In 2018, Germany welcomed 23 million international, over-night visitors, 16.3 million of which visited Berlin – a 5% increase when compared to 2017.
Whether you’re looking for a somewhere to stay on your next visit, for two bedroom apartment, want to live near a large community of expats, or are trying to understand what is typically included in the rent – the housing options in Berlin can sometimes be overwhelming. This feeling can be intensified by the fact that costs will vary from district to district.
From analysing the cost of living and the average amount you will have to pay for utilities, to what kind of local taxes you will have to pay for renting an apartment – you will need to budget for your stay in Berlin.
This guide will walk you through some basics on the standard of living, price index for groceries (the consumer price index), and sales taxes involved in the costs of living in Berlin.
What is the Best District to Stay in Berlin?
While things like utility costs and the fees involved in public transportation are different from city to city, the Berlin cost of living compared to German cities as a whole is one of the best.
In fact, Berlin is also a perfect city for bicyclists – the city is often voted as one of the most bike-friendly places in Europe.
While there is no question as to Berlin’s status as a cultural and historical icon, which can be more difficult to establish is where the best place is to live.
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Live in Mitte: Close to Tourist Sites & Activities
The historic centre of Berlin is, naturally, the most touristic district in the city. Here, you will be able to find the infamous Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Unter Den Linen avenue (which some liken to Berlin’s Oxford Street), the medieval Nikolaiviertel quarter and the notorious Alexanderplatz.
Mitte also houses something you’re less likely to find in other major cities: the Berlin Zoo. It is, in fact, one of the biggest in the world and it’s intelligence unit specializes in making animal research more approachable for children.
- Central location
- High concentration of museums
- More than just basic necessities: it has most of the unmissable sites in Berlin
- The Tiergarten, a great park to relax in
- The higher cost of living differences can be found in the differences in consumer prices (otherwise known as tourist prices)
Kreuzberg: Little Istanbul
As some might be able to discern from the name, this quarter has been historically dominated by Turkish people. However, over the city’s history, this area has opened its doors to many young Berliners.
Today, it is defined by its alternative style, where you will be able to find street art right along side vendors for doner-kebab. This quarter also houses one of the most important museums in the city, the Jewish Museum.
- Festive atmosphere
- Central location
- Lively cafes and terraces
- Can be cheaper than most central locations
- The vibe might err to heavily on the hipster side for some people
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Friedrichshain, The Party District
Located in east Berlin, this district is where you’ll find what many consider to be the most important piece of the Berlin Wall. You’ll also find the notorious East Side Gallery here.
This quarter is known for being an alternative to other districts with a higher cost of living. The district boasts fair shopping prices as well as great deals if you’re looking for a party.
- Friedrichshain never sleeps! A very lively nightlife
- Not close to many traditional tourist spots
Neukolln, a trendy neighbourhood
Located south of Kreuzberg, Neukolln is the new chic quarter. Although it had garnered a bad reputation just a couple of years ago, Neukolln has been economically stimulated by those looking for a cheaper alternative to Kreuzberg.
You will be able to find many restaurants and bars located as far as the eye can see, as well as a the beautiful Tempelhof park – which used to be the site of an old airport.
- A young and creative district
- Far from the chaos of tourism
- Not that central
- Constantly changing
If you're looking for some more advice about living or staying in Berlin, make sure to check out this guide.
Hotels in Berlin: Where to Stay
Whether you’re looking to compare the cost of living, are curious to learn more about the hotels driving the Berlin housing index up, or simply want to know the average cost of staying in a hotel in Berlin – here are the basics about hotels in Berlin.
Hotels in Mitte
As mentioned, Mitte is the central district, which means that these hotels are located in a quarter where the average rent is high.
- The Weinmeister Hotel Berlin-Mitte: for a modern and chic hotel, look no further than the Weinmeister. One night for two will cost about 113 euros.
- The Circus Hotel: located just between Mitte and the bohemian Prenzlauer Berg, this hotel offers a room for two starting at 120 euros.
- Arte Luise Kunsthotel: the name Arte should already give you an idea of the creative design of the hotel. Each room is individually decorated by artists. A great price for the quality, a room for two will cost you 70 euros a night.
- The Cosmo Hotel: a classic and elegant hotel, the Cosmo costs about 100 euros a night.
Hotels in Friedrichshain
To compare cost distributions of hotel rooms, look no further than the party district. Located in an area with a lower cost of living than Mitte, these hotel rooms – while not below the national average price – are closer to it. Here are some hotels in the quarter that never sleeps:
- Amodovar organic hotel: yes, you’ve read correctly! This hotel is actually certified organic. The hotel is eco-friendly and includes a bistro with vegan dishes. The nightly price for this hotel is 100 euros.
- Hotel Plus Berlin Design: this adorable hotel comes with an indoor swimming pool, sauna, and billiards table starting at 40 euros a night.
Hotels in Kreuzberg & Neukolln
If you’re looking to keep your food cost and monthly expenses down, this district can offer you everything from high-end to affordable hotels. Here are some locations to test out on your next visit to Berlin:
- The Huttenpalast
- Easy Lodges Berlin
Hostels in Berlin: For Budget Travelers
Whether you’re doing a simple living comparison, are wondering what kind of cost of living adjustment you’ll have to make to live comfortably on your budget, or simply want to avoid the high cost of living or visiting any city – hostels are always a great choice.
While the median home price in Berlin is still less than many major cities in the UK, living or visiting the city will probably lead to the lowest cost of living or holiday budget to those with a low holiday fund or living allowance.
While avoiding the highest cost, lodging, you will also be able to meet other travellers – a bonus especially to those travelling alone or who want to save their money to explore everything in Berlin.
Hostels in Mitte
While many find hostels to be a living adjustment, staying in one near the centre will give you access to strategic metro areas while reducing the overall cost of living. Here are some of the best hostels in Mitte:
- Baxpax Downtown Hostel
- Wombat’s City Hostel
- East Seven Hostel
Hostels in Friedrichshain
Cost of living adjustments can easily be accomplished by staying in the party district. Saving money will give you a holiday or living adjustment that results in more disposable cash to spend on transportation costs, food costs, and your overall trip or monthly cost. Here are some of the best hostels in the quarter:
- Das DDR Hostel
Other Options for Staying in Berlin
If you have a greater travel fund or cost of living allowance, or simply cannot make any cost of living adjustments or are travelling in a large group – finding lodging through Airbnb is also a great option. The average home price, that is for an entire apartment, will vary from season to season. If you’re looking for an average household or apartment for only two people, the average prices for the month of June, for example, will fluctuate at about 1,600 pounds.
You should be able to get exact prices either through quick, economic research on Airbnb or through a cost of living calculator.
While Berlin is not one of the most expensive cities and the living cost and living expenses can sometimes be cheaper than many cities in the UK, one other option for travelling or living in Germany can be by having a flatmate.
This can be done either through platforms such as Couchsurfing, where you can almost always stay with your host for free or by finding a roommate, flatmate or host family in the city.
While some of these options might expect you to front some of the housing costs, either with a small semester contribution or by buying the occasional groceries, this should lover your average monthly or weekly trip or living expenses to around zero.