Cost of living in Hamburg: An overview

Cost of living in Hamburg romp among the upper range of most expensive cities in Germany. Those are the costs of living you can expect in Hamburg.


7 minute read
Updated on 19 Dec 2023

The cost of living in Hamburg puts it at the 7th place in the top 10 most expensive cities in Germany, shooting it up to one of the most expensive major cities in Germany. But how come Hamburg is so expensive? Possibly it's down to the fact that Hamburg boasts the highest density of millionaires in Germany and one multinational corporation after the other romps around the city. And with its ever-growing economy, it creates jobs along with prospering prospects.

Let's take it one step at a time, though: we'll show you the cost of living in Hamburg to give you a sense of how expensive Hamburg is. After that, we put it into context with the average salary in Hamburg and then set it in perspective to the number 1 city among expats: Berlin. Finally, our tips allow students and expats to truly indulge in northern German ways of life despite the high costs of living.

Is Hamburg expensive to live in?

Looking at the overall cost of living in Germany, there's an obvious pattern: the South has higher living expenses than the North of Germany. Now, when you dust off your map, you’ll spot Hamburg in the north.

So, wouldn't that mean that the cost of living in Nordic Hamburg is low?

No, unfortunately, Hamburg breaks out of line in this north-south division. It's especially young professionals and students who find their home in Hamburg, as well as the city’s popularity among multinational corporations, is growing rapidly given its top economic position. All this has marked effects: Hamburg's burgeoning purchasing power is pushing up the cost of living as well.

It is therefore hardly surprising that

Hamburg ranks as the 7th most expensive city in Germany.

This makes Hamburg one of the more expensive cities in Germany, and in a European comparison, Hamburg is even 78% more expensive than other cities in Western Europe (18th place out of 76). Even on a global scale, Hamburg ranks in the upper range and snatches 52nd place (of 206).

So is it expensive to live in Hamburg? Yes, Hamburg is one of the most expensive cities in Germany when it comes to living costs. But: it is still far from being the most expensive city in Germany.

The cost of living in Hamburg broken down

So, Butter bei die Fische: how high are the cost of living in Hamburg now really? The prices of supermarkets and outdoor activities are generally based on the general price level of the city. Since Hamburg tends to be more expensive as a whole, this is also mirrored in its sections. But one thing at a time, let's first take a closer look at the cost of living in Hamburg per category:


Fruits & vegetablesPrice
Tomatoes (1kg)€2.13
Potatoes (1kg)€1.44
Apples (1kg)€2.84
Lettuce (1 head)€1.17
Dairy products and cheesePrice
Milk (1l)€1.18
Rice (1kg)€2.30
Eggs (pack of 12)€3.43
Chicken fillets (1kg)€9.23
Local cheese (500g)€11.99
Medium class wine (1l)€7.00
German beer€0.72
Water (1,5l )€0.67
Coca-Cola (2l)€1.74

Public transport

A regular day ticket for public transport in Hamburg from 9 am onwards for the AB area costs €7.10, full-day tickets cost €8.40. Good news: As a student, you will usually receive a semester ticket from your university for a low fee. Best to ask at your university!

Leisure time activities

Lunch in a normal restaurant€13
Restaurant visit for 2 persons€60
2 theatre tickets (good seats)€160
2 cinema tickets€30
Beer in a bar (0.5l)€4
Cappuccino (normal)€3.44
Water (0.33l bottle)€2.08 (watch out, most likely sparkling water!)

How high is the average rent in Hamburg?

Strolling through the districts of Winterhude or Eppendorf you quickly get the impression that this is a city where the rich come to live. The splendid architecture blends in with the upscale boutiques. And this impression is not entirely false: average rental prices in Hamburg ranks well above the national average.

Did you know that one-third of the income is spent on rent?

You have to expect this average rent in Hamburg:

Average rent in HamburgPrices (in €)
Private room€725

If you want to find affordable options, don't forget to start to search homes for rent in Hamburg early!

Expect living costs of €949.10 per month in Hamburg (excluding rent!)

Whether it's a ticket for public transport, a visit to the theatre or shopping: The cost of living in Hamburg goes hand in hand with the city's price level. So what living costs should you expect in Hamburg? To live in comfort - and not just to survive - you should reckon with about €949.10 per month as a single person - without rent! If you come to Hamburg as an expat with your family of four, you should dig a little deeper into your pockets and expect around €3,312.

Do people in Hamburg earn higher salaries to cover their high living costs?

The cost of living always coincides with the average salary you can expect in Hamburg for your job or internship. After all, a city with a low cost of living clearly becomes less meaningful if the average salary is catastrophic - and vice versa. After all, even if the city is one of the most expensive places to live in Germany, the high cost of living is compensated with a corresponding average salaries in Hamburg.

Basically, it can be said:

Hamburgers have a higher cost of living, but they also possess a much higher purchasing power.

On average, people in Hamburg earn an average salary of €4,609 gross. So if you deduct taxes from this average gross salary in Hamburg, you still have about €3,964 per month (earning €55,313 per year). This means for you: despite the high cost of living, with an average salary you can happily swap the rustic pub for the chic cocktail bar or try out the Michelin-starred restaurants.

Berlin vs. Hamburg: How high is the cost of living in Hamburg in comparison?

To give you a better feeling for the cost of living in Hamburg, it's often easier to compare it with other cities like Berlin.

Hamburg boasts a millionaire density and strong economic growth, where media houses and aviation industry feel home. It goes without saying that Hamburg's strong purchasing power also boosts the high cost of living.

A deep dive into the different living expenses shows in Hamburg the public transport costs are 9.8% higher. But compared to the cost of rental homes in Berlin, the prices in Hamburg are 19.9% lower.

Wonder why the popularity of Hamburg won't subside despite high living costs? The answer lies at hand: Hamburg ranked 16th among the most livable cities in the world in 2022, according to The Economist. Reason enough to give Hamburg a try, don't you think?

Hamburg on a student budget: How to keep living expenses low

Despite the high cost of living in Hamburg, a few tricks can be used to reduce the costs down to a student-friendly budget. All you have to do is to live a little more deliberately and perhaps reconsider your approaches. Fancy a beer with your new friends? Instead of going to a posh cocktail bar in Eppendorf, you might opt to fetch your beer from one of the laid-back pubs or shops in the Schanzenviertel.

There's also plenty of money to spare on groceries! Discounters such as Aldi, Lidl or Penny strike a chord with Germans; as a matter of fact, Germans really don't like to spend much money on good food. What's more, you're in a paradise for stingy shoppers when it comes to groceries. By comparing prices and choosing a discounter over a supermarket, you can save a lot of money as a student in Hamburg!

In short: you can cut your costs of living considerably whilst enjoying the vibrant vibe of one of the most livable cities.

High cost of living in Hamburg guarantee a high quality of life

To wrap it up: When it comes to the cost of living, Hamburg certainly ranks high. However, as an expat you'll be well compensated for this. So, if you're going to start a new job in Hamburg, the high cost of living won't hurt you - and you'll be fully immersed in the city's chic bars as well as its alternative districts.

And even as a international student working and studying in Hamburg, you can use a few tricks to lower the cost of living in a student-friendly way - and still, fully dive into your student life in Hamburg. Who would want to give up one of the most beautiful and liveable cities simply to save a few euros? Here we go, let's give this stunningly Hanseatic city a chance and find affordable student housing in Hamburg now!

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