Cost of living in Germany vs US


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Cost of living in the US compared to Germany. How does the cost of living in the US compare to Germany?

In short, the rent in the USA in particular is a lot higher than in Germany. Transport costs and food are about the same price, depending on where you live.

I never used to want to live in Nuremberg. Instead, I wanted to experience something new, exciting, and so I was first drawn to the other end of the world. With my Abitur in my pocket, I decided to travel through Asia with a backpack for eight months and the travel bug had me firmly under control.

During my studies, in addition to brief stays abroad, I did a six-month internship in London and after my diploma I finally went to the US for almost four years. Due to the numerous linguistic, cultural and work-related challenges, my horizons have constantly expanded. But it was precisely the great people I met who made me feel at home, far away from home.

Here I discuss about the cost of living in Germany vs US.

The more I traveled and saw, the less things impressed me, until I suddenly realized how much I loved visiting my hometown. Aside from family and long-term friends, my love for Nuremberg certainly has something to do with habit. In the past I simply had no comparison and paid little attention to my city and surroundings.

Perhaps when you came back from your vacation you already appreciated the comfort of your home again before you finally returned to your everyday life?

I’m happy about our move from Atlanta to Nuremberg. However, I do struggle a bit with the reverse culture shock and try to see it as a positive, educational experience. It feels strange to suddenly experience your own culture as an outsider.

According to banks, the cost of living in Germany is given as around 790 euros per month. With this amount, which adds up to 9,480 euros annually, the expenses of daily life can be covered. This particularly shows the costs for accommodation, food and clothing in the EU average.

However, if you want to accurately calculate the monthly cost of living, you have to keep a variety of factors in mind. In addition to the apartment, this also includes the car and especially the leisure time. In the following some points are summarized that play a role for a life in Germany. In addition, you can read here where in the Federal Republic it is cheaper to live.

What is the cost of living actually?

These costs are understood to mean all expenses that arise in an average everyday life. It also includes all amounts that are essential for your own survival. Another name for these monthly expenses is consumer spending. In addition to the essential expenses such as living, eating and drinking, there are also the financial burdens caused by education, travel and entertainment.

The amounts mentioned at the beginning are based on the household flat rate that banks use to determine creditworthiness. They set the flat rate themselves with the help of statistical data. Thus, the household flat rate can vary depending on how it is taken into account. Nevertheless, it is 790 euros per month for a 1-person household. For a 2-person household it is given as 995 euros. An additional 154 euros are added per child.

In contrast, there is the consumer price index. This does not take into account the insurance premiums, maintenance payments, management costs for real estate and the installments for current loans. Nevertheless, the index includes expenses that encompass all possible services and products.

The Federal Statistical Office, which has determined the average cost of living for the Federal Republic of Germany, serves as the basis here. It takes 600 resources in the different groups into account as well as their price development.

What is the difference of Cost of Living in Germany vs US?

How drastic these costs are depending, among other things, on where in Germany you live. The expenses in Munich are around 45 percent higher than the average. In Chemnitz, however, 20 percent lower.

If all the factors listed below are taken into account, an average income in Germany costs around 1,500 euros per month. This includes more than 40 percent for housing and energy. However, the latter can be significantly influenced by yourself. Because electricity and gas providers have huge differences between them.

With the help of the gas provider comparison from Verivox, one of the most renowned comparison portals on the Internet, a more cost-effective alternative can be found quickly. All you need to search is your own postcode and apartment size or kWh per year.

USA vs. Germany


The natural resources and the beauty of the landscape in the US is breathtaking. Wild nature is (still) around every corner. A rethink is taking place right now in which many US Americans are becoming aware of their natural treasures and want to preserve them for the future. In Germany, however, it is not to be despised that there are at least no poisonous and dangerous animals.

Dealing with fellow human beings

The first thing I noticed was the directness of the people in Germany. Coupled with a lack of consideration, it is unfortunately often uncomfortable and probably one of the reasons why Germans are seen internationally as unfriendly. The rudeness especially bothers me when it has nothing to do with me personally. On the other hand, you always know immediately where you are.

Everyone here seems to be very busy with themselves and with their goals instead of putting more emphasis on their fellow human beings on the way there.It is not for nothing that Germany is considered a service wasteland. Exceptions confirm the rule, as is well known, and surprisingly, especially during the numerous visits to public authorities, I had to deal with very friendly and helpful individuals.

Working together and handling mistakes

I think we Germans could help together so much better! When something goes wrong – whether at work or at home – the problem is analyzed from all sides, the finger is pointed at the culprit, loud complaints are made, but nothing happens.

In the US, people admit that everyone makes mistakes, and so everyone does their part to find an immediate solution for the benefit of all. Of course, in the case of additional costs, it is found out who has to bear them, but avoiding costs and solving the problem quickly and collectively are in the foreground.

The open handling of mistakes in the USA leads to learning from the mistakes of others and to improving one’s own process in order to exclude them from the outset the next time.

In addition, decisions are made more confidently and things are handled more superficially. This means that everything goes much faster, but it also makes some mistakes unnecessary.

Dealing with new situations

In contrast to Germans, Americans accept changed situations well and adapt quickly. You recognize new opportunities immediately and take advantage of them. Motivation and personality are at least as important as good training and certificates. Americans like to receive and seize new opportunities – often for better, sometimes for bad.


Networking and communication in the US is much better. Sometimes, however, I lacked profound thoughts and conversations and the reliability of what was said.
While we Germans tend to understat our skills and are then positively surprised by the skills of others, Americans tend to exaggerate. This point is very helpful not only for job applications.

I found the positive attitude and the mutual support and indulgence of successes to be particularly pleasant in the USA. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t say “I told you right away”, but rather: “It’s a shame, it’s good that you tried it. Then next time. “


A lot of Americans belong to one or more clubs and does volunteer work. Historically, the United States has always had many different cultures and populations who had to learn to get along with each other. Belonging to a group is therefore perhaps more important than here in Germany, where, in contrast, the characteristic peculiarities of the individual are lived out and accepted more strongly. Age differences also play a minor role in friendships in the USA.

The US is considered a land of extremes, but they are also lived together. Americans are more open and tolerant. However, everyone more or less adheres to social norms and manners instead of consciously wanting to stand out from the crowd as an individual, as is the case with us. Most of the time, the people of both countries only move in their own circle, which means that the social and educational gap drifts even further apart.

The common national pride, smiled at a bit by the Europeans, is not questioned there and holds the country and its different people together as a whole. People don’t have to completely give up their own culture to be American. Perhaps something really useful that we should learn in Germany in order to live more harmoniously with immigrants and with our European neighbors.

I also have the feeling that in Germany, despite the good social network, there are more people living on the streets, which makes me very thoughtful. While I saw people begging in the USA who apparently needed it, in Germany I am particularly irritated by the fact that there are many healthy-looking and young people who ask for money. I would assume that nobody begs for fun, but I am rather at a loss and would look for the reasons in our negative, non-people-oriented view and the frustration with our system. Anyone who is mentally or situationally in a drawer is difficult to get out of in Germany.

Whining at a high level

The constant strikes show it clearly: Germans whine at a high level. While there are no statutory vacation or sick days, dismissal protection, maternity leave and fewer public holidays in the USA, we in Germany continuously complain about how bad we are. Of course, it makes sense to orientate oneself towards higher and not lower standards, but in the end all those involved often suffer from the excessive German demands. Companies break down or flee abroad due to a lack of profitability.

Looking up at the US economy is partly justified, but the price that such an economic system has for the people is mostly forgotten.


Although there is no speed limit on German autobahns, life is generally more leisurely than on the other side of the pond. Even if the working atmosphere in the USA seems relatively relaxed, tasks are completed incredibly quickly. In Germany you take a lot more time to work on things in detail.

Since Americans move and change jobs every few years, they are used to being quick to react. Your ideas and perspectives are constantly changing and often seemed erratic to me. Americans create a pool of possibilities, while we Germans work out the first method.


By now everyone knows that the US is the land of plenty and waste. Nevertheless, I found the people there to be very dissatisfied. You never have enough! Although they actually live more in the moment than we Germans and look less into the past and future, it seems to me as if they have forgotten how to enjoy their wealth and possessions. Things are often only bought or done in order to be able to tell about them later and to present them as a status symbol. I think it is particularly a shame that Europe is taking an example from the abundance and the comfortable lifestyle in the USA.

If we take a closer look every now and then, we discover how many things all people in the world have in common and what connects us. In addition, it depends largely on how we ourselves approach our fellow human beings.

Because of all the traveling and moving, I have lost my strict homeland. I thought that was a bit of a shame at first, but now I know that I can feel at home in many places around the world.

For me, home is where my life takes place. I can be happy everywhere if I adjust my thinking and attitude to life, stay authentic and build real connections to other people.

I hope to be able to retain some of the relaxed, positive and people-oriented way of thinking from life in the USA for myself. However, I really like the active, varied lifestyle in Germany.

Michelle Halterman
Michelle Halterman
USA, China, South Africa and now Munich - Michelle has come a long way in the world. She is an outdoor person and loves to be in nature with friends and on her mountain bike. Or she meets up with friends for pasta, vino, cappaccino & Co.


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