As one would expect in any European capital city, the cost of living in Berlin is fairly high. Berlin was ranked 82nd out of 209 cities surveyed in the 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey. According to the survey, living in Berlin is cheaper than in other major German cities such as Frankfurt (76th) and Munich (72nd), but more expensive than some European cities such as Barcelona and Prague.

Regardless, expats will find that certain things, such as the cost of rental accommodation, are just a fraction of what they would be in other European cities, such as Paris or London. On top of housing costs, expats moving to Berlin will need to consider the expense of commuting, groceries, entertainment and eating out.

Health insurance is an expense that no one moving to Germany can avoid, so expats are advised to negotiate for a provision for this within their employment contracts wherever possible. While expat parents moving to Berlin will have a wide variety of choices when it comes to schooling, the cost of international school fees in the city is steep. 


Cost of accommodation in Berlin 

As is the case throughout much of Germany, the majority of Berlin residents opt to rent rather than buy property. Expats who move to the city also generally tend to rent accommodation in Berlin due to the short-term nature of their assignments.

Rent in Berlin is generally lower than that in other German cities, and even more so if one looks at accommodation options further away from Berlin’s city centre.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Berlin

Naturally, the cost of entertainment and eating out will vary in accordance with an individual's tastes and preferences. But those moving to Germany will find there are opportunities to either save or splurge in accordance with most budgets.

When it comes to food, Berlin has everything from upscale bistros to street food stalls, so expats are sure to find good quality food to satisfy any craving and fit any budget. While entrance to Berlin’s top nightclubs comes with a small fee, the city has lots of bars and eateries with live music at no cost. 

There are many free pursuits to enjoy too, such as savouring a summer's day in the park, visiting local markets or going for a cycle. So even those who want to save while living in Berlin can do so without missing out on a social life. 


Cost of transport in Berlin

Berlin has an excellent public transport network and it is generally more affordable than transportation in Frankfurt and Munich. It is not necessary to have a car in Berlin and most expats prefer to make use of buses, trams and the metro.

Expats who plan on utilising public transport to commute to and from work on a daily basis can save money by investing in a travel pass. This is valid on all modes of public transportation.

Cycling is popular with the local population in Berlin and is by far the most cost-effective way to get around the city. Berlin's infrastructure also caters well for cyclists with plenty of dedicated lanes and storage facilities for bicycles scattered throughout the city. 


Cost of healthcare in Berlin

Berlin is home to some excellent hospitals and new arrivals can be reassured that they will be well taken care of if they were to fall ill during their stay in the city. It is compulsory for everyone in Germany to have some form of health insurance, though, so this is something that expats moving to Berlin must factor in. 

Anyone who is employed by a company operating in Germany can take advantage of the state health insurance plan, which is well subsidised, although those earning above a certain income bracket will not qualify for public health insurance. In this case, private insurance becomes compulsory. In this situation, expats are advised to try and negotiate a healthcare allowance within their contract of employment. 

Freelancers and those who are self-employed will need to purchase private health insurance, which is significantly more expensive. Private health insurance varies according to the age and health of a person as well as the type of cover required. 


Cost of education in Berlin

While Berlin has a large number of international schools, expats will find that tuition fees are particularly high. Expats who are not lucky enough to be given an allowance for their children’s school fees should investigate the prospect of bilingual schools in Berlin. These are public schools where children are taught in both German and another language. Bilingual schools in Germany operate at little to no cost, which makes them far more affordable than international options. 


Cost of living in Berlin chart

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices for August 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 890

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 660

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,700

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 1,200

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 0.93

Eggs (dozen)

EUR 2.10

Loaf of bread (white)

EUR 1.36

Rice (1kg)

EUR 1.98

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 7

Pack of Marlboro cigarettes

EUR 6.70

Utilities

Monthly internet (uncapped ADSL or cable)

EUR 31.60

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

EUR 0.11

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

EUR 220

Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner

EUR 13

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course mid-range restaurant meal for two

EUR 40

Big Mac Meal

EUR 8

Cappuccino

EUR 2.85

Coca-Cola (330 ml)

EUR 2

Bottle of local beer

EUR 3.50

Transport

Taxi (per km)

EUR 2.30

City-centre bus or train ticket

EUR 2.90

Petrol per litre

EUR 1.41

Expat Health Insurance

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