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The cost of living

When compared to the rest of the world, Germany is not a particularly expensive place to live.

However, Western European cities have risen in Mercer’s cost of living rankings for 2018, with Germany experiencing some of the most dramatic increases. Berlin (71) caught up with Frankfurt (68), while Munich climbed forty-one places to 57. That said, no German cities appearing in the top 50. 

Day-to-day expenses

If you’re heading out to dinner, you can sit down to a three-course meal in a mid-priced restaurant in Berlin and your food and wine is likely to cost up to 50% less than they would in New York. It's a similar story at the grocery store, where your basket, containing milk, cheese, a loaf of bread, apples and a joint of beef will be much less. You'll pay more for public transport and expect to shell out twice as much cash to fill the tank of your car. At home, utilities will be more expensive, but you'll balance this with the lower cost of Internet and mobile charges. Getting out and about will be less of a strain on your budget, which will make it all the easier to meet new people and improve your level of fitness.

In an environment where renting property is commonplace, it’s no surprise that leasing an apartment will cost you a lot less in Berlin than New York. When it comes to buying, it’s a similar story and expect to pay less interest on your mortgage too.

If you're relocating from London, it's a similar picture with costs lower overall but with a few exceptions. Order a drink at the restaurant, and although you'll be saving on your food, soft drinks are likely to cost you more. Fresh produce such as local cheese, bananas, and beef are more expensive than at home. The good news is that transport is cheaper in Berlin, as is buying a car, while fuel is roughly the same.

Your household

Clothes in Germany are perhaps slightly more expensive in stores than those in France and the UK, though this evens out more online with sites such as Amazon. In general, German prices will largely be higher than in the US, especially for American brands. Ikea can be found throughout the country and while shopping malls are not as common in Germany as elsewhere, department stores are everywhere with some of the most common being Karstadt, Kaufhof, KaDeWe, and C&A.

Cost of education

German state schools provide an excellent education, and if your child already speaks German, these may be an excellent and inexpensive option. As most expats opt to send their children to an International School, places can be quick to disappear, so it’s worth doing a little homework before you relocate. Sending your child to an International School won't be cheap — expats should expect to pay around EUR 13,000-18,000 per year per child.

Another option, which may satisfy both a desire to integrate into German culture yet provide a more comfortable buffer for those still learning the language, are bilingual schools. These come with no fees attached and act as a good middle ground between state and private education. In Berlin, the Nelson Mandela School and the JFK School are two well-respected by the expat community — and neither charge fees. In contrast, the Munich International School has entrance fees ranging from EUR3,000-7,000, with annual fees starting at EUR 13,590 for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Moving countries can be expensive and confusing. Let our experts help you get organised before you move.

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