I have been working in Germany on a salary of 86.000 EUR a year. As someone married and not having my wife working, I am having 4.400 EUR net per month.

Now I have the opportunity to accept a Freelancer project paying 600 EUR per day during a year.

I have tried to calculate my net "salary" income to see if that would be a a better "net salary" going for this project.

What would be an estimate of a year of net income I would get after all tax deductions, pensions, health insurance, if I take the Freelance Project?

What is the formula to understand the difference between the two projects?

  • 4
    This site is for questions specific to expatriates. The fact you are an ex-pat has nothing to do with this question - a German citizen could ask it equally easily. Nov 23, 2018 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


It is not always possible to compare these two options 1:1, but you would work it out like this:

600 x days per years obviously makes your gross income

I assume it's 600 not including VAT.

When it comes to days per year, ask the company who is making you the offer. The rules are very individual and you should not make the mistake to calculate 220 days x 600 as you will have days off, I guess. Also some companies only order a limited about of days when they offer you a project "one year full time", some order 160, some 180, ...

If you want to stay conservative, take 160 x 600 = 96.000 EUR as your gross income.

The tax burden on freelancer income and on a salary is the same.

What makes a difference is social security. As long as you are employed, the employer will pay half of your health insurance and half of your public pension plan. Ask your health insurance how much you would have to pay out of your own pocket for your wife (not working) and yourself if you change from employement to freelancing. Something along the lines of ~700 - 900 EUR a month would be expected.

So this is where I would stop calculating if you have the option to continue as an employee as 96.000 - health insurance would already be less that what you make today.

Figures will be different if you assume you will be working (and get paid) 200 days. Then it's 120.000 minus health insurance.

In fact, being a freelancer you will also possibly be able to deduct some stuff from taxes which you cannot as an employee, i.e. if you buy an expensive laptop frequenty, car usage, ... But do not overestimate this.

When it comes to pension, opinions are different but most people would argue that it is an advantage that you are not forced to pay into the public pension plan if you are a freelancer. Yet you will have to put up money to build a pension yourself. This is where it's getting very individual.

Right now for example - and depending on your age - a good advice might be not to pay anything into a pension plan but rather use the free cash to buy a home and pay it off as quickly as possible as long as the interest rates are practically zero.

N.B.: Buy it as long as you are still an employee, you will not qualify for a mortage right after you quit your employment and turned to a freelancer.

A last remark: Money is one thing, career is another. If you just want to work, you have good skills which you keep updated and you are ok to adapt to a new environment once a year, living as a freelancer will feed you quite well. Yet consider the risk of times in between projects when you don't get paid also.

On the other hand, if you think to grow a familiy, may be interested in parental leave (Elternzeit) and you are employed in a large corporation with tons of benefits and you are looking into a career with a significant raise of your income as an employee in the longer run, think twice before giving that up.

  • ...think twice before giving that up, or include its (potential) value in the calculation for the minimum acceptable daily rate as a freelancer.
    – phoog
    Nov 25, 2018 at 17:12
  • Thanks @Torsten - detailed explanation. If I understood correctly, I can opt out the pension insurance and the unemployment insurance, right? While still be having to pay the Health Insurance. Then your recommendation is to get this money and put it in a more solid investment. One interesting thing is that in this scheme of 160 days per year, I would be working less than for an Employer as well. Nov 25, 2018 at 21:06
  • @TorstenS - I meant, working for less time. Nov 27, 2018 at 13:42
  • " I can opt out the pension insurance and the unemployment insurance, right? While still be having to pay the Health Insurance" -> right. And yes, you'd possibly be working less days / hours for ~ the same money. If this is what you are looking for, it may work out as well.
    – TorstenS
    Nov 29, 2018 at 13:10

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