One of the most populous nations in Europe, Germany is home to roughly 82 million people. The country is a global political and economic leader, as well as a cultural center. Germany's economy is one of world’s largest, with strong manufacturing, science, technology and trade sectors. A high quality of life makes Germany a desirable destination for many expats and other foreign travelers.
There are a variety of living options in Germany. On your first weeks before you have found a permanent housing you can book a hotel room for about 90 euros per night. If you are looking for something cheaper you can find a place in hostel for about 20 and 30 euros per night. You can also find a temporary flat (furnished) to rent for about 500 to 1,200 euros per month, depending on its location.
When you begin to look for an apartment in Germany we recommend you to seek the help of a real estate agent if you are not yet fluent in the German language. Rental agreements may sometimes be difficult to understand, and you may end up paying hidden costs.
If you want to plan your relocation on your own, you will find that most local newspapers — such as the Berliner Zeitung, the FAZ, or the Süddeutsche Zeitung — offer a section on housing in the region, as do websites such as immobilienscout24.de or immowelt.de (both websites in German only).
House and flat shares, called “Wohngemeinschaften”, or “WG”, in German, are good alternatives for people who want to save money on the rent. Usually in this kind of shared accommodation, each person has their own private room with the kitchen and bathroom to be shared. Bills including electricity, Internet and phone costs are normally shared too.
Living Costs’ break down:
- Monthly ticket public transport - 77 Euro
- Basic Lunch in Business District - 11 Euro
- Combo Meal in Fast Food Café - 7 Euro
- Basic Dinner for 2 people - 32 Euro
- 2 Movie Tickets - 21 Euro
- Beer in a pub (1 pint) – 3,35 Euro
- Gym Membership (1 month) – 43 Euro
Full guide on living costs in Germany
Registration with Local Authorities
No later than two weeks since your arrival to Germany you must get registered with the local authorities. In order to do that you need a valid identity document. If you are renting, you also must submit a completed certificate from the landlord (Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung). You can find the form and the address of the responsible registry office on the website of your new city.
Expatriates living in Germany can be subject to German taxes, especially if they have German source income. The German tax system is similar to the structures in other western countries. You pay income taxes throughout the year, usually with an employer deducting tax from each paycheck. Adjustments are then made at the end of the year for possible under or overpayments.
For 2016 a taxable income of less than €8,652 was tax-free for a single person (€17,304 for a married couple). Incomes up to €53,665 for a single person (€107,330 for a couple) were then taxed with a rate progressively increasing from 14% to 42%.
As in many other countries, Germany allows a variety of deductions that can lower taxable income. Deductions are granted for circumstances such as children under 18 (or under 27 if still attending school and without earnings), specified insurance premiums, charitable and political contributions to German entities up to certain limits and unavoidable extraordinary expenses above a certain limit (such as illness).
Full Guide on the German Tax System
German Tax Calculator
Social Security and Employment Benefits
People with jobs must, as a rule, make payments to four parts of the system, for health insurance, long-range nursing care, pensions and unemployment. These payments will usually come to about 40% of gross income, but the employer normally pays half of the cost, meaning that the employee is out of pocket only just 20% of his income. Other pillars of the social security program are company accident insurance, paid for completely by the employer, and social indemnity, which the state handles.
Opening a Bank Account
- Documents required for opening a bank account in Germany:
- your passportyour certificate of residency
- a pay statement from your employer (depending on the account type)
- for some banks: your work permit
With these documents you can apply for a current and an EC card with the bank of your choice. Current accounts with some banks do not allow overdrafts. Some banks also require that a minimum amount be deposited each month. Make sure to clarify both of these questions before opening an account.
Healthcare and Insurance
To be an employee in Germany you must get a German Health Insurance, your home country insurance won’t be valid in Germany. About 85% of the German population is insured under the Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV), the German version of a national health system.
Employed persons making more than €4,687.50 monthly (€56,250 per year) have the option of either remaining in the statutory health insurance plan or taking out private insurance.
The statutory health insurance system includes the following benefits:
- Outpatient medical treatment, for example in a physician’s officedental caremedication;
- Remedies and medical devicesinpatient medical treatment, for example in a hospitalmedically necessary rehabilitation services during pregnancy and childbirth It also compensates persons for loss of income due to illness;
- If you have wife and kids they can be also covered by your statutory health insurance policy at no extra charge.