For anyone who has spent any time on some of the popular expat forums, Facebook Groups or Q&A sites such as Quora, I’m sure you have seen a version of this question.

And more often than not, the person asking the question often gets less than helpful answers.

Why?

Usually, because the person asking it is a bit lazy and asks a very vague, poorly thought out question.

What you really needs to be asking is something much more specific, such as:

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“What is a good salary in Germany for an engineer with a masters degree and 5 years’ experience, who wants to live in a major city, have a good-sized 1-bedroom apartment in a decent neighbourhood and be able to afford a couple of holidays a year?”

What should you expect from a good salary in Germany?

 

For all of these examples, we have assumed that you are not liable to pay church tax, just to keep things simple.

Of course, these numbers are approximate: It depends to a large extent on how well you manage your finances and how extravagant / frugal your lifestyle is!

€30,000 per year

HOUSING:

You will need to live in shared accommodation if you’re in a more expensive area, or a small studio apartment otherwise.

TRANSPORT:

You will need to cycle or take public transport, unless you compromise elsewhere.

DISPOSABLE INCOME:

You will be able to afford:

  • Going out once or twice a week, as long as it is not expensive cocktail bars or restaurants or exclusive clubs.
  • Membership of a gym, sports club or other similar hobby
  • One decent holiday a year or a couple of extended city breaks
  • Regular groceries with a few treats now and then
  • Regular, i.e. non-designer, clothes shopping
  • A sandwich or simple canteen meal for lunch at work

SAVINGS:

Very little unless you are really frugal

€50,000 per year

HOUSING:

You will be able to afford a decent 1-bedroom apartment in major cities but may need to compromise on location. Perhaps a 2-bedroom or larger apartment if you’re outside of the more expensive metropolitan areas.

TRANSPORT:

You could afford to run a car if you need one, but this may be considered a luxury in the bigger cities because the public transport network is so extensive

DISPOSABLE INCOME:

  • Everything as mentioned for €30,000, plus:
  • Not really needing to pay much attention to costs for your weekly grocery shop
  • You will be able to splash out more on holidays, or enjoy a couple more weekends away
  • Eating out for lunch most days.
  • More varied entertainment options such as concerts, theatre, more exclusive nightlife venues etc.

SAVINGS: 

You should be able to put away a couple of hundred € each month into a private pension plan or investment fund.

€70,000 per year

HOUSING:

You will be able to afford a nice 2-bedroom apartment in a good location in all the major cities. Perhaps something bigger or more luxurious if you’re looking in a less popular part of town. You’ll also be able to afford to buy an apartment if you can save a decent sized deposit (except in Munich, Hamburg, Stuttgart & Frankfurt)

TRANSPORT:

You could afford to buy and run a car if you need one

DISPOSABLE INCOME:

  • Everything as mentioned for €50,000, plus:
  • Not really needing to pay much attention to costs for your weekly grocery shop and being able to easily afford luxuries such as organic products, good wine, imported foodstuffs.
  • You will be able to splash out more on holidays, or enjoy weekends away, without worrying too much about the cost
  • Eating out for lunch most days at work and having dinner out with friends 2 or 3 times a week.
  • More varied entertainment options such as concerts, theatre, more exclusive nightlife venues etc.

SAVINGS: 

You should be able to put away €1,000 each month into a private pension plan or investment fund.

We also want you to be aware of the different points which you must consider when considering whether a figure you’ve been quoted is a “good salary in Germany”.

We can then hopefully provide you with enough information and tools to help you to answer this question for yourself.

If you’re still stuck and need some extra 1:1 support to discuss salary negotiations and relocation considerations, please contact us for a consultation and we would be glad to assist!

It depends on the city / region

Salaries tend to be higher and there are more jobs to choose from in the most prosperous major metropolitan areas.

So, on the one hand, you will most likely find it easier to get job offers in these areas, but on the other hand your biggest expense will be rent, and this is going to be considerably higher than in other parts of the country.

We recently looked at this conundrum and evaluated whether the higher cost of rent negates the salary benefits. Definitely worth doing the sums and considering rent as a percentage of your net income rather than just looking at the actual figure you’ll be paying.

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