Moving to Munich?

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Moving to Munich

More than just the Oktoberfest! Moving to Munich is an appealing prospect: Germany’s third largest city boasts a relaxed ambience and a thriving economy. If you have succumbed to its charms as well, check out our expat guide to Munich, with info on the city, visas, permits, and housing.
Expats moving to Munich enjoy the city’s beautiful heritage and high quality of life.

At a Glance:

  • Munich may not be listed among the most expensive cities in the world, but it is definitely one of the most expensive in Germany.
  • There is plenty to do in Munich, especially as it is surrounded by many natural sites, such as the Alps, waiting to be explored.
  • The visa you need to apply for, and indeed if you need a visa, will depend on your nationality, reason for coming to Munich, and how long you wish to stay.
  • The housing market in Munich is very competitive: be prepared for a long search and high rental prices.


When you move to Munich, you will find that the city is a melting pot of people from not just all over Germany but from countries all around the world. The capital of Bavaria is currently undergoing steady population growth, fueled both by migration and a local “baby boom”. The popularity of Munich, especially among young families, is a convincing indicator of its quality of life.

Prepare Your Purse for This Cosmopolitan Village

Unfortunately, moving to Munich is not cheap. In an international context, the city does well in such expatriate surveys as the annual Mercer Cost of Living Study: Munich usually does not make it among the 50 most expensive expat destinations worldwide (ranked 77th in 2016, up from 87th in 2015). However, in comparison to other German cities, life in Munich is costly. As far as living expenses are concerned, Munich ranks ahead of other major cities such as Frankfurt (ranked 88th in 2016).

In comparison with Berlin — “poor but sexy”, as previous mayor Klaus Wowereit famously described it — Munich is the posh and conservative bulwark in the south. Until 2005, the city used the official advertising slogan “Weltstadt mit Herz” (“a cosmopolitan city with a heart”) to attract tourists and new residents moving to Munich; a description you might still hear being used. The locals, on the other hand, preferred to jokingly call Munich their “Millionendorf” — a village with a million inhabitants. This popular phrase hints at both the positive aspects and the downsides of moving to Munich: its whiff of provinciality, as well as its beauty, combined with a hefty dose of Bavarian Gemütlichkeit (coziness, laidback atmosphere).  

The Perfect Location for Nature Lovers

Munich is located in the southeast of Germany, in the federal state of Bavaria. It is not only the home of the world’s biggest beer festival, but also the state’s political, administrative, and economic center. The city on the River Isar is fairly close to the majestic Alps and the German border. In two hours, you can go to Salzburg in Austria by train, and Switzerland and the Czech Republic are easily accessible for a weekend as well. After moving to Munich, you should definitely make use of its location for a daytrip to the mountains or a mini-break in Vienna, Zurich, or Prague.

Munich itself, however, is not situated in a particularly mountainous region, with an elevation of about 500 m above sea level. Though, on a day when the warm Föhn wind — a warm, dry wind that comes down from the mountains ­— blows, you will enjoy a spectacular view of the Alps from one of the lookout points in the city. When the stress caused by your move to Munich is over, climb the tower of St Peter near Viktualienmarkt or take the elevator to the top of the Olympiaturm and have a look yourself!

The Föhn is also responsible for the moderate climate of the transalpine regions. Munich’s winters can be somewhat cool, though. The negative record of -30.5°C in January 1942 was fortunately a rare exception. Nonetheless, when you prepare for your relocation, don’t forget to pack some woolen sweaters for winter as well as some comfy shorts for the summer. Especially if you are from a cooler climate, you will find the average high of 23 degrees in July and August very warm — the temperatures have even been known to reach as high as 30 degrees so be prepared for a large yearly weather variation!

An Ever-Growing Population

While the city of Munich covers a surface area of 310 km², it is also the heart of a much larger region as well as an extended metropolitan area. Moving to Munich can mean settling in the suburban hinterland or in another town altogether. The environs of Munich include parts of three counties: Landkreis München, Landkreis Dachau, and Landkreis Fürstenfeldbruck. Some people also prefer to move to Munich’s peripheral cities like Augsburg, Freising, Landshut, or Rosenheim, and commute to work every day.

Munich itself has about 1.52 million inhabitants. Thanks to the stream of people moving to Munich, as well as high birth rates in recent years, this is the highest demographic number in the city’s 850-year-old history. 

Munich’s Foreign Community

The prospect of moving to Munich attracts Germans and foreigners alike. Munich has one of the highest percentages in the country for residents who do not have German nationality; about one quarter of the city’s residents do not hold German citizenship. There are also many second-generation immigrants, former migrants who have obtained German citizenship, ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe, German citizens with more than one nationality, etc.

The biggest foreign communities consist of residents from Turkey, Greece, Italy, Austria, Iraq, and various Eastern and Southeastern European nations, with many people also hailing from France, the USA and Britain. Even if you are not from one of these countries, you’ll probably find some compatriots after moving to Munich.

But how to get the right visa and work or residence permit? What about finding accommodation? The following parts of our guide on moving to Munich can help you out!


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Antoine Mariaux

"What I really like about InterNations Munich? The wonderful crowd of outgoing and lively expats at our local events, of course! "

Chen Ming

"I had my first "mass" of Oktoberfest beer at the InterNations event for the Munich expat community - thank you, InterNations! :) "

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