The cost of living in Leipzig is low compared to other large European cities (>500,000) and it’s possible for someone to live well here on a modest budget. With €1000-1200 coming in per month after taxes you could cover all your expenses including your own unfurnished rental apartment. See our section on Budget Living.
Families with kids find it affordable to live here. There’s lots of things for kids to do and lots of space to do it. There’s a very down-to-earth vibe as reflected in many excellent second-hand clothes and furniture shops, cheap markets, and good value cafes and restaurants. Those with high incomes find their euros go a very long way here compared to Madrid, Rome, London, Paris or Amsterdam. See our section on Average Prices.
And the living is good.
Leipzig is a safe, friendly, and historical city with state-of-the-art public infrastructure. Housing is excellent, abundant and cheap (see Accommodation). The city has a laid-back style, healthy employment opportunities, a top-ranked University and internationally acclaimed educational and research institutions. In addition there’s great nightlife and eating out options, and wonderful parks, open spaces and cultural activities. Phew, that’s a lot!
We think Leipzig today may be the best value big city, not just in Germany, but in all of Europe. Don’t just take our word for it. This article from Der Spiegel states flatly that “Leipzig is the new Berlin”. While many Leipzigers may object to the comparison the writer suggests people are starting to wake up the low price high lifestyle offering of Leipzig.
Everyone in Germany must have health insurance to cover hospital stays, emergencies and out-patient medical treatment. Dental costs are high even by European standards and insurances will only cover maximum 80% of the bill. Expect a variety of supplemental charges such as €10 for a regular visit to the doctor. Prescription medication prices are slightly below European norms. Depending on your circumstances, length of stay and existing coverage you will pay up to 11% of your gross income on health insurance. Toytown Germany has a good summary of German health insurance issues. HowToGermany also have an excellent series of articles on the subject.
In essence, you have four health insurance options:
(1) Reciprocal agreement between Germany and your home country’s national healthcare system.
(2) Buy private health insurance from a international insurance company.
(3) Buy private health insurance from a German insurance company.
(4) Join the German public health insurance System (‘Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung’ or GKV).
There is no ‘self insure’ option, you absolutely must have some form of cover. You’ll have a hard time getting a Visa or enrolling as a student etc. without proof of insurance. Option (1) is valid for a limited period of time. You must present your European Healthcare Insurance card (or equivalent) and passport before receiving medical treatment. This is usually good for about a year. Check your situation before leaving for Germany.
Option (2) runs the gamut from generic travel insurance to bespoke health coverage. Check the terms and conditions for extended stays. WorldNomads is a reputable choice for travel and health insurance for stays of up to 12 months (although probably not the best choice if you have a serious pre-existing medical condition – read the detailed info on that link).
Option (3) may not be possible until you’ve been resident for at least two years. In any case, you may not qualify for German private insurance.
Finally option (4). This option is in fact legally required for the majority of long-term German residents thus excluding other options. Most people who move to Germany and stay for more than year will end up in the GKV system. Unless you’re on social welfare, expect to pay about 8% all told of your gross income for this.
SHOPPING FOR ESSENTIALS
The popular grocery store chains such as Lidl, Rewe, Norma, Netto and Aldi will be the cheapest places for daily/weekly shopping. These will have almost everything you need. Konsum’s are slightly more expensive but have better selection and more freshly prepared food, deli counters, and shorter check out queues. See our Average Prices section for an idea of what typical shopping items cost.
Rossman is a small but popular pharmacy chain like Boots in the UK or Walgreens in the US. There are many local independent grocers and also a lot of ‘bio’ stores selling organic, fair-trade and healthy fare. Small local independent shops, many of which open late at night, will be the most expensive for daily needs. Prices are very high in the fancy Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt department stores and other speciality shops in the Zentrum.
At last count there were eight big Kaufland stores in Leipzig (like a Walmart), where prices are slightly cheaper than Aldi, Netto, Norma, and Lidl. You can save big by buying in bulk at big box shopping centres like the Löwencenter, but you’ll probably need a car to haul everything back home.
Outdoor markets are your best bet for fresh vegetables and clothing at rock bottom prices. The one on Saturdays at the Sportforum in Zentrum-West (Sportforum stop, trams 3, 7, 8, 13, 15) is the best for low-priced clothes and the vegetables and meat are worth buying too. Though not especially cheap there is another market (mostly food, but also flowers and goods) in Markt square in the Zentrum on most Saturdays and occasionally mid-week.
And remember, on Sundays most places are either closed or only open for a few hours. The Promenadan shopping mall at the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) is an exception. There is an Aldi store in the basement open Sundays.
[page content last updated June 2013]