Cost of living Cologne, Germany (2021)

Marle

Updated on Jan 27 • 5 minute read

There's one essential question that expats and students should ask themselves before moving to this multi-million metropolis with its truly unique attitude to life: What are the expected costs of living in Cologne, Germany?

Getting an idea of the costs of living is the cornerstone of any good planning for your relocation to Cologne, and it’s key to preventing any costly surprises. Now tell me, is Cologne an expensive city to live in? And how does the cost of living in Cologne, Germany, compare to your salary, or even more, compare to living expenses in cities like Berlin?

We've broken down the cost of living in Cologne, Germany, to give you a bite-sized overview.

Is Cologne a good place to live?

Cologne has some quirks and characteristics that you won't find in any other major city in Germany. Let's be honest, compared to Hamburg and Munich, the Rhineland city doesn't flaunt the most picturesque cityscape. That said, moving to Cologne makes you realise that Cologne is more than just a city, it's above all a sentiment: one that is full of joie de vivre and tolerance!

The people of Cologne fully embrace their flaws; that's why they're tolerant of others. Köllefornia on the Rhine attracts expats and international students perhaps not because of its beauty or cost of living, but because of its sentiment. Ready to jump on the Kölsche vibe?

Is Cologne expensive to live in?

No, Cologne is not expensive to live in, though it's certainly not a bargain either. A glance at the cost of living in Germany's ten largest cities shows that Cologne ranks in the middle of the list.

On average,

you have to expect a cost of living of 1,842 euros in Cologne.

To get a feel for whether Cologne is expensive to live in, it's worth taking a look at the most expensive city, Munich, where you can expect to pay around 2,045 euros per month, and the cheapest city, Leipzig, where you only have to calculate 1,387 euros to get by. All in all: pretty average.

Cost of living in Cologne (2021): an overview

So, how expensive is it to live in Cologne now? The cost of living in Cologne is around 1,842 euros per month.

We take you through the breakdown of the various areas of the cost of living in Cologne:

GroceriesPrice (in €)
Milk (1L)0.83€
Fresh bread1.28€
Rice (1KG)1.92€
12 eggs (medium size)2.32€
Cheese (1KG)7.48€
Potatoes (1KG)1.16€
Tomatoes (1 KG)2.42€
Wine (1L, medium price)5.00€
Local beer (0,5L) (Kölsch)0.90€
Leisure timePrice (in €)
Dinner in the restaurant (for yourself)9.00€
Three-course meal in a restaurant for 2 persons60.00€
Cocktail in a bar8€
The menu at McDonald's7.50€
Cappuccino (normal)2.66€
Water (0,33 L)2.22€
Coca-Cola (0,33L)2.51€
Fitness studio membership (monthly)31.42€
2 cinema tickets21.00€
2 theatre tickets (best seat)120€

TransportationPrice (in €)
Single ticket with public transport3.00€
Monthly ticket (regular price)98.50€
Taxi basic fare (regular fare)3.50€

It's true that public transport in Cologne is more expensive than almost anywhere else.

Here’s the good news: Students get a student ticket and travel for free!

RentPrice (in €)
Two-room flat in the city centre818.08€
Two-room flat outside the city centre619.76€

Is Cologne cheaper than Berlin?

In fact, the cost of living in Cologne is higher than in Berlin, the German capital.

For someone who's living on a salary of €40,000 in Berlin, you have to add about 9% more for the same standard of living in Cologne, i.e. €43,491.

Expats in Cologne spend 19% more on food than in Berlin, 44% more on public transport, and 2% more on sports and leisure activities and rent. As a matter of fact, public transport in Cologne is higher than in almost any other major city.

Here's the good news: students don't have to pay tuition fees in Cologne and can use public transport for free with their student ticket!

Set in perspective: How much is the cost of living in Cologne compared to the salary?

Do you wonder whether the cost of living in Cologne of 1,842 euros is high or not? In a comparison of the German metropolitan areas, Cologne puts itself pretty much in the average range. However, taking a glance at the cheapest city, Leipzig, we find that while the cost of living is low, so are salaries. The question of how expensive or cheap a city is for its inhabitants ultimately comes down to the average salary that is paid out there.

In Cologne,

you can expect an average salary of 44,352 euros a year,

or around 3,696 euros a month (before taxes). In other words: you’ll be able to cope with the costs of living!

Cologne is a favourite among students despite the relatively high cost of living

Köllefornia is on par with the true California: Expats and students from all over the world are eager to gain their experience abroad in the Rhineland - despite the relatively high cost of living in Cologne.

For students in Germany, and therefore also Cologne, there are no university fees to pay. This perk in itself is what makes Germany much more attractive for universities than the UK, simply because it means much lower costs fall on students. On top of that, it's possible for students on a visa to apply for a residence permit for up to 18 months after graduating from university taking the pressure off you to start a career in Germany.

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