Germany is a highly developed European country with a stable democratic government, a strong, productive economy, and an excellent standard of living. Public education is free, the health system is superb and workers’ rights are strongly protected. Germany has 43 sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. From history and culture, through restaurants and nightclubs, to forests and lakes for outdoor pursuits, leisure time in Germany need never be dull or empty. While property and living costs are rising, especially in some of the major cities, Germany is still amongst the most affordable European countries. Just remember, German language competence is essential for most jobs in Germany.
Is Germany a good place to live? Yes, if you’re looking to move to a reasonably priced European Union country with an excellent education, healthcare, and public transport systems. Sitting in central Europe, sharing borders with 11 countries and the Baltic sea, Germany is also an excellent springboard for traveling around the continent.
Our guide tells you more about living in Germany and what you can expect in terms of expense, security, and daily life. We’ll look at housing costs in some of the main German cities, as well as the expenses of daily living. From rich and cultured Munich, through the bustle and crowds of the financial center in Frankfurt, to the cool and edgy vibe of the country’s capital in Berlin, Germany’s cities all have their own unique character and appeal. Carry on reading to learn more about your potential future life in Germany…
Is Germany A Good Place To Live?
From the UN Human Development Index to the US News list of Best Countries to Live, Germany features consistently in the top ten countries globally for quality of life due to world-class healthcare, education, social care, and other factors.
Germany ranks at number three in the US News list of best healthcare systems globally. It has a universal insurance-based health system that provides residents with comprehensive healthcare, sick pay, and long-term nursing care.
Around 90% of the population is covered by public health insurance where both employer and employee make a contribution, and roughly 10% is covered by private insurance (an option only for specific categories including those who earn above €64,350 gross salary).
Six of the world’s top 100 universities are in Germany according to the annual Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities. German institutions also rank highly in the respected QS World University Rankings.
Germany has an extensive, modern transport infrastructure with a high standard of road, rail, tram, ferry, and airplane travel across the country. The famous German ‘Autobahn’ motorway system has no speed limit for cars, while Intercity-Express (ICE) trains carry passengers between cities at speeds of up to 300 km/h. Reasonably priced and reliable public transport is available in most parts of the country.
On average Germany is a very safe country with low crime rates and few natural hazards, dangerous animals, or infectious diseases. In 2021, Germany was rated the 7th happiest country in the world in the UN World Happiness Report.
Is it expensive to live in Germany (vs UK)?
While living costs vary significantly between cities and regions, on average it is cheaper to live in Germany than the UK, potentially by around 25% overall. On average, buying or renting property is cheaper in Germany, as are transport, childcare and clothing. Utilities are more expensive in Germany, as are some foods. Taxes are also higher in Germany than the UK.
While housing prices have been rising sharply in recent years, Berlin remains one of the most affordable capital cities of Europe with housing costs around 33% cheaper than London. Consumer prices are also 21% lower in Berlin than London.
Munich is the most expensive German city to live in but housing is still around 22% cheaper than London and consumer prices around 10% lower.
Housing in Hamburg is around 32% cheaper than London and consumer prices around 19% lower. If we compare Hamburg to Manchester (which is a closer match in terms of size and economy), Hamburg is still cheaper for everything except rent, which is around 6% cheaper in Manchester.
Is Germany a good place to work?
In many ways Germany is a great place to work and there are many opportunities for those with the right skills, qualifications or experience.
Germany’s highly productive economy is thriving, driving a demand for foreign labour. According to its Federal Employment Agency, Germany needs +400,000 skilled migrants every year to fill jobs.
The unemployment rate is 3.8% (slightly under the UK rate of 4.4%) and average net salaries are high (€2,155 per month). Employee rights are extensive and strongly protected including a minimum of 24 vacation days each year (25-30 is common), protection from discrimination, and excellent maternity leave provision.
If you want to work in a profession that is regulated in Germany (e,g. medicine, engineering, master craft work) you may need to obtain official recognition of your professional qualification, applying for this as third country national, since the UK is no longer in the EU.
Is Germany safe to live in?
Overall Germany is a very safe country. The 2021 Global Peace Index rates Germany 17th out of 163 countries for overall peacefulness.
Overall crime rates are low and the general population is orderly and law-abiding. However, you should check local crimes rates for your areas, remain aware of your immediate environment when you are out, and take sensible precautions against the most common crimes (e.g. pickpocketing or bike theft in cities).
Germany has one of the world’s highest rates of gun ownership but its gun laws are also some of the most stringent, entailing licensing, background checks, and a shooting test.
While there have been some terrorist attacks in German cities in recent years, resulting in some casualties, they are not common and overall rates of terrorism are low. Vigilance is recommended.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany has performed relatively well on most measures compared to many other countries and significantly better than the UK.
Natural hazard events including storms, floods and earthquakes can occur in Germany but are usually not as extreme as in some areas of the world. Severe flooding killed over 170 people in July 2021 and natural hazard-linked damage can cost billions of Euros.
Is moving to Germany from the UK easy?
Moving to Germany requires some planning and preparation. You should read and follow the UK government’s guidance for British citizens moving to Germany.
Removal logistics and customs clearance
Since Brexit the UK is no longer part of the EU and Customs Union. This means that all moves between the UK and EU countries must go through a Customs clearance process. For Germany, this will require documentary evidence for:
- Proof of UK removal address
- Duration of UK residence
- Confirmation of new address in Germany
- Certificate of de-registration from the local council in the UK
- Certificate of registration (‘Anmeldung’) in Germany
- German employment contract
- Copy of passport
- Inventory list including values of item
- Agreement and authorisation for removal company or agent to act as a direct representative
Visas and residence permits
UK citizens planning to stay in Germany for over 90 days and/or to work in Germany will need a visa or residence permit. You can apply for a visa in advance or apply for a residence permit from the Foreigners Authority (‘Ausländerbehörde’) on arrival.
When applying for a job, you may be asked to provide a UK police certificate or a German criminal record check (‘Führungszeugnis’).
You must have the correct visa or residence permit before you can start work in Germany.
Remember that health insurance is compulsory in Germany. This may be arranged with one of the public health insurance bodies through your employer, or you may take out private health insurance if you fall into certain categories.
A final word…
So, is Germany a good place to live? We hope we’ve given you enough information to be able to answer the question for yourself. Germany certainly has a great deal to offer in terms of employment, history, culture and security. If you find yourself agreeing, perhaps it’s time to make a move…