Germany is one of the most exciting places for foreigners to live in today. It’s got so much to offer – great food, fun nightlife, rich history and culture, fascinating architecture, scenic beauty. The list goes on!
But behind all of these wonderful things that Germany has to offer are not-so-wonderful challenges – everything from the language barrier to learning about their rules and laws, to learning how to act properly among your neighbors. For this reason, planning your move carefully is essential.
If you are considering relocating to Germany for work or any other reason, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step on an amazing new adventure! This article will provide you with a list of the top 30 cities and towns for expatriates in Germany. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- 1. Munich
- 2. Berlin
- 3. Hamburg
- 4. Frankfurt
- 5. Cologne
- 6. Dusseldorf
- 7. Stuttgart
- 8. Hannover
- 9. Bremen
- 10. Nuremberg
- 11. Wurzburg
- 12. Dortmund
- 13. Bonn
- 14. Freiburg
- 15. Mannheim
- 16. Bochum
- 17. Potsdam
- 18. Aachen
- 19. Augsburg
- 20. Rostock
- 21. Lübeck
- 22. Ingolstadt
- 23. Heidelberg
- 24. Erlangen
- 25. Lüneburg
- 26. Leipzig
- 27. Dresden
- 28. Mainz
- 29. Wiesbaden
- 30. Magdeburg
Munich is by far one of the most popular choices among those who relocate to Germany from other countries. According to the Mercer Quality of Life Survey, Munich has the third-highest quality of life in the world! First and foremost, it is a very modern city and has a lot to offer expatriates.
It is one of the leading economic centers in Europe (it’s ranked third, after London and Paris!), offers many job opportunities, and it also has an excellent public transport system that caters to over 1 million commuters daily.
The cost of living in Munich is high – it’s the second most expensive city in Europe, after Geneva. It is still cheaper than New York, Seoul, or San Francisco. The average cost of an apartment in Munich is 12,000 Euros per year.
Bring your fur babies over the border or buy one after you arrive. The majority of the city’s restaurants, shopping malls, and businesses allow you to bring your pets. So you may feel confident that you can take your pet almost everywhere you go in the city!
Public transportation here is great and you may want to think twice before bringing your car over. Traffic in Munich is just as heavy as any other major city’s traffic. Luckily, you have a range of public transport options such as the U-Bahn subway, S-Bahn railway, buses, trams, and even ferries.
The city is also very safe – it has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, so you need not worry about your safety here.
Berlin offers a lot in terms of culture and nightlife, which makes it one of the best places in Germany for expatriates who enjoy these things. It is also known as being one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in Germany, as well as Europe. Berlin is evolving and developing very quickly – it’s even been called “The New London” by some people.
Berlin also has a special place in history as well as one of the most involved political climates in all of Germany. If you like politics, this is the place to be! It also wears the honor of being the cheapest capital in Western Europe but prices are rising.
Creative ex-pats will love this city. Artistic types will be pleased with the abundance of museums, galleries, and street art popping up everywhere. The nightlife here is vibrant and exciting – you can enjoy all kinds of live entertainment from cabaret to opera.
Like Munich, public transportation is good enough for ex-pats to avoid worrying about a car. Use the affordable and efficient U-Bahn and S-Bahn, buses, or trams. FYI, the U-Bahn is 24 hours on the weekends, so enjoy the clubs or bars for as long as they stay open.
This city is very much a melting pot of different cultures and people – you’ll see ex-pats from all over the world here. If you love to meet new people, this is the place to be.
Hamburg is both beautiful and charming, while still being a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are some great outdoor cafes in Hamburg where you can sit back, relax, and soak in your surroundings after a long day of work. As an ex-pat or visitor, you will most likely spend much of your leisure time in the famous Port of Hamburg, also known as “HafenCity” and the Gateway to Germany.
Hamburg is also a seaport, which means that the harbor offers some great views (and lots of seafood)! It’s also one of Germany’s largest cities – 2nd largest behind Berlin. It is a major transportation hub due to its location between the sea and the network of waterways.
Some famous attractions here include the historic warehouses lining the Elbe River, St. Michael’s Church, Planten un Blomen park, and Alster Lake – where you’ll see locals running, biking, boating or simply enjoying a sunny afternoon.
Hamburg also has great job opportunities here. Top industries include aerospace and shipbuilding, helping to make it Germany’s wealthiest city with a high employment rate.
One could argue that Frankfurt isn’t one of the best cities for ex-pats in Germany; however, it’s one of the best financial centers in Europe. Around 7,300 ex-pats live there now. Frankfurt is an excellent place for ex-pats who want to be part of a vibrant business community and have a good place to raise children.
Frankfurt isn’t known for its tourist attractions though; it’s mostly an industrial city – which means that most residents spend their time working. Even on weekends, you’ll find many locals are busy doing things related to their jobs rather than exploring the city.
In addition to being one of the world’s largest financial hubs, Frankfurt is the 5th largest city in Germany. About 305,000 people commute to and from the city for work here every day.
It has an impressive skyline that features dozens of skyscrapers, luxurious hotels, upscale shops, and restaurants. Quite frankly, it may be hard to go anywhere without seeing someone who’s rich or important.
Sachsenhausen Nord, Nordend, Westend, Ostend, Bornheim, Bockenheim, and the Innenstadt are the area of the inner city where most expats tend to live. Most of the wealthiest families and posh bankers choose to live in Westend since it is closest to the city’s financial institutions.
It is known as a city that is a great place to spend time with children due to family-friendly parks, children-friendly museums and playgrounds.
Cologne is known for its beautiful cathedral. But it’s also very business-friendly and has a long history of being an important trading port. It is 28.79 less expensive than New York and slightly cheaper than Berlin.
If you’re looking for a city that has both beauty and practicality, Cologne is the place to go. Cologne is also very popular for its stunning landscapes – some of which are considered national treasures.
Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest cities and has a rich history. Expats tend to enjoy living in Cologne because it has an international cosmopolitan flair and offers so many attractions and activities. With the majestic “Hohenzollern Bridge” spanning across the Rhine River, the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, and Benedictine Monastery, Cologne is a city that should not be missed.
Many ex-pats also love living in Cologne because it’s near other historic towns including Bonn, Dusseldorf, and Aachen. So you can easily travel from one city to another for business or pleasure if you get bored of Cologne.
Dusseldorf is one of three major economic centers in Germany (the others are Frankfurt and Munich). It’s also one of Europe’s most affluent cities. Top jobs here include transportation and logistics, trade and service, market research and consultancy, etc.
You won’t be at a loss in terms of entertainment and recreation when you move here. The city is home to the Düsseldorf Carnival – one of the biggest carnivals in Europe celebrated every year in February. If you like modern art, visit the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, a modern art museum.
Talk a walk along the famous Königsallee, which is often called “Ku’Damm Düsseldorf” – a place for ex-pats and locals alike to shop and eat out.
It’s also a great place for families and ex-pats who work in the healthcare industry, as you can find a high availability of jobs here that provide good salaries and benefits.
When you decide to start a new life in this wealthy city, you will also be surrounded by canals and parks. So your family can also enjoy nature outside work or school hours.
Most ex-pats live in the area called Bilk. The close proximity to Duesseldorf University along with picturesque houses help make the area popular. Bilk is also close to the downtown area, so commuting is easy.
Stuttgart isn’t as popular as Munich, but it’s still a very nice city with lots to offer. It’s the capital of the Baden-Wurttemberg region, and is known for being one of Germany’s greenest cities – there are lots of parks! Stuttgart also has an international airport, so try to schedule your flights so you can arrive here.
Stuttgart is also well known for its automotive industry and Mercedes-Benz. So if you’re looking to work in the media or marketing sector, this city offers a lot of job opportunities.
Many ex-pats live in Bad Cannstatt because it has a vibrant downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants – not to mention medieval half-timber houses that look like something straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
Wine vineyards and picturesque landscapes also surround Stuttgart. The red varieties Lemberger, Spätburgunder, and Trollinger are the most widely produced wines in the Stuttgart Region today.
Hanover is one of the best cities for ex-pats because it’s a small city with lots of culture and nature. It has a population of slightly more than 500,000 people.
Hanover is also known for being a beautiful city, with cozy cafes and lots of greenery. It’s the capital of Lower Saxony in Germany. Its main industry is agriculture – it’s surrounded by farms!
Do you love art and music? Well, Hanover is home to some of the best museums in Germany, such as Sprengel Museum and Kestner-Gesellschaft. You can also visit one of its many concert halls or opera houses if classical music is your thing. Festivals such as the Maschsee Lake Festival and the autumn art festival are also a great way to immerse yourself in German culture here.
As an ex-pat, you’ll be happy to know that Hanover has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Germany – at 7.5%, compared with 5% nationwide.
Bremen isn’t as popular as other cities on this list; however, you can still find many opportunities here. It’s an excellent place to start your life in Germany because it has a very affordable cost of living, and lots of ex-pats choose to make this city their home.
The city is also popular among students since it’s near the coast; there are some nice beaches here, which makes it very relaxing. Bremen is one of the least populated cities in Germany, so it has a nice small-town feel while still having lots to offer.
Bremen’s main industries are shipbuilding and food processing. So if you’re an engineer or work in food manufacturing, this city may be good for your career.
Nuremberg is located in Bavaria and is right next door to Munich – their airports even connect. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Germany and home to many historic landmarks, such as the Imperial Castle and Imperial Square. It’s also a city of festivals, including Christkindlesmarkt – which is like a Christmas market!
The one thing to keep in mind is that Nuremberg can get really cold, so make sure you stock up on warm clothes before your first winter here.
Nuremberg is also home to many companies associated with the automotive industry, including BMW and Audi.
Wurzburg has lots of wonderful universities, such as the University of Wurzburg and the Technical College, so it’s a great place to meet other young people. It’s also in the center of Germany and very close to Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
The city is also known for its stunning scenery; it’s surrounded by mountains, and its architecture is very beautiful. There are also lots of delicious restaurants in this city, so be sure to take advantage of all the culinary delights.
Dortmund is one of the best cities for ex-pats who want to start their life in Germany because it has a great infrastructure – it’s very well-connected to other parts of Germany. The cost of living is also rather low here but still very vibrant.
In fact, it has an airport and a train station that connect directly to Frankfurt. If you want to live in a big city that’s also great for business, then Dortmund is a perfect choice.
Shopping is also big here; the city is home to many malls and outdoor markets. At one of its Christmas markets, you can even pick up some handmade crafts.
Bonn is very easy to get around. There is a good bus and train system, and the city center isn’t that big, so you’ll never be too far away from your destination.
Bonn is also very close to Cologne – another popular city for ex-pats – so it’s easy to get out and explore even more of Germany.
Freiburg is surrounded by the Black Forest, so if you want to find a city that’s also close to nature, then this is the perfect destination for you. The Black Forest has a nice mix of hiking trails and charming Bavarian towns.
The city itself has lots of culture and charm; modern architecture mixes with historic buildings.
Mannheim is one of the best cities for ex-pats who work in IT because there are lots of technology companies here that need employees, such as IBM and SAP.
The city is also a major transport hub because of its close proximity to Frankfurt Airport, so if you travel a lot it’s best to look for housing closer to the city center. River port on the Rhine.
One of Germany’s most important industrial cities, Bochum, has many ex-pats who enjoy working for companies such as RWE and Evonik.
Ruhr University, one of the biggest universities in Germany, is located here, as well as a good railway system to make your commute easier.
The city even has its own theme song! If you’re a fan of football then have no fear because there is a Bundesliga football team here as well.
Potsdam is one of the best places to live if you want to be near Berlin but not actually live in the capital. It takes around an hour to commute into Berlin, but Potsdam has some great attractions all of its own.
The city center is full of cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy German cuisine. There are also museums, theatrical performances, operas, concerts – whatever your heart desires!
One of the most popular areas here is Sanssouci Park – built by Frederick the Great in 1744. This park is full of famous buildings, including the New Palace and the Old Palace.
History buffs and lovers of architecture may enjoy living in Aachen. It is known as one of Germany’s oldest cities, but it’s still relatively young when compared to other European countries.
You can enjoy modern amenities like high-speed internet and other conveniences of living in a city with over 230,000 people and still feel immersed in history and culture.
According to a recent poll, seven out of ten expats who work in Aachen (72%) say they make more money than they would at the same job back home.
Cost of living here is low – as much as 39% lower than New York city. So you can easily pocket most of your high income. The city has a relatively short commute to bigger cities like Cologne.
Augsburg is another city in Bavaria that attracts young people because it has an excellent educational system. The city itself is also very beautiful; visitors say there’s nothing quite like enjoying a beautiful alfresco meal here, looking up at the stunning skyline.
One of the most popular attractions in the city is the Augsburg Zoo. If you’re looking for a more patriotic experience then head to one of Germany’s most popular beer halls – Augustinerkeller – and enjoy a traditional Bavarian meal with your friends or family.
You can also easily get around thanks to an efficient public transport system and relatively short commute times to other cities like Munich.
Located along the Baltic Sea, Rostock has plenty of water views and beaches that visitors and residents enjoy. If you’re searching for a bigger city with lots of things to do, then Rostock is definitely one of the best cities for ex-pats!
Industry here is focused on ship-building as well as electrical, engineering, and food industries. The city has a very low unemployment rate so it’s easy to find well-paying jobs.
Lübeck is another great city on the Baltic Sea; it’s known for its medieval old town that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time! This city has a beautiful waterfront, which means there are plenty of restaurants and bars where visitors can enjoy some delicious food while admiring the stunning views.
Popular activities include boating and cycling, and there are several beaches where you can relax.
The port here supplies many of the jobs in the area. Metal working, ship building, and food processing are the top industries here.
In terms of edible options, the city is famous for its marzipan and a type of sweet bread made from corn flour.
There’s no shortage of things to do in this lively city. You can enjoy regular music festivals like Riederich Open Air, which is a family friendly concert with around 15,000 visitors each year.
Ingolstadt also hosts one of the biggest beer festivals in the area: the Beer and Oktoberfest Festival .
And when it comes to transportation and infrastructure, Ingolstadt has all that under control. It has an incredibly efficient public system including buses and U Bahn.
Heidelberg is perfect if you want to live near some amazing riverside scenery. Oh, and did we mention there are castles? Heidelberg Castle overlooks the entire city so even on cloudy days this place looks incredible.
There are also many museums here so you’ll never get bored if you decide to move to this popular city for ex-pats!
This Bavarian city has everything you could ever want in a small town – but it’s still close enough to other bigger cities like Munich and Nuremberg so you won’t feel isolated while living here.
The city centre is incredibly charming and filled with adorable shops, cafes, and bars where visitors can enjoy traditional German food and drink.
Erlangen is located between the three rivers Eger , Püttlach and Rodach so if you love water sports then this will be your dream location. Look out for numerous festivals and markets throughout the year such as the Kerb in September!
If you love history and culture then this is the perfect city for you. It has a stunning old town with a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages. The historic centre was partially destroyed during WW2 but was restored after Germany’s reunification in 1990.
Lüneburg is also very green so even on days where it seems like it will never stop raining, there are still places to enjoy nature! You should definitely explore the lush forests, river front cafes, parks, gardens, and moors providing scenery straight out of an English fairytale.
Leipzig isn’t just Germany’s fastest-growing city; it has a thriving music scene with bands from indie rock to techno! This means live gigs are a regular occurrence in Leipzig, which makes it a great place for ex-pats who love music and want to be surrounded by like-minded people.
Dresden is another beautiful city in Germany that has a lot of culture. History lovers will adore this destination because there are so many historic buildings and monuments here, including the stunning Frauenkirche. The people in Dresden are also known to be very friendly, so if you move here you’ll feel right at home.
Top industry jobs here include retail, healthcare, food processing, and manufacturing.
We couldn’t create a list of best cities for ex-pats in Germany without mentioning Mainz – one of the oldest bigger cities in the country! As well as its history, Mainz is also known for its wine and food (it’s where Riesling originated).
Foodies will love living here because there are so many restaurants and cultural events to take part in. One of the top events in the city is called Mainzer Weinfrühling and it’s a celebration of Riesling!
There’s also a wine fest in September, as well as many other festivals throughout the year. So you have plenty of opportunities to kick back with a glass of wine, or two, or three after work or on the weekends.
This city has been dubbed one of the most beautiful places in Germany, so if you’re tired of grey skies then this could be your next home. If you want a vibrant cosmopolitan city that’s also affordable, this is a good pick. Cost of living is one of the main perks of living in Wiesbaden.
The people are incredibly friendly so you’ll settle in quickly, making it one of the best cities for ex-pats.
Magdeburg is another up-and-coming destination that’s attracting young people who want to live in a modern city with plenty of history. The capital of Saxony-Anhalt, Magdeburg has some beautiful examples of historic architecture and churches.
The city is also very family-friendly, so if you’re starting a family and want to move from your current home then Magdeburg might be the right place for you! Children can go to school in any district, not just the one where they live, which makes it easy for ex-pat families.
In conclusion, Germany has many cities expats can consider. There are large cities and small towns. Many focus on a range of industries such as automotive, shipbuilding, food processing, the arts and more. We hope this article will help you in your search for an ideal city to start a new life in Germany.