Actual budget: $1.9K/month in small town Germany


In order to contrast my projected Chiang Mai budget, it helps if I share how much we spend living in Germany. We generally don’t [think] we spend much, but everything adds up especially with health insurance costs. Now that I’m a freelancer and Martin is unemployed, we see the costs and pay insurance manually, instead of it being deducted from our pay cheques. I’m not going to add in taxes, even though I remit taxes every month. High taxes and strict freelancing rules are a big reason why it makes financial sense to leave Germany (and the EU), for a no-tax nomadic lifestyle or lower tax jurisdiction since we are location independent now.

Here we go!

Visa fee for the non-German (Jessica):

  • 2-year marriage visa: 80 EUR ($88 USD)
  • B1 German test: 125 EUR ($139 USD)
  • Niederlassungserlaubnis (permanent residency): 200 EUR ($222 USD)
  • Total 405 EUR ($450 USD)

Health insurance for 2, monthly: 

  • Public health insurance for freelancers (Jessica): 383 EUR ($425 USD)
  • Public health insurance for unemployed (Martin): 200 EUR ($222 USD)
  • Total 583 EUR ($647 USD) * This number is likely too low.

Fixed costs for 2, monthly:

  • Rent 1 bedroom flat: 470 EUR ($521 USD)
  • Electricity: 50 EUR ($55 USD)
  • Nebenkosten (maintenance fees): 70 EUR ($77 USD)
  • Internet: 25 EUR ($30 USD)
  • Total: 615 EUR ($682 USD)

VEGAN food for 2, monthly:

  • Groceries VEGAN: 200 EUR ($222 USD)
  • Eating out VEGAN: 50 EUR ($56 USD)
  • Total: 250 EUR ($265 USD)

Variable costs & lifestyle, monthly:

  • Cell phone plans: 35 EUR ($40 USD)
  • Entertainment & Misc: 30 EUR ($23 USD)
  • Car liability insurance: 22 EUR ($12 USD) * doesn’t cover cost of our car in an accident
  • Car tax: 30 EUR ($33 USD)
  • Car fuel: 80 EUR ($88 USD) * cost of filling tank. Generally a tank lasts us a month or more.
  • Luna foster dog costs: 0 EUR ($O USD) * Negligible since we cook her vegan food. Made a video about it here.
  • Total: 197 EUR ($218 USD)

Set up costs (buying things we’ll need):

  • Furniture & Misc: 200 EUR ($222 USD) * had most from our previous flat, but bought a few things, mainly used
  • Installing a kitchen: 400 EUR ($444 USD) * modular Ikea pieces and odds & ends, had appliances already
  • Total: 600 EUR ($666 USD) *one-time cost

Our monthly Germany budget:  1729 EUR ($1920 USD) 

Again, this is way too low if I exclude taxes, which is not usually part of a budget but matters to me as a self employed person. If we ignore health insurance above, we live in Germany for around 1K EUR/month. But even though we don’t use health insurance, we can’t ignore the costs.

When we sever our residency ties with Germany, it doesn’t mean we can’t come back and live in Germany for up to 3-months (legally) at a time. During those 3-months, we can take out cheap travel health insurance to cover emergencies. Some people even de-register and physically remain in Germany, because no one knows unless you’re famous and constantly in the news. But I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s illegal. Our goal isn’t to covertly stay in Germany anyway, as we do want to see the world!

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