I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hate spending money. You can call me Ebenezer Scrooge from the way I try to pinch pennies and find bargains. Since I figured living in Europe was super expensive, one of my first goals was to try and find ways to save money on our everyday lives (so we could put more toward travel…). My experience and price comparisons are from living in Oregon, Utah, and Virginia through various times in my life. Even while backpacking through Europe in the past, I found it difficult to get by on a shoestring budget. But I’ve come to find out that while the cost of living is a lot higher than anywhere I’ve lived before, there are a few things that are randomly cheaper than in the States.
What’s Cheaper In Germany?
- German car insurance. We pay a lot more than the Germans because the minimum coverage for Americans has to be so high.
- Certain groceries. I mostly shop at less expensive grocery stores but have found you can get delectable, high-quality things like meat, cheese, and Greek yogurt for a fraction of the price than in the States. Plus the best chocolate in the world.
- Liquor. AND you can pick it up in the grocery store with your other purchases. So convenient!
- Beer and wine. Beer is cheaper than water, so it’s just practical, right? As for wine, you can find the most delicious varieties grown and bottled literally 20 minutes away from you.
- BREAD AND BAKERY ITEMS APLENTY. AND WE WONDER WHY OUR PANTS ARE GETTING TOO SMALL.
- Cell phone plans. Though they bottleneck your service if you use over a certain amount of data, the cell phone rates are generally cheaper than what we had to pay in the States.
- Speeding tickets. Not that we would know….. But getting a ticket in the US is usually over three times as much as a speeding ticket here. That being said, having inconspicuous radars checking your speed and automatically mailing you a ticket makes you pay attention to the speed limit!
- Baby formula. Cheaper and much better quality. The first ingredient in almost all American formulas is corn syrup solids and chemicals, but not here!
What’s More Expensive In Germany?
With every dollar we’ve saved from the above, the below balances it out a little bit. Here’s what I’ve found is more expensive here so far:
- Gasoline. We’re fortunate to be able to buy gas on base for less than the German economy (though still more expensive than stateside). If we had to buy it off base, we’d be paying close to $5.75 per gallon.
- Rent. Again, being a military family has its perks and we’re allotted a housing allowance that allows us to rent a great house here. Without it, though, the rent would be too high for us to afford.
- Utilities. Depending on how your house is heated, whether geothermal, oil, or electric heat, the price of utilities varies. No matter how you slice it though, electricity and oil is pretty pricey and a lot more than we paid in the States on average.
- Clothes. I haven’t done a whole lot of clothes shopping here yet, but I’ve heard from a few different Germans how cheap the clothes are in America versus here. I usually would flock to thrift stores or wait until huge sales to buy clothes back home, so it’s a bit of an adjustment for me 🙂 There are budget clothing stores available, but with the exchange rate and taxes, it usually ends up being more than in the US no matter where you go.
Did any of these surprise you? What have you found overseas that’s cheaper than in the US? Or more expensive? Let me know in the comments below!