Life in Germany is not expensive compared to other European cities. The cost of living however varies greatly from region to region. The decisive factor is the cost of housing and transport, while food prices only differ slightly at most. While it is possible to rent good accommodation in a smaller town for €100/month, a single room in Munich or Hamburg can cost you up to €500/month (if you can find one at all). The cost of public transport should be taken into consideration, as this can offset any savings from cheaper rents in the suburbs. It is highly recommended that you carefully research and resolve the issue of accommodation and transport before signing your work placement agreement.
In general, a good orientation is provided by figures from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for students (ignore the chapter on educational expenses, but add another 25% to the budget lines for culture and transport since trainees do not typically qualify for student discounts):
On 1 January 2015, a new law came into effect guaranteeing a minimum wage of €8.50/hour, even for trainees. This general rule does not apply to students on placements of three months or less as part of their respective study programmes or as orientation training. It is not yet clear how the new law will change the standard practice of work placements in Germany. Thus far, compensation for a work placement in Germany varies between €0-800/month depending on the length, the type and the subject of the placement. Placements of 6 weeks or less are usually unpaid as long as the purpose of training and/or orientation is clear. The training and/or orientation objectives should be defined in the contract. Unpaid placements of more than 6 weeks are viewed unfavourably.
While there are many relatively generous grants for studying in Germany, financing a work placement there can be a rather difficult thing to do. The promotion of work placements is not among the core objectives of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) but is offered as part of several of its 212 programmes (as at 31/12/2014). For more details see the DAAD’s grants database: https://www.daad.de/deutschland/stipendium/datenbank/en/21148-scholarship-database/.
A proven source for funding for work placements is the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) – but only for engineering, natural sciences, agriculture and forestry students. Applications for IAESTE funding must be submitted to the IAESTE National Committee in the country where the student is currently enrolled. The German National Committee (located at the DAAD) and the regional IAESTE offices can provide further support. For more details see www.iaeste.de and your national IAESTE website.