8 luglio 2020

Living in Germany: an expert guide

Living in Germany: an expert guide

Germany is well known for its excellent education system, fair employment rights and high performing economy. The pull of free university and well-paid jobs entices individuals, from potential students to highly skilled professionals, to take a stab at living in the country. So if you’re deciding between living in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg or one of the country’s many other thriving cities, keep reading to find out our top tips on living in Germany! 

 

Is it expensive to live in Germany?

The average monthly living costs in Germany are estimated to be around 850€. This is, therefore, the same amount used to prove you have enough funds when applying for a visa. So if you plan on staying for 2 months, you should be able to prove you have 1700€ (2 months = 850 x 2) to last during your stay.

Although Germany is more expensive than Spain, Portugal and Greece, it comes in at cheaper than Luxembourg, Switzerland and Denmark. Germany is a reasonably priced country and it’s a cheaper place to live than close neighbour the Netherlands, making it an enticing place to consider relocating to. 

 

What are the benefits of living in Germany?

Germany is a country which speaks for itself in terms of benefits. The efficient nature of the people and the stunning surroundings are no rumour, with impressive architecture and excellent facilities in every corner of the country. The German economy is the largest in Europe and the work-life balance is far superior to many other Western countries. There are cycle path networks in every city and over 2,500 parks on offer in Berlin alone!

To name just a few, here are the top benefits of living in Germany:

  • Germans have an excellent work-life balance
  • The cost of living isn’t too high
  • Germany enjoys strong economic growth overall
  • The transportation networks are extremely efficientVisitors have an opportunity to learn German for free
  • Employment rights are sophisticated

 

Is healthcare free in Germany?

Everyone in Germany is required by law to have medical insurance, with national health insurance covering around 90% of the population. The German healthcare insurance system is the oldest in Europe, which President Obama used as a model to reform the US healthcare effort. As an individual moving to Germany you must register with a health insurance company, or a Krankenkasse, in order to access health care.

You can choose your own healthcare provider who will issue a health insurance card to you which you can take to the doctors, dentist, etc. If you live in Germany and you’re from the UK, you’re unable to use your EHIC card for free healthcare in Germany. However, the healthcare system does provide free care for all, using statutory contributions to fund the operation.

 

Getting a German driving license

When becoming a resident in Germany, you’re no longer able to use your foreign license and must exchange it for a German version. After moving to Germany, you have 6 months during which you can exchange your UK license for a German driving license. Residents from the UK are able to use their German licenses in the UK for short visits, as well as exchange it for a UK version if they choose to move back.

Something to consider: if you’re no longer in possession of your UK driving license or it expires, you cannot renew it with the DVLA whilst living in Germany.

 

How much is rent in Germany?

Traditionally homeownership in Germany has been low, with most residents choosing to rent apartments rather than purchase properties. However, the rent patterns in Germany have now shifted, with buying significantly more common. The levels of net migration since 2010 have meant demand for both renting and buying has taken a sharp rise.

Without being fluent in German, it can be challenging to find a room. Rental agreements are often confusing with security deposits, broker fees and additional hidden costs. For this reason, it is recommended to find a helpful English speaking real estate agent to guide you along the way. This can also come in handy for the furnishing of your apartment since most homes and apartments in Germany are sold without furniture.

In fact, most will not even have kitchen appliances, meaning you must either ship your household items to Germany or purchase new ones. Alternatively, you can seek used kitchens online, through local newspapers, or by agreeing to purchase the furnishings from the apartment’s previous owner.

 

Supermarkets

German supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl have become famous for their discounted products. However, these stores are also examples of what to expect from German supermarkets, with their limited selection of products and brands. Whereas supermarkets in the US and UK contain masses of different branded products, German stores will have around half this amount. Instead, German supermarkets contain a wider variety of cheeses, bread, meats and other more grocery-like items.

When you go to a German store, you should take your own shopping bags and prepare to pack your groceries away. Unlike US stores, bag packers are not readily available and shopping bags cost extra. When it comes to paying, it is best to play it safe with cash in euros until you have established whether your card will be accepted by German supermarkets. Then, once you have set up your German bank account, you can easily transfer money across using a fixed rate with Paysend!