Updated: Feb 10
With seemingly no end to the exorbitant cost of living in many European capitals, many young people are searching for a cheaper, more fun alternative. Cities where you can live in a great area, eat out regularly and still have money left over in the bank for travel, holidays or activities. I’m sure we can all agree that working just to keep our head above water is not much fun!
This is why many people are opting to base themselves in the German capital Berlin, with its world-class nightlife, endless supply of affordable restaurants and bars, and cheap city accommodation. With young people relocating to Berlin from far and wide, you are perhaps tempted to jump on the bandwagon. But just how cheap is Berlin?
As with many things, the cost of living in Berlin is partly dependent on your lifestyle. Are you a techno fiend or an extravagant foodie? An avid cyclist or U-Bahn regular? There are countless factors that will influence how cheap you find life in Berlin, but having lived in Oslo, London and Amsterdam, I can guarantee you’ll find Berlin to be a financial dream in comparison!
Traditionally, rent prices have been famously low in Berlin. While the fabled stories of EUR 300 apartments are no longer the norm, there are still some cracking deals to be found. While an apartment in Mitte will be significantly pricier than Moabit, it is estimated that you can snap up a furnished studio for EUR 700 in a decent part of town. If you fancy sharing a place, you can expect to pay around EUR 450 for a bedroom in a 2-bedroom 85 m2 furnished flat. Most of Berlin’s apartments are very spacious and often come with high ceilings and charming hardwood floors.
As an all-year-round cyclist, my personal transport costs are limited to the odd single ticket here and there. However, if you’re more of a fair-weather bike rider, then the U-Bahn/S-Bahn is a very affordable alternative. A 24/7 monthly pass is EUR 81 and you can even take a friend for free on weekdays after 8 p.m. and weekends. You can also opt for a reduced monthly pass (EUR 59) if you don’t need to travel before 10 a.m. When compared with London, where a month pass for zones 1 and 2 is around EUR 145, you really are getting tremendous bang for your buck in Berlin.
There are also a number of car/scooter sharing options, which allow you to whizz around town for the fraction of the price of a cab. The most popular apps are DriveNow and Car2Go for car sharing and Coup for scooters, which costs as little as EUR 3 for a 30-minute trip.
Wining and Dining
With a Späti (convenience store) at every turn, it is very easy to find extremely cheap booze in Berlin. You can pick up a bottle of wine for less than EUR 4 and a bottle of beer for as little as 60 cents. In a bar, you can expect a 500 ml German beer to be around EUR 3.30 with cocktails starting from around EUR 8.
The city is littered with fantastic food markets, where you can purchase all your veg for the week for approximately EUR 15. A standard restaurant will likely set you back around EUR 12 for a main course and drink. Berlin has a large Turkish community, with delicious Turkish treats on almost every road in the city — you can enjoy some of Europe’s finest kebabs for just EUR 3.
Berlin’s restaurant prices are generally unheard of in most European capitals and make the city’s food scene incredibly accessible for a much wider demographic.
In conclusion, while Berlin has recently experienced a rise in rent prices, the current level remains around half what you could expect to pay for an equivalent apartment in London, New York or Paris. The cheap price of transport, food and drink ensures that Berlin comfortably keeps its crown as one of Europe’s most affordable capital cities, and does not look like it will be dethroned any time soon. So, what are you waiting for — trade in your life of expensive rent, rare restaurant treats and crippling transport costs for a cheaper, more fun and ultimately richer life in Berlin! Check out how we can help you move to Berlin.