Germany is the most populated and most powerful country in the European Union and it has a range of great cities that you may want to consider basing yourself in. Below, we’ll look at some of the best cities and cheapest places to live in Germany. There’s also a cost of living guide with suggested budgets for 25 German cities.
5 of the Best Cities to Live in Germany & Work Remotely
Overall, Berlin is still very tough to beat and unless you don’t like big cities, it is worthy of its place at the top of any list of the best places to live in Germany.
The German capital, a divided city as recently as 1989, has reinvented itself spectacularly as a notoriously liberal city and a real hub for arts, culture and nightlife. Its clubbing scene is legendary with world famous clubs such as Berghain cementing Berlin’s quirky and at times hedonistic reputation. It is certainly a natural choice for anyone looking to lead an alternative lifestyle in Europe and although remote working has largely gone mainstream in recent times due to the pandemic, Berlin was already pretty well equipped to cater for those looking to work remotely.
Of course, Berlin does have many other sides to it. In parts, it’s a serious city, home to both the German government and many major businesses and corporations. However unlike most major European capitals, Berlin is not the most expensive city in its country and living and renting costs in Berlin remain extremely affordable when compared to places like London and Paris, making it easily one of the best cities to live in Europe when all factors are taken into consideration.
Estimated Living Costs (explanation below) – 1100-1750 Euros/month
All things go in phases though and while Berlin has certainly far from had its day, some creative types in Germany are now instead heading for the city of Leipzig.
It was the largest city to lie completely in what used to be East Germany and there are still sections of it which really do highlight the dark times this city went through under Communist rule. However other neighbourhoods have been completely transformed and many people moving to Leipzig these days head for the former industrial neighbourhood of Plagwitz which is at the heart of the city’s creative transformation.
Music lovers will certainly feel at home in Leipzig which is renowned for everything from classical music to alternative electro. It also ranks amongst the cheapest cities to live in Germany, so it’s well worth considering if you’re a digital nomad.
Estimated Living Costs – 900-1350 Euros/month
Heading west, Cologne is in the heart of the heavily populated North Rhine-Westphalia region where 18 million people live. There are a number of major cities in a small area with Cologne and Dusseldorf the largest and rated amongst the best cities to live in Germany for foreigners.
Cologne has a slightly older feel to it with the famous medieval Catholic Cologne Cathedral its most recognisable building. Split almost perfectly in half by the Rhine, this riverside city is a good all-round choice with a wide selection of museums, galleries, bars and restaurants, without ever feeling too big.
The city is something of a media hub and is the centre of Germany’s television industry, and it is generally viewed as slightly friendlier than some of the country’s other major cities. You also have the advantage of very quick transport links to neighbouring cities such as Bonn and Dusseldorf so you can easily take advantage of any major festivals or events going on elsewhere in the region.
Estimated Living Costs – 1100-1650 Euros/month
While Germany is a rich country, there are still some towns and cities that offer extraordinarily good value. Low rental costs are a major factor in why many Germans choose to rent rather than buy homes and while finding a place to live can initially be a challenge for newcomers, it’s possible to find great value in cities such as Rostock.
According to our research, Rostock was the second cheapest of the German cities we looked at. It’s one of the few where a cost of living in Germany for a single person of around 1000 Euros per month or less is realistic and relatively easy to achieve, particularly if you’re willing to share a flat.
But is Rostock a good place to live? Well, while it may lack the big city vibes and range of options of somewhere like Berlin or Cologne, it actually has plenty going for it. Firstly, it is one of the very few German cities located on the coast and has access to some lovely white sandy beaches.
While the weather is a bit unreliable being so far north, on pleasant days there are also some excellent parks to enjoy and it does have plenty of character with university students bringing a youthful atmosphere throughout much of the year, while in the summer it has a happy, holiday feel to it as people arrive from other parts of the country.
Estimated Living Costs – 850-1300 Euros/month
The southern state of Bavaria is widely seen as one of the most interesting and attractive regions in the country. However it isn’t exactly home to the cheapest places to live in Germany.
State capital Munich is the most expensive city in the country but if you want to enjoy the Bavarian lifestyle whilst keeping living costs down, Augsburg is an excellent alternative option. It’s a university town which helps to ensure there is plenty catering to those on a lower budget and it has a decent amount of evening entertainment options for a small city. It’s also really easy to get around either on foot, bike or by tram and it might just suit those who don’t like the bigger cities.
The good news is that you are also only actually around half an hour from the centre of Munich by train so you can still end up getting a really good feel for life in Munich and all of its famous events and festivals, whilst saving plenty of Euros by basing yourself in Augsburg.
Estimated Living Costs – 1000-1550 Euros/month
Germany Estimated Living Costs Calculation:
To help calculate the cost of living in Germany in the table below and the cities featured in this post above, we used the data from Numbeo’s cost of living guide.
The estimated living costs quoted here should at least allow you to compare the major German cities. They are designed to cover all living costs (including the cost of renting accommodation) although your own personal expenses will clearly depend on your lifestyle. The lower figure might be a realistic budget for young people living in a flatshare and looking to watch what they spend. The upper figure might be more suitable for those looking to enjoy more evenings and days out whilst perhaps renting your own private property.
Digital nomads and those only looking for shorter term rentals via Airbnb may want to increase their budgets slightly, although if you’re happy to rent a private room rather than an entire flat, you should still be able to comfortably stick to these budgets.
It’s worth noting that none of these budgets for living in Germany factor in the cost of any travel or health insurance packages which will depend on your age and circumstances.
What are the Cheapest Cities to Live in Germany?
The following table shows the estimated cost of living in 25 cities right across Germany including all of the major ones:
|City||Estimated Cost of Living (Monthly in Euros)|
Which city in Germany is the cheapest? According to these figures, the central city of Magdeburg is the cheapest of the 25 featured above. Savings of at least 500 Euros per month can be made by being based there or in somewhere like Rostock when compared to Munich which is very significant for anyone working remotely and not needing to factor in the differing salaries across the country.
Overall, it really is worth considering just what you are trying to get from your experience in Germany, whether it’ll be just for a few months or a longer-term period. Basing yourself in a more affordable, well located city with good transport links can pay dividends and you can still get out and about and see the best of the country. However, for others, paying slightly more to live in a buzzing city like Berlin, will more than justify the extra expense, which isn’t even that great in the case of the German capital.
Given Germany is the European country with the largest economy, even some of the more expensive cities offer good value for money and are comparable in costs to some of the cheapest places to live in Sweden for example. If saving cash is the number one priority though, there are certainly still better options elsewhere in Europe. That’s true even close by with some of the cheapest places to live in the Czech Republic offering big savings whilst also offering convenient transport links to German cities such as Dresden and Berlin.