This guide shows you how much life in Berlin costs. Most of these things cost the same in the rest of Germany, but the rents can be different.

Use this information to make a budget before you move to Germany. It shows you how to calculate your taxes, insurance, rent, groceries and other expenses. It also shows you how to save money in Germany.

Taxes, insurance and pension

Who pays it: Every German employee. If you are self-employed, you don't pay some of those taxes.

Cost: use the German tax calculator

Taxes, insurance and pension payments are deducted from your salary every month. When you subtract those payments from your gross income (Brutto), your get net income (Netto). The net income is the money you have left for rent, food and other things.

Salary deductions include:

  • Income tax (Einkommensteuer)
    If you are an employee, it's taken from your paycheque. If you are self-employed, you must declare your income to the Finanzamt. You can choose to transfer the money, or to let them take it from your bank. If you have a low income, you can pay income tax every year. If you have a high income, you must pay it every month, and adjust the amount once a year.
  • Health insurance (Krankenversicherung)
    In Germany, health insurance is required. It's around 15.8% of your income, but your employer pays half of it. How to choose German health insurance.
  • Nursing care insurance (Pflegeversicherung)
    If you have public health insurance, it's 3.05% to 3.4% of your income. Your employer pays half of it, unless you're self-employed. On this website, I always include it with the cost of public health insurance. If you have private health insurance, Pflegeversicherung is included in the price.
  • Church tax ((Kirchensteuer)
    If you are a member of certain churches, you must pay the church tax. It's 8% of your income tax. If you want to stop paying the church tax, you must leave the church.
  • Pension insurance (Rentenversicherung)
    When you have a job, you pay public pension insurance. When you retire, you get a public pension. If you are self-employed, the public pension is optional. If you don't pay for the public pension, you will not get a pension when you retire.
  • Unemployment insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung)
    When you have a job, you must pay for unemployment insurance. If you lose your job, you will receive unemployment benefits (ALG I). If you are self-employed, unemployment insurance is optional. If you don't pay for unemployment insurance, you can't get unemployment benefits.
  • Solidarity tax
    If you have a high income, you might also pay a solidarity tax.

If you are self-employed, you don't receive a paycheque, so taxes and insurance contributions are taken from your bank account. You must also pay business taxes like the trade tax (Gewerbesteuer).

If you earn money from the stock market, or from other investments, it is taxed separately. You pay a flat capital gains tax (Kapitalertragsteuer) of 25%1.

How to pay less...

    Useful links:


    Cost: 300€ to 600€ per month (room), 600€ to 1500€ per month (apartment)

    Rent is one of your biggest expenses. Many immigrants get very expensive furnished apartments, because they can't find anything else. After a few months in Berlin, you should always 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:

    How to find an apartment in Berlin ➞


    Cost: ~200€ 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:

    • Get a yearly subscription. It's much cheaper than a monthly pass.
    • 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.

    Ticket prices - BVG


    Cost: ~40€ 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 to pay less:

    Useful links:


    Cost: ~35€ per month

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

    How to pay less:

    Mobile phone

    Cost: 5€ to 40€ per month

    How to pay less:

    • Get a prepaid phone plan. A prepaid phone plan with 3-5 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.

    Compare phone plan prices - Verivox

    TV tax (Rundfunkbeitrag)

    Who pays it: Every household

    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.

    How to pay less:

    • 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.

    What is the Rundfunkbeitrag? ➞


    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 pay less:

    How to choose a bank in Germany ➞

    Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)

    Cost: ~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 ➞


    Cost: at least 100€ per month

    You don't need a car in Berlin and other big cities. Most people do not have a car. You can buy a bicycle or use public transportation. If you have a car, you must pay for parking, car insurance, vehicle tax, fuel, tires and maintenance.

    How to save money:

    Cost of owning a car in Germany ➞


    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 ~5€ per month. Pet health insurance is optional, and it costs ~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: ~3x your cold rent (Kaltmiete)

    When you move into an apartment, you must pay a deposit (Kaution). You get that money back when you move out. You can pay it in instalments.

    How to pay less:

    • Live in a WG - share an apartment with other people.

    How apartment deposits work in Germany ➞

    Furniture, appliances, etc

    Cost: 200€-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.

    How to pay less:

    Where to buy what in Berlin ➞

    Driving licence

    Cost: 1500€ to 2000€. Less if you convert a foreign licence.

    If you want to drive in Germany, you will need to get a driving licence, or convert your foreign driving licence.

    Related guides:

    Example budget

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


    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).

    Gross income3,994€47,928€
    Church tax59€708€
    Income tax656€7,873€
    Pension insurance371€4,457€
    Unemployment insurance48€575€

    Health insurance

    Nursing care insurance71€851€
    Net income
    This is the money you have left to spend


    These are my 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.





    Public transit pass


    Vehicle insurance

    TV tax (Rundfunkbeitrag)18€


    Mobile phone

    Liability insurance6€74€
    Vehicle tax4€47€
    This is how much you need to pay the bills

    More ways to save money

    How to save money in Germany ➞