Best places to live in Germany
The vast central European nation of Germany has long called in visitors and settlers for a wide range of reasons. From its bottomless cultural wealth to its endless economic opportunities, Germany continues to be seen as the place to live. Yet, with a country that runs from the Baltic seas in the north to the Alps in the south, knowing the best places to live in Germany can be hard.
With sixteen states to choose from, the choice is a difficult one to make. Narrowing it down to the best cities to live in Germany can be a real help and understanding what each city offers in terms of professions, culture, and way of life means you can match the characteristics of the city to your own tastes.
Let’s take a closer look at the best places to live in Germany and what each place can offer.
The capital of Germany’s largest state, Bavaria, the southern German city of Munich, is often seen as the pinnacle of German culture and the German international identity. The third-largest city in Germany, Munich is an epicenter of bustling life, history, culture, and boasts a high quality of life. The traditional Bavarian architecture of Munich gives the city a magical feel, and although much of the original buildings were destroyed during the Second World War, many were rebuilt under the same plans and materials. Neighborhoods in Munich also combine the traditional with the modern, making it easier to find accommodation in Munich whatever your taste may be.
Alongside the sheer beauty of the city’s architecture, Munich has also long been a city of culture. Though much of this has stemmed from historical times, there is still a brimming feeling of the arts throughout modern Munich. Whether this is from the numerous museums or the many theatres and music venues – you will never be starved of culture when living in Munich.
For those who see education high on their list of properties, Munich is one of the best places to live in Germany. With a plethora of schools, universities, and research centers, it is no wonder that the city has produced many Nobel prize winners. Families looking to send their children to top schools would do well to settle in Munich. With an abundance of transport options, Munich is one of the best places to live in Germany when it comes to transport infrastructure.
The quality of life in Munich is also believed to be some of the best in all of Germany. With high economic opportunities, low environmental pollution, and being surrounded by a city of vibrance and life, it is no surprise that the population of Munich has boomed over the past decade. A healthy mix of Bavarian alpine mountain air, booming economy, and colorful citywide architecture undoubtedly make Munich one of the best cities to live in Germany.
No list of best places to live in Germany would be complete without a nod to its capital city, Berlin. Also the largest city in the country, Berlin is a modern cosmopolitan powerhouse of Europe and has as much to offer as other notable capitals such as Rome, Paris, and London. Being such a large and varied capital city makes it one the best places to live in Germany, if only for the fact you have everything you could want from a modern city.
Throughout its modern history, the German capital has been a city of innovation, new ways of thinking, and, at some time, a city of counterculture. Although this identity has changed throughout the 21st century, Berlin has still retained this bohemian identity that permeates through its many institutions.
Housing in Berlin is ultra varied, as you would expect from such a large and booming capital. The huge choice of differing neighborhoods means you can find the perfect one, no matter what you require. From the inner city right out to the more modern and suburban neighborhoods, Berlin has it all. Unlike many major European capitals, the cost of living and goods can be surprisingly low for a major city, meaning you can make your Euros go a long way – another reason why Berlin is one of the best places to live in Germany.
For those looking to settle in Germany from English-speaking countries, Berlin again is a great option. Being the cosmopolitan city it is, many Berliners speak English extremely well, something that can appeal to many first-time ex-pats settling in the German capital. Not only is the city a welcoming location for non-German speakers, its liberalism and wider acceptance of no-conforming groups and minorities in well-documented.
The entrepreneurial nature of Berlin is another factor that draws many people to choose this German city as their home. As one of the major start-up hubs in all of Europe, the sense of opportunity is brimming throughout the city, especially for those beginning careers or looking for a career change.
When it comes to affluent living and wanting to be within the heart of Germany’s financial sector, there’s only one place to settle, and that’s Frankfurt. One of the best cities in Germany for business professionals, the largest urban area in the state of Hessen is the nation’s financial capital and home to the European Central Bank’s headquarters. Being the base for numerous European and global companies has made the city into a boomtown and brings with it all the bonuses and trappings of such a destination.
Aside from being the mecca of German financial industries, affluence has bolstered many other areas of the city, not least the residential opportunities. From inner-city highrise apartments in Frankfurt to sprawling outer-city suburban neighborhoods, the modernity of Frankfurt undeniably makes it one of the best places to live in Germany.
Although Frankfurt is unmistakably a city of modern finance and business, there is also a cultural and sociable side to the city. This can be seen in the numerous museums, theatres, and famous large botanical gardens. Many of these are a balance with the corporate side of the city, allowing you to gain an all-around way of life when living in Frankfurt. The influx of international companies and people has given the city a real global feel, making it one of the best cities to live in Germany for mixing with ex-pats and international communities.
Known around the world as the city where the Frankfurter sausage was born, Frankfurt has continued to produce fantastic culinary experiences for both Germans and visitors alike. Those who seek out the next best place to eat can’t go far wrong by choosing to live in the city of Frankfurt. An influx of population and a progressive economy has given birth to a downtown area that is full of restaurants, cafes, and so much more in the world of food.
Cologne, the largest populated city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has been an iconic city for centuries and dates as far back as a thousand years and more. Split in two by the Rhine River, Cologne is made up of two sections. The left Rhine side, as it is known by its inhabitants, is the main focus of the city and is home to the most densely populated downtown district. The right side of the city on the eastern banks of the Rhine is just as urbanized yet has more of a modern town feel. This abundance of city streets and densely packed areas means there is no shortage of apartment rentals in Cologne.
From a modern point of view, Cologne is known as the TV capital of Germany. The TV industry has bolstered the city’s economy and given it a modern edge when it comes to the best cities in Germany. Undoubtedly, it’s the sheer beauty of the city that has propelled Cologne onto the world stage – a reputation that has lasted for centuries. At the center of this architectural beauty is Cologne Cathedral, a long icon of the city. Though much of the inner city was totally destroyed during the Second World War, a post-war rebuilding program ensured many of the newer buildings were constructed on older layouts.
If you’re looking for an open and accepting city, Cologne is one of the best places to live in Germany. The city is home to the largest Pride Parade in Germany and one of the largest in the world. It is also home to Germany’s largest mosque – points that illustrate the North Rhine-Westphalian capital’s expectance of minorities and liberal ideas.
Almost all Cologne neighborhoods are easy to access via public transportation. A combination of historic architectural beauty, abundant job opportunities, a bustling tourist scene, and a welcoming liberal approach to life all make Cologne one of the best places to live in Germany.
In the very north of the country, residing on the River Elbe, the city of Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city and one of the largest non-capital cities in all of Europe. A city with an overwhelming amount of parks, waterways, lakes, and nature, the balance between city and greenery is something that attracts many to settle in this north German city. The network of canals and waterways flowing through the city means that Hamburg is a haven for those who wish to cycle throughout the city – a comparison that can be drawn to cities such as Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Laid over this backdrop of waterways and greenery is a nightlife that has brought fame to the city for decades. A port city, the lively and bustling nightlife once welcomed sailors and, most famously, The Beatles during the early ‘60s. This nightlife energy hasn’t left the city streets of Hamburg and is renowned to this very day. Those looking for the best place to live in Germany that welcomes booming nightlife will be more than happy with Hamburg.
Although one of the more expensive places to live in Germany, the infrastructure, high energy, and career opportunities all make Hamburg a promising place to live and one of the best cities to live in Germany. Though we have seen many cities in Germany whose economy is based around more modern industries, those looking for work in industrial sectors will find a bounty of work here. Hamburg is home to industries such as steel, aluminum, copper production and has various large shipyards such as Blohm and Voss.
Apartments in Hamburg are highly varied and can range from canalside apartments to suburban homes. The high number of waterways along canals and rivers provide some of the most picturesque residential areas in Germany. Neighborhoods surrounding the idyllic Alster Lake are even more highly prized, providing a chance to live close to the city center while still being surrounded by a beautiful blue body of water.
Nestled close to the eastern banks of the Rhine River and only 30 miles east of the Dutch border is the city of Dusseldorf. Capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia state, Dusseldorf, has long been renowned for its high quality of living level, topping many worldwide indexes. The huge expanse of the Rhine River to its west and the smaller tributary of the river Dussel to its east gives Dusseldorf an undeniable beauty, drawing on a feeling of the Rhineland’s rural feel.
As noted above, Dusseldorf has one of the best living standards in all of Germany. A recent Mercer survey put Dusseldorf in the top ten cities in the world for its standard of living – a reputation that makes Dusseldorf unquestionably one of the best places to live in Germany.
This was granted based on a number of factors, all making the North Rhine-Westphalia capital one of the best cities to live in Germany. Dusseldorf has an extremely low crime rate for a major European city; its transport networks are some of the most modern, and the overall cost of living is surprisingly low.
The high-quality apartments in Dusseldorf mirrors the high standard of living. Modern apartments, affordable housing, and pleasant neighborhoods all highlight Dusseldorf as a fantastic place to settle and make a home.
Although Dusseldorf is the state capital and a major player when it comes to German cities, it doesn’t come with a huge metropolis size. It has so much to offer the local citizen yet still has that small-town feel to it. Most of the city attractions and important places are all centrally located – this, mixed with excellent public transport and transport infrastructure, makes life so much more enjoyable in Dusseldorf.
After many decades of being a hub for ex-pats and international visitors, Dusseldorf has grown into an extraordinary multicultural city. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in its multicultural cuisine. It seems that there is no world cuisine that you can’t enjoy in the city. Alongside the usual European restaurants, Dusseldorf is alive with eateries from Brazil, Japan, Georgia, and so much more.
Another of the best cities to live in in Germany is the city of Bonn. Yet another city residing on the mighty Rhine River, Bonn stands 18 miles south of Cologne yet has an identity all of its own. At the southernmost point of the Rhine-Ruhr region, Bonn has much that is praised about its fellow cities yet still retains a small city feel – the city’s population is around 300,000. One of the oldest cities in Germany, Bonn is famous for being the birthplace of classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
The modern city need not simply rely on this historic and cultural claim to fame, as there is so much more to Bonn. The former capital of West Germany, Bonn, is seen as the unofficial second capital of the country.
As such, there is a plethora of administrative jobs and infrastructure that adds to the city’s economy. This governmental buzz provides careers and employment to many within Bonn and makes it one of the best places to live in Germany if you are looking for this kind of work. The average salary within Bonn is also higher compared to many other cities within Germany. An average salary in Bonn is around €50,000, whereas the average annual salary in Germany is around the €37,000 mark. Due to many of the roles being linked with governmental agencies, job security is like nothing else in the country.
Yet, it’s not all work and no play in Bonn. The enchanting mixture of an important busy city and a surrounding green landscape means that those living within the city have a natural playground mere minutes from the city. The rolling green fields and the winding River Rhine are stunning enough to make Bonn your home. The buses and tram systems that make up the majority of Bonn’s public transport are excellent at getting you across the city and beyond into the suburbs.
Capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state, the city of Stuttgart, is another of the nation’s most famous cities. There are many reasons why the city of Stuttgart is one of the best places to live in Germany.
The city is world-renowned for being the center of Germany’s car-making industry, with plants owned by some of the top car-making companies, including Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. This booming industry provides thousands of jobs to the residents of Stuttgart – this is also true of the huge electronics manufacturer Bosch. This international business-centric nature of Stuttgart means that the city is constantly growing in terms of its economic output and positive way of life.
Although famous for such industries, this does nothing to take away from the greenness of the city. Nestled in what is known as the Stuttgart Bassin, the city is surrounded by vineyards and is spread across several hills. The paradisiacal Black Forrest is a mere two hours drive from the city and provides a world of outdoor exploration on its doorstep.
Finding that perfect work-life balance won’t be hard in Stuttgart, as the city is brimming with culture and activities to enjoy all year round. Home to the state theatre, the state opera, and a full calendar of events, life in Stuttgart is never boring. One of the most celebrated periods of the year is the four-day long Summer Festival that takes place in August, drawing in hundreds of thousands of people from across the region.
The center of Stuttgart is dominated by commercial properties, yet as you make your way up the surrounding hills, this is where you will find the myriad of residential Stuttgart apartments. The locals have a name for the residential nature of the city, halbhöhenlage, meaning halfway up the hill – a nod to the topography of the city. If you are looking to settle closer to the city center, then the neighborhoods of Stuttgart-West should be your choice. Those looking for a more suburban neighborhood would do better to look for properties in the neighborhoods of Sindelfingen, Böblingen, and Vaihingen.
Roughly halfway between the cities of Stuttgart and Frankfurt is arguably one of the country’s most picturesque cities, Heidelberg. Heidelberg stands along the banks of the River Neckar, and as it was not destroyed during the Second World War, much of its original historic buildings remain- this makes it one of the best cities to live in Germany if you wish to be surrounded by traditional architecture.
Long an important city within Germany, Heidelberg is home to the Heidelberg University, the oldest in all of Germany and one of the most reputable in Europe. The positive fallout from this is that Heidelberg has become a city of great education, flowing right down from its famous university to the smallest of schools – a fantastic place for families looking to live in the city.
Alongside this, Heidelberg is also the home of internationally renowned research facilities, making a city of science. As a city dominated by creatives and students, apartments in Heidelberg are in high demand. Whether you’re looking to settle permanently or with a short-term rental, the city offers places to live from its center, right out to its suburbs.
This modernism is countered by the epic beauty of the city. One of its most famous landmarks, Heidelberg Castle, is one of the best examples of renaissance architecture north of the alps. The city’s Baroque Old Town is another such gem, all of which make you feel as if you are walking through a picture postcard of a city.
With nearly 12 million visitors every year, a huge part of Heidelberg’s population works in the tourist sector. The continuous energy that the international and German visitors bring to the city makes it what it is. This mix of local and outside influences means there is always something going on in Heidelberg and for those who thrive off sociability, good nightlife, and competitive restaurants, Heidelberg is one of the best places to live in Germany.
The second-largest city in northern Germany after Hamburg, the city of Bremen is one of the best cities to live in Germany for many of the same reasons. Standing on the banks of the River Weser, the city of Bremen has long been associated with the north sea and as a river port city. The river winds through the center of the city, providing a cityscape of waterways mixed with the gothic architecture of its streets.
Seen as the cultural capital of northern Germany, Bremen has a plethora of galleries and museums, holding much of the region’s most famous works. The city center itself has two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Bremen Roland and the Bremen City Hall.
Alongside this wealth of north German culture and history, Bremen has long been seen as a working-class city. This mixture of culture and a reliance on working-class trades provides a unique mix of life in Germany, perfect for those who settle in the country to find such work. The largest employees in Bremen are multinational companies and manufacturing centers, such as Hachez chocolate and Vector Foiltec. Other huge employers in the city are Airbus and Mercedes Benz, world-renowned companies that bring more opportunities to those living in the city.
As the affordable and working-class city that it is, finding homes or rental apartments in Bremen isn’t as challenging as it may be in other large German cities. The vast neighborhoods and different types of housing mean there’s a lot more choice when it comes to finding what’s right for you. This real balance of job opportunities, cultural significance, and modernity all combine to make Bremen one of the best all-round places to live in Germany, especially in the north.