I’ve been living in Germany as an expat for almost 4 months and I have already got a little bit used to life here and their culture. Living in Germany comes with advantages and disadvantages and before you relocate, you probably want to know what all of the pros and cons are. I’ve prepared this article for you so it can help you with the decision making. Germany has always been a popular destination for expats. It’s a country with a lot of good job opportunities and high quality of life. On the other hand, a lot of foreigners experience a cultural shock because Germans are very reserved when it comes to welcoming newcomers. I like living here and we made a good decision by relocating to Germany however I’m still struggling at times, mostly because the language is still a big barrier for me.
Let’s start with the advantages of living in Germany.
1. Work-life balance is key to Germans
Germans do love to work hard and during working hours they are really focused on their tasks, but they also respect free time. You won’t see a lot of people working late in the evenings or even during weekends, at least in an office job. They usually finish at 4 and then they dedicate the rest of their day to their families and hobbies. That’s why the work-life balance here in Germany is better than in many other countries.
2. Safe country
Germany is considered to be a very safe country for traveling and living. The crime rates are pretty low according to Lonely Planet. But you should still keep an eye on your possessions (especially in bigger cities like Munich or Berlin).
3.Good Health Care
The health care system in Germany is probably one of the best ones in the whole world. Health insurance here is obligatory. You can choose between public or private insurance. If you are an employee and you earn less than €57,600 a year, you have to take part in the government health scheme. The contributions are based on income. If you’re unemployed, you can get covered by the insurance of your spouse, or the insurance is paid by the social fund.
Germany has a big variety of good specialists and what is the best thing, you won’t have to wait in line for ages.
If you need more information about the healthcare system in Germany you can check out this article from HowToGermany.
4. Living in the heart of Europe
Living in Germany also means living in the heart of Europe. It will only take you a couple of hours to travel to France, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark… Everything is accessible by car, train, or plane, so you can definitely have a lot of options for traveling and exploring new countries if you’re an expat in Germany.
5. Great public transport
Germany is known for its excellent public transportation. I have to warn you though the prices might be a bit high, however, you can always look for special deals or different discounts. Even the smaller cities like Heidenheim (where I currently live) have really good train and bus connections. Main cities in Germany are connected with high-speed trains which makes everyday commute so much easier, especially for business travelers.
If you’re planning on relocating to Germany then you should definitely start learning German as soon as possible otherwise you won’t be able to integrate yourself in their culture in the right way. I think the language barrier can be one of the most challenging things when living abroad. Most of the companies are looking for someone whose German is fluent. If you live in a smaller city, it is going to be very hard to communicate with just English. You will need German also for finding an apartment, grocery shopping, going to the bank, ordering in a restaurant and so on. For me personally German is a very hard language to learn, but if you have the right resources and you use it on a daily basis then, then you should get used to it in time.
2. German bureaucracy can be a nightmare
German bureaucracy can become a nightmare for expats, especially in the beginning. You will need to obtain many different documents when you move with so many criteria in it, from registering an address (Anmeldung) and your car (if you’re planning on buying it here) to all the paperwork with getting a bank account and so on. Government workers are doing their job according to the strict rules and on top of that, many of them don’t speak English. Germans like order in every aspect of their lives and everything has to be structured in the right way. As soon as you accept this fact and their way of doing this, the less frustrated you’re going to be.
3. Everything is closed on Sundays
If you’re planning to move to Germany or just go on a trip here then you should be definitely aware of the fact that everything, I mean EVERYTHING is closed on Sundays. There are some restaurants and bars open but if you want to do some shopping, then you should plan it for some other day. Sundays are meant for resting in Germany and there are no exceptions.
4. Cash is king and many places don’t take cards
Before I moved to Heidenheim I wasn’t really aware of the fact that cash is still king here in Germany. Many shops and restaurants don’t take credit cards so you always need to bring some cash with you. If you’re planning on living here then you should open a checking account and apply for an EC card, because in a lot of the places they will take the EC card but not the credit card. According to NPR, Germans are arguing that cash is quick and easy to use. On top of that, it provides you with a more clear picture of how much you actually spend.
5. Hard to make friendships in the beginning
Germans are known to be quite reserved when it comes to meeting new people and welcoming expats into their environment, that’s why it is hard to socialize, especially in the beginning. This can come as a cultural shock to many foreigners. It was quite challenging for me because I’m a very open-minded person and I absolutely love networking. I was also used to an American culture where people are really friendly and welcome expats right away. In Chicago I felt accepted from the very first day, but when I moved to Germany, I felt quite uncomfortable with the people that I’ve met. However it gets better with time and I’ve learned that you just need to give them time so they can really open up and get to know you.
Is Germany a good place to live?
Now that we’ve covered all of the pros and cons of living in Germany as an expat, we can finish up by answering the question is Germany a good place to live? I would definitely say yes! Germany like every other country has its own advantages and disadvantages, but it’s a very good place to relocate to. They have a better quality of life than some other European countries, their healthcare system is one of the best ones and on top of all of that it is a very safe country. They like living by the rules and they can be very reserved when it comes to socializing with newcomers but that is just a part of their culture and we have to respect that. I definitely don’t regret moving here and even though I had a quite cultural shock at the beginning, I’m having a really good time now. Germany is definitely the land of many opportunities, good food and of course tasty beer.
If you’re planning on moving to Germany or just traveling here, feel free to reach out to me for some more tips!