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Moving to German makes one think of a functional and orderly society, weekends hiking through a forest and colourful beer gardens. But what are the key challenges people face when relocating to Germany?
The key when relocating to Germany is research and preparation. Work permits and visas can be a little tricky if you are moving from outside the EU. The healthcare system takes a while to navigate and then there is the language barrier. Housing, finances and moving documentation are all notable considerations ahead of your move to this wonderful country.
Fortunately, we cover all this and much more in our ultimate moving to Germany guide.
Germany is a country located in North Central Europe, and it is home to 84 million people. One-eighth of this population are foreigners residing in the country. This ex-pat population is composed mostly of British, Canadian, Irish, Australian, South African, and New Zealanders. Next to the United States, Germany is the second most popular destination worldwide. Each year, migrants move to the country in search of a greener pasture. After all, the unemployment rate in the country is only at 4%. There is a high demand for engineers, IT specialists, and doctors, too.
Improved working opportunities aside, there are other reasons why these people love to move to the country. For one, retiring in the country will leave you with a secure life after retirement. The German government provides 1,000 Euro as a monthly pension. If you live in Eastern Germany, the pension rate is a little higher than the Western part. Taxpayers with children also get a benefit called “Kindergeld” that’s available for parents until the child reaches 18 years old. Aside from these, the country has a low overall crime rate, a better quality of life, good public transport, and lots of time for cultural attractions and leisure.
If you are one of the many people who intend to migrate to Germany, take this time to study your options, the processes, and the kind of life you’ll be living there. In this guide, we’ll help you get to know Germany a bit more. We’ll share what kind of life you can expect as an ex-pat living there, how much you should earn monthly to survive the country, where you can stay when you arrive, how, and if, you can purchase a property, and how the Germans are as a people.
Later in this guide, we will also discuss what kind of visa can you apply for, how you can get the necessary permits, what type of healthcare service you can expect in the country, and where you can send your kids when they need to move to a German school as you migrate.
Starting a new life in Germany is like a dream come true for many, but before you make that move, you need to research as much as you can about the country.
Recently the state introduced the program called German Skilled Immigration Act, and the said act made working in Germany easy for non-EU citizens. With the country’s reasonable cost of living and high salaries, it easily became one of the most attractive countries in Western Europe to settle in.
The country has a little something for everyone. Since it is split into 16 states, you also get to experience different landscapes, from cosmopolitan cities to dense forests, picturesque riverside villages, and expansive mountain ranges. Although Germany is a welcoming developed country, you need to consider some practicalities when you want to live here.
One of the major barriers when moving to Germany is the language. Whilst many Germans speak English as a second language Germans appreciate the effort foreigners make when conversing in the local language and are generally keen to help you improve.
Whilst Germans may appear reserved and unemotional initially, it is more a case of respecting a fellow person’s privacy. Germans tend to form relationships at a slower pace, however, this often leads to strong, long-term, bonds.
Etiquette plays a major role in German society, which may catch new arrivals off guard. For example, it is not unusual for a German to comment on your parking and ask you to make adjustments. Punctuality is important and ex-pats should make an extra effort to be on time for social and business meetings.
In the workplace shaking hands and introducing yourself to each person individually is expected. Finishing a working day on time is customary. Working overtime is not necessarily viewed positively, instead, the impression is likely to be that your day was not organized efficiently.
Safety does not need to be a major concern. Germany recently ranked 16th in the world out of 163 nations in the 2020 Global Peace Index. The police are firm but fair and generally have a good rapport with the public despite frequent violent clashes with rioters.
Violent crime, such as murder, manslaughter, and rape is much lower than in most other countries. Pickpockets and beggars can be a problem in major cities.
As recently as 2016, Germany experienced two terror-related attacks including a mass shooting of 9 people in Munich and the Christmas attack in Berlin which killed 12 and injuring many more. This has lead to increased security especially around major tourist attractions and transportation hubs throughout most of the major cities.
It’s a good idea to keep ID on you at all times, your passport or even a clear copy will normally suffice.
Last year, it was recorded that the average cost of living in Germany significantly increased compared to other parts of the world. The increases are more obvious in cities such as Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt. Munich became the 67th city with the most expensive cost of living. Frankfurt and Berlin got the 74th and 81st ranks, respectively.
If you are planning to live in Berlin, you will be happy to know that the cost of living there will go lower with the recent rent freeze measures implemented until 2025.
The good news is despite Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt ranking, no German city was included in the top 50 most expensive destinations for ex-pats globally. This means that the living expenses in the country make all German cities more affordable when compared to Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, London, Milan, and Vienna.
According to Statistisches Bundesamt, the country’s federal statistical office, on the average, the German household spends 850 EUR every month. Almost 40% of this expense goes to utilities and housing. Among all the German cities, Leipzig is the cheapest. The most expensive cities are Hamburg, Munich, and Frankfurt. Cologne is slowly catching up with the three most expensive cities.
Munich is the most expensive city in Germany but does not even rank in the top 50 most expensive cities worldwide.
After paying all the government-mandated deductions, on the average, every German household spends their money on the following:
LIVING IN GERMANY
When moving to Germany from Dubai, importing Household Goods and Personal Effects
For a more in-depth look at documentation and other procedures please check the International Association of Movers.
There are different ways of entering the country, and there are also different types of visas you can apply for if you want to work, reside, or retire in Germany. Some people are lucky to be able to enter Germany freely. Others have to undergo a stringent procedure, like getting a visa to enter the country legally.
If you want to work in the country, you must have a residence or work permit, along with your work visa. Though not everyone is required to get a visa, everyone is required to secure a work and residence permit.
If you are from Switzerland, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Japan, Israel, Canada, Australia, and EEA/EU, then you don’t have to apply for a German work visa to enter the country to work. All you have to do is register your residence, with the use of a valid ID and passport, the moment you arrive in the country.
If you are not from these countries, unfortunately, you need to get a work visa and apply for a residence permit to work the moment you arrive in the country.
You have to apply for a residence permit to work at the Federal Employment Agency (BA). This government body has the power to approve your residence permit to work. The moment that your application gets approved, you can obtain the temporary residence permit that will allow you to work in the country.
There are three types of residence permits applicable in the country, and they are the following:
The German taxation system is called progressive because the amount that you pay in taxes increases as you move higher in the taxable income bracket. The current tax rates in the country range from 0 to 45%. If you’re married and you file your taxes jointly, you’ll get more favourable rates than a single taxpayer. The German tax year commences on the first day of the year and ends on the last day of December. You can also file your tax returns until May 31st.
If you are a non-resident, you can still open a bank account in Germany. Expats suggest that you open an account with a Sparkasse or a local bank. A Sparkasse is a bank that’s run by the state. To be able to apply for a bank account in the country, you need to show and submit the following requirements:
Aside from those mentioned above, it would be helpful if you can also show your residence permit and employment contract. Students will also need to submit the same set of requirements, except for the German Tax Identification number.
The climate in the country is moderate, without prolonged periods of hot or cold weather. Coastal and Northwestern Germany also have an environment that has been strongly influenced by the maritime climate characterized by cloudy winters and warm summers.
The areas in the Northern Seacoast have 1.5 degrees Celsius midwinter temperatures. In the regions found farther inland, you can expect the climate to be continental, with greater variations in temperatures – colder winters and warmer summers.
One thing about Germany is they mostly live in rental apartments. Renting in bigger cities will surely cost more than renting in rural areas. In general, rental prices in the country are lower by 5% compared to the rental rates in the UK. You can expect to pay for around 1,300 EUR for an unfurnished or furnished house or flat.
Specifically, a single-room apartment can cost around 700 EUR per month. Outside the city, the same apartment will cost about 570 EUR or less. A three-bedroom house in the town may cost 1,350 EUR per month, while the same room outside the city will be under 1,000 EUR.
Yes, you definitely can. There are no restrictions for foreigners to buy property in the country. Munich is considered to be the most expensive place to purchase a house, and here, you can expect to pay 5,900 EUR per m2 of apartment space and 4,200 EUR per m2 for family homes. Frankfurt is considered the second most expensive city to buy a property. Last year, the city’s real estate rates increased by 10.3%.
Healthcare in the country only costs a little, for as long as you have private health insurance or the public health system covers you. If you wish to take advantage of the public health system, you need to pay monthly premiums based on your monthly salary.
The healthcare contribution cost in the country is somewhere between 14.6 to 15.6 per cent. Fifty per cent of which is paid by the employee, while the employer shoulders the other 50%. In some cases, a minute supplemental rate of 0.9 percent is also funded by the employee.
The supplemental contribution rate is paid to the state health insurer. Public health coverage includes services and treatments, such as dental checks, prescriptions, and immunizations.
The country’s social security and healthcare systems have excellent reputations. Both methods are based on a shared private and public policy.
The country’s healthcare is divided into the public Gesetzliche Krankenkasse or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung and the private Krankenversicherung. When you are starting a job in the country, it’s a requirement to have some sort of health coverage, whether private or public.
Your German employer should register you with a health insurance company in the country. However, if you want to choose your own, you can give your medical insurance info ahead of time. Your company might register you under the public system, so it’s best to let HR know about your preference ahead of time.
When you decide which insurance system to subscribe to, you need to consider your age, family situation, legal status, occupation, salary, duration of stay in the country, and benefits and services you prefer.
If you choose private health insurance, you can be assured that medical attention is delivered faster. You need to take note, however, such as who is actually covered and how much is the coverage. Most people in the country go for public healthcare since private insurance is not accessible to everyone. If you have an annual income of 62,550 EUR, your only option is a private health insurer.
Since the maximum premium you need to pay for public health insurance is higher than private providers, the latter option is more lucrative. The significant benefit of government-funded health insurance, however, is the fact that the benefits and coverage extend to the family members of the insured. In this case, you don’t need to pay for your children and non-working spouse.
The education system in the country is undeniably one of the best in the world. More than 50% of the kids in the country who are between three to six years old need to attend kindergarten.
While it is free to enrol in school from preschool until 14 or 16 years old, parents of ex-pat students will always have the option to enrol their kids in international schools.
Kids with tax-paying parents can take advantage of the child benefit known as “Kindergeld.” Under this program, each child is allocated a budget of 204 to 235 EUR per month for their education.
This funding can be claimed until the child reaches 18 years old. If the child reaches 25 years old and he is still in school, and the parents are not earning more than 7,680 EUR per year, they can continue to receive the funding. If the beneficiary has a disability that hindered them from working, they can receive the said benefit indefinitely.
While there are different public and private schools in Germany, most ex-pat parents choose to enrol their kids in international schools. The qualifications earned by students in these schools are internationally recognized, making them an even more attractive option for ex-pat parents.
The good thing here is transferring from one international school to another is very easy. These schools share the transferable academic credit points, curriculum, and educational standards. Find the best schools in Germany.
Moving to a different country can be daunting, and if you don’t get on top of things it can become quite stressful. Moving to Germany presents its own set of unique challenges, but if you follow the guidelines we have provided, we feel certain you can experience a smooth relocation to Germany.
You can start the ball rolling by completing our simple form, allowing international movers to get started on your quotation, today!