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What to expect when you’re moving to Germany

If you’ve got unanswered questions before you move to Germany, you’re not alone. We’ve got answers to help make your next steps in Germany easier.

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Welcome to Germany! Congrats on taking the steps to start another chapter of your life in a new country and, for some, even a new continent. Of all the European countries, Germany has one of the best ratings for safety, quality of life and vacation days. All in all, life in Germany can be truly rewarding but it’s not without its challenges. If you’re looking for some tips on how to handle your German adventures, look no further. Read on to get advice on the essentials: finding apartments, making friends and working in Germany. Los geht’s!

Finding an Apartment

Germany is notoriously difficult when it comes to finding an apartment. Don’t be discouraged, but do be sure to make arrangements before showing up in your new city! If you’re coming with your partner or with friends, you can look for an apartment together. Websites like ImmobilienScout and Immowelt are the best and most commonly used sources for finding an apartment in most major German cities. They’re also the most competitive, so expect to run into other candidates when you attend an appointment for an apartment visitation. If you’re okay with living with roommates, a “WG” might be your best bet. “WG” is the German shorthand for “Wohngemeinschaft,” or “shared living space.” Germans are very used to having roommates and you can easily find hundreds of options in each city for a room in a larger apartment. Sites like WG-Gesucht.de can be a great marketplace where you can research apartments with open rooms and tenants who are looking for an extra roommate. Finally, if you’d prefer a furnished flat or if you’re lucky enough to move for a job with a company that’s footing the bill for your relocation, companies like Mr. Lodge offer beautiful and fully equipped apartments, usually very well-situated in most cities. They’re not the cheapest option, but it can be a great choice to buy some time while looking for your dream apartment and finding the furniture you’d like to make your new home a little homier.  

Making Friends

Germans can be tough nuts to crack. A classic metaphor for getting to know Germans versus getting to know Americans is coconuts and peaches. Germans are like coconuts: hard to open, but sweet and inviting once you’ve managed to get past the tough exterior. Americans, on the other hand, are soft and fuzzy on the outside, with a tough inner core. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not greeted by a delegation of the Deutschland Welcoming Committee, you’ll get there with time! But for those of us who are new in town, there are plenty of online communities for expats moving to Germany. Toytown is just one; despite its old-fashioned website style, this resource is a mainstay for newcomers. Their forums offer helpful info on bureaucracy, finding apartments and meet-ups for every kind of hobby or interest you might have. Additionally, InterNations is another excellent source that offers much of the same: parties and events, hobby clubs in major cities around the world and their own share of forums to give more advice for newly arrived residents in Germany. Most expats find a diverse and multicultural clique once moving to Germany, so get excited about all of the new friends you’ll make from all over the world!

Work/Life Balance

Germany’s worldwide reputation for “all work, no play” might be based in fact, but ask any expat in Germany – it’s more like “work hard, play harder.” Companies in Europe value a healthy work/life balance, and the Germans have perfected this. You can generally expect a 40-hour work week with many benefits for employees. These include health insurance and perks like stipends for gym memberships, breakfast and, if you’re lucky enough to wind up in Bavaria, even events like company outings to Oktoberfest! German law heavily favors the employee. Most employment contracts for full-time employees include a 6-month probation period, during which the employment agreement can be terminated by either the employee or the employer, but once you’ve cleared this “Probezeit,” it’s difficult to be fired. Measures like these are in place to offer fair protection for employees and show a high level of respect for the workforce in Germany.

Getting Around

One of the best parts of living in Germany is the reliable infrastructure, including the public transportation system. In most German cities, you can navigate throughout the country, and throughout Europe, with well-connected trams, buses, trains and subways. For quick trips within the city, the MyTaxi app can get you where you need to go. Uber-addicts can also rejoice, as the country’s ongoing back-and-forth with the ridesharing company currently allows you to hitch rides with Uber drivers in most major German cities.

For more detailed information about important parts of life in Germany, read our other articles about finding jobs in Germany, getting your visa, and especially health insurance. (After all, that’s our specialty!)