A GUIDE TO THE COST OF LIVING IN BERLIN IN 2023
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 joining the thriving creative community. Berlin’s especially welcoming to newcomers from any background, with current 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. Berlin continues to remain popular and despite getting more expensive, remains one of Europe’s most affordable cities when compared to the likes of London or Paris.
Recommended reading: How Much Does It Cost To Move To Germany? Use Our Calculator!
THE COST OF LIVING IN BERLIN
This report is a personal account of my cost of living in Berlin. By no means, am I attempting to depict my situation as typical. 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:
Cost Of Living In Berlin: Fixed Monthly Expenses
1) Rent: €1020 per month (warm)
I moved to Mitte in January 2022 and now occupy a newly renovated, 75-square-meter apartment in a sixth-story Plattenbau. In addition to the central location, the apartment comes with hardwood floors, two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a laundry room, and a bathroom with a bathtub. While the second bedroom currently functions as an office, gym, and guest room, there’s always an option to rent it out to a new roommate if the money gets tight.
Recommended reading: Our Berlin life hacks post for tips about where to buy furniture, hire handy people, and more.
I admit that my rent is uncommonly low considering my location, flat size, and amenities. I’m lucky to rent from a private landlord (Vermieter) versus a big corporation like Deutsche Wohnen. Due to the rising energy costs, my landlord increased my rent by €20 a month in September 2022, but I’ve heard from others they’ve received notices for much higher increases.
2) Health Insurance: €362 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% of your gross monthly income whether you’re employed full-time or a freelancer. For those employed full-time, your employer will cover half of the costs, leaving you to pay about 7.3%. Worth noting – if you make more than €58,050 per year, the cost of health insurance is capped and stops rising. For full-time employees, this works out to be about €362 per month and for freelancers, this works out to be €725 per month.
I have public insurance with TK and pay around €362 per month. As I’m employed in a permanent position, my employer covers the other half.
Why have I listed healthcare as a cost of living? Although many people don’t think twice about healthcare costs 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, you won’t be used to seeing such a massive deduction from your monthly salary. I’m telling you in advance so you won’t be surprised when you get that first pay cheque. I also list it here so that freelancers are aware they have to pay out of pocket and assume the costs themselves.
3) Electricity: €40 per month
Energy prices are on the rise but Vattenfall lowered my monthly bill from €49 a month to €40.
Electricity prices in Germany are among the highest in the world and are expected to remain high during the energy crisis. We suggest shopping around and seeing what deals you can get from providers on CHECK24.
Recommended reading: Our tips abouthow to save energy (and money!)in Germany.
Unfortunately, some electricity providers may decline your business if you’re new to the country and don’t have an established credit history. This happened to me when I first moved here, so if all else fails, go with Vattenfall and switch providers at a later date.
4) Internet: €55 per month
As I work from home full-time and use streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime a lot, it’s important for me to have a fast and reliable Internet connection. I’ve been with PYUR for several years and am really happy with their services. The high-speed connection is fairly pricey at €55 a month but is totally worth the cost.
5) Mobile Phone Provider: €20 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 €15 per month for 10 GB of data and another €5.00 for texts and calls.
7) Insurance: €30 per month
My insurance with Sparkasse includes home insurance, personal liability insurance, and life insurance. It’s €91 every three months or about €30 a month.
8) 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.
9) BVG Monthly Ticket: €29 per month
The state of Berlin is offering a time-limited €29 monthly ticket subscription for travel in the A/B zones from January through March 2023. This is an interim solution while we’re waiting on the federal government to roll out a suitable follow-up to the popular €9 monthly ticket which allowed us to travel nationwide in the summer of 2022.
Due to the low cost, I’ve bought a three-month subscription. Depending on what replaces it this spring, I may go back to purchasing tickets via the BVG app on an ad hoc basis. And despite buying the subscription, I still walk, ride a bike, take taxis, and even rent scooters from time to time.
Cost Of Living In Berlin: Variable Monthly Expenses
1) Groceries: €400 per month
Another cost of living in Berlin is food, glorious food. Although I order takeout or dine at restaurants with friends, I’m cooking more at home since the pandemic started. As a result, my monthly groceries cost went up and I tend to spend about €400 per month.
I mainly shop at the Edeka and Netto next to my apartment building and I also place online orders for delivery with Rewe every so often. If I’m in a crunch, I order from Gorillas, Flink, or Getir – all of which deliver groceries within about 15 minutes. When I want to cook something really special, I sometimes go to more upscale chains like Biocompany or Frischeparadies.
2) Eating Out: €200 per month
If you’re happy to eat a simple a Döner, you’ll pay €5 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. 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 at €5. A bottle of wine at supermarkets will fetch you anywhere from €3 –€ 12 while wine in upscale specialty shops will be more. In a bar, a glass of nicht so gut wine will start at €3, whereas a decent glass of wine will start around €6.
A coffee from a bakery usually starts around €2 and fancier coffees at a trendy hotspot will fetch you around €5. 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’ve taken to ordering higher-quality coffees online at roastmarket.de.
A great thing about Berlin is that eating out is (mostly) still affordable and you can easily have a decent meal (including a glass of wine!) for €25 or so. Note, drinking alcohol, or even ordering water for that matter, will significantly add to your meal expenses.
Cost Of Living In Berlin: Other Monthly Expenses
To share a comprehensive picture of how much things cost in Berlin, I’m also sharing some other common expenses that people have, even though I’m not personally paying for these particular things at this time.
1) Fitness Studios
Most studios offer memberships for €20 – €30 a month if you sign-up for a long-term contract. In the past, I’ve held memberships at FitX and Lady Company and paid about €20 a month. If you want more flexibility and access to different types of classes and facilities, you can always signup for Urban Sports Club which has plans which range from €33 – €149 per month.
I’m no longer a smoker and and now three years smoke free (yeah!). Unfortunately, Berlin’s a smoking city and there are smokers everywhere. 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
- My fixed expenses come to about €1216 per month. I don’t count health insurance as it’s automatically deducted from my gross salary.
- My variable expenses are an additional €600 per month, which I can adjust at any given time if I want to save more money. I still manage put money into savings each month as well.
- In total, my expenses come to €1,944 per month.
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We hope this guide to the cost of living in Berlin gives you an idea of how to calculate your living expenses for your move to Berlin.
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