Germany's top cities for jobs and living
Which cities have the most robust economies? A recent study looked at Germany's larger urban centers and reached a clear conclusion: The most successful cities are those that are home to car-manufacturing industries.
In the lead: Munich
Which city in Germany offers the best economic conditions? Munich has topped the list in this category for years now. This is mainly due to the numerous large companies that are based there, including carmaker BMW. Munich's good infrastructure and high living standard make it stand out from the rest.
The surprising qualifier: Wolfsburg
It may not be the best-looking city, but Wolfsburg is bursting with car-manufacturing action. The 124,000-strong metropolis in Lower Saxony is home to Volkswagen's headquarters. The works themselves cover an area as big as Gibraltar and, directly or indirectly, provide employment to nearly everyone in the city.
Successful and dynamic: Ingolstadt
Just like Wolfsburg, the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt has its own major carmaker: Audi. Ingolstadt's economy is strong, and over the past few years the city has seen steady growth. Unemployment is low and salaries high; employees in the city can expect to earn around 50,000 euros ($68,500) per year, which is more than the German average.
Wealthy and pretty: Erlangen
Fewer than three percent of Erlangen's residents are dependent on welfare - the lowest rate in Germany. This is partly due to the fact that the population of this Bavarian city is particularly well-educated. Nearly two-thirds of Erlangen school students attain the Abitur - Germany's highest school degree - or a similar qualification. Nearly one-third of the locals have a university degree.
The inventor's paradise: Stuttgart
The fifth spot on the list is occupied by the capital of Baden-Württemberg: Stuttgart. The city owes its success to its innovative spirit: with over 1,300 patents per 100,000 people, you could say it's Germany's most creative city. The region has been booming for many decades. Major employers include carmakers Mercedes and Porsche, as well as engineering and electronics giant Bosch.
Productive picturesque: Regensburg
This Bavarian city situated on the Danube has more to offer than a quaint town center: the locals generate an average per-capita GDP of some 75,000 euros. It also boasts outstanding transport infrastructure: the average driving time to the nearest autobahn is three minutes.
Blossoming creativity: Berlin
It has been very successful as a tourist attraction for a long time, but always considered economically weak. Now Berlin is catching up. The Internet and IT sectors are flourishing in the city's creative environment, and many major companies have established themselves there. In contrast to other eastern German regions, the population of Berlin is increasing.
City of contrasts: Frankfurt am Main
It's a banking center and a real estate hotspot, but also the city with the highest crime rate in Germany. These are Frankfurt's two different faces. In any case, its young residents are well positioned to enter the workforce: for every 106 trainee positions available there are around 100 applicants. With a GDP of 80,000 euros per capita, Frankfurt is Germany's third most productive city.
A nice place in the east: Leipzig
Aside from Berlin, Leipzig is the only eastern German city to make it into the top 10. Its low rent costs, colorful cultural scene and greatly improved employment opportunities make it an attractive choice. Three major companies - Porsche, BMW and DHL - have established themselves there in recent years, increasing the amount of available jobs by 20 percent.
Ruhr region disappoints
The ranking also shows how dramatic the differences within Germany are. Far down the list are the economically weak cities of the Ruhr region, which was once an industrial powerhouse. Gelsenkirchen, Oberhausen, and Duisburg are all struggling with high unemployment rates and high debts.