Moving to Germany
Home to a landscape of dense forest, North Sea beaches and peaking mountains while also being one of the most industrialised and populous countries in Europe. Germany is a diverse and thriving country with exciting opportunities for newcomers of all ages and backgrounds.
Germany is a great mix of old and new, offering rich history and a high-quality of life for all who visit. Each city boasts its own personality, so when moving to Germany the lifestyle is varied and exciting depending on the location. Dive into Berlin’s famed nightlife and clubbing scene whilst working or studying in the capital of the world’s fourth-largest economy. Or, enjoy Munich which offers a wealth of museums, historic buildings and the immensely scenic Bavarian Alps. Modern buildings fill cities such as Dresden or Cologne, interjected by grand cathedrals which serve as stunning landmarks.
Finding accommodation in Germany
German living is characterised by apartments, with most of the country opting for high-quality rental housing rather than buying. A small number of villas and an even smaller number of houses can be bought in suburban locations but, due to Germany’s high population density, renting is the norm. Most expats in who stay in Germany long term become accustomed to these differences, thanks to the excellent quality of life and other perks of living here.
Apartments can be found in all sizes and price ranges, with the most expensive rentals found in prime tourist and business cities like Frankfurt or Cologne. It is, however, possible to find cheaper accommodation through thorough searching or by travelling further afield. East Germany or the suburbs of the major cities tend to offer the most affordable accommodation. And don’t be worried about living a little further out of the city. Thanks to Germany’s excellent and reliable public transportation system and great network of roads and Autobahns, it’s easy and quick to commute to almost anywhere.
Information about renting is best sought through websites and consultations with estate agents. You can also explore advertisements in newspapers and publications for local flat sharing and student accommodation if that would suit your lifestyle. House hunting will be made easier if you have a good grasp of the German language. If you speak German, you should be able to find and agree your new lease. If you’re still learning or lacking German language skills, make life easier by engaging with an expat specialist real estate agent.
Education in Germany
Germany offers a variety of school options for parents to choose from. Alongside state-funded public schools, there are a great many state-subsidised private schools and fully independent international schools. State schooling is a great option for quick integration as all classes are taught in German. Many expats families report state schooling had a great impact on the speed and confidence with which their children learnt the new host country’s language. International schools offer classes taught in over 50 languages alongside a variety of extra-curricular activities, but they do incur a fee.
Primary school begins at age 6 and continues until your child reaches age 8/9. From here, there is the option to continue to Hauptschule until age 15 and progress into vocational training. Conversely, a student may study at a Gymnasium or Gesamtschule and continue to university. Each school has its own admissions and grade progression policy, so it is best to check the details. If you are considering a private school make sure to get a breakdown of fees, and most will offer scholarships.
If you’re moving to Germany with family, let us help. Our school search experts are on hand to find you the perfect schools and walk you through the application process. We do everything we can to make your move easy.
The German culture
Life in Germany means enjoying vibrant traditions and time-old customs, all in the midst of an industrialised, cosmopolitan country. From the magical Christmas markets to the famed ‘Oktoberfest’ in autumn, Germans like to have fun and there is a lot of time spent with friends and family.
There is a whole world of new food to discover, if you’ve never lived in Germany before. Discover culinary specialities unique to each city using locally sourced produce, such as Spätzle (a soft egg noodle) originally from Baden-Württemberg to Maultaschen (Germany’s answer to ravioli) from Swabia.
The environment and being economical are of high priority in German day-to-day life, so you’ll often find recycling points dotted around town and cycle lanes in regular use. There is also a great importance placed on being on time, and thanks to the excellent public transport you’ll have no excuses for being late! It’s this unexpected mix of tradition and modernisation that makes Germany such an exciting place to live.
Good to know
There are a few rules and surprises in Germany that have been known to catch foreigners out so make sure you read up about traditions and regulations before visiting. For example, not using a designated crossing at a road is taken very seriously and results in a hefty on-the-spot fine. It’s also standard practice to serve sparkling water in restaurants and tips are not given. And when planning grocery shopping, it’s wise to note that most shops are closed on Sundays.
When packing and preparing for your move, it’s important to know that you cannot bring household items with a value of more than 430 Euros each. If you’re bringing cash with you, anything over 10,000 EUR must be declared.
The cost of living in most areas of Germany is considered relatively low, especially when compared to other European countries and capital cities. This is great news for those looking to work in Germany, as it often offers expats entering Germany a better standard of living than their home country.
While most workers pay 21 percent of their annual salary in social security, these payments secure you access to the excellent healthcare system. Healthcare in Germany is outstanding. Over 1000 public hospitals serve the country, and all are considered advanced, highly reliable and very efficient.
For those coming from the European Union to find a job in Germany, entrance and setting up home is reasonably easy. EU members don’t require any visa to work here. And for those expats who aren’t from the EU, the Working Visa costs just 60 EUR and is the most popular and common visa type. To apply, you will need proof of your employment and your photographic ID.
How can we help with your move to Germany?
We’re here to help you. With over 120 years of experience moving people around the globe, we make moving home easy no matter where you’re going to or coming from. From helping you find your dream home, matching your family to the right schools, to setting up one-to-one language courses, we know what makes a successful relocation. We’re your moving company, specialising in moves to Germany.