Category Archives: howtogermany

ESL TEFL English Teacher Salary in Germany

An ESL teacher in Germany salary ranges city to city and state to state. It’s also is important to note that the salary for an English teacher in Germany changes depending on who you contract with. Language schools tend to pay an average of 10-20 per 45 minutes of class instruction. The major chains typically pay the least. The next tier would be independent agents. They pay a little bit more (I can’t exactly pinpoint a number here because I have never dealt with an independent agent). The final level of pay – which pays the most – is contracting directly with businesses and people.

Note: I have another blog about how to find TEFL jobs in Germany. You can find it here.

There are pros and cons of language schools, working with agents, and contracting with businesses and people directly. I plan to blog about that soon. The questions that I always receive from people who want to teach English in Germany are typically “Can I make a comfortable living?” “How much can I make?” “How do I start?”. These are tough questions because the salaries and cost of living change depending on where you live in Germany. To help explain this, I took the top seven largest cities in Germany and researched what people earn in each city.

Before I go on, I have to give a few disclaimers. My main goal was to provide information that gives a general overview. Moreover, I used language schools as a measuring point to get a general idea of what teachers earn. I chose language schools because they are typically the best starting point for new English teachers in Germany. They are also great places to network and meet other people. Finally, I gathered this information from my contacts and message forums online.  This is by no means a comprehensive list or a promise of earnings. This should however, provide a general overview of how much money you could potentially make at the beginning.  You should also take note that many things (especially taxes) are more expensive in Germany. I plan to write about these topics in the future.

One final disclaimer: If you chose to move to Germany and teach English, try to research as much as you can before your move and start networking with language schools beforehand. This will make your life so much easier after you move.

1) Berlin

(Image Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons, User: Anteeru, and unknown)

Berlin is the capital and the largest city in Germany. It has a population of almost 3.7 million and is the second most populous proper city in the European Union. In addition to its high population, it is a destination city within Europe for travel and vacation.

I did some research on the salary of an ESL Trainer in Berlin, and the language schools seem to pay about 12-15 per lesson (45 minutes). This seems relatively low compared to other language schools I have worked with. While I personally don’t have experience teaching English in Berlin, I think this is due to a saturated market. Berlin is the largest city in Germany with a high population. This means that not only are there a ton of language schools, but a ton of people who teach English. This lowers the overall salary for trainers. Unfortunately, when you compare the salary to the cost of living in Berlin, this could make your life difficult.

If you choose to teach English in Berlin, I would recommend living outside of the city to lower your costs. Berlin could be a great city for an extended vacation teaching English.

2) Hamburg


(Image Sources:Hamburg Train Station, City Street Hamburg, Overview Shot)

Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany and often visited by travelers. There is a lot to do and see there and many people have fun in Hamburg. The cost of living can be quite high, so many people choose to live in a suburb outside of Hamburg.

I researched the salary of ESL trainers in Hamburg, and the average seems to be around 15 euro per lesson (45 minutes). Note: I posted in an online message forum about Hamburg, and someone posted 18 euro from a private language school. This is better than 15, but other sites listed 15 as an average.

While 15 is an acceptable average for language schools, this is a bit on the lower end from what I have experienced. Similar to other big cities like Munich and Berlin, there is a lot of competition for work which results in a saturated market. Moreover, when you compare the salary to the high cost of living in Hamburg, the salary could make your life difficult.

If you choose to teach English in Hamburg, I would recommend living outside of the city to lower your costs.

3) Munich

(Image Source: Left: Oktoberfest Middle: City Right: Church )

Munich is a great city. Home of Oktoberfest, many people travel to Munich for vacation. It is the capital city of the state Bavaria, and has a population of around 1.5 million. The city is a major center of art, advanced technologies, finance, publishing, culture, innovation, education, business, and tourism in Germany. However, Munich is also one of the most expensive cities to live in. I did some research on this, and several websites ranked Munich as the most (or second most) expensive city to live in Germany.

However, after some more research I found out that teachers make anywhere between 20-30 euro per lesson. Comparatively speaking, this is pretty good. However, many people commented that this seems low (most likely because the cost of living in Munich is so high).

4) Cologne

Cologne City View (Image Source Flickr User: Günther Bayerle)

Cologne is also an international city in Germany. I live pretty close to Cologne and enjoy visiting the city on occasion. There are a lot of things to do and places to visit within the city. One of my favorite places to visit is the Cologne Cathedral.
Before I dive into the salary of English trainers, I want to mention that Cologne is also a very expensive city. Many people need to have a roommate or live outside of the city in order to pay rent.
Researching the salary range of teacher’s in Cologne was difficult because I found so many different reports. However, the average was around 15-20 an hour. Several people reported that they make less while others reported that they make more. I once met a trainer who lives in Cologne and it was said one could earn a good 40-50k a year. So, from what it seems, the pay is quite varied in Cologne. If you decide to teach in Cologne, I would recommend living outside of the city or with roommates to save money.

5) Frankfurt

(Image Sources: City View – Flickr, Paul Sableman Opera House – Flickr, Kiefer Train Station – Flickr, Matthias Ripp)

Frankfurt is a metropolis and the largest city in the German state of Hesse. It also the fifth-largest city in Germany with a population of around 730,000 people. It is home to many of the largest banks in Germany along with one of the world’s busiest airports: Frankfurt Airport. While Frankfurt isn’t my favorite city for taking a vacation or for travelling, it is still a wonderful city none-the-less. However, being such a metropolitan city, the cost of living is also considered to be high compared to some of the other cities in Germany.
It seems that teaching English in Frankfurt pays around 22-26 euro per 45 minute lesson. I also read that you can earn up to 35 by working with agents. This information came from a post I found on a message forum (although from four years ago).

6) Stuttgart

(Images of Stuttgart courtesy of Flickr user: bongs Lee)

Stuttgart is the sixth-largest city in Germany. While I have never been to Stuttgart, the photos of the city look amazing. I’ve attached a few to this post. I hope to visit it one day for some site-seeing. Since I don’t really know that much about the city, I’m going to just stick to writing a few things that I found out about the salary for teaching English in Stuttgart.
I read that most of the big-chain language schools pay about 15-16 euro per 45-minute lesson. However, there are other schools who pay more but I wasn’t able to pinpoint exact amounts.

7) Düsseldorf


(Düsseldorf Images: Flickr Users, Lin MeiRoettgersB)
Düsseldorf is a great city Germany. It is well-known for its shopping and the river Rhine. Moreover, it has a quite a big scene for music and has a large Japanese community. During one of my visits to Düsseldorf, I went to the Rheinturm where you can view the whole city from inside a large tower. On top of the tower, you can order drinks, eat food, and enjoy a nice city-view.
I read online that people have reported about 12-18 euro per lesson. However, the thing about Düsseldorf is that many people live in a neighbor city that has a low cost of living (like Wuppertal) and travel to teach. Moreover, after some networking, you can find language schools that pay upwards of 20 or more.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the pay in most of the larger cities in Germany isn’t bad. However, I would highly recommend that you do as much research as possible before you move. Find out the average pay in the city you wish to move to and compare it to the cost of living. There are also many other bills that you will need to factor into your budget: taxes, health insurance, public retirement, transportation, etc.,

While I can’t really speak about the health insurance, taxes, retirement, etc., I have written a post about saving money in Germany which you can find here.

How-to: Save Money in Germany


How to Save Money In Germany (and still enjoy life!)

Seriously, learn from my mistakes! When I first moved to Germany I signed expensive contracts, bought things that were either too expensive (or too cheap), and basically threw away tons of money that I could have saved. If you follow this guide, you can have fun, save money, and make better financial decisions living in Germany!

Quick Navigation: Save Money in Germany

Make a Cheap Cellphone Contract

Be very careful before you SIGN ANYTHING in Germany.

If take nothing from this blog post, take this! I want to share a quick story. This happened to me about three weeks ago (from the time of writing this post). My doorbell rang and someone came to my door and introduced himself as an employee from a local telephone company provider. He told me that he was part of the service which belonged to the entire building and I should sign his papers because I would save money.  After I told him I didn’t want to sign anything, he got a bit aggressive and angry with me. I finally closed the door on him because I had had enough of his crap. But I have heard that a lot of people from his company (Unity Media) do this sort of thing.  Or what is even worse is that some people impersonate the company in order to get signatures for God only knows what! But anyway – be careful with signing contracts! In fact, I now have a German friend look over EVERY contract I sign before I sign it. I don’t take any chances.

Now for the money-saving tips for making cellphone contracts in Germany. Many providers compete with each other. So it’s extremely important to collect offers before making decisions. These people can be predatory and really try to hook you in with promises of fame and fortune – don’t buy into it.  Go to three or four different providers (they are typically right next to each other in a city center), and then take your top two favorite offers and talk them over with a German friend. If I would have done this in the beginning, I could have saved 600 or more a year.

Also, this might have changed. But the contract could be set up in such a way that if you go over your data, you will automatically get billed for overage costs which can get expensive fast!  Make sure you take this option out of your cellphone contract – In German, it’s called something like: “datenvolumen automatisch erhöhen”. Make sure this doesn’t happen. This is something small, but it cost me a good 30 euro by mistake.

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Shop Around for Gas/Heating and Power Contracts

I recommend using the website This is a great website that gives you many different offers and comparisons. Moreover, they often have bonuses and incentives for making contracts. One tip that I recommend is taking a contract that is either monthly or for one year. I don’t like contractual commitments in general, so it’s nice to know that I can change it in the future if I find a better deal.

Just a note: I don’t know if this is a general thing, or a thing for my city. But I live in Wuppertal and a lot of people here use one specific supplier – WSW. I looked into WSW and they actually were more much more expensive than the other offers I found. I still don’t understand why they are so popular, but again before you sign a contract or do anything – ask a German friend for help.  There are still things to this day that I don’t understand with energy providers in Germany and I often refer to my friends for advice.

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Buy Food at Discount Stores

The discount grocery stores in Germany (ALDI, LIDL, PENNY, NETTO) have good food. In fact, the meat at LIDL is quite good! Sometimes the vegetables might be a bit old, so you should always double check them (but I’m pretty sure everyone typically does this anyway). A lot of people I know go grocery shopping twice. They buy food at a discount store and then go to a more expensive store to buy things like vegetables or harder to find items because the selection is greater.

My personal favorite discount store is Aldi, but LIDL is also great for buying meat.  A few things that I always buy from Aldi are: Protein Bread (“Eiweiß Brot”), Eggs, Water, Coke Zero, Lunch Meat, Cheese, Salads, and Mixed Peppers. They also have sweet potatoes at great price points which I love!

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Evaluate your Travel Costs and Expenses

In Germany, there are SOO many ways to get around! You can take a bus, a train, a really fast train, go by bike, by car, or just simply walk! When I first moved to Germany, I threw away so much money by buying an old car that required a lot of repairs and used soo much gas! Moreover, I also had a bus ticket. I was paying WAYY too much! Here are a few tips that have helped me reduce my travel expenses.

Calculate your routes. How many kilometers do you need to drive? Is it possible (and comfortable) to use a bus and/or train? How much time would that take? It could be that a route by car that would normally take 30 minutes could take more than an hour by public transport – (not worth it to me).  If the public transport is possible, find out how much a monthly ticket costs.

Consider car sharing. Germany has many car-sharing programs. I have a car, but I still pay 3 euro a month for car sharing in the event that I need to use a bigger car for transport purposes. I use Cambio Car Sharing, but there are so many different programs. You could also combine car sharing with a bike. I know many people who do that and save big!

Consider car leasing. I currently lease a car and LOVE it. I purchased an inexpensive Volkswagen “Up!” customized with a special gas that costs me only 50-60 euro a month for fill-ups. Moreover, with 20,000 kilometers a year, full and liability insurances, I pay less than 300 a month. This way, I don’t have to worry about any repairs and I can give the car back in two years and additionally use it as a tax write-off because I am self-employed. For me, this is a good solution.

Just to recap – In Germany, there are MANY ways to get from here to there. Ask friends, check out the options and find something that is right for you! Just make sure you do your research before signing ANY contracts!

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Find Festivals

In Germany, there are many free festivals. These are great way to meet up with your friends and listen to live music (which is often sung in English!). The only thing to note is while the music is often free, the drinks and food can be more expensive than normal.

Also, you can Google your city and often find local events.

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Prepare Food and Drinks in Advance

This is really a good tip for saving money in general. I meal prep all the time because it not only saves money but helps me manage my weight and save time. Here are a few cheap and healthy meals you can prepare to save both time and money:

  • Chili
  • Salad
  • Soups/Stews
  • Baked Veggies and Chicken (this great for making “food-packs” to take with you for a lunch break)

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Community Housing/Shared Apartments

I’m actually not sure of the proper name, but in Germany there are “Wohnungsgemeinschafts” where small groups of 2-4 people live together to save money. This is typically for younger folks who are often students, but adults do this here as well. Moreover, another advantage to shared housing is that you can easily find one that is pretty much fully-furnished. This is a great way to not only meet people, but to get started in Germany. However, I do have to caution you, be careful – you are moving in with strangers. So make you sure you take time to get to know them before you move in. Talk to them, find out if they are friendly, what they do for a living, if they are open-minded and ask them about any “house rules” that might be there.  It could be helpful to find out if they speak English in case your German needs some work. I have heard mixed experiences about doing this.” is a good website for finding shared apartments in Germany. They also have the option to view it in English.

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Find Community Groups and Take Advantage of Classifieds

When I first moved to Wuppertal (in Germany), I searched on Facebook for “Wuppertal”. I wanted to see what kind of things I could find. By doing this search, I found many communities where people ask questions, get feedback, and post items for sale. I have even purchased a few things from one of my groups. I would highly recommend doing this! While I post in German, if you live in a big city and say something like “I’m sorry, I’m new here and don’t speak German very well…..”, you will probably get a reply or two in English. Most Germans speak at least a little English.  You could also ask a German friend to write for you.

I would also highly recommend the “Amazon Ebay Kleinanzeigen”, or what I like to call the “German Craigslist”.  You can find many offers, deals, trades, and more on this website. I would highly recommend checking it out! I have purchased several things on this website and have heard many good things about it from my German friends.

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Dining Out on a Budget

Generally speaking the restaurants in Germany are not too terribly expensive. The average cost of a meal with drinks costs around 20 euro.  Remember – tipping here is quite different. The servers earn a higher salary and therefore it is customary to tip only a couple of euro.

However, outside of the restaurants, the food at Turkish restaurants is extremely cheap. You can find tasty meals for 4-7 euro (including a drink). If you haven’t tried Döner yet, I would highly recommend it!

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German Quality vs. Everything Else

Growing up, my mom would always say: You get what you pay for. This is pretty much the law of the land here in Germany. On one hand, it is nice because you have a lot of control over what you purchase, but on the other hand, if you are new to Germany, you could either be paying way too much or way too little. I’ll explain what I mean.

When you walk down a street in the center of a large city, you will find many stores and shops literally right next to each other. They might all sell similar products, but the question is where should you buy them?

Well, in Germany there are many discount stores (more details below): Tedi, Lidl, Kodi, and KiK are a few that I know of. There are a few things that I would consider buying from them, but quite often the quality is really bad so you could end up paying more in the long run.  If you are in a pinch and need some silverware, glasses, plates, etc., and need to save money then go to Kodi. I personally think Kodi is the best of all them.

Occasionally, there are even cheaper stores that you might find in the city. For example, I found one store with really cheap things that was clearly not a German business. Unless you want to buy something as a joke gift or something funny, never go to these shops. Once I bought a pair of headphones and they literally broke five minutes later (and getting a refund at that point would not have been impossible since I had opened them). Basically, if you need to save money, I would once again recommend Kodi.

Now, if you want to invest in high-quality products, anything with a “Made in Germany” sticker will last you a long time. You pay a more at first, but save in the long run. I usually ask around for something that is in the middle. Other good places to shop for medium-level quality things include: POCO (for furniture, kitchens, and household things) and REAL (for food – medium price range huge selection).

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Discount Stores

I mentioned discount stores above. I wanted to elaborate on this some more. When you first moved to Germany, chances are that you have a big start-up cost. It could even be that you have to purchase an ENTIRE kitchen for your flat/apartment. So how can someone have a good start in Germany without breaking their bank account? Here are a few tips of where you can go for cheap things (and where I think you shouldn’t go).

  • Kodi: Plates, Glasses, Silverware, a few appliances but check them out closely first. Stores like Saturn and Media Markt also sell appliances and the difference of 10-15 euro could make a huge difference later!
  • Woolworth: This is typically hit or miss. I would recommend going there once just to look around and to get a feel for it. I have bought batteries and a few decorations for themed parties there.
  • Teddox and POCO: These are great places for household items and supplies. You can buy things like carpet, wood, tools, flooring, etc.,
  • IKEA: The stuff here isn’t too expensive either (check them out online first). I just don’t go there often enough to comment because the size of it drives me crazy (fun fact about me: I don’t like shopping.)
  • Places you should NOT go to:
    • Any store that is in the city and looks “cheap”. I know my tip is extremely generic, but trust me on this. You will occasionally see shops that have book bags for 5 euro, headphones for like 2 euro, and random crap (which nobody needs) that is INSANELY cheap. Check it out if you really want, but most everything that you purchase there will break very quickly. Shop at your own risk!
    • One Euro Shops: There are many of these in Germany. They are kind of fun if you want to put together a small package of random things to send to your friends back home. However, if you are looking to buy serious things, avoid these stores.

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Discount Clothing Stores

Similar to what I said about the different quality tiers in Germany, the same thing applies to clothing. There are stores that sell extremely cheap clothes like Primark and KiK. I have purchased a few T-Shirts from Primark that I wear under my clothes and they have held up okay over the last year or so. But the overall quality is pretty bad. I also wouldn’t buy clothes at KiK. I would recommend checking out stores like TK Maxx (TJ Maxx for us Americans), H&M, and C&A for clothes that aren’t too expensive and are okay.

Other than that - just look around and explore! Some stores are more expensive, some stores are designer/name brand, and there are still many that I don’t really understand. Again – I’m not a big shopper.

Update: I forgot to mention shoes. Shoe prices in Germany are not that much different than back home (give or take 10 euro or so). I typically shop at a cheaper store called “Deichmann”, but you can go wherever you want. Just remember with shoes the more you pay, the higher the quality (unless it’s a brand like Nike, Adidas, etc., -- then it’s the name and I think that the quality is pretty much the same everywhere.)

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Additional Tips:

I posted this blog on an online message forum for expats. I asked others who live in Germany for tips on saving money. They posted several good ideas that I would like to share with my visitors.

  • Buy your toiletries (in bulk) at Rossmann, DM or Müller. Pay attention to the weekly sales offers in supermarkets and buy in bulk. Note from Chris: I learned that many toiletry items are cheaper at places like the ones mentioned above (compared to buying them at large grocery stores).
  • Check out offers that come in the mail. When things like canned goods, pasta, chips, etc., go sale, buy them in bulk. Try to spend some time to get a feel for how prices work. This can help you save money in the future.

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Final Tip: Explore and Ask for Help!

Go check out the stores! This is the best way to learn. Don’t immediately start shopping or get advice from only one friend. Ask around and look around!

All of these tips are from my personal experiences living in Germany. Find out what works best for you and do your thing!

I hope these tips help. Do you have any tips? Do you disagree with anything here? Let me know. Thanks!

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