If you plan to move abroad, how can you know if the salary offered is enough to live on? The first thing you need to know about, is the cost of living where you plan to work.
Let’s take a good look at the cost of living in Germany.
What is the cost of living in Germany
Many factors can play into a country’s cost of living, but most western countries tend to share similar living costs. You can get a rough idea based on your current cost of living, if moving to Germany from North America.
So what are some of the factors? Location is crucial – will you go to a city or village? If it is a big city, you should prepare to pay at least double the amount you would in a small or mid-sized city. However, your salary should then reflect that, and compensate for the higher living costs.
You should also think about transportation costs. Is public transport even available? Will you need a car to get around? If not, could you walk or cycle to work?
Even if the salary covers all of your living costs, you should still plan to have disposable income so that you can have fun while working abroad.
What is the salary of a dental hygienist in Germany?
As dental hygiene is not a regulated profession in Germany, the dentists can pay you whatever they feel works with their business plan. Nevertheless, the fact that dental hygienists are in demand can give you a bit of leverage.
The average dental assistant in Germany earns about €10-15 per hour; a dental hygienist salary can range from €20-40 per hour. The location of the office and how the hygiene department performs will reflect this difference.
Offices in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg will pay closer to the high end but again, it depends upon the performance of the individual dental hygiene department.
Professional dental cleaning prices in Germany
Dental work prices in Germany are important, since they will also impact upon your potential salary as a dental hygienist.
A proper adult prophy can range from about €60–140, €100 being the average. I mention “proper” because Germany is notorious for offering an “insurance prophy” which includes cleaning 8 teeth: the anteriors and the 1st molars. Insurance pays 100% for this cleaning and it lasts for just a few minutes.
A dentist running this type of dental hygiene department will not be able to pay you what you are worth. If you find an office that has a steady, hour-long appointment recall system, you can expect an offer of around €30 per hour.
This would look like: hour long appointments, at least €100 prophys and a couple of SRPs per day.
How to calculate your salary
I would suggest you strongly advocate for at least 30% of production. When your hygiene department makes €1,000 to €1,500 per day, you could expect to earn upwards of €300 per day. Most employers though, will only pay around 25% of your production.
If this is lower than what you would expect in North America, don’t forget that all of your government benefits are also factored into your salary.
The employer has to consider all of your vacation, plus your health and other insurance contributions when calculating your salary. Six weeks of vacation is standard and considered generous, but four weeks of vacation is the mandatory amount.
How to plan your finances
Dental offices in Germany and Switzerland will pay you once per month. This is usually done at the end of the month via direct deposit.
Your take-home salary will reflect all of the social benefits and tax deductions just mentioned. That means you should expect to see a good 30-33% less of your agreed salary every month. You can use this as a guide if you need to do mental math on the spot.
The following list is also a rough estimate of what your living expenses could be if living in a small- to medium-sized city with a modest lifestyle and budget. Being armed with this knowledge too can help you if you need to do mental math on the spot.
How much does living in Germany actually cost then?
So here are the 14 key factors that contribute to the cost of living in Germany, for a modest lifestyle in a small- to medium-sized city:
- Miete or Rent (1-2 bedroom apartment rent) €450 – 800/month
- Nebenkosten (billable utilities excluding power, i.e. water/heated water, trash collection, heat) €150/month
- Strom (power or electricity) €60 – 90/month
- Telefon Anschluss (Landline telephone plus Internet) €45/month
- Handy (mobile phone service fee) €30/month
- Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel (public transport) €70/month
- Deutsche Bahn (commuter train use) €250/month
- Auto Kredit (car payment) €150 – 300/month
- Auto Versicherung (car insurance) €50 – 100/month
- Privatversicherung (Life, liability, employee protection, personal property protection, etc) €80
- Benzin (petrol or gas for the car) €100/month
- Fitnessstudio Mitgliedschaft (gym membership) €25 – 50/month
- Food and eating out €300 – 400/month
- Childcare €150 -250 per month
The cost of living in Germany – conclusions
In summary, though this list is not exhaustive, it gives you some idea of figures to play and plan with. Aim to give yourself a good €500/month buffer as this will make travel and your social life a lot more flexible and fun.
Depending upon where you live, this may mean forgoing some immediate luxuries like a car or an apartment in an exclusive neighborhood. However, you can always get these later, once you have settled in.
Nonetheless, your dental hygiene salary should be sufficient to cover the cost of your living expenses, while providing decent disposable income.