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Living in Germany

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: This article highlights some of the tremendous contributions that expats in Germany have made on Expat Exchange. We thank all of you who have gotten involved in the Germany forum and/or posted a report about living in Germany.

Living in Germany - Advice from Expats in Germany about Living, Working and Moving to Germany

Moving to Germany, Living in Germany, Working in Germany If you are moving to Germany, you'll quickly learn to appreciate their public transportation system. Unlike in the States where trains generally only run into and out of cities and across country, the public transportation system in Germany can take you everywhere - from one small village to another. Culture shock in Germany may begin set in the first Sunday you are there and you realize that every store is closed. You may also be surprised (or delighted) to see that Germans have a much different attitude toward alcohol than some Americans. "This is Germany, so we really drank more than ever before. It's done at lunch, dinner, weekends, at office events. We also noticed that almost everyone drank something," explained one expat living in Heidelberg.

German Culture

At first impression, Germans sometimes seem to live up to the stereotypes. But, expats find that once they make friends, these stereotypes no longer ring true. "A little, the Germans can be stiff and sour pusses. However, once you get to know them, especially, the younger ones, you see they are very well versed in more subjects than a typical American and have a lot to offer in personal contact that usually go deeper once they become friends," explained one expat in a report about moving to Köln. Another expat living in Heidelberg said, "Americans are often fake in friendships. We'll 'friend' anyone and not take it seriously. Germans take longer to establish friendships but they are solid friends."

Living in Germany

"Germans work to live, where Americas live to work. We put job as a high priority, Germans put the holiday as a high priority. You can laugh about the 30 days of vacation, but they have similiar productivity output as the USA. The most profound change is time on weekends with family. When stores close at noon on Sat and all day Sunday, you look for new ways to travel, read, and spend time with family. No running to the mall, you find ways to spend time with family at the park, on a trail, or in the garden. AMAZING how you can bond with the family if you have every Sunday to yourselves," said expat living in Heidelberg, who appreciates how having stores closed on Sundays has brought his family closer together! Another person living in Frankfurt suggested, "If you are sick during lunch, after hours or on the weekends you may have to travel far to find the 1 open pharmacy in your area. All of this is hard to find out when you are new to Germany. So I always make sure I have a basic stock pile. cold medicine, cough suppressent, pain relievers etc."

Finding a Home in Germany

"Either have your work assist you with the house location, or plan several months of hotel time to "get the lay of the land". Don't be afraid to live in some of the smaller towns, much more character. I lived in a pension (hotel) for 6 months until I knew enough to find a nice rental. " suggested an expat in Germany. Another expat living in Frankfurt offered similar advice, "We had our company choose an apartment for us first. We where there 1 year and were able to explore all the areas around us. After that, we choose a realtor to find an apartment for us. It was expensive, but we really liked the apartment and were able to choose an area closer to the friends we had made and the places we liked to frequent."

"Find a place you really like and take your time. Visit the places at all hours of the day to check out the traffic and activity in the neighborhood. Plus, ask to see the last 2 years of utility bills. Check out the yards and basements carefully," explained one expat living in Germany. Another expat advised, "If you have the luxury of talking to a co-worker that is local to the area, that is a huge first step in identifying appropriate areas to live (depending on what your looking for). Their knowledge will both cut down your time of searching, and give you a comfort level that your making the right choice."

Jobs in Germany

If you are searching for jobs in Germany one expat suggested, "One of the best places I know to look is by going to the German unemployment office in the Germany city that you will be living in. They have an extensive job database. Another place to look is on the web. In any case, if you are not a German citizen or have a German PR, you need to apply for a temp PR first or have your future German employer sponsor you (Good luck with this). From my experience, any job is hard to come by, and thus the German employers preferred to give it to a German (yes, I real native German, not someone whose family been living in German for 3 generations) first before anybody else.... Another reason that is hard to find jobs in Germany is that the labor cost is high for employers and corporate tax is high. German corporate tax starts at 30% whereas in USA, it starts at 14%. Even German companies move some of their operations overseas such as North America, not just China."

International Schools in Germany

If you are searching for an international school in Germany, members of Expat Exchange have offered lots of feedback about schools in our international school report. With over 35 report from parents, schools covered include Dresden International School, Frankfurt International School, International School Hamburg, Heidelberg International School, European School of Munich, Berlin Kids International School and many others.

This article provides links to some of the many wonderful reports provided by expats living in Germany. To continue reading about these and other topics, visit our Working in Germany report, Moving to Germany report, Culture Shock in Germany report, Living in Germany report, Having a Baby in Germany report and others. To find answers to other questions about life in Germany or to meet other expats in your new area, check out our Germany Forum and start posting!

Join our Germany Expat Forum

Visit our Germany Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Germany.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: Apr 30, 2011

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