Dresden is one of the coolest cities in Germany and easily the most beautiful. It’s full of nice people without being overcrowded, which is a huge plus. So I see a lot of potential benefits to living in Dresden. Here’s why.
I think living in a beautiful city undoubtedly improves your quality of life. Sure, I probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time walking through Old Town, but just taking the tram across the Elbe every once in a while would make me appreciate how beautiful Dresden is. And perhaps being in Old Town wouldn’t be nearly as exhausting as it is in more popular cities like Prague, so I’d get to actually enjoy the charm from time to time without the hundreds of thousands of other tourists.
The best thing about Dresden is that it’s a pretty big city that feels like a small town. It’s the 12th largest in Germany, so it shines in the shadow of more popular cities. This means it’s more convenient and relaxed to get around but not too small that it’s boring with nothing to do. In addition to its buzzing culinary landscape and nightlife, its location on the Elbe Valley means that you have unparalleled access to incredible natural beauty. It’s sort of the best of all worlds.
I’ll admit, Saxon cuisine is not my favorite German fare. But luckily, Dresden is large enough that there’s a great variety of food across its many highly-rated restaurants. During our visit, we had incredible Mediterranean, pizza, traditional Bavarian, and my personal favorite, basic bitch brunch. So there is certainly no shortage in good places to eat. Restaurants and cafes are also very dog-friendly, which is a nice perk as a pet parent.
I think Germans overall are generally friendly despite being socially reserved. The locals in Dresden seem particularly laid back and welcoming without being overly in-your-face, a quality of the west and south of Europe that is a huge turn-off to me. People in Dresden are easy to talk to, in part because they seem happy. I didn’t feel like anyone we came across was having a rotten day and treating everyone around them accordingly. Even though German is probably easier to get a hold on than a language like Czech, it’s also a huge plus that everyone speaks perfect English.
Owing to the fact that it’s such an underrated city in Germany, Dresden is cheap in a lot of important ways. For instance, even though average salaries in Dresden are almost double that of Prague, rent in city center is 200€ cheaper. And rent outside city center is half of what it costs in Prague. It’s also significantly cheaper than cities like Berlin where rent is almost double. Consumer goods like clothes and home goods are also fairly cheap in Dresden compared to larger cities in Germany. Transportation and restaurant costs are comparable. Overall, you get a bigger bang for your buck when it comes to housing, which you’d likely spend on eating out. I think living in Dresden would be quite affordable.
Dresden is a great place to get around. The transportation system is extensive, easy to use, and runs quite smoothly. There are no rattly old trams moving around Dresden. The transportation also makes it easy to get to the national parks and beautiful hiking areas on the Elbe Valley, which means it’s a wonderful place to live without a car. There are no barriers to getting out into nature. Perhaps the biggest downside to Dresden is that their international airport doesn’t directly serve many destinations. Though it’s probably easy to travel through because it’s so small, people living in Dresden are stuck with some inconvenient flight connections and probably higher flight prices due to low availability.
Total Livability Score 9/10
No other city I’ve visited in Germany has ever felt like more than 8, so living in Dresden would be my top choice if we ever moved to Germany. The airport situation keeps it from being a 10/10.