Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Last updated: Jan 2023
TL;DR: The cost of living in Germany is relatively reasonable compared to many other countries. The German government has set the average cost of living to be €934, which should sufficiently cover all expenses such as rental, food, transportation, insurance, and self-care. The actual cost of living varies depending on the location you live in and your lifestyle. Generally, cost of living is higher in bigger cities than in smaller towns.
Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable. The prices for food, accommodation, clothing, and entertainment are in line with the EU average. The German government recommends that international students set aside €934 a month for living expenses.
Let’s break this down to find out how much it really costs to live in Germany.
When it comes to renting a place in Germany, here are the few keywords students will have to look out for:
Kaltmiete: The basic cost of renting the room.
Nebenkosten: The price for utilities. This includes waste collection, water, electricity, gas, heating and other amenities in the house.
Warmmiete: The total cost of renting a room. In short, it’s the Kaltmiete + Nebenkosten.
Kaution: Deposit for the room. This is typically 2 to 3 months worth of the Warmmiete.
It’s highly recommended for students to stay in a student residence hall as the rent is usually cheaper. However, the demand for this type of accommodation is very high and some universities will request students in higher semesters to move out to private accommodations. Depending on the cities, the private accommodation can cost up to 20% higher compared to the student residence hall.
The monthly rental ranges from €300 to €900 depending on the cities. On average, students will be paying €500 Warmmiete a month but in many smaller cities, it’s possible to pay in the €300+ range.
The price for groceries in Germany is very cheap. As such, students will usually have their breakfast and dinner at home. Breakfast consisting of bread or cereal will typically cost €1 and dinner should cost roughly €3.
Lunch from the university’s Mensa (German for canteen) will range from €2 to €3. Freshly brewed coffee will cost only €1.
Eating out, on the other hand, could be very expensive and patrons are expected to tip the waiter or waitress. A German restaurant will easily cost €10 per meal.
There are however plenty of cheaper alternatives. A kebab set costs between €3 to €5 while Chinese takeaways will cost about €5 to €7.
Universities will usually charge students a semester contribution. This will cover learning material and often, the public transportation fee for the entire semester as well.
In most cities, students will be able to travel within their university city with their student card. Therefore, they will not need to incur additional cost for public transportation. For longer distance, there are cheap flights and other special conditional discounts.
A good example is the Happy Weekend Ticket offered by Deutsche Bahn (German National Rail). 5 person can travel anywhere in Germany on a Saturday or Sunday with only a total of €56, that’s about €11 per person. There is no limit to the number of train rides!
Students are spoilt for choices in Germany when it comes to shopping for clothing. Brands such as H&M are reasonably priced while others like Zara often offer discounts. There are also plenty of outlet cities where students can find fashion items sold at a huge discount. In addition, there are quite a few platforms selling branded fashion at a student-friendly price.
Another tip to save money on clothing is to buy the more expensive winter attire right after winter as shops clear stock for the coming summer fashion.
It is compulsory to purchase medical insurance in Germany. Typical providers are Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), AOK and DAK Gesundheit.
Popular recreational activities in Germany include Nordic walking, jogging, and cycling. Some universities will have other amenities such as badminton courts, table tennis tables or even beach volleyball courts.
In most cities, students pay about €5 per entry at public swimming pools. Some of these are indoor and heated, so it’s also possible to swim even during winter.
For gym-goers, it will only cost €24.90 per month if they subscribe to McFit, Germany’s largest gym chain. For the same price, they can access over 240 McFit gyms across Europe. So it’s also possible to work out in say Mallorca, Spain during the summer holiday!
On average, students do need to set aside about €934 for their monthly expenses.
Generally, it’s cheaper to live in smaller towns while it’s much more expensive to live in large cities. Students should take this into consideration when selecting their universities.
Have you studied in Germany? What’re your typical monthly expenses like? How much was your cost of living in Germany and how do you spend it? Do share with us! Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.