A lot of expatriates have the problem that they get offered a job in their new city and have not got any clue about how much it costs to live in that city.
There is nothing better to understand the concept then by an example. Let"s say that Manoj lives in Chandigarh in northern India. He is a 30 year old programmer and earns the equivalent of 600 dollars a month. With those he can pay comfortably his rent of 200 dollars, his family living expenses, family holidays etc…
In Germany, 600 dollars per month would not even cover your rent, let alone the food.
In the following, I will go through what you need more or less as living expenses for a family of two people (husband andwife, without any kids).After this, I will calculate how much having children adds to the living expense and finish off by making a price comparison between the different cities in Germany
This is by far the single biggest expense in a month, however it can vary greatly between cities. Normally smaller cities are cheaper than bigger cities but you get higher salaries in bigger cities as well.
Considering that we live right in the center of Munich, the city with the highest rent in the whole of Germany by far (average is about 18 Euro per square meter), we pay an extortionate amount of rent. For 50 square meters, we pay a little more than 1400 Euro warm (including electricity, heating and water).
If you are not living in Munich, then you can simply switch to whatever your housing price is in your city. The rest of the costs will approximately stay the same.
Germany is incredibly expensive for internet and telephone. Apart from the act of getting your flat hooked up to Internet – which can take up to three weeks- the cost of Internet goes from 25 Euro for a 25 Mbit landline up to 44 Euro for a 400 Mbit line.
Nowadays, it is very difficult to not have a smartphone, so you need to calculate those costs in as well. Germany is incredibly expensive for mobile phones, but in recent years pre-paid services have started to rise as well,making the possibility to have a reasonably priced phone tariff without being bound by a contract a good fit. Normally, you would pay about 10 to 20 Euro for this (excluding phone). There are two people in our household, so we spend about 40 Euro for this.
If you want to have a phone with it, I have managed to buy an awesome new phone that does everything I wanted for 150 Euro…. Much better than the 800 or so you have to spend on the latest iphone.
Most of my socializing is actually done over an app called "International Friends". It is great for meeting up with other expatriates and making new friends. It is a free app, meaning that you can use it fully without having to pay anything. I would really recommend it for any expatriate. Link to Play Store or Link to App Store.
I obviously also meet my friends outside of the events organized via the app but my whole friendship circle actually has met over International Friends. I would say that I personally spend about 100 Euro per month on events organized through International Friends (ski courses, rafting, canyoning, German courses etc… ) as well as go to 3 to 4 events where you meet up in a bar, restaurant or other stuff. In total, I would say, for two people, we spend 300 Euro on socializing.
My wife and me live in the city center of Munich, so we do not own a car. Our transport costs are therefore relatively low, with only about 120 Euro per month as we have the monthly cards for the local transport. On top of that comes the daytrips which we do with International Friends which come to another 50 Euro per month for both of us (2 trips per month out of the city using the group tickets), so in total 170 Euro. If you live further out from the city center, your transport costs will increase but still be way below that of owning a car.
Now, if we had a car that would raise the costs substantially but sometimes you cannot live without. Including all the depreciation, insurance, tax and an average of 15.000 km driven per year, a car will come to a cost of about 400-700 Euro per month. Most of that cost will be down to depreciation.
The food costs are more or less the same in the whole of Germany. Better than making a listing of how much stuff costs, I can give you how much my target spending per month is. I calculate 300 Euro per month per person on all kinds of foods including going out to a restaurant every now and then, so 600 for the two of us.
Obviously, during the week, without going out or any fancy spendings, we stay way below that target but when going out to a nice restaurant, we can easily blow 25 Euro per person. It averages out therefore to about 600 Euro.
Another cost that is very difficult to generalize. Both me and my wife are fans of holidaying on the rough, meaning that we set up a budget of 30 to 40 Euro per day as expenses in some country very far off and then exploring the country on that money. Including the flight we spend about 250 Euro per month on that.
Obviously that depends on how well you manage your costs per month, but we picked a number out at random that seemed to be meaningful and decided to put 1000 Euro per month away for bigger expenses like a car or a house.
Children add a substantial amount of costs to your monthly life. It is difficult to estimate how much they would add to the cost but my family estimates that it is about 300 to 400 Euro per month for a toddler and 500 for a school age child. Please note that you will get 200 Euro support from the German government per child.
So, in total, we need about 3840 Euro per month for living in a really nice place and living a nice enough life.Out of those expenses, nearly a third is down to our will to save money for bigger investments like buying a house.
For singles who are coming to live in Germany, you will have roughly half of the costs, maybe even less. When I started my job here in Germany, I was making 1600 Euro per month and I could live comfortably on it and even save 500 Euro per month.
For those that are not living in Munich, the housing cost is pretty much the only variable cost. Everything else should more or less stay the same.