Saturday, December 14, 2013

Moving Abroad: Life in Germany

Germany is the biggest European Union country, its economy is also the strongest in Europe. Heath and social systems are very developed. There are many job opportunities for experienced specialists. That's why Germany is a popular target for relocation.


Salaries in Germany highly differ geographically. Berlin is a home for many European startups. In perspective of a software developer there are many really interesting companies to work for. Most of them offer gross salary from €40,000 to €45,000 a year to experienced Java developers. Some companies pay more, but they are minority.

On the other hand in Munich experienced Java developers are usually paid from €50,000 to €60,000 a year. But living in Munich is considered the most expensive in Germany. Despite the fact lots of people from Germany and abroad are moving to Munich.


Here you can calculate taxes and net salary precisely. It depends on a few factors. The main of them is tax class. Singles and those who come to Germany without a spouse are assigned tax class I. If both spouses are in Germany and have jobs, they are assigned tax class IV. If just one of spouses has a job, she or he can ask to assign tax class III.

The table below shows approximate net monthly salaries.

yearly gross salary€40,000€45,000€50,000€55,000€60,000
single (tax class I)€2,065€2,270€2,480€2,690€2,890
one of a working couple (tax class IV)€2,065€2,270€2,480€2,690€2,890
only working of a couple (tax class III)€2,335€2,570€2,815€3,070€3,320


Most Germans live in rented apartments. ImmobilienScout24 is the most popular real estate web site in Germany. Unfortunately it's in German only.

Living alone in Berlin can rent a 2-room apartment (50 sq. m or more) for €300. Utility and heating expenses are €150 in addition. And €50 more for electricity. Total sum to spend on 2-room apartment in Berlin is €500 or more a month.

Rent price for a 3-room apartment (70 sq. m or more) in Berlin starts from around €350 a month. About €200 more a month are utility and heating expenses. And approximately €100 for electricity in case of a family. So, total cost of a 3-room apartment in Berlin starts from €650.

Real estate market is very different in Munich. Besides very high rent prices there is shortage of apartments. It's not so uncommon to look for an apartment for the whole year living in a temporary furnished apartment with even higher rent price.

2-room apartment in Munich costs €650 or more plus €150 for utility and heating expenses. Together with electricity a single person will have to spend about €850 a month.

3-room apartments in Munich are even more expensive: €800 rent and €200 utility and heating expenses. Total apartment expenses with electricity for a family starts around €1,100.

Less expensive apartments are extremely popular. Usually from 5 to 20 tenant candidates come to apartment seeing.

In Germany in most cases tenant is asked to make a deposit of 3 month rent (without utility and heating expenses). And in Munich majority of apartments can't be rented without help of real estate agents who charge 2 moth rent plus 19% VAT for their service. To rent an apartment a tenant must be prepared to pay about 7 month rent in advance: 1 month rent with utility and heaving expenses in advance, 3 month rent as a deposit, and about 2.5 month rent for real estate agent service.

Also tenants are obligated to pay national broadcast receiving license a bit less than €20 a month.

1&1 is the most popular home Internet provider in Germany. Unlimited traffic high speed Internet connection and landline phone cost €30 a month.


Lunch special in Munich typically costs from €5 to €8. In Berlin lunch offers start from €3. Coffee and a cake in the evening are about €6. Dinner starts from €10, but usually €15-€20 with a beer. €500 is enough for food for a month per person if to eat in bistros and cafes only, no cooking at home.

Public Transportation

In big German cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich monthly card on public transportation within city limits costs around €100. But there are options to save money if you don't need to move over the whole city.

Mobile Connection

The cheapest way to talk over mobile phone in Germany is to use prepaid cards. They usually offer €0.09/min calls through Germany. 1 GB/month mobile Internet connection can cost €10.

Holidays and Vacation

There are 9 federal holidays in Germany. Also some states have their own holidays. Bavaria has 13 holidays, it's the highest number in Germany. Here is the list of German holidays for the near future.

German labor law assures 20 working days of paid vacation a year for full time employees. In practice most companies offer 30 working days vacation. It's whole 6 weeks! Employee can take vacation with granularity of half a day.

Full working week is 40 hours.


Medical insurance is mandatory for all employees. It's deducted from gross salary by employer.

People who earn more than a certain amount have option to switch from public to private medical insurance. For earning good money young and healthy people private insurance can be significantly cheaper. Also level of service can be better. However, public insurance also covers non-working spouse and children.

In case of illness appointment with a doctor is scheduled the same day.

When an employee feels sick she or he can stay at home usually up to 3 days without going to a doctor. If sickness continues more than 3 days a document from a doctor is required to stay at home. Sick days are paid at 100% level.

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