It is only natural to worry about big and small questions when you plan to move. It’s no different when you plan the big step to move to Germany. Germany is a unique country and some things will be new and different.
However, in this article, we will try to ease any doubts you have and make your move a smooth experience.
First of all, welcome to Germany! It will be a new country maybe even a new continent for some. Germany ranks high in safety, job security and quality of life.
Overall, moving to Germany can be a great joy but there are some pitfalls to avoid. This overview will give you the best advice ahead of your professional and private endeavors in Germany.
A roof over your head – how to find an apartment
Real Estate in Germany is booming. Before you move to Germany, you should be aware that it can be difficult to find an apartment when coming from abroad. Especially, the main cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt see their population growing.
However, don’t give up just yet. We only advise you to come prepared for the first days after moving to Germany. If you’re planning to move with your significant other or friends, you can try to look for a bigger apartment. Popular websites include ImmobilienScout and Immowelt.
In general, those are the best and most popular sources for finding an apartment in German cities. Still, the market is competitive, so when you visit an apartment for the first time, you can expect a number of fellow applicants.
Germans often share apartments as well. A “Wohngemeinschaft” or “WG” refers to a shared living arrangement and the market is big in the cities as well.
After all, Germans used to live with roommates since this is often practiced by students during their studies. In this case, WG-Gesucht.de will be the best bet to research apartment vacancies or tenants with a spare room.
Lastly, there is the option of renting fully furnished or serviced apartments. Unfortunately, this is the priciest option. If your employer covers the cost, sites like Mr. Lodge have a great selection of well maintained (temporary) homes.
Additionally, this can free up your time while you look for the perfect spot after moving to Germany for the first time.
Always on the move – how to get around the cities
Generally, public transportation in Germany works reliably and well. After moving to Germany, some will notice how common it is for Germans to use buses or trains for their daily commute. Often, you will find good coverage trams, buses, trains and subways within a metropolitan area with reasonable ticket prices.
For convenient trips within the city, MyTaxi will offer the best service. Uber tried its expansion into Germany but does not enjoy a great reputation.
Usually, the app only works in major cities and the cost is very close to a taxi fare. Traveling within the country is often done by train or bus lines. Domestic air travel is a viable alternative but connections in rural areas are rather underwhelming.
Enjoy life – how to make friends
German people can be a bit confusing for other cultures. The metaphor of coconuts and peaches can illustrate the difference between Americans and Germans for example. Germans, in this case, are comparable with coconuts. They are rather hard to open, but once you cracked them, they are sweet and tasty.
On the other hand, a peach is soft on the outside. This translates to Americans being more open initially. But a peach also has a hard inner core. In summary, it’s not a walk in the park to get cozy with Germans but this shouldn’t stop you from trying!
For newcomers, the first channel for connection can be online communities for ex-pats moving to Germany. Toytown is one example; not the most modern but very resourceful. For instance, their forums can help you with bureaucracy, opening a bank account in Germany, finding accommodation, and meet-ups of all kinds.
Moreover, InterNations is another network of this sort. They offer gatherings and events in major cities around the world including Germany. The portal can give you additional advice if you recently moved to Germany. Often ex-pats find a very diverse group of people once moving to Germany and you’ll connect with people from all over the world!
Stay professional – figuring out work-life balance
One might think of Germans as hard-working and focused on their job rather than being party animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Germans work hard but play harder as any Berlin veteran might tell you.
When moving to Germany, you can expect a healthy work/life balance. Usually, there is a 40-hour workweek and you do enjoy benefits with your employment.
Firstly, this includes great health insurance and maybe even contributions to gym memberships. If you work in Munich, you might also get lucky and enjoy company outings to events like Oktoberfest!
In general, the German employment law is beneficial for employees. Often, contracts for full-time employees include a 6-month probation period. During this time the employment agreement can be terminated by both sides rather easily.
However, after this so-called “Probezeit” of 6 months, it becomes more difficult to get fired. This scheme is meant to protect an employee’s rights and shows the respectful labor market in Germany.