Cost of living in Berlin (2020): Overview and Breakdown

Marle

Updated on Sep 16 • 6 minute read

The cost of living in Berlin is just above the European average and yet the vibrant city is the cheapest capital city in Western Europe! A true paradise for all international students and young expats who want to swap their life in their home country for the urban jungle without having to dig too deep into their pockets.

But one thing at a time, let us walk you through the cost of living in Berlin. We’ll break down the average cost of living in Berlin into:

  • Living expenses in Berlin
  • Cost of living in Berlin for single person (Breakdown)
  • Average rent in Berlin (apartment versus room)
  • Cost of living per month in Berlin

Spoilers: Odds are that you'll start plans to move to Berlin right after.

Cost of living in Berlin makes it the Western capital with lowest living expenses

Both the average rent in Berlin and the low living expenses in everyday life, for instance, an affordable lunch between two lectures or a dinner date with your new colleagues, the €1 beer at night from a Späti, and the numerous nightlife options from Berghain to Tresor are what make Berlin more popular than hardly any other capital city for students and expats.

How much is the average salary in relation to the cost of living in Berlin?

And whoever says A must also say B; after all, you shouldn't limit your gaze solely to the low cost of living in Berlin, but you need to bear in mind the average salaries in Berlin. Only if you get a grip on average salaries, you’ll be in the position to assess whether living expenses in Berlin is affordable or expensive.

Luckily, the capital scores points in this area as well:

With an average German salary of €28,091 (for apprentices) or €43,605 (for academics), living in Berlin is more than comfortable given monthly living costs of around €1,748.

And students should also keep in mind that even working students and voluntary interns in Berlin with a minimum salary of €9.35 are well off in comparison to many other countries. And there are always many tips and tricks to save money while living in Germany

So, playing with the idea of applying for a job in Berlin yet?

How high are the costs of living in Berlin?

Truth to be told, we have to remember that the capital city has also recorded rising costs in recent years due to its growing popularity. As a result, rents have increased significantly, and more and more fun activities and restaurants are getting more expensive. However, everything is still well in line and cheaper than in other western capitals.

Let's take a closer look at the individual areas of the cost of living in Berlin to put it into the context of

  • the cost of living in Berlin for a single person
  • and cost of living in Berlin per month.

Food

For international students or expats from Germany's neighbouring countries, groceries will be a paradise. In contrast to France, Italy, Austria, Sweden and Belgium, the costs for food are considerably lower.

Dairy & meat productsPrice (in €)
Milk (1L)€0.91
Eggs (Pack of 6)€1.56
Cheese (500g, local)€4.00- 4.30
Chicken breast (500g)€3.31
Menu in a fast-food restaurant€7.00
Fruits & vegetablesPrices (in €)
Tomatoes (1kg)€2.18
Potatoes (1kg, locally sourced)€1.20
Apples (1kg)€2.47
Bread & pastriesPrices (in €)
Bread (from your local bakery)€0.90
Flour (2.5kg)€1.44
(Alcoholic) beveragesPrices in €
Coca-Cola (2L)€1.71
1 bottle of wine (1L, medium high quality)€4.98
Beer (0. 5L)€0.99

Though don't forget here: this only represents the average. When going grocery shopping, you can choose between a discount store (e.g. Lidl, Aldi, Penny or Netto) or a supermarket (e.g. EDEKA or Rewe).

Do you wanna go all in and fancy sustainability or organic products? Then you also have a wide choice of organic markets. However, doing your groceries at a discount store gives you far lower living expenses in Berlin for food compared to buying your groceries at supermarkets or organic markets.

Costs for accommodation (average rent in Berlin)

Once the basic needs (food) are covered, we can take a look at the expenses for accommodation that you need to budget. For this, we dived into the average rent in Berlin for private rooms and one-bedroom apartments.

Average rent in BerlinPrices in €
Average rent in Berlin for private rooms€552
Average rent in Berlin for apartments€1.086

Needless to say, that's only showing the average of Berlin's rental prices.

There's certainly a huge difference whether you move into a hip flat in an old building in Pankow (Prenzlauer Berg) for around 1,075€ or look for a low-priced student room in Reinickendorf.

In our neighbourhood guide in Berlin, we delve deeper into the individual neighbourhoods of Berlin, so you can get a feel for the average rent in Berlin for apartments and private rooms in different districts.

Transportation

Berlin's public transport system takes you from one corner to the other in no time at all. And if you are an enrolled student in Berlin, you can even get around for free! Most universities in Germany are part of a network that provides students with a semester ticket for a small fee.

So, you said Berlin will be your new home? Let's face it: in the capital city, it's usually not worth taking a car. You will find yourself stuck in traffic jams and will end up getting around the city much faster by public transport.

For most people in Berlin, the BVG AB ticket for 63€ per month is all you need. And if you're staying in Berlin for a year or more, you can get an annual ticket for 60€ a month.

Leisure time

Now, on to the fun part of living: leisure. In Berlin, you can roughly expect these prices for your free time:

Leisure timePrices in €
Lunch out (meal including drink)€11
Dinner out (for 2 people)€28
Theatre tickets (for 1 person)€41.50
Cinema tickets (for 1 person)€10 (on some weekdays it's cheaper than on weekends!)
Coffee (flat White, of course with oat milk)€3.34

Education

This is probably the best news: Students do not pay tuition fees. Each semester you'll only be charged semester fees, which usually add up to around 300€.

The situation looks different if you attend a private university instead of a public one, of course. There, you’ll still be charged tuition fees.

Getting by in Berlin with 769€, living comfortably with 1.748€

All in one, you can get through life as an international student with cost of living in Berlin around 796€ per month. Of course, this means that you have to adjust your living expenses in Berlin a little bit; do your groceries mainly in discount stores and search for a cheap student room.

As an international expat with an average gross salary of around 3,354€ (or 43,605€ a year including 13th salary), you have all the financial means to treat yourself to a hip flat in Charlottenburg and spend your evenings on Kastanienallee in Prenzlauer Berg - at a cost of living in Berlin around 1.748€.

There's space for any budget in Berlin

Just about every lifestyle finds its home in Berlin. Students who try to live on a low student budget can certainly keep their cost of living per month in Berlin small - without even having to miss out on that vibrant city vibe. Instead of spending your time (and money!) in one of those fancy cocktail bars, why not just sipping a beer from a Späti with your friends on the Weserstraße in Neukölln and soaking up the ease of Berlin?

With a sense for affordable alternatives, you can make it through life in Berlin with a cost of living of just over 770€.

Expats in Berlin that want to kick off their career in one of the hip start-ups can easily treat themselves to some dinner out, go all in with the buzzling concerts and festivals. After all, the truth is that as an expat you can easily live comfortably with costs of living in Berlin about 3.000€.

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