Most people like to live as close to their workplace as possible, but others feel like the benefits of a daily commute are worth more than a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning. So, do Germans like to commute? Is living in a German commuter town viable? Or should you instead be living in the larger German cities most other expats gravitate to? Let’s find out more about which German cities are commuter friendly and what actually makes so many people choose the commuter’s life.
Just to be sure, we’ll define commuting as leaving your community to get to work, so either leaving your city or even your district to do so. So, is commuting popular in Germany? We’ll take a look at some data to find out. According to the Federal Institute for Building, Urban and Spatial Research (Known as BBSR in Germany) the number of commuters in Germany grew from roughly 9.3 million in 2000 to over 19 million in recent years.
To put that in perspective, Germany had around 45.6 million people working in total in 2023. That means almost half of the German working population travels quite a considerable distance to get to work! The BBSR also found people traveled further than before, with an average of around 17 kilometres. With those numbers, the average commuting time for Germans who do commute comes down to around 40 minutes a day.
In some Eastern states, the commute distance can be as far as 30 km! The east-to-west commute seems to be a remainder from when Germany was still divided into East- and West-Germany, with roughly 400.000 people commuting to the west, versus only 178.000 people commuting to the east.
So where are people commuting to? It’s mostly towards the major German cities as hubs of industry and employment. However, there also seems to be movement from people living in a larger city and working in an outlying town or City. So, if you are looking to commute, which cities are the most popular?
This list isn’t going to hold many surprises, as a large part of the commuting community is heading towards a more populous zone of employment. What might be surprising, is the order in which this list is ranked. Let’s take a look at the most popular cities for Commuters in Germany.
So, why, as an expat, would you choose to commute to work in major German cities? Well, the short answer to that is equilibrium. There has to be something that makes it worth investing time, effort and, let’s be honest, stress into having to get up earlier than some of your colleagues who live a short walk away. There are a thousand reasons why commuting would, or would not be the best solution and they’re personal for everyone. But, according to the report on Commuting and Life Satisfaction in Germany, these are the most reliable pros and cons:
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