The Cost Of Living In Berlin (Personal Details From a Local)
It seems that just about everyone wants to move to Berlin these days. People come for all sorts of reasons, like working at a startup, experiencing the epic party scene, or taking part in the thriving creative community. Berlin’s especially welcoming to newcomers from any background, with demographics telling us that almost half a million non-Germans from approximately 180 countries live in the city. The hype is real and the current population of 3.5 million people has grown by 0.31% annually since 2015. Unfortunately, Berlin’s popularity is one of the reasons why it’s continually becoming a more expensive place to live. Despite this, Berlin remains one of Europe’s most affordable cities when compared to the likes of London or Paris.
Recommended reading: Published in May 2019, we’ve crafted our most ultimate blog post yet with this massive Moving To Berlin guide. Jam packed full of tips about how to make friends, open a bank account, get a visa, learn German, buy insurance, and more, this is the most detailed guide out there.
The Cost Of Living In Berlin (Personal Details From a Local)The Cost Of Living In #Berlin (Personal Details From a Local) Click To Tweet
This report is a personal account of my cost of living in Berlin. By no means, am I attempting to depict my life as a typical situation. I’m simply hoping this glimpse into my expenses will help you figure out how much it might cost for you to live in Berlin as well.
To put things into perspective before we get started:
- I’m unmarried and have no children (but I do embrace clichés and have a cat).
- I live on my own without roommates.
- All expenses listed here are 100% assumed by me.
- I have a full time job and don’t receive money from other sources (i.e. a rich husband or the German government).
Recommended reading: Our Berlin section where we highlight the best Berlin blogs, places to hang out, and even personal confessions about what it’s like to live here.
A couple of years ago, we informally surveyed 150 people living in Berlin about their costs of living. To make the data here more real, I’ve included the results of the survey for each section as an additional reference point beyond my own. While the information is a bit dated, we still gleaned some interesting and still relevant (but not very scientific) stats.
Cost Of Living In Berlin: Fixed Monthly Expenses
1) Rent: €775 per month (warm)
I live in a 55 square meter apartment in Berlin’s Eastern district, Lichtenberg. It’s located just outside the city center (and the Ring) in a ninth story Plattenbau. It offers plenty of light with large windows on both sides of the apartment, a bathroom with a bathtub, a large bedroom and living room, and a fully equipped kitchen with stove, washing machine, and refrigerator. The place also came furnished with some basics like a dining room table, couch, bed, and other items. It’s located directly beside an S-Bahn station, an Edeka, Apotheke, and more. I can be in Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg, or Neukölln within about 30 minutes.
The only things lacking is a balcony, dishwasher, and convenience of living in an area where things are within close proximity like when I lived at Prenzlauer Berg’s Helmholtzplatz. There are still some treasures within the district worth travelling to in Lichtenberg, like Gardens Of The World, Dong Xuan Center, and Schlosspark Biesdorf.
Note, the lease for my flat is in my name and my name also appears on the front door. It’s not a holiday or temporary accommodation, as I don’t support the short or long use of Airbnbs that take flats away from local or contribute to jacking up rental prices in Berlin.
Recommended reading: Should You Book an Airbnb Apartment in Berlin? Spoiler, the answer is NOOOO.
Some information we learned from our survey participants:
- As one might expect, the most popular districts that people chose to call home were Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain at 24%, then Pankow (which includes Prenzlauer Berg) at 17%, and Mitte and Neukölln coming to a tie at 13%.
- The smallest flat size reported was 20 square meters and the largest flat size reported was a whopping 180 square meters. The average flat size was 69 square meters.
- 56% of people claimed to be living with someone else, either a significant other or roommates, while only 44% admitted to flying solo.
- 64% of those living with someone else reported only living with only one other person and 28% reported living with two other people.
- Our results revealed that some lucky people were only paying €250 a month for cold rent while the richer among us were paying up to €2,200. On average, people were paying €664 per month for cold rent in different parts of the city. For cold hard data, view the Miet-Map which shows the average cold rent for different areas across Berlin.
2) Health Insurance: €400 per month
Healthcare’s a significant expense for all of us, but well worth it considering it covers so many things like sick days, doctor’s visits, surgeries, basic dental, etc. The amount you contribute to healthcare depends on your income level – expect to pay out 14.6% to 15.6% of your gross monthly income whether you’re employed full time or a freelancer. For those employed full time, your employer will cover half the costs, leaving you to pay about 7%. In addition, if you make more than €54,450 per year, the cost of health insurance is capped and stops rising. For full time employees, this works out to be about €400 per month and for freelancers, this works out to be €800 per month.
Recommended reading: 5 Things You Need to Know About Health Insurance in Germany
I have public insurance with TK and pay around €400 per month. As I’m employed in a permanent position, my employer covers the other half.
Why do we list healthcare as a cost of living? Although employees might not think twice about healthcare as an expense because it’s deducted from their monthly salary, we’ve explicitly included it here for people coming outside of the European Union. For example, if you’re Canadian like me and come from a country with universal healthcare, you won’t used to having such a massive deduction from your monthly salary. We’re telling you in advance so you won’t be surprised when you get that first pay cheque. We also list it here so that freelancers are aware they have to pay out of pocket and assume the costs themselves.
3) Electricity: €27 per month
When I first moved into my flat, I started paying €52 per month to Vattenfall as my fees were calculated based on the previous tenant’s average consumption. After one year, it was adjusted to €27 per month and has stayed at that price ever since. I even received a credit of more than €100 after that first year ! I pride myself on not needlessly wasting energy and really have no idea how the other tenant used up so much electricity.
Our lovely survey respondents reported paying anywhere from €15 per month, all the way to €150. I’m not sure whether or not the latter people were trying to grow marijuana at home, but on average people were spending €50 a month for electricity.
Note – sometimes electricity is included in your monthly rent. Be sure to inquire with your landlord before you sign your lease.
4) BVG Monthly Pass: €63.42 per month
I have a BVG monthly public transit pass for unlimited travel within Berlin’s A/B zone. If I need to travel to the C zone or bring a bike on the train, I purchase a ticket through the BVG app.
Our survey participants seemed to prefer public transit and riding a bike. No one talked about how often they used taxis or Uber. Very few people reported owning – or even renting cars via a carsharing program like car2go. On average people are spending anywhere from €60-80 per month on public transit.
5) Internet: €39.99 per month
Unfortunately, one provider controls Internet in my building so I’m held hostage by PYUR. During the first year in my flat, it cost €19.99 per month and the price doubled to €39.99 per month after one year and has stayed at the price since then.
62% of our survey respondents reported that they pay for Internet, while the remainder have it included in the cost of their rent. They also paid anywhere from €15 – €60 per month for Internet, which for some also included cable TV or home phone (some people still have landlines!). On average, they were paying €30 per month.
6) Mobile Phone Provider: €19.99 per month
I currently don’t have a contract with a mobile phone provider and have a sim card with Alditalk. For this, I pay €14.99 per month for 6 GB of data and another €5.00 per month for texts and calls.
Our survey respondents were divided evenly down the middle, with the half of the group having contracts with companies like Vodafone and other half paying as they go. People said they were paying anywhere from €10 – €65 per month which includes various things like data, texting, calls, and more. On average, people claimed they were paying €25 per month.
7) Gym: €64.99 per month
I have a contract with Gympass through work which costs €64,99 per month. This is on the high-end for Berlin, with most gyms offering deals between €20.00 – €30.00 per month if you sign-up for a long term contract. My gym membership is a splurge, as I can go to almost any gym or pool throughout the city, as well as yoga studios and Thai massage places.
60% of people who responded to our survey say they don’t go to the gym and other 40% who do go to the gym said they paid anywhere from €10 – €110 per month. 49% of people who go to a gym, use a company like Gympass, or take special lessons have a long-term contract. On average, people are paying €37 per month.
8) Bank Account: €3 per month
I have a basic account with Sparkasse and it costs me €3.00 per month.
61% of those who took part in our survey about the cost of living in Berlin stated they do not pay any monthly fees to their bank. Others reported paying anywhere from €2 – 11 per month, with the average cost for a bank account per month costing €6 per month.
9) Insurance: €21.34 per month
My insurance is with Sparkasse and includes home insurance, personal liability insurance, and life insurance. It’s €64.02 every three months or €21.34 a month.
57% of our survey respondents indicated they have other forms of insurance, with the remaining choosing to risk it all. People are paying anywhere from €5 – €60 per month, with people paying €20 on average.
10) ARD: €17.50 per month
Even though I don’t have a television or radio, I still grin and bear it by paying the controversial “TV tax” which is not really a tax but a fee that everyone must pay to fund public broadcasting in Germany. I pay €52.50 every three months, which works out to be €17.50 a month.
Cost Of Living In Berlin: Variable Monthly Expenses
1) Groceries: €200 per month
Another cost of living in Berlin is food, glorious food. I eat out a lot but usually spend around €50.00 a week on food from Edeka, sometimes more if I cook at home a lot or shop from more upscale chains like Biocompany or Frischeparadies. You can, of course, be more thrifty and do your shopping at Turkish markets or places like Aldi or Lidl.
People’s spend on groceries was very wide, with people reporting spending anywhere from €50 – €600 per month on food. On average, people were coming in at €200 per month.
2) Coffee: €60 per month
A coffee from a bakery will usually start around €2 and a fancier coffees like flat whites will fetch you around €4 at a hipster hot spot. You can also buy a decent package of coffee in the supermarket for €6 – 7 and course fork out around €20 for a high end coffee from a specialty shop like The Barn.
I usually buy a cappuccino or ice coffee each day on the way to work and spend about €60 a month buying coffee.
3) Eating Out & Drinking: €300 per month
If you’re happy to eat a simple a Döner, you will only pay €3 – 4 at most spots around the city (even the trendy ones). If you want a basic meal out – pizza, pasta, a burger, ramen, or some form of Asian or Indian, most mains will be around €10. Dining at a more popular or upscale place will typically run you between €15-20 for a main, with seafood restaurants being more expensive. Berlin is filled with plenty of upscale eateries as well, with Restaurant Tim Raue being a prime example.
You can buy basic beers from any Späti (convenience store) or supermarket for €1 – 3. Buying a typical German beer in a bar or club will start at around €3 – 4, with craft beers typically starting from €5 and up. A bottle of wine at super markets will fetch you anywhere from €3 – €12. Wine in upscale speciality shops will of course be more. In a bar, a glass of “nicht so gut” wine will start at €3-5 , where a decent glass of wine will start around €6.
A great thing about Berlin is that eating out is very affordable and you can easily have a decent meal (including a glass of wine!) for €20 or so. Note, drinking alcohol, or even ordering water, will add to your meal expenses.
I eat out a lot – lunches with colleagues and dinners on my own or with friends. I’d roughly estimate that I pay around €300 per month on eating out in restaurants across Berlin, including meeting friends for beers and those famous long Berlin nights out.
People who took part in our survey said they spent anywhere from €30 – €600 per month on eating out. On average, they reported spending at least €200 enjoying Berlin’s culinary scene. Note – we never specifically asked people how much they spent on partying, so this figure would probably be higher had we asked this question.
Berlin’s a smoking city unfortunately and a pack of 20 cigarettes will run you about €7. Most people opt to save money and buy a pack of tobacco, papers, filters, and roll the cigarettes themselves. Others stock up when visiting other countries like Poland where cigarettes are much cheaper. As I’m still struggling to quit smoking, I don’t really buy cigarettes anymore so can’t offer up a monthly cost.
Summary Of The Cost Of Living In Berlin
So what is my cost of living in Berlin? My fixed expenses come to about €1000 per month (I didn’t count health insurance as it’s automatically deducted from my salary and I don’t really think about it). My variable expenses are an additional €550 per month, which I can adjust at any given time if I want to save more money (I also put aside money every month too). In total, my expenses come to €1550 per month.
Note – We’ll expand in the variable expenses in future updates to include things like dental costs, haircuts, basic hygiene products, and more.
Have we missed anything? Are there other cost of living in Berlin details you’re interested in knowing about? Let us know in the comments below.
Good To Know
1) If you’re looking to explore Berlin, book a city tour.
2) Visiting Berlin? Look for hotels over on booking.com.
3) If hotels aren’t your style, book an Airbnb apartment. First time Airbnb users can use this link for a €34 travel credit.
4) If you’re thinking about road tripping through Germany, rent a car.
5) We’ve plenty of other Berlin life and Germany related posts on the blog:
- 12 Tips About How to Find a Job in Berlin (Updated for 2019)
- 15 Exciting Day Trips From Berlin (As Recommended By A Local)
- 60 Signs That You’ve Been Living In Germany For A Long Time
- Berlin Expat Advice – Learn German in Berlin
- Living Abroad: Essential Tools An Expat in Germany Can’t Live Without
If you like this post, share it on Pinterest.
*Disclosure – While other local websites will charge you for this kind of information, all content on cherylhoward.com is 100% free. But this post does contain some affiliate links so we can pay our web hosting bills. If you book a tour, car rental, or hotel through any of these links, I’ll earn a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!