From Aachen to Zwickau: The best place for retirees is East Germany, but it also has a weak point
Pensioners in Germany's big cities are increasingly unable to afford high rents and living costs. If you want to move, you can find places away from metropolitan areas where life is better. We analyze all regions and identify the best places to live.
In Germany there are around 26 million pensioners, but 42.3 percent of them have to survive on a net income of less than 1,250 euros per month. In big cities like Munich, Berlin and Hamburg, this is enough to cover the rent of a medium-sized apartment, if that. There's not much left to live. However, if you want, you can still optimize your life even as you age. We have analyzed and compared all 400 districts and cities in Germany and shown you where you, as a pensioner, can live well and cheaply or poorly and expensively.
Five criteria were included in our analysis. The most important thing is the amount of rent in a region: the cheaper the better. Second is the cost of living, followed by public transportation accessibility, doctor density, and crime rate. The Postbank Housing Atlas 2023 serves as a database for rents, the regional price index of the IW Cologne for the cost of living, the accessibility study of the Federal Institute for Building, Spatial and Urban Research (BBSR) for the public transport, medical statistics from the National Association of Compulsory Health Insurance Physicians for health care and police crime statistics (PKS) for crime rates. All data is from 2022, only the BSSR accessibility study is from spring 2023.
Metropolis and suburbs with low scores
We calibrate data from individual regions on a uniform point scale from 0 to 100, with higher values being statistically better. The different categories were weighted and an overall score was calculated between 0 and 100. It is important to emphasize that this is only a rough selection of important criteria. A lot is subjective and you have to decide on a case by case basis. For example, do you like the climate of a particular region? Do friends and family live nearby? Are the apartments not only cheap but also beautiful? Are the people in the region helpful and friendly? You must judge these and other personal criteria yourself; after all, there is no objective basis for it. And maybe a region that scores highly here still isn't right for you, or vice versa.
Since when weighting the individual categories we have focused on rents and living costs, given the low average pension income, the map of Germany is more or less similar to a map that would show rental prices in Germany. This means that the major cities of Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Cologne and Düsseldorf perform the worst. On average, they only get 28.7 out of 100 possible points. The suburbs of these metropolises, that is, the neighboring districts and cities, also obtained very poor results with an average of 33.8 points. Duisburg, a neighbor of Düsseldorf, is the only region in this category that exceeds 50 points with 62.7. However, cheap rents and cost of living are offset by a high crime rate.
Cities with a lot of crime, countries with few doctors
If you want to live better, you have to move further away from urban centers. Therefore, medium-sized cities in Germany perform best. They achieve an average of 57.7 points and represent some of the highest-rated regions in the country: Gera in Thuringia, Pirmasens in Rhineland-Palatinate, Hof in northern Bavaria, Suhl in Thuringia, Cottbus in Brandenburg and Dessau-Roßlau in Saxony. Anhalt. They are among the ten best-rated regions in the country. They perform above average in all categories except crime rate, where they all finish at the bottom of Germany.
Some large cities that achieve high scores also have the same problem: Chemnitz, the overall winner with 80.7 points, ranks only 337th out of 400 regions in terms of crime rates. Salzgitter, ranked 14th, is at least in the top 300 in the category.
Rural areas do not have this problem. The Erzgebirgskreis of Saxony, for example, the fifth best region in the country, not only attracts with the fourth lowest rents and the eleventh lowest cost of living, but also with a crime rate as low as in 38 other regions. The other six Saxon districts (Zwickau, Vogtlandkreis, Bautzen, Meißen, Leipzig and Central Saxony) also achieve low rates above the average and therefore achieve high overall scores. But there is another problem: with the exception of the districts of Meißen and Leipzig, the density of doctors here is clearly lower than in the rest of the republic. But this is likely to be an important criterion, especially for retirees.
One district is above average
Anyway, rural doesn't always mean cheap and good. In comparison, most regions of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg perform poorly, even outside the metropolitan areas of Munich and Stuttgart. The district of Freising, near the Bavarian capital, is even at the bottom of the entire ranking with only 16.3 points. Far behind are also the districts that do not belong to the bacon belt, such as Miesbach in Bavaria and Lörrach in Baden-Württemberg, with 23.1 points each. Here you have to buy low crime rates and sometimes acceptable healthcare with horrendous rents and living costs.
Despite all these advantages and disadvantages of certain regions in Germany, there is only one that achieves values above average in all categories: the district of Coesfeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia, is not the best in anything, but neither It's wrong at all. In total, it has 59.5 points, making it the 135th best region for retirees. But: the Coesfeld district has below-average rents and costs of living, a crime rate below the national average, better access to public transportation, and a higher density of doctors than in most other regions.
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