Thinking about moving to Germany? We don’t blame you. Germany’s thriving job market, liberal attitudes, and high standards of living have made it a popular choice for those seeking to make a new home away from home.
Its ferocious winters and dazzling summers will keep you on your toes, and outdoor lovers will be spoilt for choice with a range of mountains, lakes, and forests to explore. It’s also an incredibly safe country, with low crime rates even in most of its major cities.
Germany mixes old with new beautifully, and whether you’re looking for a traditional sleepy town or a thriving metropolitan area to set up base, you’ll be able to find the right spot in Germany. To help you on your way, here is our list of the top places to live in Germany – enjoy!
Best for: Commerce, particularly in the financial sector
Location: Southwestern Germany
Frankfurt is a strong contender for anyone thinking of moving to Germany thanks to its incredibly varied entertainment. However, its major selling point for expats is probably its excellent job opportunities, particularly in the banking and financial sectors.
Generally considered a key European business capital, Frankfurt is home to the European Central Bank headquarters and draws in highflyers from around the globe.
The streets are filled with designer shops and there’s certainly no shortage of fine wine and dining experiences. Frankfurt also features plenty of historical attractions, such as the Imperial Catherdral (or ‘Kaiserdom’), heaps of museums, including an excellent Nature Museum, and tonnes of green spaces hidden among the towering skyscrapers.
What’s more, located in the southwest of Germany, Frankfurt experiences considerably warmer summers than places further north – and, trust us, you’ll want a nice warm summer to take away the chill of a German winter! the healthcare is excellent too, with a range of both public and private hospitals to chose from.
Its population has remained lower than many of the other big cities in Germany, which means that, while there’s a lot going on, it isn’t a totally overwhelming city to live in.
Despite the charm of its flashing lights and exciting metropolitan vibes, there is an underside to Frankfurt, and it’s actually one of the least safe places to live in Germany (although if you aren’t involved in the drug trade, you should be able to keep out of things). Perhaps unsurprisingly considering how many bankers live there, it’s also a very expensive place to live.
However, if you’re after a vibrant city experience, excellent summer weather, and a job in finance, then you’re going to love Frankfurt.v
Best for: Family-friendly city vibes, people working in high-tech industries
Location: Southern Germany
Stuttgart is Germany’s sixth-largest city and is the capital of the Bade-Wurttemberg state.
Despite being known for being a key player in the automobile industry (it was here that the first car and motorcycle were invented), it’s actually a very green city containing large areas of forest and woodland, tonnes of parks, and plenty of inner-city outdoor spaces, including heaps of rooftops that have been converted into luscious gardens or even quirky bars (like the rooftop beach bar Sky Beach).
There are plenty of things to do inside too, including the Porshe Museum, the Mercedes-Benz museum, the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (an art gallery), and an observation deck (Fernsehturm Stuttgart) that lets you soak in the sights of the whole city.
While it can be hard to snap up property right in the center, in general, you shouldn’t struggle to find a place a little further out – plus, it’ll be far cheaper than anything you’ll find in Germany’s larger cities.
As well as its automobile roots, there are tonnes of other techy jobs going in Stuttgart, thanks partly to its young population and partly due to the numerous academic, research, and scientific organizations that are based there.
Plenty of outdoor spaces, an incredibly relaxed overall vibe, affordable housing, and plenty of jobs… sounds like an excellent choice for families, doesn’t it? Having said that, anyone who likes the perks of city life but isn’t so keen on the stress of the largest cities will love this thriving yet chilled city.
Best for: Young professionals, creatives, party animals
Location: Northeastern Germany
Population: 3.645 million
Ah… of course, Berlin. Famed for its nightclubs, creative scene, and overall trend vibes, this city is a magnet for fun-loving people from all walks of life.
In terms of its nightlife, Berlin can’t be beaten. Many of its top clubs, such as Berghain, have received international acclaim for their pumping techno beats, but there are also tonnes of electronic, experimental, and house nights going. Plus, Berlin is known for its somewhat controversial sexually open parties held in many of the clubs – whatever floats your boat, right?
But there’s more to Berlin than just partying. The city is of huge historical significance, with remnants of the Berlin wall, which was constructed in 1961 and separated east and west Germany, acting as staunch reminders of the country’s eventful history. What’s more, the city suffered enormously during World War 2, leading to huge restoration projects across the city afterward.
These modern buildings contribute massively to the overall quirky vibe of the place, and you’ll find incredible street art dotted all over the city. The perfect blend of old and new, Berlin is packed full of quirky shabby-chic hangouts where you can stop and grab a coffee, get a bite to eat, or go for a cheeky drink.
Despite being a capital city, Berlin is strangely green – I camped there once in a lovely campsite by a river and it was hard to believe I was just a short walk away from the heart of Germany’s capital (you certainly wouldn’t get that in London!). There are loads of parks, forests, and waterside spots to explore too, including the Tiergarten, Tempelhofer Park, and Grunewald forest.
The city is also notoriously friendly and non-judgemental and features a thriving LGBTQ community (the pride festival there is out of this world), which makes it very welcoming for foreigners.
There are plenty of jobs in Berlin, and the abundance of creative minds means that anything is possible in Berlin – in fact, it’s actually the start-up capital of Europe. While it’s certainly not the cheapest place to live in Germany, it’s not as steep to live here as it is in some of Germany’s larger cities (including Much, Hamberg, and Frankfurt).
Plus, rent caps have recently been implemented to stop the housing market from becoming lucratively high. Overall, if you’re looking for a place to get your creative juices flowing, then you’re going to love a stint in Germany’s capital.
Best for: Students, scientists, history lovers, nature enthusiasts
Location: Southwestern Germany
Heidelburg is located in the southwest of Germany, just a stone’s throw away from Germany’s famous black forest. This allure of the forest draws many residents to Heidelburg, especially those who love heading out for a hike or a climb at the weekend.
The forest is also home to various rivers, lakes, and waterfalls, making Heidleburg a great place for those who love to play in or on the water in their free time. Oh – and there are also some incredible mineral spas nearby if you need a bit of TLC.
Aside from the nearby forest, Heidleburg town has plenty to offer in its own right. Situated on the banks of the River Neckar and surrounded by greenery, this picturesque town features plenty of colorful old-school buildings that only add to its charm.
Any history buffs out there will be pleased to know that the old town, in particular, is teeming with buildings, bridges, and other structures from years gone by, yet the star historical attraction is Heidelberg Castle.
The castle is located on top of a hill (but don’t worry – you can catch a funicular up there) and its fairytale-like appearance draws in millions of tourists each year. What’s more, from up there on the hill you get excellent views of the whole town.
Heidelburg is also home to Germany’s oldest university, Heidelberg University, and, as well as students, you’ll find plenty of visitors wandering around its walls and soaking up the sights of the old buildings.
This university presence has contributed to the development of Heidelburg as a hub for science and research, particularly when it comes to environmental protection, genetic engineering, and IT, and there are tonnes of world-famous research organizations located nearby. This has made it an extremely popular choice for internationals working in these fields hoping to set up camp in Germany.
Sure, if you’re a party animal, you might get bored here after a little while. But if you’re happy to slow things down and amble around a town teeming with history, and live next door to a world-famous forest, then this town might be the one for you.
Best for: Wealthy professionals, fast-paced city-goers
Location: Bavaria, southern Germany
Population: 1.472 million
Munich is a fast-paced city with ample job opportunities in some of the world’s top corporations. The main drawback is that it’s super expensive to live here – in fact, it’s Germany’s most expensive city – but you do get excellent quality of life in return.
One thing’s for sure, you’ll never be bored in this highly populated city – the shops are second to none, there are always cool exhibitions popping up on anything from art to science, and the food and drink are great too. In fact… Munich is famed for one drink especially, beer.
Munich hosts Oktoberfest annually, an occasion that draws in thousands of Germans and foreigners each year to dance away to fold music while sipping on steins of beer – but don’t worry, if crowds aren’t your thing, the city is teeming with independent breweries, where you can sip on some of Germany’s finest beverages throughout the year away from the hustle and bustle.
There are also some spectacular buildings around Munich, including Marienplatz Square, the Munich Residenz palace, and the Asam Church.
With something for everyone, and a whole lot of fun, food, and festivities, Munch is a pretty cool place to be – if you can afford it.
Best for: Art and culture, shabby chic vibes
Location: Eastern Germany
Leipzig, located roughly 100 miles from Berlin, is undoubtedly one of Germany’s hidden gems. It may be small, but this international city is teeming with culture. Known for its thriving music scene, which includes classical pieces as well as newer electronic music, as well as its arty vibes, Leipzig is a great place to get your creative thinking cap on.
It’s also full of bohemian bars and cafes and, although there is an element of trendiness to it all, it’s managed to avoid the slightly pretentious hipster vibes that often come hand-in-hand with such hangouts.
The nightlife is booming and, as well as having pumping club and pub districts, the city has embraced the notion of outdoor seating and taken it to the next level – almost all cafes and restaurants have an outdoor set-up where you can sit back and soak in the vibes.
Good music, cool hangouts, and great nightlife… remind you of anywhere? Leipzig is often compared to the Berlin of times gone by and is popular among ex-Berlin enthusiasts seeking a break from high prices and overly cool hipsters. Unsurprisingly, this has led to a rise in its popularity, and we doubt it’ll stay this great forever – better get in there now!
So, there you have it, the best places to live in Germany. From financial hubs to sleepy towns to creative corners… there really is somewhere in Germany for everyone. Plus, if you happen to work in the finance, tech, science, or automobile industries, you’re almost guaranteed a job. And if you aren’t sure what industry to work in, Germany is a great place to set up your own company from scratch!
With great education, excellent healthcare, and super-efficient public transport, Germany is definitely one of the least stressful places to live in Europe. Plus, no matter where you end up in Germany, you’re bound to fall in love with your new home thanks to the welcoming attitudes of the German people.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.