Best cities to live in Germany


It's not always easy to decide in which area to settle in when moving to Germany. According to you, what are the best cites to live in?

Which regions offer most of the job opportunities, a good quality of life, an affordable cost of living?

Share with us the cities you would recommend to expats and soon-to-be expats in Germany.

Thank you in advance,


This is not an easy question to answer.
First and foremost, the bet place to live is where you have job, home and family.
If you are in a position to choose, the following applies as a general rule:
- Perceived quality of life increases from North to South, and is lowest in Estern Germany, but of course there are exceptions and you might find your little paradise anywhere.
- Living costs also increase from North to South and are lowest in the East. Cities always cost more (mainly accommodation) than smaller towns.
- Except for niches (and people with good German skills), jobs are only available in big (industrial) cities, and again more in the South than the North or East.
- Bigger cities have a higher concentration of foreigners and higher chances to find your fellow countrymen or anybody speaking a langiuage other than German.
- All places have their individual pros and cons and preferences depend on your personal taste.

I think it's Munich.. I might be biased because I leave here.. I also like Berlin.. The only negative about Munich is housing - it's difficult to find and its expensive.

We want also to move( me and my wife). Now wé live in a small town in East. And we will move probably in Leipzig or Nürnberg, where we will find a Job.
Hamburg, Munchen, Frankfurt, Stuttgart have good jobs opportunities, but are expensive and is hard to find accomodation, but not impossible.

"Quality of life" is a pretty wide-ranging and vague concept. The East is indeed less developed, but that also means you can often get more for your buck. Leipzig is a great little gem, and if you like the quiet life, Weimar is lovely as well. I used to like Dresden a lot but have been turned off by the recent political movements coming out of there. But  I completely agree, the best place is where your family/friends/job is.

I will also add that German cities each have a certain "feel" to them that is difficult to describe. Bavarians, Schwaben, Berliners, and Hamburgers are all very different people from each other, and your daily life will be quite different depending on these "city characters". At risk of being extremely general and maybe even a bit stereotyped:

-- Munich is for the Type A personality. Everything in its right place
-- Freiburg/Stuttgart for the discerning Eco-minded individual with a decently deep pockets
-- Hamburg for just a little bit of both. But you better be able to deal with the grey, misty north. There are some great neighborhoods in Hamburg though.
-- Berlin for the expat that wants "Germany-lite". Disclaimer: I'm biased about Berlin. Cosmopolitanism has reached a point in central Berlin that it truly has become a worldly place. Call it gentrification, call it international, call it whatever you want, but at least we have good coffee, good food, and good beer!

Good post! I couldn't have said this better :)

If you are without a family and want to start a new life in Germany and if you like big cities I would go to Berlin. It's multicultural, many differnt jobs, something is always happening there and costs for a room or flat are much cheaper than in the South of Germany. :-)

It depends on your situation. I found Frankfurt the ideal city for myself while I was working, that was in the 80/90`s, I found a job easily and learnt German there. There is a lot to do and it is very multi cultural. I visit often Frankfurt because I have a son living there, and still find it a fascinating city and a lot to do. I loved living there. The only thing is that the appartments are expensive.
I am now retired and prefer the East of Germany, in the area of Erfurt  because things are cheaper and I do find the people very friendly and it is easier to make friends.

Hi Dear

All city is good in Germany, but I we think about München, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart etc. Anywhere you live in Germany is a nice place. Thanks.

I thought Stuttgart was very livable and scenic - but the rents were expensive. A better value I thought was Mainz and Weisebaden area - they really reminded me of river towns where I am from in the USA. I agree totally with the post on Berlin - very cosmopolitan, and because it's international - Germany-lite.

I can't pinpoint which cities are the best in Germany sinice I haven't live anywhere else than Munich in Bayern.

Munich offers a lot of work and learning opportunities for foreigners.

It also offers a lot of 'freizeit' activities in the name of parties, events, beer gardens, pubs, parades, cafes and restaurants, museum visits etc. The old city may be flocked with tourists but one can always find places of peace inside the city too! One can laze around the English Garden, along the river Isar or stroll around the gardens of Nymphenburg, Oberschleissheim etc. The famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen is only an hour ride from the city. The well-known Starnbergersee and other lakes like Ammersee, Wörthsee, Walchensee, Mondsee are also within reach. The Alps, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Allgäu and more offer a lot of activities like hiking, cycling, skiing etc. Numerous 'Schwimmbäder' can be found in Münich and thermal springs are also only a 30min to an hour ride from Munich.

The only unbearable problem is: Munich is expensive. Rent is expensive and transportation is expensive.

First of all, Germany is generally speaking a country with good and well-paid jobs, a great quality of life and quite affordable living expenses.

- It depends on your specialization: if you work in banking, nothing is better than Frankfurt, while for technology Munich is the best; for fashion, Düsseldorf wins; for media you have to be close to politics in Berlin; Hamburg is the king of maritime transportation and logistics; automotive means Stuttgart.
- The lowest unemployment rates are in the South (Stuttgart, Munich, Nuremberg) followed by the West (Frankfurt, Cologne, Düsseldorf). Then you have the North (Hamburg, Hannover, Bremen) and in the bottom of the ranking there is the East (Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden). However the situation in the East of Germany is still better than many other European countries (Spain, Italy, Poland).
- Salaries have more or less the same rankings. But more than on the city, salary depends on the size of the company (big corporation, high salary; small family-owned factory, low salary).

Quality of life:
- Mercer's Quality of Living Survey puts German cities in the higher part of its world ranking:
4th München
6th Düsseldorf
7th Frankfurt
14th Berlin
16th Hamburg
21st Stuttgart
25th Nürnberg
59th Leipzig (which is still better than Prague, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Dubai)
- Quality of life depends on what you are looking for, so there's no flat answer: if you are looking for an open mindset you should better avoid the South and settle in a big city; if you are looking for international people, Berlin and Munich are the best, but also the Rheinland (Düsseldorf/Cologne/Bonn) and Frankfurt are quite international; if commuting time is a concern, you'd better stick with less-than-1-million-sized cities and avoid Berlin/Munich/Cologne/Hamburg, even if they all have excellent public transportation systems. And so on...

Cost of living:
- Mercer provides a Cost of Living index, which places German cities in the middle-to-lower part of the rank:
87th Munich
98th Frankfurt
106th Berlin
114th Düsseldorf
124th Hamburg
139th Stuttgart
16th Nürnberg
172nd Leipzig (out of 207 cities)
- Big cities cost more than small cities and towns.
- Munich is unaffordable for housing, the East (Leipzig/Dresden) and the Ruhr area (Duisburg/Essen/Bochum/Dortmund) are cheap. Of course that's all very correlated with job availability. I think a good trade-off can be Stuttgart (if you like the people there :-)), or the Frankfurt and Cologne areas (which can also mean some smaller towns nearby) or big northern cities.
- Aldi, Lidl, Penny, Rossmann and dm have good quality (compared to many European supermarkets) and incredibly good prices (compared to shops, pharmacies, markets and even competitor supermarkets). Be sure to live close to one or more of these supermarkets.

Example from my personal experience: living in a medium-sized city (e.g. Neuss, Ratingen) in a large metropolitan area with many larger and richer cities (e.g. Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Mönchengladbach) can be a great trade-off between low housing costs and good job opportunities.

The Ruhrgebiet is a nice place to live, with very friendly people and loads to do, i.e. culture, sports, shopping,etc. It's comparatively cheap and you've got great links to the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Freiburg i. Breisgau is a cool town- it's the most southern city in Germany, lots of culture, international flair - not so easy to find living space and when very expensive.
interesting also because of its proximity to Switzerland and France.


Not a lot to add to what is already posted except to say that one needs to ask themselves in what size of city they feel comfortable in? Berlin, Munich and Hamburg are all fantastic but not everyone is comfortable with big city life.  A size down but still with lots of cultural offerings are cities like Stuttgart, Düsseldorf or Cologne. For some people still too big. For these people places like Tübingen, Freiburg, Göttingen, Heidelberg and a good dozen others are ideal; quaint cities with lots of old architecture yet lots of activities and culture due to sizable Universities. Still too big, there are countless numbers of small villages. The advantages will strongly depend on an individual's personal situation since the proximity to jobs, good schools etc. might be limited. One can often find a place to buy or rent in a small community at a fraction of what the previously mentioned cities cost.

@Emmanuel Nator I would disagree. Dresden is really dirty, a lot of graffiti, smokers, drug addicts and alcoholics everywhere. The city is unsafe but parents let their 7 years old children go to school alone. I see children commute by tram alone. I could not find strawberries easily and I could not find cotton based period pads here. The choice in shops is limited but it is a small city so I suppose this is to be expected. Munich for a big city life and Düsseldorf for a small city life are super nice, though.

@Julien for a small city life I liked Düsseldorf, for a big city life I liked Munich. But I would not go anywhere with a population of less than 500.000 as such cities tend to be boring with a very poor choice of goods to buy (even something simple like cotton pads or unscented shampoo)

@wardalex580 You just dug up a thread that was dormant for six years!

And you seem to have a weird definition of "small city": With 620000 inhabitants, Düsseldorf is the seventh biggest city in Germany and, as part of the "Ruhrgebiet" even part of Germany's biggest conurbation (with over 10million people).

The city is unsafe but parents let their 7 years old children go to school alone. I see children commute by tram alone.

The fact that locals (who certainly know their place best) let their kids roam around freely should tell you that it is safer than you assume. Germany is a generally safe country, so your fears are unwarranted.