When you think about moving to Berlin, the big question that will be key to your final decision: is it an affordable place to live in?
Well, the quick answer is a definite yes, when compared to other hotspots in Germany and across Europe. But here we’ll dig deeper and provide more information about what makes it so affordable.
A little background knowledge
Apart from its unique architecture, the city is also a popular hub for media, culture, industry, and science. This artistic and quirky paradise also boasts a considerable number of world-class sports, educational, health, recreational, and transportation facilities – making it one of the most enjoyable cities to live in Germany not just due to the affordability.
Even though this part of eastern Germany has undergone significant development over the last few decades, the cost of living compares favourably to other capital cities in Europe. Its tumultuous history adds to its character and aura.
Now…back to your main question.
The cost of living in Berlin, Germany
By now, you might be convinced that moving to Berlin is a wise decision for anyone looking to live in a large affordable city in western Europe. However, before you pack your belongings and book a flight, you need to learn a few things about the cost of living, so that you can make an informed decision.
1. Average apartment buying costs
The average median cost is €3800/m2
Real estate prices in Berlin are lower than many other major cities in Germany and European capitals. In fact, buying an apartment in Berlin can cost up to two times less than Paris, and three times less than in London. If the local housing market is anything to go by, then the price per square metre is lower than other major cities in Germany such as Frankfurt, Munich, and Hamburg too.
To get a glimpse of the amount of money you will spend on buying an apartment in different neighbourhoods in Berlin, check out the details below.
|Berlin Neighbourhood||Approx. median cost/m2|
|Steglitz - Zehlendorf||€3900|
|Tempelhof - Schöneberg||€3850|
|Treptow - Köpenick||€3050|
|Marzahn - Hellersdorf||€2850|
On average, you will spend about €3800/m2 to buy an apartment in Berlin. The cost, however, will vary depending on the neighbourhood you choose, the type of apartment, and the number of bedrooms.
2. Groceries costs
Approx. €350/mo for a couple, €750/mo for a family
The amount of money you spend on food and groceries will obviously depend on a number of factors, including the supermarket you choose, how often you visit the supermarket and how many times you eat out per week. Basically, a couple will spend roughly €350 per month at a mid-level supermarket (think Rewe, Edeka) and a family would spend around €750 per month.
3. Eating out
Approx. €8-12 for a low-key meal per person and €15-25 for a mid-level meal per person
Like most cities, the German capital offers a wide variety of restaurants, from low-key and affordable joints that offer tasty, no-frill dishes, through mid-range restaurants or special occasion restaurants that offer great experiences, and of course, a range of top-quality Michelin-starred restaurants made for unforgettable evenings. Low-key places cost in general €8-12 and can be found across the city, even in central areas; mid-range restaurants will cost between €15-25; while Michelin-starred restaurants will cost from €50 upwards. We cannot forget the cost of beer, as Germany is famous for it. A half-litre of local draught beer will cost €3.50 - €5 in most restaurants, which is pretty cheap in my books!
4. Healthcare Insurance
14.6% of your gross annual salary – your employer is required to pay 50%
Switching focus to less exciting but mandatory costs - first and foremost, you need to know that health insurance is mandatory for every citizen and permanent resident of Germany. We, therefore, cannot talk about the cost of living in Berlin and fail to look at the cost of healthcare insurance. The amount you will pay per month will depend on various factors, including whether you are publicly or privately insured, employed or self-employed.
For a full-time employed individual, healthcare insurance costs 14.6% of your gross annual salary per year, but don’t forget that your employer is required by law to share 50% of this cost. So, if you earn a gross salary of €50k per year, your monthly healthcare insurance cost will be €304, while your employer will also pay €304 (€608 per year in total).
5. Public Transport
Annual AB-zone ticket will cost €63.42/mo
There is a very reliable and affordable public transport system throughout the city, that provides a broad range of urban mobility options, such as trains, underground, buses and trams. AB-zone tickets are readily available and cover all sections of the inner city including Tegel airport (though Schönefeld airport is zone C). For a single trip, you will pay €2.80, €7 for a day ticket, and €81 for a monthly ticket. If you order a yearly ticket, you will pay €63.42/mo.
If you want to really blend in as a Berliner, however, you will need to get yourself a bicycle. There's a huge biking city with infrastructure to support it. Therefore, if you want to spend €0.00 on your daily transport, invest in a bike.
6. Internet and Mobile Services
€20-40/mo for 24-month contract with 200-1000 Mbps
Based on the desired bandwidth and the internet provider you choose to work with, you will pay around €20-40/mo for the internet. Mobile phone usage will cost you an additional €10-15/mo for standard 2.5 GB of data.
Keep in mind that to get connected to the internet, you have to buy a WLAN Router and sign an internet contract. To save money, ensure you buy the router yourself instead of acquiring it from the internet provider.
Depends on how social you want to be
Many people move to the German capital just for the culture, as there is a huge amount of fun stuff to enjoy in the city. This includes a host of nightclubs, with an entry fee of €3-15, 175 museums with an entry fee of €8-15, and about 100 cinema theatres where a movie ticket costs around €8-12. As well as this, there are myriad boat tours, beer gardens, galleries and much more. Berlin is certainly a fun city in which to live.
The amount you pay monthly will really depend on how much fun you want to have.
Designer, high-street, second-hand – the choice is yours
The amount of money you will spend on clothing will be based on your personal preferences and financials. You can choose to spend €1000s on designer clothes in the boutiques of Ku’damm, where you’ll find labels such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel etc. Alternatively, you can spend less than €100 for a full outfit at retailers such as Uniqlo, Zara or H&M. And if you’re looking for a real bargain, search out a few second-hand stores and flea markets, there are plenty scattered throughout the city.
9. Gym Membership
€20/mo for a 12-month contract at a mid-level chain gym
Gym memberships costs vary depending on the length of contract you sign; the longer the contract, the less you’ll pay. For 24-month contracts at a mid-level gym you could pay as little as €10/mo, for a 12-month contract you would pay €20/mo, or on a monthly basis, you’ll need to pay around €30/mo.
Alternatively, you could pay €0.00 if you make the most out of the many parks and run for free or use one of the outdoor gym spaces provided by the city.
A degree educated employee in this city makes around €42k annually, which is on par with the national average. So, this income, coupled with the low cost of everyday items means the quality of life in Berlin promises to be high.
Comparing apartment costs in different neighbourhoods
When moving to Berlin, one of your primary concerns is getting an apartment that will fulfil your needs. In the section below, we shall outline the cost of apartments in popular neighbourhoods. This information should help you make an informed decision on where to live.
Neukölln is one of the most popular areas with its lively, multi-cultural vibe that creates a dynamic and exciting atmosphere and draws residents from all backgrounds.
This part of Berlin is filled with life. It has plenty of shopping areas, coffee shops, and open-air bars, making it a notable social hub.
Its huge public parks and artistic flair makes it one of the best places to live for singles and families alike. The median price of apartments in Neukölln is €3650/m2. The low end of the market starts at around €2300/m2, and top-end costs can be as much approx. €6200/m2.
Friedrichshain & Kreuzberg
Thanks to the abundance of art galleries and nightclubs in Friedrichshain and restaurants, parks and cafes in Kreuzberg, there is no doubt this area is very sought-after. On top of that, including shopping areas, schools, health centres, and great connection links among other facilities, makes this neighbourhood highly liveable for all ages.
If you want to buy an apartment in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, the median purchase price is €4600/m2, with the low range price being approx. €3000/m2, and the high end up towards €8000/m2.
Charlottenburg & Wilmersdorf
Life in the West – sophisticated, elegant, quieter and traditionally a little more conservative. Though with great transport links, parks and an emerging youth/hip scene, real estate here continues to be highly sought after.
Median apartment prices in the west are approx. €4800/m2, while the lower end of the market starts at €2800/m2, and the higher end could set you back €8500/m2.
If living in the heart of the city is what you are after, then look no further than Mitte. Literally, the middle of the city, Mitte’s history, attractions and connection links makes it a wonderful area to live in. But you are not just limited to central Mitte to live in the heart; the boroughs of Moabit and Wedding offer great living opportunities within Mitte.
Median apartment prices in Mitte are approx. €5200/m2, while the lower end of the market starts at €2500/m2, and the higher end could set you back €9000/m2.
Find your perfect neighbourhood in Berlin with our neighbourhood guides.
Berlin vs other popular European cities
Living in Berlin vs. living in Munich
The average cost of living is 15.8% higher in Munich than in Berlin. Almost everything, except for a few things such as fresh groceries, is more expensive in Munich than in Berlin.
To buy an apartment in Munich, you will need 45% more than in Berlin. Utilities are about 7.6% pricier in Munich than in the German capital, while internet costs are approx. 9% higher.
Though keep in mind salaries are on avg. higher in Munich than Berlin.
Living in Berlin vs. living in London
Living in Berlin is considerably cheaper than living in London. Essentially, the average cost of living is 34% higher in London than in Berlin.
Renting an apartment in London will cost you 107% more than renting in Berlin. If you choose to buy property, then you will need to invest 134% more in London than in Berlin.
To eat out in London, you will need 59% more than in Berlin. However, some fresh foods such as bananas, cheese, and bread are more expensive in Berlin than in London.
Both cities have an efficient transport system. Nonetheless, you will need 110% more to use public transport on a monthly basis in London and about 50% more to use a taxi in London than in the German capital.
Living in Berlin vs. living in Paris
The average cost of living in Paris is 25% higher than it is in Berlin. Buying an apartment is up to 50% cheaper in Berlin and in general grocery shopping will cost you between 20-40% less.
Though utility costs and monthly transport prices are higher in Berlin, roughly between 40-50%.
While eating out, you will spend approx. 30% less in Berlin than you would in Paris.
There is no doubt Berlin is an affordable city in which to live and is a great city for people looking for a cheaper way of life compared to other major European cities. But due to the increasing number of people relocating to Berlin (approx. 40,000 per year) costs are rising. So, if you are thinking about moving, we would recommend making the leap soon, so you can have the life you have always dreamed of!
If you are interested in finding the latest apartments for sale in Berlin, click here.