Cost of living in Berlin – what to expect in 2021

There is no exact science when it comes to budgeting your new life here. Your cost of living in Berlin may vary wildly depending on your lifestyle, family situation, location & job situation.

However, getting some figures down on paper is a first step closer to reality.

In this post, you will find the main categories of costs in Berlin, as well as tips to save money. You will also find a summary for a single person and for a family of four, both for a shoestring budget, or a comfortable budget.


Costs of living in Berlin – single person

Shoestring budget

Cost categoryMonthlyYearly
Rent (Room in shared apartment)500€6 000€
Groceries150€1 800€
Public transport63€756€
Internet (50mbps)25€240€
Mobile phone (5gb data)10€120€
Liability insurance4€48€
Entertainment200€2 400€
Total959€11 364€

Comfortable budget

Cost categoryMonthlyYearly
Rent (40 – 50sqm apartment, including electricity)850€10 200€
Groceries250€3 000€
Public transport63€756€
Internet (50mbps)25€420€
Mobile phone (10gb data)20€240€
Liability insurance4€48€
Home Contents Insurance6€72€
Entertainment250€3 000€
Gym membership (Urban Sports Club)59€708€
Total1537€18 444€

Costs of living in Berlin – family of four

Shoestring budget

Cost categoryMonthlyYearly
Rent (80sqm apartment)1 040€10 080€
Groceries400€4 800€
Public transport (Two adults)126€252€
Internet35€420€
Mobile phone plan (3x10GB)80€1 200€
Liability insurance15€180€
Home Contents Insurance10€ 120€
Entertainment300€ 3 600€
Club membership for kids90€ 1 080€
Other costs related to kids70€840€
Total2 166€25 952€

Comfortable budget

Cost categoryMonthlyYearly
Rent (100 sqm apartment)1 350€16 200€
Groceries500€6 000€
Public transport (two adults -)126€1 512€
Internet (100mbps)30€ 420€
Mobile phone plan (3x10GB)80€ 1 200€
Liability insurance15€ 180€
Home Contents Insurance10€120€
Entertainment600€ 7 200€
Gym membership120€ 1 440€
Club membership for kids90€ 1 080€
Other costs related to kids 120€1 440€
Total3 041€36 4922€

Rent

Rent is one of the biggest living costs in Berlin, and one that also varies wildly depending on the type of accommodation that you end up in, and the area in which you live. Rents have skyrocketed in recent years, and so the dream of finding a cheap flat in Berlin is, unfortunately, just that.

If you need to save money, the cheapest rental option is to find a room in a shared flat. A room in a shared flat – also called a WG or Wohngemeinschaft – can cost as little as 400€ or as much as 700€ per month, depending on the size, area, and condition of the flat.

As a good rule of thumb, expect to pay somewhere in the middle, around 500€ – 650€ per month.

If you’d like to get your own apartment, things are a bit more expensive. For a 50sqm apartment big enough for two people in a desirable neighborhood, you can expect to pay around between 800€ and 1050€ per month, although it is possible to find cheaper deals. This price is what Germans refer to as warm rent, which means it includes bills such as gas, electricity, and water. If you’re willing to live outside of the ring and the city center, it’s possible to find similarly-sized flats for as little as 720€.

Rent is usually charged by the square meter, and each area will generally have a different pricing structure. To get a good indication of how expensive the area you’re thinking of moving to is, check out this rental report by Guthmann Estate.

Read here and here how to pay less rent in Berlin


Electricity & Gas

Charged separately to rent, electricity, and gas are costs of living in Berlin that have to be factored into your monthly budget. Since the energy market is deregulated, the prices of both utilities can vary as there are a number of different competing energy companies. 

For electricity, the average cost in 2021 was 30,34 cents/kWh. Everyone’s electricity usage differs, but a 2020 study estimated the yearly costs to be about 415€ per head, with about 1300 kWh used.

For gas, expect to pay on average about 50€ per month for a 45sqm apartment. This amount will vary quite a lot depending on the size of your flat and how much you heat it during winter.

If this sounds outrageous to you, I wrote about how you can save money on electricity in Germany, and a similar one about to switch gas providers and save money.


Food

Next to rent, food is going to be one of your biggest living expenses in Berlin. Luckily, the average cost of groceries in Berlin is quite affordable. Depending on how much disposable income you have, there is a large spectrum of grocery stores to choose from to suit a wide range of budgets. If you’re looking to save money, then ALDI, LIDL, and Penny should be your go-to supermarkets, and if you’re looking for higher quality for a higher price, then Denn’s, Biomarkt, and Edeka are the places to visit.

Below let’s take a look at the average prices of common groceries in Berlin.

Dairy & meat productsPrice
Milk (1L)0.96€
Oat milk (1L)1.98€
Eggs (Pack of 12)2.34€
Cheese (1kg)10.90€
Chicken breast (1kg)7.51€
Beef (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) 12.05€
Fruits & vegetables
Tomatoes (1kg)1.93€
Potatoes (1kg, locally sourced)1.36€
Apples (1kg)2.38€
Bananas (1kg)1.56€
Oranges (1kg)2.34€
Onions (1kg)1.46€
Bread & staples
Loaf of bread (from your local bakery)0.99€ – 4.00€
Rice, white (1kg)1.81€
Beverages
Coca-Cola (2L)0.99€
Water (1.5L)0.61€
1 bottle of wine (1L, medium high quality)6€
Domestic beer (0.5L)0.79€
Imported beer (0.5L)1.80€

If you’re someone who likes to dine out often, you’ll be pleased to know that Berlin has no shortage of affordable, delicious restaurants as well as top-tier fine dining establishments. The average cost of eating out is as follows:

Restaurants & CafésPrice
Döner – Falafel4€
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant 10€
Meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant50€
Cappucino at a hip location3.20€
Cappucino at a normal location2.80€
McMeal at McDonald’s8€
Domestic beer (0.5-liter draught) 3.90€
Imported beer (0.33-liter bottle) 3.50€

This picture comes up when you google “costs of living”, I’m not sure why… (Source: Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

Transportation

When it comes to calculating living costs in Berlin, transportation can’t be overlooked. There are many different wants to get around Berlin, all with different prices. 

BVG

The most widespread and well-connected in the Berlin public transportation system, the BVG. Consisting of a network of trains, buses, and trams, the BVG can get you to most areas of Berlin pretty easily. It operates in a zone system (A, B, and C); the more zones you pass through, the more costly your ticket is. As far as living costs in Berlin go, this one is pretty forgiving. The most cost-effective option is to buy a monthly ticket, which, if bought yearly, will set you back 63€ per month for the AB zones, 68.50€ per month for the BC zones, and 84€ per month for the ABC zones.

Students & school kids can get special passes to ride for free.

Bike-sharing

Bike-sharing has, in recent years, become a major part of Berlin’s public transportation network and helps to bridge the gap between weirdly-placed bus stops and u-Bahn stations. Between Next Bike, Call a Bike, Lime Bikes, and Jump by Uber, there are plenty of options to choose from. Their costs are as follows:

Bike servicePrice
Next Bike1€ for the first 30 minutes; 1,50€ for every additional 30 minutes.
Call a BikeAn annual fee of 3€, then 1€ for 30 minutes, capped at 9€ per day.
Lime Bike1€ for 30 mins. 5.50€ E-Bikes each 30 mins
Jump by Uber1€ for the first 20 minutes, then 0.10€ for every additional minute.

Costs of living Berlin – Car sharing

A bit of a luxury cost of living in Berlin, car sharing is another booming transportation business that has taken off in recent years. Between WeShare, DriveNow, Sixt, Miles, and Share Now, you’re never far from a rental car on the streets of Berlin. Their prices are as follows:

Car sharing servicePrice
WeShare0.19€ per minute.
DriveNowBetween 0.09€ and 0.34€ per minute depending on the size of the car that you rent.
Sixt0.30€ per minute or 59€ for the entire day.
Miles1€ unlock fee, and between 0.89€ and 1.19€ per kilometer depending on the size of the car you rent.
Share NowSign-up fee of 19€ with 30 minutes of driving time included. Prices depend on the car type but start at 0.33€ per minute.

Electric scooter sharing

Electric scooters – also known as e-scooters – are the latest form of electric mobility on Berlin’s streets. They are small, maneuverable, and particularly suitable for covering shorter distances quickly and comfortably. You can factor them into your cost of living in Berlin as you would a train ticket. The cost of scooter sharing is:

Electric scooter sharing servicePrice
Lime1€ to start the ride and then 0.25€/min
Vio1€ to start the ride and then 0.19€/min
Bird1€ to start the ride and then 0.15€/min
Tier1€ to start the ride and then 0.20€/min
Circ1€ to start the ride and then 0.20€/min

Leisure 

Likely the main reason that anyone moved to Berlin in the first place, going out is definitely going to factor into your cost of living in Berlin. There are no shortage of leisure activities on offer at a variety of prices. Expect to pay the following:

ActivityPrice in Euros
Cinema ticket10€
Museum ticket10€ – 15€
4h at a spa30€
Long drinks in a bar4-7€
Beer in a bar3-5€
Club entrance15€ – 20€

Internet & mobile phone

Unfortunately, Germany has some of the highest internet and data costs in the EU, so with this cost of living in Berlin, you can expect to pay a little bit more than other countries. 

With regards to internet plans, you can get a 50mbps line for about 20€ per month, and a 100mbps line for about 35€ per month, although this depends on a lot who your internet provider is and the contract they’re offering. 

The price of mobile data is also going to fluctuate depending on your plan, provider, and how much you use per month. Prices look something like this:

  • 5GB of data from o2 for 15€ per month.
  • 10GB of data from Congstar for 22€ per month.
  • 20GB of data from o2 for 30€ per month.
  • Unlimited 5G from Telekom for 84.95€ per month.

You can read comprehensive breakdown of internet and mobile data providers and learn how to save money.


Banking

Banking most likely won’t be one of your bigger costs of living in Berlin. The amount you pay for banking is going to depend a lot on your business situation and banking needs. If you just need a simple checking account, you get one for free at most traditional and online banks. For freelancers and small business owners your needs might be different, but you can still get an account to suit your needs for around 10€ per month.

If you want to know more, I covered this topic in a lot of detail in this article.


Insurance

Health insurance

Health insurance can be split into two different categories – public and private. Public health insurance contributions are set at 14.6% of an employee’s gross salary, half of which is paid by the employee and the other half by the employer. So if you’re an employee for a company, expect to pay 7.3% of your gross salary every month. This is deducted automatically though so you don’t have to worry about making actual payments.

Private health insurance is a different beast and is quite a hefty living expense in Berlin. Only certain individuals – those earning over 60,750€, freelancers, those earning under 450€, and students over 30 – are eligible for private insurance. The cost of private health insurance varies wildly according to the risk that the insured individual poses to the insurance company. A healthy, young freelancer can pay as little as 175€, while high-risk individuals can pay premiums in excess of 1500€.

You can read a complete guide on health insurance in Germany here.

Liability insurance

Haftpflichtversicherung is a word that everyone comes to know when they move to Germany and refers to the personal liability insurance that will cover you in the event of an accident that’s your fault. Basic German liability insurance costs between 50€ and 100€ a year.

You can read more about liability insurance in Germany here (also where to find English-speaking providers)

Household insurance

Household insurance will cover you in case of theft of any of your belongings, or damage to the property you’re living in. Luckily, this is a pretty small cost of living in Berlin, with coverage starting at around 50€ per year.

There is more information about household insurance in Germany this way.


Family

Costs of living Berlin – schools and daycare

Primary and secondary public schools are free throughout Germany. Parents might be asked to cover the costs of extra-curriculum activities but that’s about it. 

For private international schools, fees vary depending on the institution but they are usually included between 10 000€ to 20 000€.

Daycare, on the other hand, are fully funded by the Berlin senate, and attendance is free. The only costs you’ll incur as a parent are food, special activities, and language classes. Food usually costs in the region of 20€ per month, while activities will set you back between 60 to 90€ per month, depending on the Kita.

Activities for kids

There are relatively cheap options out-there.

  • Dance school: 45€/month for one class a week.
  • Tennis club: 135€/year for a membership
  • Swimming club: Ten swimming lessons at a local Berlin pool will set you back 240€.

Could one do a poster on how Wowereit increased cost of living…
(Source: Photo by LSE Library)

Gyms

Berlin offers a wide variety of gyms to suit all different budgets. This likely won’t be one of your biggest living expenses in Berlin, but expensive gym memberships can quickly eat into your budget if you’re not careful.

GymPrice
John Reed25€ – 30€ per month
McFit19,90€ per month
EVO Fitness49€ per month
Holmes Place89€ per month

If you decide that classes are more your speed, there’s plenty of that on offer too:

ClassPrice
Urban Sports Club (Medium membership)59€ per month
Yoga class15€ per class
Bouldering session15€ per session
SUP session15€ per session

I hope this little breakdown helped to get an overview and helped budget your stay in Berlin. Good luck with it all and feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or remarks.

Bastien

Costs of living in Berlin – FAQ

How accurate is this estimation of costs of living in Berlin?

Fairly accurate & based on a realistic assumptions. No estimation is perfect as there are many factors impacting the overall results. On each option, there is a number of options on the spectrum. It also depends on your priorities too. Some people can’t live without a gym membership when others stick to home gyms. I never ride on e-scooters because I only use my bike around the city. Others use ride-sharing on a daily basis.

This post is meant to give you a rough estimate. It’s not an accurate cost plan for your case.

How can I save money in Berlin?

As a newcomer, it’s completely normal not to pick the most cost-savy option right away. With insufficient knowledge, we just pick whatever is more practical at that point. For each category in this post, there will be a link to a post giving you tips on how to save money in Berlin.

I have heard that prices have increased a lot in Berlin, is this true?

It is true to an extent. Rent prices have exploded in short amount of time in the German capital. Gentrification of certain areas have increased prices of restaurants & cafés too. However, food, utilities & leisure costs have remained fairly stable.

Costs of living Berlin vs New-York – is it still cheaper?

Yes, definitely yes. 🙂

How high is the Big Mac Index in Berlin?

In 2021, the Bic Mac Index was set at 4,89$ in Berlin. Source.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5