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Budget for family of four moving to Munich?

(28 Posts)
Munichmums Wed 13-Apr-16 02:03:52

DH has been offered a job in Munich. We are continuously being told the cost of living in Munich is lower than here, the quality of life is much higher but the figures we are finding aren't adding up to what we are being told. I understand that Munich is an expensive city and we are well used to watching our budget but we'd like to be able to afford a few nice things, a trip home once or twice a year without it crippling us financially.

While we would like an adventure, we don't want to find ourselves in deep trouble financially. He has been offered €70K. I am a SAHM with two young children. Neither of us speak German but he will be ok in work and we can/will both learn.

Neither of my children are yet in school so its good timing for us.......but I don't have any experience of the education system.

I have looked at Toytown but I'd really value hearing from some of you.

Please pm if you'd feel more comfortable discussing salaries.

Munichmums Wed 13-Apr-16 02:04:51

I'd really like to hear about the day to day lifestyle too please........thank you all for reading.

lifeisunjust Wed 13-Apr-16 08:19:27

It would depend on if 70k is net or not.
I could easily live on 4k per month in Muenchen as a family of 4, with perhaps 50% to pay for rent and utilities.
Child benefit is 380 per month for 2 children I believe too.

If 70k is net, that is 5833 per month + 380 per month = 6213 per month

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 08:48:39


We live outside Munich (in the years we've lived here DH has worked in Munich and on the outskirts - now works east of Munich), and that is about the same as our income. We live fairly comfortably on that with 3 kids.

Munich and the area between Munich and Ingolstadt generally are THE most expensive places to live in Germany - people who say Germany is cheaper than the UK absolutely do not live in this area!

That said you can get a nice house outside the city within your budget, or an OK flat in the city... It depends on your priorities. We chose to live north of Munich in the less "glamourous" countryside (rolling farming countryside and forests, but the other side from the alps and lakes and half the price of living where the very well off ex pats live among the more picture post card scenery) for various reasons (DH is German and has family in a town another hour north) but also because we can rent a 4 story, 4 bed house here where we'd get a tiny 2 bed flat in the city or a very small semi or bigger flat in the suburbs. I find life in a genuine village (as in a village surrounded by fields, not a suburb that joins the next suburb but calls itself a village) has massive advantages for kids - the village kids all play out and it is such a lovely life for kids under about 10 IME. Of course there are the usual drawbacks - need 2 cars, will be more and more boring for teens unless we are willing to play taxi etc. but those won't be relevant to you with small kids.

We only pay about 1/4 of our income in rent out here, though it would be at least half in the city for a much smaller place...

Kindergeld (child benefit) is universal and more generous than in the UK - you also get more for any kids who are under 3 than for older kids. All our kids are over 3 but we get €580 per month for 3 kids.

Kindergarten is state subsidised and cheaper than a preschool in the UK I think BUT if you want a private English speaking Kindergarten that may not apply (though that would be daft -IME unless your kids have SN or are very wobbly about the move) and childcare for under 3s it is expensive and very scarce (in our area anyway, it varies).

I love, love, love our Kindergarten (have sent 3 kids there and had at least one at the same Kindergarten without a break for the last 8 years!) but some Kindergartens are dreadful - so you need to balance the fact places can be like gold dust in the city with the need to visit and ask other parents what the Kindergarten is like. I'm much more ambivalent about the school system (but I think that is now equally stressful for kids in some parts of the UK now) but for under 6 yos life is good IME grin

We are an hour out of the city so my experiences are totally different in many ways to a city dweller, but I prefer living here with kids to in the UK - kids have so much more freedom, learn to be so self reliant, and have so much more time to play - the kids I know are outside playing all the time, playing out is still absolutely normal and universally encouraged, people look out for kids, despite the grumpy faces some German adults are famous for I find people much more tolerant of kids overall than in the UK, kids grow up slower in terms of tech and screens, teenagers are generally nice and polite and friendly...

What do you need to know specifically? I'll try and answer if I can.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 08:54:29

Are you looking at moving for good or just for a 2 year contract or similar btw? If it is a long term/ permanent move I can tell you about our experience of schooling if you are interested - you will be using state schools on that salary (private international schools are ridiculous money unless the employer has offered to pay), but my personal opinion is that is better for the kids anyway if you are planning to be here for their entire childhoods.

Munichmums Wed 13-Apr-16 12:19:30


Thanks so much for all the replies. I had written a long post and lost it and am now rushing but will reply properly later. Briefly: we have to live in the city or close proximity as I don't drive. The move is long term. The children would go to a local school. We would not spend the children's allowance so can't include this as income. We are unmarried so would be taxed as single living with children equating to approx €3500 per month. It is less than we have here but the move is a lifestyle one. The thing is though could we have any sort of lifestyle on that?

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 13:48:05

You can have a lifestyle on that, but rents are high in the city. As long as you are near the s bahn and a town centre you can still live further out without a car especially if you cycle (tons of people have bike trailers) but it depends what specific lifestyle you are hoping for.

We are on similar income but married and I work part time, though I only make 11€ k after tax a year as I've got a high tax class to balance DH's. I only did a bit of tax free teaching in the evening until DC3 was 4 and it was fine - we shop in aldi but have 2 weeks in Italy every year plus a trip back to the UK (which sets us back more than the whole Italy holiday despite free family accommodation) and spontaneous weekends camping or in youth hostels so we are not "rich" but have plenty. Kids do extra curricular etc.

Kindergeld isn't the children's allowance it's meant to help house, feed and cloth them, but of course what you do with your money is up to you - we do manage to save on our income but it is not ring fenced and we dip into savings if needed for a big unexpected cost etc (last month it cost 2000€ to get my stupid car through the MOT equivalent angry ).

If you want to live city centre you will have to compromise massively on space - we don't feel we could afford to move anywhere more urban around here as we'd realistically have to accept a 3 bed flat which with our eldest at secondary, 2nd at primary and 3rd at Kindergarten would feel like a big sacrifice and drop in living standard.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 13:54:54

3 bed flat would still not be city centre btw... actual centre you'dbe down to a small 2 bed for aabout half your income. Then of courseyou have all the bbenefitsof walking to amazing museums, parks are nice, zoo is good and cheaper than a UK ZOO... city centre would be a lovely place to live with small kids - if that'sthe llifestyle you want in return for small home.

Don'tforget rental pproperties don'tuusually come with fitted kitchens or ovens or of course any white goods so budget for an ikea kitchen as a mmoving in cost!

Munichmums Wed 13-Apr-16 14:58:23

Ive been reading about the kitchen situation. It is quite funny.

So half the income for a three bed near the city? €1700 plus utilities? €500, public transport ticket for DP, , ins, food, Gosh it would be cutting it very fine indeed and that isn't taking any extra curricular activities into account - swimming, dancing, football, gymnastics, baby group music which is what they do here :-(

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 15:43:46

Yep - that's why we live where we do. Munich rents are very high - pretty sure they are the highest in Germany, maybe some "boutique" town officially has that honour but we couldn't afford enough space to be comfortable with our specific children in the city - ours are pleasanter to live with when there is space!

Some extra curricular activities can be very cheap here as long as you gowith a local sports club (Verein) or VHS. English speaking groups (apart from toddlers groups) are private businesses and very "premium" prices.

Munichmums Wed 13-Apr-16 15:57:49

I'm doing more number crunching and its beginning to look like its not a viable move.........

What is a reasonable take home pay for an ok standard of living for a family of four? I know that is like asking how long is a piece of string but we are looking to be in a position to afford some extra curriculum activities, an odd meal out (once a fortnight), a trip home twice a year, clothing (I have an idea that proper Winter clothes will be a huge drain on our limited funds but gather it is usual to buy and sell second hand good quality winter clothes?), and not living from pay packet to pay packet. I guess I'm scared we will be there and wont' have any money to enjoy things, trips to places etc without watching every cent.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 16:16:26

In all honesty I can only speculate for the city - we can afford all that without any real problems by living 40km outside Munich to the north, in a tiny village where rents are low mainly because there is no public transport except for school buses, and no shops etc. within a 5km radius (lower - I am under the impression you could live in the suburbs of Berlin for less...). Also by living as rural Germans do not in any way as ex-pats (but we aren't ex pats as DH is German and 2 out of 3 kids were born here and we are here for at least another 15 years unless something totally unforseen happens).

We get snow gear from Aldi or Lidl, as do all the Germans I know - there tends to be a scramble for it and it is really good... good enough to pass down to the next child in the family, unlike some really expensive stuff we got on a ski holiday in Austria 4 years ago... some people pay hundreds for Swedish stuff but you absolutely don't need to - you just have to get to Aldi or Lidl when they open the week they have the children's ski gear - they even sell ski goggles and helmets as well as gloves and ski suits and snow boots grin

I assume you have been looking on ?

I believe there can also be a lot of competition for the better value flats in and near the city (worst in places like Schwabing in the city which are incredibly popular and where you can have hundreds of people wanting the same flat), and for property in the more affordable range generally, so actually finding something at all can be a challenge unless you have a relocation agent. Some landlords prefer to avoid non German speakers so you will definitely need a colleague from your husband's new job to help you if you have no other formal relocation help. How helpful are the potential employers being?

mrsmortis Wed 13-Apr-16 17:01:51

I don't see why winter clothes need to be such a drain. I lived in Munich for 6 years and my winter clothes weren't any different to what I had in the UK. A few more layers on really cold days. But no specialized clothing. Mind you, I didn't have kids then...

Archfarchnad Wed 13-Apr-16 17:30:48

To be honest, €3500 in the Speckgürtel (a bit like a commuter belt) around Munich is not going to get you a comfy lifestyle for 4 people. Schwabische is right that winter clothes are not going to be the tricky point though; either you get the snow trousers etc from Aldi or Lidl (make sure you get there on the first day of the offer) or you look through the small ads on Ebay (Kleinanzeigen). A lot of nurseries and community centres will periodically hold second-hand sales and flea markets for families to get rid of outgrown clothes, and they tend to be dirt-cheap.

You need to be looking as far out as you can get while staying on the S-Bahn line. A friend for instance used to live in Oberhaching, which is 15km from the centre but has a direct train line to the city and looks like it's right in the countryside. I was there a few years back and it's a gorgeous little village, close to the Alps.

I take it you know that accommodation is not listed in terms of bedrooms but instead according to the number of livable rooms excluding bathroom and kitchen. So a three-bed would be probably be a vier-Zimmer-Wohnung. Look at this 4-room flat in Oberhaching for €1560 for example. The Kaltmiete means without heating and other utility costs, so the rent you pay may be higher than that (but if you end up paying more than the owner pays in utilities you can get that paid back). Ah yes, have just looked at the bottom and there's € 390 payable for utility costs (but that means you don't pay rates, water, etc separately). Germans live in flats more than in the UK, so you're less likely to be able to afford a whole house to yourselves.

I think you're going to need to use the € 380 Kindergeld for living expenses - many people do. That's what it's intended for.

I find food quite cheap in Germany compared to the UK (but the supermarkets are crap) - you could easily do a weekly shop for 4 for € 100. Nursery costs are so heavily subsidised you wouldn't be paying much at all - if you can get one of the precious spaces.

Archfarchnad Wed 13-Apr-16 17:44:35

"I lived in Munich for 6 years and my winter clothes weren't any different to what I had in the UK. A few more layers on really cold days. But no specialized clothing. Mind you, I didn't have kids then..."

Ah, it's pretty compulsory for small DC in Germany to be wearing snowsuits and balaclava-style hats throughout the winter months when outside. Not doing so will generate stares and muttering from the granny police.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 18:04:54

mrsmortis winter clothes = for kids. Adults irrelevant unless you ski or actively toboggan and roll about in the snow with your kids (personally I think that's what their friends are for, I like to stand about drinking Glühwein and smiling benignly grin ) Small kuds have to have full or two part snow suits, you really can't not and if you send them to Kindergarten it is not optional as they play out in all weather's and go sledging at Kindergarten -at ours they sledge in the kindergarten garden and go for walks to sledge in winter. It does get and stay well below freezing in Jan and Feb and kids do play in the snow... but aldi or second hand snow suits and boots and ski gloves won't break the bank - you can fully equip each kid for about 60-70€ from Aldi or Lidl, maybe less second hand.

OP you need to learn to drive - we pay 850€ a month cold for a house (I forget the dimensions as we've been here nearly 9 years and it's a slightly eccentric layout but it probably counts as 7 rooms - we use 4 as bedrooms but it could be a 5 or a 3 bed depending on how you use the rooms, plus there is a "finished" basement and two basement storage rooms plus a laundry room which wouldn't "count" as rooms...

Munichmums Wed 13-Apr-16 19:37:42

Dumb question alert but regarding the utilities fees listed what is included? I'm assuming heating isn't as we could have it on a lot during the day in Winter?

Also regarding preschool places being precious, how bad is it? We had trouble getting the one we wanted here so am already worried. Are primary schools rated and the better ones drive up rentals like well everywhere I suppose (I'm answering my own question here). Do children start in Sept and start at six or before they reach six?

Archfarchnad Wed 13-Apr-16 20:05:00

That's a great price, Schwabische (I always imagined with that name that you'd be in Swabia). It's amazing how much the costs go down once you get away from Munich. We've also really noticed that things tend to be less to the north of Munich than to the south too.

Utilities, hmm, that can vary. Standard will be that all the stuff covered by British rates, such as street cleaning, rubbish collection, then water will be included, maintenance costs (but not repairs, if I remember rightly), recycling costs. I do believe electricity is separate. We did once live in a rented flat where the utilities included heating and each radiator had a meter attached to it which had to be read (like a leccy meter) once a year. The reading was then used as a basis for your costs, and either you received a small amount back if you'd overpaid (and used less heating than expected) or you had to pay a small bit extra (if you'd used more heating than average.) We don't rent any more, so Schwabische might know more than I do what the current Bavarian situation is.

But if you're getting €3500 plus €380 Kindergeld, and paying let's say €2000 per month for accommodation plus all utilities, then €400 monthly for food, and another few hundred for nursery costs, you'd still have a bit left over for sundries.

If you are going to learn to drive, it's absolutely worthwhile learning while you're still in the UK. The cost in Germany is prohibitive - DD1 just took her test last week and the total costs have been eye-watering.

You might also want to consider getting married, if you're thinking about it anyway. Fora full-time earner plus SAHM you'd really benefit from changing tax classes to married status.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 20:06:11

Heating is included but if you under use you'll get a refund annually (over and next year's bill will be higher or you'll be asked to top up - will be in the contract but unlikely to happen).

Primary schools are not rated, you go to the local one automatically (rare exceptions but unless there are special needs incredibly unlikely)

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 20:22:27

I am named after a YouTube video Arch - my kids were once obsessed with it... I keep meaning to change it as I get intermittent PMs from people who wonder if we live close by... I will change it soon!

OP when you start school is a bit confusing as there can be exceptions to start early (do not do that unless your kids are native speaker fluent in German by then, even if they are mini prodigies) or to defer entry, but...

basically you start the September of, or following your 6th birthday.

That means the youngest child couldbe born on September 30th and the oldest October 1st of the previous year (September babies here are the equivalent of August babies in the UK).

However in the countryside virtually all summer born boys and a lot of summer born girls defer entry and start school at 7 instead of just turned 6. In cities there is a trend to start start some kids early - children born between October and December can take a test to gain entry a year early - this means a lot of school classes have an age range of about 18 months right from the start.

Munichmums Wed 13-Apr-16 21:05:20

Thank you for your replies. We won't be getting married for tax purposes. I have a 'thing' about marriage though it sounds silly when I write that down.

I'm learning to drive but it is not coming easily to me, I am not ready for a test by any stretch of the imagination.

One of the main reasons for moving was to get back to city life. I left the city when I had children and I have never settled. I miss the hustle and bustle terribly though of course a city with kids is very different.

I can't include the children's allowance as income. I realise it's purpose etc but we don't have savings and we use it as their education fund for uni or whatever avenue they decide to take. So the 3.5K is it I'm afraid.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 21:29:47

OP Im not sure I'd do it if city living is your priority. Munich is a lovely city and very child friendly, but I don't think you have the budget for the rent unless you are happy in a small walk up (3rd floor no lift is obviously a money saver but not family friendly. ..)

You wouldn't get child benefit at all in the UK I don't quite get your stance on banking the Kindergeld being non negotiable as it would give you some wiggle room to give the kids themselves more space or more activities, but obviously that is none of my business! If you stay in Germany undergraduate study is still free here (no fees) so you can give them free uni that way wink grin

Archfarchnad Wed 13-Apr-16 21:32:43

Ah, well if you can't get married, aren't going to be ready to drive, want to live in the city rather than at a commutable distance in the countryside, can't include the Kindergeld in living expenses, and you want to keep the three bedrooms then, yes, you will struggle to have a comfortable existence in Munich. It's just the wrong city in Germany for that. In Berlin you'd have no problem.

Schwabische - blimey, Einschulung at 7! In Berlin the youngest ones are now 5.8, and that's compulsory - my DD1 is currently doing Abi at 17 thanks to an early start and G8, and it's far too young for so much stress.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 13-Apr-16 21:45:48

Ah you evil Berliners Arch - several people suggested letting dd (September born) start two weeks before her 6th birthday was tantamount to child abuse and robbing her of her childhood (life not being a Ponyhof once you've started school). She's always been the youngest in her class, both at primary and now at Realschule (she's too much of a stress head for Gymnasium and as she's so young for her year she can easily afford to go the 3 year Abi after Realschüle Abschluss. We kept DC2 (also sept born) back so he started 2 weeks before his 7th birthday and there are still 4 kids older than him in his class of 20).

They can legally leave school after 9 years no matter when they start, and so many kids repeat 5 th klasse to move from Mittleschule to Realschule or Real to Gymnasium that I often wish I'd kept dd back - she's still only 10 and half her class are 12... Which worries me more when I think that when she's 13 half her class mates are likely to be getting mopeds...

kittensandgin Wed 13-Apr-16 21:58:20

Hi OP,

I was just going to post that getting married would save you about 7200 € per year in tax if your DP takes home 70K and you're a SAHM. But of course I understand if you feel marriage just isn't for you.....

I'm in Munich, too. Can't really say much re rents further out / in the suburbs as we live very centrally but would agree with previous posters that your budget would be pretty tight for somewhere in the city. We have 4 (not very large) rooms plus a large kitchen, small bathroom and a decent sized balcony (about 120 square metres in total) in a nice old building, good neighbourhood, 10 minute walk to Marienplatz. We own, but my neighbour rents and pays something crazy like 2600 € + utility costs for the same layout. There still are a couple of quite central up-and-coming areas where you'd probably be looking at around 1800 - 2000 € for a similar set-up but you would probably be competing with about 30 other prospective tenants and not have an awful lot of space for a family of four.

Would buying be an option for you at all? Our place has about doubled in value within 8 years and buying in and around Munich should be a pretty solid investment.

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