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Expat Guide: tips for your move to Germany

Germany has become one of the world’s most popular expat locations, thanks to its strong economic growth and great job opportunities. It’s actually home to the third largest number of immigrants in the world.

Boasting vast and varied geography, rich history and a laid back and relaxed feel, Germany is ever popular for those moving abroad. This modern country offers a very high quality of life, with a location and lifestyle to please everyone.

Expats are drawn here by the varied landscapes, close proximity to the rest of Europe, and progressive environmental policy. The country also has excellent education system and universal healthcare.

Sorting the paperwork

While EU citizens do not need a visa to move to Germany, expats from outside the EU do. Germany does have a pretty strict immigration policy, however, there are various types of travel and working visas available to expats. For long stays, you may also need to apply for a residency visa. All workers in Germany will need German language skills: this is expected, and often a requirement.

To check which visas are applicable to your situation, it’s important to go to an immigration specialist. This will speed up the process and help you avoid timely and costly errors.

Where will you call home?

Germany is a very large country, with huge areas of completely different landscape. From rugged mountains and forests, to liberal artsy cities, there is somewhere here for everyone. And thanks to excellent public transport links, you can often live in a different location to your new job and easily and comfortably commute in.

As with everywhere, the biggest cities are the most expensive to live in. However, some cities such as Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Frankfurt are considered excellent places to live thanks to the job opportunities and living costs. Cities such as Leipzig and Bremen are noted as being relatively cheap places to live.

For most expats, your new job will dictate where in the country you live. And this, in turn, will inform what and where your new home is. No matter where you move to, the housing market will be fast moving and competitive. There is a complete mix of homes, from large houses, to cabins and city apartments. Just be aware that all apartments will come completely unfurnished – which can extend to kitchen appliances and light fittings.

Choose a school for your children

Public education in Germany is high quality and free, making it an even more attractive location for international movers with children. This free education also extends most university education!

For this reason, most German expats enrol their children in state school. Expat children in the state education system benefit from learning a second (and probably third) language. And expat parents save on the very high private and international school fees other expats have to factor in.

The German culture

The culture will differ completely depending on where you move to. However, all of Germany is very clean, very organised and boasts excellent transport links.

To really get the most out of your time here you will need German language skills. This is true of all expat international moves, but it’s especially appreciated in Germany.

People in Germany are timely and expect the same of you. And thanks to the incredibly punctual, reliable and clean public transport, you will have no excuses for being late. Many people forgo buses and trains to cycle, with cities being especially bicycle friendly.

There is an amazing social scene, with a focus on time with friends and family. Eating out and spending time in large groups is commonplace, as is spending time outdoors. And the German pubs are great places to catch up, eat traditional food and drink excellent beer. But to enjoy all this to the fullest, you will need to speak German.

What next?

If you’re moving to Germany, get help from an expert. Our team of dedicated international moving experts, and offices in Germany, have everything needed to make your move easy. From language and cultural training, school search experts, and home finding teams, we’re here to make it simple.

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