Compared to other major European cities, life in the German capital is significantly more affordable in comparison. A typical family earns a monthly average of € 3,000 and residents are quick to say this is more than enough for their basic needs, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, health care and even recreational activities. Because of this, more expats are drawn to a Berlin that perfectly combines old world and cosmopolitan charms.
Expats can easily find a furnished 2-bedroom apartment in Berlin for a monthly rent of € 2,570 to € 11,640. The city's rates are much cheaper in comparison to other key cities such as Frankfurt and Munich. In fact, real estate rates in the capital have had one of the steepest rises in recent years, along with those in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse. The farther the property from the city center, the cheaper the rates.
The average cost of a home in Berlin is € 217,724 with the rise in demand for residential properties being the primary reason for the increase in prices. Still, the figures are much lower than what one would find in other major European cities. Expats who spend a lot of time traveling in other parts of the world are also at home with a policy in Germany that allows foreigners to own and use properties in Berlin any time as a private holiday property, or to put them up for sale without necessarily having to reside permanently in the city.
The price of home-cooked food and restaurants can vary greatly in Berlin. A meal in a midrange diner can cost € 8-16 while a three-course meal with a bottle of house wine in an upscale restaurant can go up to € 51. A week's worth of groceries per person costs about €15-35, but some expats have taken well to those quick meals of shawarma and sausages in stands. A Big Mac costs about € 6-7 and a two-liter Coke bottle is worth € 1.50.
Berlin is a lot cheaper than Frankfurt and Munich in terms of getting around the city. An exception though is train travel. But by bus, tram or metro transit, about ten stops within a 10 kilometer-trip can cost less than € 2.70 fare. A five-kilometer taxi trip within the city can be as cheap as € 9.41.
Generally, expats can afford owning and maintaining a car with a gasoline price of merely € 1.24 per liter. Paperwork for owning a car in Berlin costs about € 193.6 annually and is much higher compared to what one would pay in Munich or Frankfurt.
The utility costs for a household for two to three people is € 200 monthly on electricity, gas, water and garbage fees. A hundred-minute call on a mobile phone can cost about € 15 while a 2mbps ADSL flat Internet connection will be billed about € 20-30 monthly.
Even if Berlin has a misleading reputation for having a high cost of living, expats are lucky to find home in a grand city that is surprisingly pleasant and reasonably priced.
Photo: Ali Eminov
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