Seeing that we are now living in Berlin and given how popular this city is with our fellow digital nomads, as either a home base or a place to stay for a month and then move on, it seemed about time to write this post.
Moving to Germany permanently and finding a place to live certainly involves a lot of patience, perseverance and paperwork, but that is something to cover in another post. Instead, I will focus here on the costs and practicalities of staying for a month before moving on.
These figures come from our first month long stay in Berlin back in May 2014 rather than from our daily spending as it is now, since we have a permanent place to live which involves various expenses that are not typical for such a short stay.
In total, we spent £1392.28 (€1621.72/$2233.19) for everything on two people over 31 days. This works out at £22.46 (€27.40/$37.73) per person per day. Below, I'll break this down in to accommodation, transport, eating out, cafés, food, entertainment and miscellaneous to give a better idea of how we spent our money.
Note: all conversions in this post are based on currency values as they were in May 2014: GBP to EUR was 1.22, GBP to USD was 1.68. Don't forget to compare rates to find the best travel money deals before you travel!
We spent the month in a temporary sublet that we found through this website. It was a 67m2 apartment with a large living room, decent bedroom, small bathroom and simple kitchen/work area. It was perfect for our needs, as all bills (including fast wifi!) were included and the location in Schillerkiez was excellent.
The only downside was that it was north-facing and on the ground floor, so was relatively dark. In total we paid £625.27 for 31 nights, which works out at £20.17 per night for both of us. (For comparison, the cheapest dorm beds I could find in Berlin were around £8 per person per night, meaning it would have cost about £19 for both of us in a six or eight person dorm.) Airbnb is also still an excellent choice. Use this link to sign up and received £15/€20/$22 off your first booking!
We were lucky in that the guy whose apartment we rented had two bikes which he hardly used, and when we asked, he said we could use them for free. One needed a new wheel and the other needed grips on the handlebars, which together cost £41.95. Once we’d fixed them up, we used them to get almost everywhere even though they weren’t the best. Berlin is such a bike friendly city, this was very easy to do.
We used the public transport system if going somewhere after dark (the bikes didn’t have lights), if it was raining or if we were going to the other side of the city and in total spent £64.80 on public transport over the month between us. (For comparison, a ticket allowing unlimited travel on the two innermost zones of the network all month cost £59.84 for one person.)
In total, we spent £201.68 on eating out. Though we cooked at home quite a lot during that month, we ended up eating out around four or five meals a week, usually for a light lunch but sometimes for dinner or brunch. The average price of our meals out was £10.61.
Zab has made me into a total café rat, and even though we had wifi at home, we would often go out and have a drink and sometimes vegan cake while working on our laptops. This habit ended up costing us £216.21 over the month, with an outing almost every day. Our average café visit was £7.72 for the two of us.
We tend to buy mostly organic food when we’re in Germany as it’s so easy to find. It is, however, a bit more expensive than non-organic stuff. Our total spend on food to cook at home, or as snacks was £151.97 over the month.
Though to get a bit more for our money, we often did our food shopping at Maybachufermarkt, a Turkish market on the banks of the canal that forms the border between Neukölln and Kreuzberg, which lasts all day every Tuesday and Friday.
We mostly entertained ourselves during this month by meeting up with friends, taking walks, bike rides and watching TV series at home on our laptops! But we did go out a few times, once to the English Theatre (€24), once to a museum with friends (€12) and once to a gay club to watch the Eurovision Song Contest live (€12). Another option would've been to book a tour in Berlin with a local guide, which would be a nice way to get to know parts of the city we missed.
There were a few odd things we spent during the month that don’t fit in to other categories, such as haircuts, photocopies, medicine and non-edible household products. In total, we spent £47.12 in this category.
Overall, I think we lived very well for what we spent over a month in Berlin. Had we cooked at home more, not gone out to work in cafés almost every day, rented a smaller (perhaps studio) apartment and cycled everywhere we probably could have managed on a budget of £1000 (€1220/$1680) for the two of us.
In general, most things in Germany are good value, and while Berlin is becoming more expensive, it is still relatively cheap for a capital city of a western European country, but there certainly still are ways to save money there.