Cost of living in Braunschweig

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Hello,

 

I have been offered a job as post doc in Braunschweig with a gross salary of 2600 euro which i am told comes to 1500 euro after tax and insurance. Is that right? Is that enough for a married coiuple to make a reasonable living in Braunschweig? I really appreciate any help/suggestions. Thanks

 

Haroon

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I think it's doable, but you won't be living the high life, I'll put it that way.

 

Rent for an apartment plus utilities will run you in the ballpark of €600-700/month.

Groceries, probably around €300-400/month, less if you skip meat (which is expensive).

Cable TV plus mandatory TV tax another €20/month or so.

Phone and Internet, depending on what plan you get, around €50-80/month, another €20-30 for cellphone minimum.

If you get a car, insurance and maintenance will probably be at least €50-100/month plus gas, not counting payments on the car's financing or lease. (Alternatively you can get a monthly pass for public transport, usually around €50-70.) How much you spend on gas of course depends on how much you drive, but that will probably run you another €50/month or so (super unleaded is around €1.40/liter 'round here these days).

 

All of these are quick and dirty ballpark guesses based on my experience in Hannover, a city of similar size, but those expenses leave you with very little breathing room for a married couple. Your spouse would probably have to work to live more comfortably.

 

Cheers,

 

Fairfax71

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Thanks for your help. So, is it true that after taxes and health insurance for a couple a gross income of 2600 comes down to 1500!? How much is health insurance monthly?

 

Thanks.

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I spent a few weeks in Braunschweig while on exchange during college. I can't say I remember much about the place, except that there were an inordinate number of wild rabbits running around EVERYWHERE.

 

If you hone your stalking skills, you won't have to skip meat in your diet at all!!!

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Thanks for your help. So, is it true that after taxes and health insurance for a couple a gross income of 2600 comes down to 1500!? How much is health insurance monthly?

That sounds about right, yes. Then again, it's not so far off of what it's like in America in some states, particularly those with their own income taxes. Uncle Sugar takes his 'fair' share, too. ;)

 

The health insurance is divvied up 50/50 between the employer and employee. The exact total amount depends on the insurer (there is some variation amongst insurers) but it is always indexed to your income as a percentage (high income earners can opt out of the system, though). Your half of it will probably be in the ballpark of 6.5-7.5% of your gross income, again depending on the insurer. However, your wife (if she doesn't work outside the home) is included in that for free.

 

Depending on how old you are, you may be able to opt into the private insurance system instead. It is potentially much cheaper if you're young and healthy. However, the difficulty is that if you do get seriously ill and the private insurer decides to drop you (or you lose coverage some other way), it's hard to get back into the statutory system. So I'd recommend staying in it. The quality of care is still pretty good (better than what most Americans can afford...) and the coverage is good, too. I'd recommend Techniker Krankenkasse -- they have a good reputation and are in the middle of the pack premium-wise.

 

Cheers,

 

Fairfax71

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It depends if your partner is working or not - I was earning 2400€, and getting 1500€ out as long as my wife was employed. We both had Tax Class 4. However, since she´s been self-employed and not earning so much, I´ve changed to 3, and she´s got 5, which means a plus of around 300€ a month. You can change your Tax Class at the Ordnungsamt, I´d definitely check it out, otherwise you may well be paying too much tax, health insurance, etc.,

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According to the job arrangement I will be in the country as an invited researcher for the first six months which means I will pay no taxes (salary is 2000 euros) but will have to buy my own health insurance for my wife and myself. Someone told me that it will be about 800 euros per month? That can't be right. I thought it would be around 200 euros.

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It depends if your partner is working or not - I was earning 2400€, and getting 1500€ out as long as my wife was employed. We both had Tax Class 4. However, since she´s been self-employed and not earning so much, I´ve changed to 3, and she´s got 5, which means a plus of around 300€ a month. You can change your Tax Class at the Ordnungsamt, I´d definitely check it out, otherwise you may well be paying too much tax, health insurance, etc.,

One has to point out that when you submit your tax forms early in the following year the final tax payable for the current year is independent of the tax class you have. Of course you try to choose classes so you don't pay far too much (which would be refunded) & Finanzamt don't want you paying too little taxes otherwise they fear they might go short if you make a run for it...

 

Germany build their tax system like Citroen build cars - why do it simple if you can do it complicated?

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Ya, that is something that is often misunderstood. The Steuerklasse is only the withholding, which is placed in a kind of account at the Finanzamt as a sort of down payment on your taxes. At the end of the year, your actual taxes are calculated, the amount already collected subtracted from that amount, and if there's excess you get a refund, if not, you have to pay the difference.

 

The Steuerklasse has no bearing on the actual tax rate itself. Obviously you want to have it as close as possible to your actual tax rate in the end so you don't have a nasty surprise at the end of the year (or waste potential earned interest or debt reduction if you let them withhold too much).

 

I'm self-employed and thus have no Steuerklasse at all, but instead I have to make quarterly advance payments to the Finanzamt based on my previous year's income.

 

Cheers,

 

Fairfax71

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The Steuerklasse is only the withholding, which is placed in a kind of account at the Finanzamt as a sort of down payment on your taxes. At the end of the year, your actual taxes are calculated, the amount already collected subtracted from that amount, and if there's excess you get a refund, if not, you have to pay the difference.

Exactly. Well put.

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I'm currently living in Braunschweig and it is one of the cheaper places I know. My boyfriend was a student and I was working part time for a while so we had an income of about what you will make and did not have a problem, we could even go out to eat and travel. Our rent for a spacious two bedroom apartment of 80 square meters is about 480 EUR warm which includes things like garbage fees, etc. Electricity is about 85 EUR, internet and phone is another 45 ish (I need both for my job) we do not have a TV in order to avoid paying TV tax and because we realistically would not watch it and did not want the added cost of Kable. You don't need a car in Braunschweig (we do have one though). Health insurance is generally based off of your income or if you are a freelance worker I hear it is a flat rate of 250 but I don't know more because I have US health insurance (Blue Cross). I checked if it would cover me overseas and they confirmed that it would. I pay about $200/month which was cheaper than anything Ic ould find here. I needed to go to the hospital once and the bill was less than my deductible of $500 so they didn't pay but it is mandatory to have health insuracne in Germany. Things like clothing and electronics are much cheaper in the states due to the current exchange rate so I would suggest bringing with you clothes, shoes, digital cameras, etc. instead of planning to buy that here if you are looking to save money. Most apartments in Germany require that you own your own kitchen and light fixures (a suprise to me moving from the US) but kitchens are often avaliable used (I'm selling mine right now) because people sell them when they move and IKEA has plenty of cheap lights. Additionally the University is a good place to find gently used furniture if you are looking to reduce costs and don't plan to be here for awhile. I find groceries to be cheaper here than in the states, meat is more expensive, but I don't think you'll notice a large differential in food budget unless you eat A LOT of meat. Speciality foods are also more expensive.

 

Anyway, I'm getting ready to move out of Braunschweig (my boyfriend graduated and found a job elsewhere) and there is another empty apartment in my building if you are interested let me know and I can put you in touch with the owner. The location is near to the train station, grocery store and a large park and the strasenbahn which will bring you to the city center in 8 minutes (or you can walk there in 20), best of all the rent is cheap.

Also, if your wife is looking for a part time job, there's an International school in BS where all subjects are taught in English and several language institutions both private and through the University which are always looking for native English speakers and require no gErman skills. Hope this helps, good luck in your decidion.

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Ya, that is something that is often misunderstood. The Steuerklasse is only the withholding, which is placed in a kind of account at the Finanzamt as a sort of down payment on your taxes. At the end of the year, your actual taxes are calculated, the amount already collected subtracted from that amount, and if there's excess you get a refund, if not, you have to pay the difference.

 

The Steuerklasse has no bearing on the actual tax rate itself. Obviously you want to have it as close as possible to your actual tax rate in the end so you don't have a nasty surprise at the end of the year (or waste potential earned interest or debt reduction if you let them withhold too much).

 

I'm self-employed and thus have no Steuerklasse at all, but instead I have to make quarterly advance payments to the Finanzamt based on my previous year's income.

 

Cheers,

 

Fairfax71

Fair enough, I can only speak as an Angstellter. I´m more likely to get something out when I buy job related books, do courses, make donations. These things are all tax deductible. My wife is as I said self employed, and not earning quite as much as she´d like to at the moment, which means a few extra euros monthly are very welcome. I mean mharoon was talking about whether he could live from his monthly income. He´s not going to wait until he´s filled out his Lohnsteuerabrechnung before he pays his electricity bill, is he?

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