Cost Of Living In Berlin In 2020 (Details From a Local)

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Cost Of Living In Berlin In 2020 (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 continues to remain one of Europe’s most affordable cities when compared to the likes of London or Paris.

Moving To Berlin Guide - Cheryl Howard Berlin

Recommended reading: This is 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.

Cost Of Living In Berlin In 2020 (Details From a Local)

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 any roommates
  • All expenses listed here are 100% assumed by me
  • I’ve 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 now a bit dated, we still gleaned some interesting and relevant (but not very scientific) stats. 

Cost Of Living In Berlin: Fixed Monthly Expenses

Cost Of Living In Berlin - Sunset
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1) Rent: €800 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, and bed. 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 30 minutes. The lease for my flat is in my name and my name also appears on the front door ⁠— it’s not a holiday or a temporary accommodation. 

The only things lacking are 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, like Gardens Of The World, Dong Xuan Center, and Schlosspark Biesdorf.

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 tying 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% said they were 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. 

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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%. Worth noting – 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 be 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. 

Cost Of Living In Berlin - Brandenburger Tor
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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 car sharing program like car2go. On average people were spending anywhere from €60-80 per month on public transit. 

5) Internet: €49.99 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 when my first contract expired. I recently upgraded to a higher plan and now pay about €49.99 a month. 

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 7 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. 

Cost Of Living In Berlin - Mall of Berlin
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7) Gym: €19.99 per month

I have a membership with FitX which costs €19.99 per month. Many gyms in the city offer deals between €20.00 – €30.00 per month if you sign-up for a long term contract. If you want more flexibility and access to different types of classes and facilities, you can always signup for Urban Sports Club

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 which 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

Cost Of Living In Berlin - Roads
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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 and Lidl.

People’s spend on groceries was very wide, with them reporting that they spend anywhere from €50 – €600 per month on food. On average, people were coming in at €200 per month. 

2) Eating Out & Drinking: €350 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 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

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. 

Cost Of Living In Berlin - Berliner Dom
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3) Cigarettes

Unfortunately, Berlin’s a smoking city and a pack of 20 cigarettes will run you about €7. Most people opt to save money and buy tobacco, papers, and filters to roll the cigarettes themselves. Others stock up when visiting other countries like Poland where cigarettes are way cheaper. 

Cost Of Living In Berlin: Summary

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 gross salary). 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.

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.

Cost Of Living In Berlin: Good To Know

1) If you’re looking to explore Berlin, book a city tour. 

 

2) Visiting Berlin? Look for hotels on booking.com.



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:

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*DisclosureWe partnered with local companies like Nestpick and Lyght Living to bring you information about how they can help you with your Berlin life. This post also contains some affiliate links, so if you book a tour, car rental, or hotel, I’ll earn a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Founder of cherylhoward.com. Canadian in Berlin. Frequent traveller now at 43 countries and counting.

6 Comments

  1. I’m with you on the electric costs…how are people spending so much? We work from home, have a dishwasher & washing machine, & still come out way below the average or whatever the electric company says an apartment of our size with 2 people normally uses.

    Anyway, great roundup & good info about what it really costs to live here!

  2. Thank you Sheryl ! I wanted to see a post from a Canadian perpective and you were very thorough in explaining details that are very useful for me to budget and negotiate my salary

  3. This is so interesting for me – a German living in the Black Forest countryside – even.
    Also that you mention health insurance. I know this is important for readers from overseas, for me it’s just a part of the “taxes and stuff” deducted from my wages. But of course you are right.
    So my few cents for people who need to lower their costs:
    – there are mobile phone providers for as low as 9,99 € like Drillisch
    – some banks still have free accounts, like DKB
    – you really cannot escape the Rundfunkgebühr if you register yourself as legal resident. But on the other hand if offers quite a nice range of interesting stuff besides TV (like Deutschlandfunk, DW (even including online German classes) and stuff like that.
    On most of the key things like electricity or insurance I’m basically on the same level as you.

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