sues you, the liability insurance pays for the damages. It costs around 5€ per month. Most Germans have it.

How to choose liability insurance in Germany ➞

Vehicles

Cost: at least 100€ per month

Cars are expensive to own and maintain. If you have a car, you must pay for parking, car insurance, vehicle tax, fuel, tires and maintenance.

Cost of owning a car in Germany ➞

How to save money:

Dogs

Cost: at least 50€ per month

If you have a dog, you must pay for dog food, liability insurance, health insurance, dog food and dog tax.

The dog tax is 120€ to 180€ per year. Dog liability insurance is required, and it costs around 5€ per month. Pet health insurance is optional, and it costs around 20€ per month. You can see the price of dog food here.

Related guides:

One time expenses

Apartment deposit (Kaution)

Who pays it: People who rent an apartment

Cost: around 3 times your cold rent (Kaltmiete)

When you move into an apartment, you must pay a deposit (Kaution). You can't touch that money until you move out.

If you live in a WG, the deposit is smaller. Sometimes, there is no deposit.

How apartment deposits work ➞

    Furniture, appliances, etc

    Cost: 200€ to 10,000

    When you move into your first apartment, you must get new furniture, new appliances, kitchen equipment, etc. In Germany, you might even need to buy light fixtures, and a kitchen counter.

    To save money, buy used furniture. You can find free/cheap furniture on eBay Kleinanzeigen and various Facebook groups.

    Where to buy what in Berlin ➞

    Driving licence

    Cost: 1,500€ to 2,000€. Less if you convert a foreign licence.

    If you want to drive in Germany, you need a driving licence. You can sometimes convert your foreign driving licence.

    How to get a (motorcycle) driving licence ➞

      Example budget

      This is an example budget for a single person who lives in Berlin. It uses realistic values.

      Income

      3,994€ was the average German salary in 20191. I used health insurance from Techniker Krankenkasse. I used the tax class for a single person without children (Steuerklasse I).

      Use my tax calculator to calculate your net income.

      DescriptionMonthlyYearly
      Gross income3,99447,928
      Church tax59708
      Income tax6567,873
      Pension insurance3714,457
      Unemployment insurance48575
      Health insurance3163,786
      Nursing care insurance71851
      Net income
      This is the money you have left to spend
      2,47329,677

      Expenses

      These are my real monthly expenses. This table does not include buying clothes, replacing broken things, or having fun. It only lists the bills I must pay.

      My budget includes a motorcycle, and a garage (120€/month). You don't need those. My rent is also very low, because I live far from the centre.

      DescriptionMonthlyYearly
      Rent6788,136
      Groceries1752,100
      Public transit pass63756
      Electricity38456
      Internet36432
      Vehicle insurance25304
      TV tax (Rundfunkbeitrag)18210
      Mobile phone10120
      Liability insurance674
      Vehicle tax447
      Total
      This is how much I need to pay the bills
      1,05312,630

      More ways to save money

      How to save money in Germany ➞