Moving to Germany: The Ultimate Relocation Guide

Welcome, prospective German residents! If you're planning on moving to Germany 🇩🇪, you've stumbled upon the right guide. This is your ultimate relocation handbook packed with all you need to know about making Deutschland your new home. In this guide, we'll cover a variety of crucial subjects including obtaining German residency, embracing the diverse German culture, navigating through expat life in Germany, and even some tips for finding a job. Stick with us, and you'll be equipped to make your move with confidence!


Before You Move


Whether you're pursuing a job opportunity in Germany, looking for an adventure, or have specific personal reasons, moving to Germany can be an exciting, life-changing experience. How smoothly your relocation goes will often hinge on how well you prepare. So, let's get started!


Do your Research and Plan


A key step to a successful move is doing your homework about your future home. Make sure to dive into the country's cost of living, rental market, healthcare system, and tax regulations. Understanding the German culture and language can also immensely improve your transition.


  • Learn some German phrases to better communicate
  • Research different cities to find the one that suits your lifestyle
  • Assess the cost of living and prepare a budget


Visa Requirements and Residency Permits


Germany has different visa types and residency permits, and knowing which one you require is vital. Most non-EU expats will require a visa to enter, followed by a residency permit to stay long-term. It is recommended to check the requirements well ahead of time and contact the German embassy when in doubt.


  • Know the different visa types and determine your eligibility. Find more information on how to apply for a work visastudent visajob seeker visa, and freelance visa.
  • Familiarize yourself with the process of applying for a residency permit and registration. In Germany, the registration procedure is referred to as Anmeldung. This involves visiting a government office to officially record your address and notifying authorities of your status as a new resident in the neighborhood.


Find a Place to Live in Germany


When you're moving to Germany, an essential first step will be finding a place to call home. Whether you decide to rent or buy a property will depend on various factors, including your finances, duration of stay, and personal preference.


Renting vs. Buying a Property in Germany


Renting is a popular choice for expats, especially when first moving to Germany. It provides flexibility and the opportunity to get to know areas and neighborhoods better before committing to a long-term investment. On the other hand, buying property can be a great investment, but it comes with responsibilities, and the process can be quite complex for non-residents.


  • Renting: flexible, less responsibility, and less complicated. You can find many furnished apartments or rooms on popular rental websites in Germany like ImmobilienScout24, Immowelt, Immonet, Immobilio, Homelike, Wunderflats, Housing Anywhere, and Uniplaces. Find more information on [Renting in Germany Here]
  • Buying: potential long-term investment but more responsibility and complexity. In German, buying a house is referred to as 'Haus kaufen,' and if you're interested in an apartment, you'd be searching for an 'Eigentumswohnung,' meaning ownership flat. The overall term for real estate in German is 'Immobilie. Whether purchasing a property in Germany is a worthwhile investment hinges on your perspective on property ownership, financial situation, and the purpose of the house. For personalized insights, consider using Hypofriend's buying or renting calculator - a user-friendly digital mortgage service catering to expats.


Popular Cities for Expats in Germany


Germany boasts a range of cosmopolitan cities that offer a high standard of living. Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt are particularly popular among expats due to their bustling city life, excellent work opportunities, and cultural offerings. However, smaller cities such as Leipzig and Heidelberg also have a lot to offer, with quieter environments but equally rich cultural scenes and good job prospects. You can take a look at the top 10 cities in Germany for Expats to live in 2023 by Expatica.


Settling In


Germany welcomes you with open arms, but there are a few administrative tasks you should conquer first.


Registering your Address in Germany


Once you have secured your residence, you must register your address with the local Einwohnermeldeamt (Residents' Registration Office). This is a legally required step and should be done within 14 days of moving in. You'll need proof of residence, a passport, and in some cases, a rental agreement.


Opening a Bank Account


Having a German bank account can significantly simplify various aspects of your life, such as handling rent payments, utility bills, and receiving your salary when you start working. Many banks offer support in English for expatriates, enhancing the overall convenience. Just remember to carry identification and proof of residency for a smooth process. It is important to note that having a German bank account is a prerequisite for your employer to pay your salary. Thus, taking prompt action in this regard is crucial for a seamless transition into your new work environment. Explore more information in this extensive guide from Simple Germany - that highlights the top German banks in Germany catering to English speakers and foreigners.


Getting Health Insurance


Finally, health insurance is mandatory in Germany. You have the option to choose between public (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and private (private Krankenversicherung) health insurance. If you're employed, your employer will typically cover half the cost of public health insurance. Retain a document of your health insurance to easily navigate further steps of your relocation process, like a job search.


Remember, tackling these items shortly after your arrival will help lay a solid foundation for your life in Germany!


Navigating German Culture


Culture can be a big shift for expats, but fear not, we’ve got you covered!


Language and Communication Tips


When you're moving to Germany, familiarizing yourself with the local language is key. While many Germans do speak English, appreciating and using their native tongue will help you get by more smoothly. You don’t have to be perfect, just start with greetings and a few German phrases:


  • Hallo” for hello
  • Danke” for thank you
  • Tschüß” for Bye
  • Bitte” Please
  • Guten Tag” Good Day
  • Sprechen Sie Englisch?”: Do you speak English?


Numerous online resources and robust language apps like Duolingo, Gymglish, Lingoda, and Babbel all offer courses for learning German language skills. However, one of the most effective methods involves actively engaging with the language and receiving direct guidance from a professional instructor. Our foremost suggestion for an online language learning experience is Gymglish, acclaimed for its substantial content tailored for mastering the German language.


Understanding German Customs and Etiquette


Gradually, you'll learn more about the German customs and etiquette as you live through the culture. Here are some points to get you started:


  • Punctuality is highly valued. Make sure you're on time for appointments or meetings.
  • Germans separate their public and private lives. It's unusual to be invited to a German's home till they know you better.
  • Sunday is considered a day of rest. Most shops will be closed.


Working in Germany


Getting a job in the shiny hubs of Germany's world-renowned industries is often a top priority for expats. And luckily, Germany's robust economy makes it a land of opportunities.


Finding a Job in Germany


It may take some time and effort, but finding a job in Germany is doable! As per data from the German Federal Employment Agency, 12% of the employed workforce in Germany consisted of foreign individuals in the year 2018. Online platforms such as LinkedIn or Indeed display a multitude of job listings in English. However, upon closer examination of the requirements, it is common to come across language requirements: "Proficiency in both German and English languages required."


Finding an English-speaking job in Germany is challenging but possible. Take advantage of online job portals and social networks like Xing, StepStone, Monster, or job services offered by the Federal Employment Agency -  Bundesagentur für Arbeit. Perfect your CV, learn some German if possible, and don't shy away from networking. If you are looking for English-speaking jobs in Germany, job portals and networks like International Arbeiten, Jobs Europe, Arbeitnow, Make it in Germany and good resources to find international job opportunities in Germany.


Remember the following to succeed with your job search in Germany:


  • Germans value punctuality and professionalism
  • Certifications hold significant weight
  • Strong English skills are highly desirable


Understanding the German Job Market


Knowing the ins and outs of the German job market can give you a leg up. Germany has a strong economy, with engineering, IT, and healthcare fields offering myriad prospects. It's imperative, especially for expats, to know the local job market trends and requirements, along with really having a grasp of the German language – it's more often than not a must-have!


Education and Childcare


Living in Germany means adjusting to a new education setup too. Thankfully, the German education system is known globally for its excellent standard and approach to holistic development.


German Education System


The German schooling system is split into two primary parts. Kindergarten, which serves children aged three to six, and Grundschule, which is compulsory primary education from ages six to ten. If you’re moving with a teenager, it’s beneficial to know that secondary education has more variances including Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium, and Gesamtschule each offering a different focus and academic level.


Finding Schools and Daycare Options


Parents relocating to Germany can look into various options for their children’s education and childcare. They could choose between public and private schools or international schools that offer instruction in English. For younger children, both public and private kindergartens are available. Furthermore, ‘Horte’ or after-school care centers are a popular choice amongst working parents. Just remember - as with most things in Germany, planning ahead is key, as some of these options may have waiting lists.


Healthcare System in Germany


One of the fantastic aspects of relocating to Germany is the country's robust healthcare system.


Overview of the healthcare system


Germany's healthcare system is highly respected worldwide due to its efficiency and coverage. You'll find a vast network of hospitals and clinics (Krankenhäuser), including both state-run and private facilities, offering high-quality healthcare services. Doctors are usually highly skilled, and many of them speak English, making it easier for expats.

, including both state-run and private facilities, offering high-quality healthcare services. Doctors are usually highly skilled, and many of them speak English, making it easier for expats.


Health insurance options


In Germany, health insurance is mandatory, and there are two types:


  1. Statutory Health Insurance (GKV - Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung): This is more common, covering nearly 90% of the population. It's a government scheme, and the cost is usually split between the employer and the employee. Explore Feather's website to compare various health insurance companies assisting in English.
  2. Private Health Insurance (PKV - Private Krankenversicherung): This is usually preferred by high-income earners, self-employed individuals, and freelancers. It's more flexible and can offer more extensive coverage, but it can be more costly. Just ensure you research well and choose the plan that suits your needs the best. Find out more about companies that offer private insurance policies for expats in Germany.


Transportation


Living in Germany presents various options for transportation, with its top-notch infrastructure.


Public transportation in Germany


Public transportation in Germany is both efficient and comprehensive. Major cities offer a network of buses, trams, and underground lines that can get you practically anywhere you need to go. The Deutsche Bahn (Germany’s national railway system) covers long-distance travel, including speedy InterCity Express (ICE) trains. In addition to daily tickets, there are also extensive monthly and yearly pass options that can save you money if you plan on utilizing public transportation frequently.


Getting a driver's license


If you prefer driving, you must consider the driver's license regulations. You can use an international driver's license for the first six months after your arrival. After that, depending on your home country, you may need to convert your license or take a driving test. Make sure you check the regulations well in advance because the process can be lengthy, especially if a driving test is required. Remember, driving in Germany means strictly adhering to rules and speed limits. The Germans take their "Autobahn" seriously!


Enjoying Expat Life


When moving to Germany, there's more to the experience than just packing your bags and finding a new home. You're also going to dive into a whole new culture and way of life! But how can you make the most of your expat life in Germany, and truly enjoy your new environment?


Socializing and Making Friends


As a new expat in Germany, making friends might seem daunting, but locals are generally very welcoming and approachable. Consider taking a language course, where you can interact with people who are also new to the country. Plus, participating in local sporting events or cultural activities will expose you to a variety of individuals who share common interests.


Exploring German Cuisine and Traditions


Food is a vital part of any culture, and Germany is no exception! From hearty breakfasts to delectable desserts, there's something to suit everyone's taste buds. Holidays, like Oktoberfest and Christmas markets, provide great opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of Germany.


Joining Expat Communities and Clubs


A great source of support can come from joining expat communities, volunteering, clubs, or local Facebook groups. They typically hold meet-ups and activities, which serve as excellent ways to connect with locals or other expats. Not only can these groups provide companionship, but they can also be a helpful resource as you transition into your new life.


Essential Services and Utilities


When moving to Germany, it's crucial to set up all your essential services and utilities properly. This will help you ensure a smooth transition into your new home.


Setting up the Internet and Utilities


Since Germany is known for its robust utility services, it's relatively easy to switch on the services you need. You might want to start with your internet - there's a host of providers who offer fast, reliable service. Then, proceed to set up your electricity, gas, and water. Many providers in Germany now offer English-language services, so you should find it quite easy to get everything up and running. Find the Best Internet Providers in Germany - Guide by Simple Germany


Navigating the Postal System


Once you're settled in, it's time to navigate the German postal system. Opening a post box is a straightforward process, and you can send and receive mail both nationally and internationally. Note that the Deutsche Post is the main postal service in Germany and they offer various services, like letter mail, parcel service, and registered mail.


Conclusion


Moving to Germany is an exciting but challenging adventure, but not an insurmountable one. We've covered some of the major points that you need to consider:


  • Understanding the German residency requirements.
  • Adapting to the German culture which is steeped in tradition yet, has a touch of modernity.
  • Getting a complete idea of the expat life in Germany, from the cost of living to the social scene.
  • Tips on finding a job in Germany, something that's key to your successful relocation.


Remember, thousands of people relocate to Germany every year and successfully integrate into this dynamic society. You're not alone; there are numerous resources and a supportive expat community waiting to welcome you. Leaning into the experience can lead to extraordinary personal growth and potential career progression. Germany is a land of opportunity, so embrace your move with open arms, and enjoy the adventure that awaits. Planning a big move or ready to embark on your expat journey? Look no further! Jobs Europe connects jobseekers with international job opportunities, explore Germany and find remote or on-site job opportunities here 🇩🇪🌍🛫