The 7 Best Places to Live in Germany
Thinking of moving to Germany but not sure where to live? Our guide will help make that decision a little easier.
There are plenty of reasons why an astonishing 11.4 million expats call Germany home — whether it’s the electric atmosphere of Berlin or the stunning landscapes of Bavaria, Germany is a country that offers something for everyone.
If you’re ready to start searching for a place to live, we’ll give you the best locations for food and drink, culture, climate, work opportunities, and more.
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Best places to live in Germany at a glance
Want to skip the reading and just get our picks of the best places to live in Germany? Here you go:
|Munich||Food and drink|
Best for food and drink
Food lovers moving to Germany, don’t look any further than Munich. Its deserved reputation as the culinary capital is thanks to iconic dishes such as weisswurst (white sausage) and pretzels — both staple dishes, but there’s plenty of refinement to be found too.
You can enjoy some of Germany’s best food offerings in its 62 Michelin-starred restaurants, offering traditional cuisine elevated to new heights, as well as international dishes which cover a huge variety of influences.
Other must-try dishes include obatzda, a beer-cheese dip that’s to die for, and fischbrötchen, a delicious fish sandwich that’s a staple of street food stalls across the city.
Want incredible produce to cook with? Munich boasts many fantastic food markets selling locally sourced ingredients that are sure to inspire you. One of the best markets, Viktualienmarkt, practically overflows with organic vegetables, spices, and the freshest butcher cuts found anywhere in the city.
|Expat friendly — 35% of the population is foreign-born||Most shops close on a Sunday|
|Good public transport||The weather is often poor|
|Very clean and well kept||Munich is the most expensive city in Germany|
Best for work opportunities
Berlin is the center of job opportunities here, with expats coming from around the world to work for one of the capital’s many globally recognized companies.
Roughly 20,500 Americans call Berlin home too, so you might hear a few familiar accents on your walkabouts.
The average annual salary of €37,800 ($37,598)is lower than in other German cities, but that’s mostly down to the influence of less well-paid industries.
You’ll still find plenty of lucrative jobs in IT, media, the environmental sector, and manufacturing here — more so than in any other German city. Living costs are also generally cheaper here than in the other big cities, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Berlin works hard, but it plays hard as well, with countless bars, pubs, and festivals, combined with one of the best club scenes of the world.
|Affordable cost of living||Can take time to get used to the cold attitude of Berliners|
|Buzzing cosmopolitan lifestyle||International and bilingual school admissions are highly competitive|
|High standard of accommodation||Winters are very cold|
The many Christmas markets in Germany are an important tradition
Best for climate
If a consistent climate is important to you, then Frankfurt is the best choice. The city has an average annual temperature of 52°F, with summer months comfortably reaching above 69.8°F.
There’s plenty to enjoy in the city when the sun is shining — find a corner in Grüneburg park, which also has its own extensive botanical gardens to explore. Just a short trip from the city is Schwanheimer Dünen, a nature reserve with sandy dunes and walkways that are well worth visiting on a pleasant day.
Frankfurt still sees plenty of snow in the winter months, like most of Germany’s cities, but it’s easily one of the most beautiful places to visit when the flakes start to fall. Definitely go for a walk along the River Main in winter — frosty mornings there are sublime.
|Small city makes getting around easy||Limited accommodation options|
|Great nightlife and entertainment scene||International schools are very expensive|
|Well connected to other German cities|
Breathtaking medieval castles can be found in Germany's forests
Best for rural escapes
The charming town of Gengenbach is the gateway to Germany’s enchanting Black Forest, where there are 2,320 square miles of evergreen trees, picturesque villages, and crafting traditions that date back hundreds of years.
It’s a popular destination for both tourists and expats alike, with plenty to see and do throughout the year. Christmas time is when the town really comes into its own though — don’t miss the world's largest advent calendar.
Gengenbach’s town hall converts 24 of its windows into festive scenes, with each window revealed every day in the run up to Christmas. The scent of glühwein — German spiced wine — permeates the air during this time and is the perfect antidote to the cold weather.
|Filled with charming buildings||A lot of tourists during the Christmas period|
|Close to nature parks and the Black Forest||Limited accommodation options|
|Not the most exciting place to live|
Best for affordability
Leipzig was the biggest city on the eastern side during Communist rule and you can still see parts of the city that reflect this dark time in its history.
It’s far from rundown however, and in fact is attracting a whole wave of creatives looking for a change of scene from Berlin. Property is still cheap here, but the more popular the place gets, the higher the prices will climb.
So if you’re thinking of moving to Germany and want an affordable city to call home, Leipzig should definitely be on your radar. Right now the average purchase price for an apartment in the city center is €3,741 ($3,732) per square meter.
Compare that to New York City, where a central apartment is $15,634 per square meter.
|Very affordable||Lower-than-average salaries|
|Plenty to see and do||Crime is a problem in some parts|
|Lots of nature and wildlife nearby|
Germany's cities are filled with fascinating history and architecture
Best for families
Germany is already a great place to raise a family in, with world-class educational facilities, high safety records, and plenty to keep children entertained.
But Stuttgart stands out as the best choice. You’ll find excellent schools for all ages, including international schools teaching the British curriculum, which is considered one of the best in the world.
Children under six have access to top kindergarten options too — one preschool, the Astrid Lindgren Waldkindergarten, teaches children almost entirely in a forest, giving them an appreciation for nature from an early age.
There are plenty of options for family-friendly weekends too,with choices ranging from the brilliant Stuttgart Zoo to the Mercedes Benz and Porsche museums — which are great if there’s a gearhead or two in the family.
|Very safe||Traffic can be bad|
|Lots of green space and beautiful architecture||Finding accommodation can be difficult|
|Drier than most parts of Germany||The cost of living is quite high|
Best for culture
Called the cultural hub of west Germany, Cologne could easily claim the title for the whole country. Its multicultural population gives the city a unique buzz, with influences from around the world shaping food, entertainment, and music.
Cologne has a long and fascinating history too, dating back to Roman times, when the city was founded in 38 BC. This is evident from the still visible Roman monuments — don't miss the Roman guard tower that's still standing to this day.
Another must-see cultural landmark is the iconic Cologne Cathedral, a towering example of Gothic architecture that dominates the skyline. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a tourist trap for sure, but you’ll find plenty of locals enjoying seasonal festivals there throughout the year.
Cologne’s numerous museums and art galleries are perfect for weekends, and if you want something more interactive then definitely visit the Chocolate Museum. Its three-meter tall chocolate fountain feels like it was lifted straight from Willy Wonka’s factory.
|Great connections to the rest of Germany and Europe||Renting in the nicer parts is expensive|
|Friendlier than other German cities||A lot of tourists in peak season|
|Loads of events to take part in||Not the cleanest city|
Best places to live in Germany: the verdict
Germany is a fantastic country filled with culture, beautiful cities, a thriving creative scene, and more. To recap, here are our best places to live in Germany:
- Munich: best for food and drink
- Berlin: best for work opportunities
- Frankfurt: best for climate
- Gengenbach: best for rural escapes
- Leipzig: best for affordability
- Stuttgart: best for families
- Cologne: best for culture
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