Are you thinking of relocating to Germany? We explore the best locations to live in for expats, including Berlin, Munich and Hamburg.
Are you looking for the ideal location in Germany to settle down for retirement, job prospects, or raising a young family? If that’s the case, this post will benefit you. We delve into various aspects worth considering, including affordability, entertainment options, and overall quality of life.
With its rich history, stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and exceptional quality of life, Germany is undoubtedly a great place to call home. It is known for its economic stability, cultural diversity, and has attracted people worldwide seeking a prosperous life.
Our list is based on the top 13 most popular cities to move to from those who have used PSS International Removals to move overseas. We have been helping people to move to Germany for over 40 years and can provide you with a seamless and hassle-free experience. You can get a quote today to start the process.
Now let’s get started with our list!
- 1. Berlin – One of Europe’s most populous and culturally vibrant cities
- 2. Munich – One of the highest gross salaries in the country
- 3. Hamburg – Great architecture
- 4. Frankfurt – Known as the ‘financial hub of Germany’
- 5. Cologne (Köln) – Renowned for its cultural vibrancy and artistic flair
- 6. Leipzig – Thriving arts and culture scene
- 7. Stuttgart – A hub for engineering and technology
- 8. Dusseldorf – Popular destination for expats
- 9. Heidelberg – Stunning natural beauty
- 10. Hannover – Great educational system
- 11. Bremen – Known for its lively music scene
- 12. Mainz – Beautiful scenery around the city
- 13. Essen – Known as the energy capital of Germany
- Looking to move to Germany from the UK?
1. Berlin – One of Europe’s most populous and culturally vibrant cities
Heading to the top of our list is Berlin, Germany’s capital city. Home to over 3 million people, it’s one of Europe’s most populous and culturally vibrant cities. As you wander through its diverse neighbourhoods, you’ll encounter a tapestry of experiences, from cutting-edge art and cuisine to historical landmarks that have shaped the world. The exceptional working conditions, bolstered by a culture that values work-life balance, make it an ideal place to grow professionally and personally.
The city is filled with fun activities such as the Potsdamer Platz, one the most pulsating spots in the region. This square is extremely lively, filled with shops, restaurants, bars and movie theatres. Berlinale, one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, takes place here annually, attracting celebrities and film enthusiasts from around the globe. Potsdamer Platz is also home to several attractions, such as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Museum of Film and Television.
Despite being the capital of Germany, Berlin’s cost of living is relatively affordable, especially regarding housing. While rents in more popular neighbourhoods like Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, and Friedrichshain can be expensive, they are still more affordable than other large cities like Munich or Frankfurt. Even in the city centre, plenty of affordable apartments are available, especially if you are willing to live in areas a bit further from the main tourist attractions.
Some of the world’s most famous techno clubs in Berlin include Berghain, Tresor, and Watergate; the city is known for attracting international DJs and non-stop parties that can last all weekend long.
With just an hour’s drive south of Berlin lies Lubbenau, a picturesque town famous for its picturesque canals, traditional wooden boats, and excellent local cuisine. Lubbenau is an ideal destination for a day trip, offering you a chance to relax and unwind amidst beautiful natural scenery.
Alyssa, an expat in Berlin, shares her thoughts on Quora “It’s a lively, vibrant city that offers diverse food options and a never-ending list of things to do, see, and experience. There are so many art and culture-related events which made Berlin special to me. On top of that, Berlin has a flourishing cafe culture… trying out different cafes for their “kaffee und kuchen” (coffee and cake) became a favourite pastime of mine.”
2. Munich – One of the highest gross salaries in the country
Munich is a trendy expat destination, famous for its excellent standard of living, the highest gross salary in the country, and of course, the beer festivals! Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival and is held in Munich for 16 to 18 days. If you are looking for more buzz and excitement in the city, you can also watch the famous Bayern Munich and EHC Red Bull within proximity.
The Pergamonmuseum, located on the renowned Museum Island, is one of Berlin’s most famous and most-visited museums. It is part of the Berlin State Museums, a group of institutions under the auspices of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The Pergamonmuseum was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann, with construction completed in 1930. It houses three main collections: the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities), the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East), and the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum of Islamic Art). You can also visit Neues Museum or Alte Nationalgalerie if you want to explore other museums in the city.
For places to live in Munich, Haidhausen is a charming neighbourhood east of the city centre. It has undergone significant transformation in recent decades, evolving from a working-class district to a vibrant and trendy area. Despite being close to the city centre, Haidhausen is home to several parks and green spaces that offer a chance to relax and enjoy nature. The expansive Maximiliansanlagen Park runs along the Isar River, providing picturesque riverside walks, while the more intimate Ostpark offers recreational facilities, including an ice-skating rink and a swimming pool.
Other suburbs in the region include Maxvorstadt, Often referred to as the “Brain of Munich, due to its plethora of museums, art galleries, and educational institutions, making it an ideal place to live for those who appreciate history, culture, and a lively urban atmosphere. The Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Technical University of Munich are also situated in Maxvordadt, both highly rated universities.
David, an expat from the US, says on Quora, “As an expat living in Munich, I have found the city to be the perfect blend of culture, community, and convenience. From the welcoming locals and stunning architecture to the delicious food and diverse entertainment options, Munich has everything I could want in a home. The city’s excellent public transportation system makes exploring all it has to offer easy, while its low crime rate and high quality of life provide peace of mind. Overall, Munich is a wonderful place to live, and I feel incredibly grateful to call it my home.”
3. Hamburg – Great architecture
“Hamburg is exceptionally clean for a big city, and I love the architecture – old and new – and most of all: The people, ‘Hamburgers’, are open-minded, international, friendly, and helpful, and it’s easy to meet people here. Just get into one of the crowded pubs or bars, get a drink and start talking to people.” Susanne, an expat who resides in Hamburg.
Hamburg is a great city for music lovers. It holds a significant place in music history, particularly for its connection to the legendary musician John Lennon and the early days of the Beatles. The city’s vibrant music scene and lively nightlife played a crucial role in shaping the band’s identity when performing in the St. Pauli district. Lennon famously said, “I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”.
The city is home to several Beatles-themed attractions, such as the Beatles Platz, a public square featuring sculptures of the band members, and the Indra Club, which still stands as a testament to the band’s early days.
Another great reason to live in Hamburg is its range of entertainment, which includes Tierpark Hagenbeck, a famous zoo in Hamburg. This zoo has over 1,400 animals with 210 species, including tigers and giraffes. A must-visit is Eismeer, a state-of-the-art world exhibit that houses polar bears, walruses and various Arctic bird species.
Popular suburbs to live in Hamburg include Ottensen. This neighbourhood has a long history dating back to the early 13th century and was once an independent town before becoming part of Hamburg. The area has five theatres and music venues and is a significant shopping district in Hamburg.
An added benefit of living in Hamburg is that it is a major port city in Germany. This advantageous position ensures seamless and efficient container shipping options for those who decide to live in the city.
4. Frankfurt – Known as the ‘financial hub of Germany’
If you are working in the finance industry, Frankfurt is a great destination. The city is home to the European Central Bank, known as the ‘financial hub of Germany’, and ranked one of the wealthiest cities in terms of GMP.
Sachsenhausen is a trendy and lively shopping district in Frankfurt with diverse shopping options. You can browse through unique boutiques selling handmade crafts or purchase one-of-a-kind accessories. The neighbour allows you to buy a special gift or new wardrobe staples. Alternatively, you can visit the Kleinmarkthalle market, established in 1954. There are over 150 stalls spread across 1,500 square meters with various fresh produce and local specialities, making it a must-visit for food lovers and those looking to try different recipes.
Bornheim, located in the eastern part of Frankfurt, is considered one of the best places to live in the city. Bornheim is home to Berger Kino, one of the oldest cinemas in Germany, hosts several events and festivals throughout the year. This includes the Bornheim Wine Festival and the Berger Strabe Festival. The area itself is vibrant and young, with regular public transportation. Other popular neighbourhoods include Westend, known for its luxurious housing, and is perfect for those looking to escape the busy parts of the city.
Alex, an expat who lives in Frankfurt, is highly impressed with the convenience of Frankfurt and says on Quora, “Frankfurt is very centrally located in Germany, and you can reach Cologne within one hour, Munich within three, and Berlin within four hours. Not to mention Frankfurt airport, which offers good flight connections all over Europe and else”.
5. Cologne (Köln) – Renowned for its cultural vibrancy and artistic flair
Cologne (Köln) is renowned for its cultural vibrancy and artistic flair. The city is home to many museums, galleries, and theatres that showcase diverse creative expressions—delight in the masterpieces at Museum Ludwig, housing an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. Experience captivating performances at the Cologne Opera House or enjoy thought-provoking plays at one of the city’s many theatres. The annual Cologne Carnival, a boisterous celebration of music, parades, and costumes, further highlights the city’s exuberant spirit and cultural heritage.
Beyond its cultural offerings, Cologne boasts a high quality of life and a strong sense of community. The city offers an excellent infrastructure, efficient public transportation, and a well-developed healthcare system. With its central location in Europe, Cologne provides easy access to other major cities, making it an ideal base for exploration and travel.
Moreover, Cologne embraces diversity and fosters a welcoming environment for expats. The city’s international community thrives, with numerous social groups, clubs, and organizations catering to various interests and backgrounds. This inclusiveness, coupled with many international schools and universities, ensures seamless integration into Cologne’s multicultural fabric.
From its rich historical heritage and thriving cultural scene to its high quality of life and welcoming atmosphere, Cologne is an enticing destination for those seeking a vibrant and fulfilling place to live. Embrace the city’s charm, forge connections, and indulge in its opportunities for growth and enjoyment.
Ehrenfeld is a popular suburb in Cologne known for its vibrant atmosphere and creative energy. With its colourful street art, trendy bars, and alternative culture, Ehrenfeld attracts young professionals and artists seeking a lively and eclectic neighbourhood. The district of Nippes is another sought-after suburb characterized by its charming residential streets, bustling markets, and diverse community.
6. Leipzig – Thriving arts and culture scene
Leipzig, a city brimming with history, culture, and innovation, presents an enticing opportunity for those seeking a new place to call home. With its rich cultural heritage from Roman times, Leipzig boasts a fascinating past waiting to be explored. Immerse yourself in the footsteps of great composers by visiting St. Thomas Church, where Johann Sebastian Bach once worked as a cantor. Feel the weight of history at the Monument to the Battle of the Nations, a majestic tribute to the decisive Napoleonic Wars battle.
Yet Leipzig offers much more than just its historical landmarks. The city pulsates with a thriving arts and culture scene, attracting enthusiasts from far and wide. Theatres, galleries, and music venues host various regular events and performances, promising endless artistic expression and creativity opportunities. Immerse yourself in a world of captivating performances and exhibitions, nourishing your soul with Leipzig’s cultural offerings.
Leipzig provides diverse neighbourhoods for expats seeking a place to settle, each with a distinct character. The vibrant Connewitz district captures young residents’ hearts, boasting a lively street art scene, alternative culture, and abundant excellent bars and restaurants. Alternatively, the community of Plagwitz entices with its transformation of former industrial buildings into art studios, galleries, and trendy cafes, forming a captivating fusion of history and contemporary art.
Moreover, Leipzig has become a magnet for entrepreneurial spirits and innovative companies, fostering a burgeoning start-up scene. The city warmly welcomes expats, offering a supportive environment with extensive networks and resources to facilitate your integration into the local community. Embrace the vibrant atmosphere of growth and collaboration, joining a dynamic community of young entrepreneurs and forward-thinking individuals.
With its captivating history, thriving cultural scenes, and welcoming environment for expats and start-ups alike, Leipzig beckons as an irresistible destination. Whether you’re yearning for a deeper connection with the past, a vibrant arts and culture experience, or a fresh start in a city brimming with opportunities, Leipzig stands ready to embrace you with open arms.
7. Stuttgart – A hub for engineering and technology
Stuttgart, home to famous companies such as Mercedes Benz and Porsche, is a city that contributes significantly to Germany’s GDP. As you would expect, this means plenty of job opportunities are available for expats looking to live in Germany.
One of the unique things about Stuttgart that you will notice is its stunning location at the foot of the Swabian Alps, offering spectacular views and endless outdoor activities. The city is also famous for its automotive heritage. It hosts the annual Cannstatter Volksfest, the second-largest beer festival in the world after Oktoberfest in Munich, perfect if you love your beer!
Stuttgart is also a hub for engineering and technology, with many companies specializing in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and software development. With its rich cultural heritage, beautiful natural scenery, and many tourist attractions, tourism and hospitality are essential job industries in Stuttgart.
Bad Cannstatt and Möhringenis a popular suburb, home to a large and diverse expat community, with people from all over the world living and working in the district. This creates a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for newcomers, making it easy to find other expats to socialize with. It is also in an accessible location, just a few kilometres from the centre of Stuttgart, accessible by public transportation.
8. Dusseldorf – Popular destination for expats
Dusseldorf is a prevalent destination for expats, with roughly 110,000 expats living in the region. This is impressive, considering the entire population of Dusseldorf is 619,294! Many expats can adapt quickly to this city as it is a central hub for people moving from overseas.
The city is known for its high-end shopping district, Koenigsalle, which offers many luxury goods and designer boutiques. It’s a haven for those who enjoy indulging in retail therapy. Another attraction is the Carlsplatz Markt, a bustling outdoor market offering fresh produce, flowers, and local specialities. It’s a great place to go if you’re looking for new delicious food. These two landmarks are just a few examples of what makes Dusseldorf stand out as one of Germany’s best places to live.
The city also boasts diverse job opportunities, with a strong economy and a thriving financial and technology sector. Significant industries in Düsseldorf include fashion, logistics, healthcare, education, and tourism.
The best suburbs include Oberkassel, a district in the city of Dusseldorf, where you will experience a high quality of life with excellent schools, healthcare and recreational facilities. The community has several parks and green spaces, as well as many restaurants, cafes and shops catering to a wide range of tastes and preferences
9. Heidelberg – Stunning natural beauty
As home to Germany’s oldest university, Heidelberg offers a stimulating environment where innovation and tradition coexist harmoniously. This charming city is rich in history, stunning natural beauty, and a vibrant academic scene. Imagine strolling through the cobblestone streets, past captivating Baroque architecture, and soaking in the breathtaking views of the Neckar River; Heidelberg is an excellent destination for those seeking stunning architecture.
The Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra is one of the most renowned in Germany, with a rich history and a diverse repertoire. The orchestra regularly performs concerts throughout the city, offering residents and visitors the chance to enjoy world-class music. Other attractions include The Unterwegs Theatre, a unique and innovative theatre company that performs in public spaces throughout Heidelberg. The theatres’ interactive and immersive performances provide a truly unique and memorable experience.
Keith, an expat who has lived in Heidelberg for many years, has this to say on Quora, “Heidelberg is one of the most beautiful towns on earth, with its old town nestled at the foot of the huge castle ruins just above, along the Neckar River. It’s an old university town with many students, well-connected by rail to nearby cities like Mannheim. It can be overrun by tourists, though, something that not everyone likes.”
Popular suburbs in Heidelberg include Bergheim, a great location in-between significant cities such as Cologne and Bonn, allowing you to live a small-town lifestyle while still having access to larger cities and job opportunities. The town has excellent public transport links and is a great destination for those looking to raise a family in Germany.
10. Hannover – Great educational system
One of the reasons Hannover is a great place to live is the education system. The city is home to several renowned universities, including Leibniz University Hannover, which is consistently ranked among the top universities in Germany. The university offers various courses in fields such as engineering, economics, and humanities. In addition to Leibniz University, Hannover is home to several other universities, including the Hannover Medical School and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, which offer a range of courses in fields such as medicine, engineering, and design.
The Hannover Opera House is one of the most important cultural institutions in the city, offering world-class performances in opera, ballet, and theatre. The Market Hall is a food lover’s paradise, with many vendors offering fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other delicacies. It is a great place to shop for ingredients and sample local cuisine.
Linden is considered one of the best places to live in Hannover. Linden is surrounded by several parks and green spaces, including the Eilenriede Forest, one of Europe’s most extensive urban forests. The neighbourhood is also home to the Luthergarten, a community garden open to the public.
11. Bremen – Known for its lively music scene
If you are a cyclist enthusiast, Bremen is perfect as it encourages residents to walk or cycle instead of driving. This makes the city an attractive destination for those who prioritize a healthy and active lifestyle and those who are environmentally conscious.
Klass, an expat, found a significant selling point of Bremen: “The quality of life is excellent in Bremen. I believe it is one of the German cities with the oldest-ranking population. That tells you something. Not to worry, there are plenty of students at Bremen University. The city centre is small enough to walk from Marktplatz (town square) to Hauptbahnhof (central train station) in less than 30 minutes. Public transportation is easy and often. The only thing that takes some getting used is the weather.”
For those who love their sports, Bremen is home to the Weser Stadium, the home stadium for the Werder Bremen football team. The stadium has a capacity of 42,358 and is one of the most popular entertainments in the area.
Bremen is known for its lively music scene, with various live music venues and festivals throughout the year. The Musikfest Bremen is a famous annual festival featuring classical and contemporary music performances, while the Breminale is a free outdoor music festival in the summer.
12. Mainz – Beautiful scenery around the city
Known as a university city, Mainz offers an excellent education and a vibrant student life. With its unique blend of historical and modern features, Mainz is regarded as one of Germany’s best places to live. The city is home to many large media companies, including the German public broadcasting company ZDF, which has its headquarters in Mainz. This has helped to shape the city’s modern identity as a hub for media and communication.
Mainz is also the capital of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which means it is home to many important administrative and political institutions. The city’s history is evident in its many beautiful historical buildings, including the famous Mainz Cathedral, over 1,000 years old. The town also offers many recreational opportunities, such as walking and biking trails along the Rhine River, beautiful parks, and lively cultural events.
Neustadt is a district in the city of Mainz and is a great place to live for expats. It has good infrastructure, with several tram and bus lines connecting the community to other parts of Dresden. There are also many bike paths and walking routes, making it easy for residents to get around without relying on a car. It is also known for its lively nightlife scene, with several bars, clubs and pubs.
Mainz is also an excellent location for young adults. As explained by John on Quora, “It is especially great for young adults because it is a typical mid-sized German student city. Of the 200,000 inhabitants, about 40,000 are students. You can see and feel the influence everywhere. It has beautiful scenery around the city, with the Rhine River and the medieval old town district. Mainz is a great city to live in for young people, and in my two years here, I fell in love with it.”
Last on our list is Essen, a city located in the heart of the Ruhr region in western Germany. The city is known as the “energy capital of Germany,” with many large multinational corporations in the energy industry in and around the city. This provides excellent job opportunities for industry professionals and professionals in other sectors.
Essen has a diverse range of neighbourhoods to choose from, each with its own unique character and charm. The Innensdadt neighbourhood is the more touristy part of the city and is excellent if you want to be near the nightlife, bars, and food spots. Altendorf is another great neighbourhood to live in, as it is affordable and more suited for family life.
The city is home to four universities, making it perfect if you want to move for education and want a vibrant young city. If you are on a budget, you will be pleased to know that Essen has a relatively low living cost and affordable rent prices. The city allows you to enjoy a good standard of living for a reasonable price.
You will also notice many bike routes throughout the city, making it a great destination for cyclists. The city is also located near many beautiful natural areas, such as the Ruhr Valley, which is perfect if you love long walks or cycling. Alternatively, you can visit Aalto Threatre, the premiere venue for opera, ballet and classical music, with regular host guests from international companies.
Looking to move to Germany from the UK?
Germany has much to offer those seeking a new place to call home. From bustling cities like Berlin and Munich to charming towns like Mainz and Essen, there is a place to suit every lifestyle and preference. The country has a rich history, culture, and natural beauty, with breathtaking landscapes like the Bavarian Alps and the Black Forest.
For those looking for vibrant nightlife and a diverse cultural scene, cities like Berlin and Cologne offer various entertainment options. Meanwhile, towns like Bonn and Hamburg offer a more relaxed atmosphere and many historical sites to explore.
No matter where you settle in Germany, you’ll find warm and welcoming locals, delicious cuisine, and plenty of activities to entertain you. So why not start planning your move today?
If you’re considering moving to Germany, be sure to check out our removals to Germany. You can also get a quote on shipping your belongings and ensuring a smooth and stress-free transition to your new home in this beautiful country.
PSS helps expats and families move to Germany every year. We look forward to providing you with a hassle-free experience to start your new overseas life.