Cost of Living: America vs. Germany

Cost of Living in Germany (Compared to America)
In my opinion, they end up being about the same. Some of the living expenses in Germany are higher than the USA while some of the living expenses in America are higher. That doesn’t really help much, does it? I’ll explain what I mean.

Let’s make a small list of general living expenses:
utilities (gas and electric)
car (and gas)

Note: I’m leaving things like pension, health insurance, and a few other things because those get a bit complicated. They change depending on if you are self-employed, contracted, public/private something or another, and the list goes on.

Also, I have compared the city where I am from (Cincinnati) to where I live now (Wuppertal).
In general, the actual cost of rent seems to be cheaper than the USA. I’ve ran a few numbers and compared these on different websites. The cost of rent can be cheaper by around 20-30%. Moreover, in Germany the sizes of flats/apartments are highly varied. The emphasis in Germany seems to be much more on what you pay per square meter.

These are without a doubt, much more expensive in Germany. Germany has stronger regulations and taxes on energy sources (focusing more on renewable energy). I compared my home (a medium-sized, tri-level) to a similar home in Germany and discovered that the cost of utilities increased by about 40-60%.

Cars and Cost of Fueling:
The cost for fuel is much higher in Germany. In this comparison, I have converted euro to dollar and liters to gallons. This comparison should speak for itself.
As of: April 17, 2017 (Wuppertal, Germany to Cincinnati, Ohio)
$5.56 per gallon (Wuppertal, Germany) – $2.40 per gallon (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Food and Dining:
Overall, I think the food is cheaper in Germany. This is mostly my opinion. Something important to note here is that the grocery stores in Germany are relatively divided. What I mean is that there are cheap stores that provide discounted prices compared to the bigger stores which can be more expensive but with a higher selection and quality. Due to this divide/segmentation (not sure what to call it), the prices fluctuate heavily. However, on the average, I still think the prices are lower. I went back home to Cincinnati a few weeks ago and the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables (at a quick glance) seemed to be anywhere from 20-30% more expensive.
However, I think dining out in the USA is generally cheaper (but not by much). One of the biggest things to note here is “free refills”. In Germany, you have to pay for every drink (including water) and there is no such thing as a “free refill”. The average cost per person at a decent restaurant (including a drink) tends to run about 20 euro in Germany. Just don’t get a refill/second drink!

2 responses on “Cost of Living: America vs. Germany

  1. Karen

    Love this! I’d like to read more of these perspectives. It might be interesting for you a friend in America to provide a Day in the Life comparison – do the same thing on the same day (buy a set list of groceries for dinner, go to a movie, have lunch at a local cafe, etc – or just walk through your normal day, tracking expenses) then compare total expense.

    1. Chris Post author

      I love this idea! I think I might try to do that. I want to eventually add video to this, but I need to find more time for that. 🙂


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