picturesque town in Germany

Cost Of Living In Germany Compared To The UK

Ever wondered where is cheaper to live Germany or the UK? A helpful guide for British Expats thinking of moving to Germany.

6 minute read

Germany is renowned for its efficiency, high standard of living, and the quality of its public services: but does that mean that you’ll pay more for the privilege of living there? If you’re planning to move to Germany, or already living in Germany, then you might be worried that your money will run out faster than you can say ‘gutten tag’: but in reality, the daily costs of living are higher in the UK than they are in Germany. That means that, in real terms, you could live comfortably in Germany on a slightly lower salary than in the UK, with those living in Germany spending an average of €2,704 per household, per month. However, these figures will depend on your lifestyle, family size, and the town or city in which you choose to live. Here’s everything you need to know about the cost of living in Germany compared to the UK:

Is it Cheaper to Rent or Buy in Germany or in the UK?

The biggest expense involved in moving to Germany is the cost of your monthly rent (or buying a property, if you choose to do so). If you move outside of the city centre then you will find that your property expenses are much more affordable than if you live in the heart of the city centre, with a one-bedroom city centre apartment costing €733.60 per month in Germany (compared to €884.04 in the UK), whilst a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre would cost €554.69 per month (compared to €725.68 in the UK).

If you’re ready to lay down long-term roots in Germany then you might be thinking about buying a home, rather than renting one. Obviously, property prices vary wildly depending on the size of home you’re looking for, but as a rule of thumb you can expect to pay €5316.50 per square metre for an apartment in a city centre, and €3679.94 per square metre for an apartment outside of the city centre. These figures are 7.27% and 4.81% lower than in the UK, respectively, meaning that buying property in Germany could be a sound financial investment.

What are the Differences in Living Costs Between Germany and the UK?

The good news is that if you’re thinking of moving to Germany then your overall cost of living expenses will decrease: this is because living costs are 5.66% higher in the UK than they are in Germany right now, and overall costs of living in Germany are very reasonable, when compared to other European countries. You will pay an average of €32.90 for your internet, compared to €36.65 in the UK: your mobile phone expenses will also be cheaper, costing €0.10 per minute rather than €0.12 per minute. And if you choose to eat out in a restaurant? Expect to spend 20.44% less in Germany than in the UK.

By contrast you can expect your basic utilities, such as gas, water and electricity, to be slightly more expensive at €226.59 per month, compared to €181.89 in the UK.

Is Transportation Cheaper in Germany or the UK?

Your transportation expenses in Germany will vary considerably, depending on how you prefer to get about. It will cost you less to buy a car, for example, with a new Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline costing €23,000 in Germany, rather than €23,641 in the UK. Getting about via public transport is also slightly more affordable, with the cost of both one-way tickets and monthly passes on the local bus and metro being up to 9.76% lower in Germany.

But if you prefer the convenience of just hopping in a taxi then you can expect to pay more for the convenience when you move to Germany: asking a taxi to wait for you for one hour, for example, would cost €30.00 in Germany compared to €20.57 in the UK.

Where Are Salaries Higher; Germany or the UK?

It doesn’t matter how much or little goods cost in a country, if the salaries offered aren’t scalable. On this regard, it is good news for individuals choosing to move to Germany because, whilst the cost of living in lower in the country, salaries are higher. In real terms, this means that you will be financially better off living in Germany than in the UK: The average monthly net salary after tax in Germany is €2561.35 whilst the average monthly net salary after tax in the UK is €2330.77: this is a difference of 9%.

Will My Grocery Shopping Bill Increase?

The overall costs of groceries are 9.36% lower in Germany then they are in the UK, meaning that you may well be in for a surprise when you get the bill for your weekly shop. Some everyday items are significantly cheaper, whilst others are slightly more expensive: a half a liter bottle of domestic beer, for example, is 223.82% cheaper in Germany than in the UK, costing €0.63 (£0.53) rather than €2.05 (£1.73). Other key examples are listed below:

  • A fresh loaf of white bread will cost €1.33 in Germany compared to €1.16 in the UK
  • A liter of fresh milk will cost €0.88 in Germany compared to €1.09 in the UK.
  • 1kg of apples will cost €2.37 in Germany compared to €2.16 in the UK.

Where is the Cheapest Place to Live in Germany?

If you’re looking to move to Germany on a budget then you’ll be interested to know that Berlin is one of the best value capital cities to live in across Europe. The biggest cost is housing, which can be difficult to find, but when compared to other capital cities, you will find that living in Berlin is 33% cheaper than living in London, 45% cheaper than living in New York, 22% cheaper than living in Paris, and 15% cheaper than living in Madrid.

What Will My Costs Be if I’m Moving with Children?

If you have young children then it is likely that you will notice the biggest cost difference between Germany and the UK: the cost of childcare. Full day private preschool sessions (known in Germany as Kindergarden costs on average 322.01 euros (£272.42) in Germany, whilst in the UK you can expect to pay 1,105.71 euros (£935.41) for the same standard of care.

That’s an incredible difference of 243.37% between the two countries. Access to public schooling is free in both countries, but if you choose to send your children to private international primary school when their preschool career is over then you can expect to pay 12,071.25 euros (£10,212.08) on average per year, per child. In the UK these costs would be higher at 15,518.62 euros (£13,128.48) providing a more modest saving of 28.56%.

Will it Cost More to Go on a Shopping Spree?

Sadly, the main area where the cost of living is significantly lower in the UK than in Germany is in the cost of clothing. Fabric prices are high in the country, and this is passed on to the consumer. You can expect to spend €35.33 on a summer dress from a chain store in Germany, compared to €34.36 in the UK. A pair of Levis jeans would set you back €76.46 in Germany, compared to €68.82 in the UK, and a mid-level pair of Nike trainers would be, on average, €78.85 in Germany compared to €73.62 in the UK. If you need a whole new wardrobe, or simply want to go on a spending spree, then you might find that it makes more financial sense to hit the shops when you return to the UK.

Will it Be Expensive to Eat Out?

The cost of eating out in a restaurant is 20.44% less in Germany than it is in the UK. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant will cost on average €10.00 per person in Germany, whilst the same meal would be €14.18 in the UK. For a more upmarket meal, expect to spend €50.00 for a three course menu, compared to €59.10 in the UK. And if you just want to grab a quick bite in the nearest McDonalds? Expect to pay €8.00 for a meal compared to €7.09 in the UK. With the prices being so affordable, that means that if you move to Germany you can afford to eat out and socialise in the local restaurants with your family and friends.


As a general rule, you will find that the costs of living are cheaper in Germany than in the UK, but there are always exceptions to these rules. If you are moving from an affordable rural location in the UK to a large city in Germany, for example, you may find that your living costs go up. This will also be true if you travel exclusively via taxi, or enjoy eating in McDonald’s regularly. But, for the average citizen, you will be pleasantly surprised by the reduced living costs, coupled with the higher salary, that you could receive if you decide to take the plunge and move to Germany.

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Author: Tor Hampton
Tor Hampton is a freelance blogger and copywriter with a passion for global travel. Specializing in travel and fashion content, she has…