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Moving to Germany

Located in the north of Western Europe, Germany is blessed with breathtaking landscapes that include lush forests, rivers, imposing mountain ranges and sweeping North Sea beaches. A country steeped in a storied, millennia-long history, Germany boasts several major metros each with its own unique past, character and charm, the capital being Berlin.

Expats moving to Germany usually find the transition straightforward and painless, without too much culture shock. A cosmopolitan and innovative country with a powerful economy, Germany has long been a popular expat destination for the high living standards it offers.

One of the biggest hurdles expats who want to move to Germany will face is its stringent immigration regulations. But there are opportunities for qualified expats in fields such as business, science and technology, especially if they have skills that are in short supply.

The general standard of infrastructure is excellent. Expats probably won’t need a car thanks to extensive public transport in German cities, and long-distance travel is made easy thanks to low-cost flights and good transport links.

Expats have a variety of options when it comes to accommodation in Germany too – from furnished or unfurnished apartments and maisonettes to trendy studios, cottages and family houses. Most expats living in Germany rent property, but the process of purchasing a house isn’t complicated, even for foreign nationals.

Both public and private hospitals in Germany are on par with international standards, and expats with specific health concerns can find comfort in the fact that specialist facilities are in good supply.

The standard of education in Germany is exceptionally high. The system accommodates the fact that students have different abilities and there are various options that include an array of international schools throughout the country. 

Living costs in Germany can be quite high but not necessarily higher than the average for Western European countries. As can be expected, rural areas are cheaper than cities. Expats may also find that life in Germany is quite rigid. But if they’re willing to accept its strict rules, they’ll be rewarded with high standards of living in a safe environment amid wonderful scenery and warm people once you get to know them.


Fast facts

Official name: Federal Republic of Germany

Population: Around 83 million

Capital city: Berlin (also largest city)

Neighbouring countries: Germany shares borders with Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Switzerland and Austria to the south, France to the southwest, and Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to the west.

Geography: Germany has a diverse landscape stretching from the mountainous regions of the Alps across the forested North European Plain, to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

Political system: Constitutional republic

Main languages: German is the official language but English is widely understood.

Major religions: Christianity

Money: The Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents, is the official currency. Germany has a sophisticated banking system and opening a bank account as an expat is relatively easy. ATMs are easy to find throughout the country.

Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the end of March to the end of October)

Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. Two-pin European plugs are standard.

International dialling code: +49

Emergency numbers: 110 (police), 112 (ambulance)

Internet domain: .de

Transport and driving: Germany has a well-established and efficient public transport system and a car is not necessary if living in one of the country's major cities. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.

Weather in Germany

Expats living in Germany will find the climate to be strikingly inconsistent.

Weather in Germany changes frequently from day to day and even seasonal patterns vary from year to year. The northwest region of the country is generally the coldest, with temperatures increasing eastwards and southwards. On the whole, summers tend to be warm across Germany and winters cold. Extremes aren't common, but severe winters can sweep through the country every now and then.

Spring can be slow to take shape and Indian summers reaching into October can make an appearance every so often. Rainfall mostly occurs during the summer months. Expats who enjoy the drama of a thunderstorm will likely experience quite a few.

Newcomers to Germany will find that the best way to prepare for the weather is to make a habit of checking local stations daily, and even hourly, before leaving the house.

 
 

Embassy contacts for Germany


German embassies

  • German Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 298 4000

  • German Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7824 1300

  • German Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 232 1101

  • German Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6270 1911

  • German Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 427 8999

  • German Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 269 3011

  • German Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 473 6063


Foreign embassies in Germany

  • United States Embassy, Berlin: +49 30 8305 0

  • British Embassy, Berlin: +49 30 20 457 0

  • Canadian Embassy, Berlin: +49 30 203 120

  • Australian Embassy, Berlin: +49 30 880 088 0

  • South African Embassy, Berlin: +49 30 220 730

  • Irish Embassy, Berlin: +49 30 220 720

  • New Zealand Embassy, Berlin: +49 30 206 21 0

Public Holidays in Germany

  

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Good Friday

2 April

15 April

Easter Monday

5 April

18 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Ascension Day

13 May

26 May

Whit Monday

24 May

6 June

Day of German Unity

3 October

3 October

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Second Day of Christmas

26 December

26 December

*If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday becomes a holiday. Some states have additional holidays.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Germany

For many years, Germany has been a popular destination for expats. But, as with any destination, life in Germany comes with certain pros and cons. The country has plenty of job opportunities and excellent infrastructure. On the other hand, expats can experience a lot of culture shock when first moving here owing to the language barrier and conservative culture. Below are some of our biggest pros and cons of moving to Germany.


Cost of living in Germany

+ PRO: Low cost of living

Overall the cost of living in Germany is relatively low, depending on the location, of course. Basic needs such as food, electricity, internet and clothing are all affordable. Barring the city centres of Munich and Frankfurt, even accommodation is relatively cheap depending on where one chooses to live. Compared to coastal cities in the US and other major European countries, Germany is relatively affordable.

- CON: Extreme tax deductions

The biggest con of living in Germany is the high amount of tax that is deducted from a worker’s pay. Depending on one’s salary, income tax can be as high as 40 percent of one's income. The upside of these high taxes is the fact that it allows many subsidies and free education and healthcare.


Working in Germany

+ PRO: Good work-life balance

Working in Germany comes with a good work-life balance. Munich, Hamburg and Berlin are frequently ranked in the top 10 'most livable' cities in Germany. Germans tend to negotiate for more flexible working hours and often put their families above work.

-  CON: Rising through the ranks can be tough

Since Germany has such a large pool of highly educated workers, competition for top positions can be fierce. Rising through the ranks can be hard for many workers, but it's especially true for foreigners. There's a definite glass ceiling in workplaces in Germany that only a few get to break through.


Culture shock in Germany

+ PRO: Locals are disciplined and punctual

Many expats often are shocked at the Germans’ punctuality and discipline. But, once acclimatised, expats find it refreshing, and work culture, and life in general, is much improved because of it.

- CON: Locals aren’t particularly friendly

The Germans aren’t known for being friendly or particularly welcoming. Though this can be off-putting and intimidating initially, once expats start settling in, they’ll notice that this brusque attitude isn’t personal. One-on-one, Germans can be tough to engage with, but once expats do succeed in getting past this exterior, they’ll find the locals to be wonderful people.

- CON: Language barrier

Though most Germans speak English well, there's a general reluctance from their side to speak the language. Germans often won’t speak English in certain situations out of embarrassment or simply because they don’t want the exchange to last too long. To add to the language barrier, the German language can also be pretty hard to learn.


Lifestyle in Germany

+ PRO: Easy access to other European countries

Many expats enjoy living in Germany as it’s so easy to travel to other European countries. One can simply get on a bus, train or even rent a car and experience a completely different environment within a few hours. This proximity makes weekend trips to countries such as France, Belgium and the Czech Republic eminently possible.

- CON: Bland food

Though Germany is known for its excellent beer and delicious pretzels, the rest of the local cuisine can be rather limited. Though expats from other European countries may not notice it as much, those from more exotic countries may struggle with daily meals consisting of bread and potatoes.


Healthcare in Germany

+ PRO: High standard of healthcare

The healthcare system in Germany is highly modern and well developed. Most hospital workers can speak English, so expats won’t experience a language barrier. Hospital staff, in general, tend to be friendly and efficient, and hospitals are equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

- CON: Public health insurance can be slow

At times the government can take a long time to pay medical providers. This can then lead to making an appointment or finding a new doctor with state insurance a challenge. There's a noticeable difference between how those with private medical insurance are treated in comparison to people on public insurance.


Getting around in Germany

+ PRO: Excellent public transport options

Germany has a great public transport system. One can easily get across the country and even travel to neighbouring countries by train and bus. Cities are also well serviced by local bus, train and tram systems, so much so, that many expats don’t feel the need to own a car.

- CON: Cycling can be hard

Many strict rules need to be followed when one wants to cycle in a German city. Not following these rules can result in fines. Vehicles also tend to use bicycle lanes for their own purposes which can make it hard getting around on a bike.

Working in Germany

Working in Germany and in one of the world's largest, most stable and flourishing economies is an enticing prospect for many expats. Immigration policies have tried to curb unskilled immigrants entering the country to protect local labour, but there are opportunities for qualified expats in industries with skills shortages.

Those moving to Germany from outside the EU will need to ensure that they are eligible for a work permit for Germany


Job market in Germany

The German IT and tech industries are enormous and in desperate need of skilled employees, and policy is shaped to attract qualified personnel. There are also opportunities for expats working in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and high-tech science fields.

Salaries in Germany are some of the highest in the world, and expats with degrees in sought-after fields can expect to earn well.

When negotiating their employment packages, expats will need to remember that they'll be discussing their salary as a gross amount. Taxes in Germany are high and depending on their salary, expats can have as much as 50 percent deducted from their monthly earnings. Many employers will lure expats by offering incentives such as performance bonuses, salary reviews and contributions towards private health insurance policies.

The German labour market is highly regulated and, as a result, employees have lots of protection and benefits. All workers in Germany are entitled to holidays, paid sick days, maternity/paternity leave and the option of working part time.


Finding a job in Germany

Most expats who move to Germany are transferred from the overseas offices of international companies. 

Those who are looking to move to Germany without a job in hand will need to get to grips with some of the nuances of the German job market. When applying for a job in Germany, expats will have to provide a comprehensive CV (Lebenslauf) that documents their entire education and professional career in reverse chronological order.

They'll also have to attach written recommendations from previous employers and copies of degrees and awards. It's best to include these with the original application rather than waiting for them to be requested, as may be the case elsewhere.

German employers want a complete picture of prospective employees and omitting any important details could negatively impact an expat's chances of success, especially if the other applicants are German.

Many expats enlist a recruitment agency when looking for a job in Germany. They can help find out about jobs in specific fields and advise candidates on which documents to include for a particular application. They're also well equipped to advise expats about what they should expect in terms of salaries and benefits.

Online job portals are also a good source of information. Once in Munich, expats can consult the job listings in local newspapers for information on vacancies. Company websites also regularly list vacancies.


Work culture in Germany

Business culture in Germany in general is formal and efficiency in the workplace is paramount. Time is money – so being punctual is important. Once the meeting begins, Germans get straight down to business and there's little room for small talk.

Punctuality and appearance are important, so expats should dress well and arrive at meetings fully prepared and on time. It's best to avoid humour, especially at first, as it can be misconstrued. One should expect to be asked detailed questions and have facts and figures on hand to back up what is being presented.

Although most Germans speak English well, many prefer to speak their own language when it comes to business negotiations. Expats who don't speak German should consider hiring a translator for important meetings. Newcomers to Munich will find that Germans are private and maintain a strict separation between their work and home life, so it will take some time to forge more personal relationships with colleagues.

Doing Business in Germany

A major international business hub, Germany's location at the heart of Europe means that expats doing business in the country have instant access to Western Europe as well as the emerging markets of Eastern Europe.

Each year large numbers of established companies extend their operations to Germany and relocate staff there. Budding entrepreneurs also see it as a great place to start their own businesses.

This is also demonstrated by Germany's ranking in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Survey. In 2020, Germany ranked 22nd out of 190 countries surveyed. It scored particularly well in areas such as resolving insolvency (4th) and getting electricity (5th) However, Germany did fall short in areas such as starting a business (125th).

Understanding the market and the nuances of German business etiquette will be key to an expat's success in their new surroundings.


Fast facts

Business hours

Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm.

Business language

English is widely spoken and commonly used when it comes to business at the multinational level. However, expats shouldn't automatically assume their associates can speak English. For those planning on doing business within smaller companies or municipal authorities, it is useful to have some knowledge of German.

Dress

Formal and conservative – dark suits and corporate wear for both men and women working in banking, business and finance. In more creative industries such as fashion, art and advertising, there is more freedom in what people can wear.

Gifts

Gift-giving is not a usual part of business culture in Germany. Small gifts such as flowers, wine or chocolate can be given if invited into a colleague’s home.

Gender equality

Germany has made great strides towards equality in the workplace, and ranks highly internationally in this regard.


Business culture in Germany

The business culture in Germany tends to be quite conservative. Expats will need to understand and incorporate elements of German business culture into their practices if they wish to be successful and make a good impression in the local workplace. 

Efficiency

Business culture in Germany is formal and efficiency in the workplace is paramount. Time is money – so being punctual is important. Once the meeting begins, Germans get straight down to business and there's little room for small talk.

Formality

Business meetings in Germany are formal affairs and first names are rarely used in business relationships. Punctuality and appearance are important, so expats should dress well and arrive at meetings fully prepared and on time. It's best to avoid humour, especially at first, as it can be misconstrued. One should expect to be asked detailed questions and have facts and figures on hand to back up what is being presented.

Language 

Although most Germans speak English well, many prefer to speak their own language when it comes to business negotiations. Expats who don't speak German should consider hiring a translator for important meetings. 

Greetings

Handshakes are the customary greeting in professional and social contexts. Business contacts must be addressed by their surname, which is to be preceded by Herr for men and Frau for women. First names are only used when invited to do so by a senior person, usually once some level of mutual respect has been established.

Networking

Expats will find that Germans are private and maintain a strict separation between their work and home life, so it will take some time to forge more personal relationships with colleagues. At lunch meetings, expats should allow the host to start business discussions and shouldn't be surprised if alcohol is served.


Dos and don’ts of business in Germany

  • Do arrive well prepared for meetings and ready to answer questions.

  • Don't arrive late to meetings or job interviews. Punctuality is important.

  • Do dress formally in the workplace. Dark suits and corporate wear are safe options.

  • Don't assume everyone speaks English. Learn some German before embarking on a business venture or consider using an interpreter for important meetings.

  • Do maintain eye contact when addressing German colleagues, especially during initial introductions.

  • Don't try to integrate humour into the business environment.

Visas for Germany

Expats will need to get their paperwork in order and make sure they have the right visa for Germany before relocating.

As a member of the European Union, citizens of other EU states can enter with nothing but their passports and are entitled to live and work in Germany without a visa. But once there they will still need to get a residency permit.

Non-EU citizens travelling to Germany for a short stay may need to apply for a Schengen visa, which usually takes about two weeks. Non-EU expats planning to live or work in the country will need to get the necessary work or residency permit.


Tourist visas for Germany

Germany is signatory to the Schengen Agreement, so nationals of other Schengen countries won't need to apply for a tourist visa before they arrive. Their passports are stamped upon arrival and they can stay for 90 days.

Aside from the Schengen Countries, citizens of the UK, US, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand can stay in Germany for 90 days or less without a visa.

Schengen visas for Germany

Most non-EU citizens have to apply for a tourist visa at a German embassy or consulate ahead of time. It's best to apply well in advance – it's possible to submit three months before the planned departure date. 

Schengen visa holders can visit other Schengen states, but if they do plan on travelling to other countries, they should apply at the consulate of the country they arrive in or the one they plan to spend most of their time in. 

It is important to note that Schengen visa holders don't have permission to work or conduct business in Germany and other member countries.


Business visas for Germany

Expats wanting to travel to do business in Germany need to apply for a business visa which requires a formal invitation from a German company. They'll also need to provide evidence of their visit, including the duration of their stay, and a guarantee for any costs involved.

Even someone visiting the German office of their current employer would need a business visa.


Work permits for Germany

Most expats who intend to settle and work for longer periods will need a German work permit (Arbeitserlaubnis). The requirements will differ depending on where they're from. 

While citizens of most EU states won't need a permit, those from newer member states like Bulgaria and Romania may require one if they plan on working in certain sectors.

Anyone planning on living in Germany needs a residency permit, regardless of where they come from. 


Residency permits for Germany

Applications for a residency permit (Aufaenhalt) must either be done in person at a German embassy or consulate, or through the immigration authorities in Germany. Since EU nationals have the right to live and work in Germany, getting a residency permit is simply a formality.

There are three different types of residency permits for non-EU citizens who intend to work in Germany. The first is for general employment (Arbeit), the second is for professionals with specialist skills and the third is for self-employed foreigners. In most cases, it's essential that non-EU expats have their residency permits approved before they arrive. 

Expats will either be granted a limited or an unlimited residency permit once their application is approved, which will depend on their country of origin and reasons for being in Germany. Permits attached to a fixed-term contract are granted for the same length of time as the contract states.  

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Work Permits for Germany

Partly owing to the relatively high level of unemployment in the Eurozone, it's become difficult for non-EU nationals without specialist skills to find employment or get work permits for Germany.

While the government has implemented policies to protect jobs for locals, citizens from certain EU-member states have the right to live and work in Germany without restriction. But those hoping to stay for longer than three months will need to get a residency permit. Those who have sought-after skills may qualify for a specialist professional residence permit.

It's important to note that while most EU citizens can work in Germany without a permit, citizens of newer member states such as Bulgaria and Romania have to get one to work in certain sectors.

Expats from outside the EU will need to apply for one of three types of work permits for Germany. 


General employment permit for Germany

Expats who apply for general employment (arbeit) need a firm offer of employment from a German company and a vocational qualification.

The general employment permit is fairly difficult to obtain, mainly because the German government prefers jobs to be given to German nationals wherever possible – so employers have to justify why a foreign national would be more suitable for the job. 


Specialist professional residence permit for Germany

Several types of people can apply for a specialist professional residence permit for Germany. Most applicants are graduates with specialist skills. University professors, managers with several years of experience, and those with very specific skills can also apply for this type of permit. 

It helps if applicants can prove they have German language skills. They must also prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the country, have a firm offer of employment and can submit their degrees and qualifications. 


Self-employed residence permit for Germany

The third type of work permit is for expats who are self employed or planning to set up a business. To get a self-employed residence permit applicants need to demonstrate how their specific skills are required in the particular area of Germany they plan on settling down in.

Those who want to set up a business need to show that their business will make a positive contribution to the local economy – by employing local staff, for example. Applicants must also prove they can fund the startup of their business as there are limited business funding opportunities for non-German nationals. 

Expats planning to apply for this type of visa should draw up a detailed business plan illustrating its long-term goals and the steps they'll take to achieve them. It's likely to be in their favour if they have a similar business elsewhere.

Self-employed residence permits are usually granted for three years to give the business a chance to get off the ground and flourish. When it comes to renewal, the permit will be extended indefinitely if the applicant can prove it's been a success.

*Visa and work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Cost of Living in Germany

The cost of living in Germany is generally high, but on par with other Western European countries. Munich is Germany's most expensive city, ranking 72nd out of 209 cities in Mercer's 2020 Cost of Living Survey. This makes it cheaper than London and Paris, but more expensive than Madrid and Brussels.

Accommodation prices range depending on the neighbourhood and the size and type (flat-share, apartment or house). Private healthcare is also quite expensive, as are school fees for international schools. Items such as clothing and cellular phones aren’t cheap either.

Taxes in Germany are also high, but expenses for expats are likely to be offset by higher salaries.


Cost of accommodation in Germany

The cost of accommodation in Germany is generally quite high, but property prices vary depending on the area.

Germany is a country of renters and few people buy property. For instance, only around a tenth of people living in Berlin own their homes. While there are no major restrictions on non-Germans buying property, most expats also rent rather than buy homes in Germany.

The kinds of accommodation and their prices vary widely in most cities. Rent in major cities such as Berlin and Munich tends to be high – it's common for it to take up half of a person's monthly salary. Expat accommodation tends to be fairly expensive as it's typically furnished or partly furnished.


Cost of education in Germany

Schooling and education in Germany are of an excellent standard. Public schools don't charge fees and are an option well worth considering for expats with children young enough to pick up the language, or those who plan on moving for the long term.

But most expats send their children to international schools in Germany owing to the language barrier and to continue in the curriculum from their home country. These do tend to come at a hefty price though, and tuition fees vary according to the institution and the child's grade level.


Cost of transport in Germany

There are many options when it comes to transport in Germany, but not all of them are cheap.

Trains are often the fastest and most efficient way to get around. Travelling on the InterCity Express trains tends to be more expensive, while regular InterCity trains provide a cheaper alternative. Expats who plan on travelling by train should keep an eye out for special offers. The Bahn Card is also a good investment as it's valid for a year and often gives discounts.

Bus travel tends to be cheaper than travelling by train. If commuters book their tickets in advance they can get seats at reduced prices.

Generally, expats living in major urban hubs such as Hamburg or Munich won't need to own a car thanks to well-developed public transport networks. For those that do choose to drive in Germany, it isn't cheap – especially when it comes to fuel, parking and maintenance.


Cost of health insurance in Germany

If expats fall ill during their stay, they can rest assured that they will be in good hands thanks to high-quality local hospitals. It is, however, compulsory to have some form of health insurance in Germany.

Expats who are employed in Germany can take advantage of the state health insurance plan, which offers subsidised health insurance. That said, those who are self employed will need to purchase private health insurance which can cost a great deal.

International health insurance premiums vary according to the age and health of the individual as well as the type of cover they need. 


Cost of living in Germany chart

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Munich in March 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,000 - 1,500

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 750 - 1,200

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,900 - 3,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 1,300 - 2,200

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1

Eggs (dozen)

EUR 2.65

Loaf of bread (white)

EUR 1.70

Rice (1kg)

EUR 1.95

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 7.20

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 7

Utilities

Monthly internet (uncapped ADSL or cable)

EUR 35

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

EUR 0.10

Monthly utilities for standard household (electricity, water etc.)

EUR 270

Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner

EUR 15

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

EUR 60

Big Mac Meal

EUR 8.25

Cappuccino

EUR 3.20

Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 2.85

Beer (local)

EUR 4

Transportation

Taxi/km

EUR 2

City bus

EUR 3.30

Petrol per litre

EUR 1.30

Culture Shock in Germany

Expats from elsewhere in Europe or North America have little trouble adjusting to their new surroundings in Germany, but there are a few things that expats will need to get used to.

We recommend taking the time to learn about local cultural norms and having a basic knowledge of German, which will certainly go some way to help expats overcome culture shock in Germany.


Language barrier in Germany

Many expats find that getting to grips with German is their biggest cultural hurdle. Although many Germans speak English as a second language, there's no guarantee that everyone an expat comes across will be able to speak it fluently.

It's a good idea for expats to take some German lessons before they move. Being able to speak a few basic phrases is advantageous in a working environment and will make socialising with locals easier.

Germans usually appreciate it when foreigners try to communicate in their language and are often willing to help new arrivals improve their language skills.


Cultural etiquette in Germany

New arrivals soon find that Germans value order, privacy and punctuality. Careful planning and preparation help many people maintain a sense of security both in their business and personal lives.

People in Germany tend to adhere to rules quite strictly, and they'll often let people know what's expected of them. Expats shouldn't be offended if someone corrects their behaviour, for instance telling them that they have parked incorrectly – keeping each other in check is seen as a social duty and just part of cultural etiquette in Germany.

Germans generally believe there is a proper time for every activity, and keep their work and personal lives separate. At work, they focus on the task at hand rather than making small talk, and they avoid talking extensively about their work at social occasions.

Efficiency is also important in the workplace. When the work day ends at around 4pm or 5pm, people are expected to leave. If someone stays after normal business hours, it usually isn't seen as a sign of their being hard-working but rather that they didn't plan their day well.

Punctuality is important too, in business and social arrangements, and being late for a meeting is seen as disrespectful. Expats should make every effort to arrive on time and let their associates know if they're running a little late.


Food in Germany

While expats will certainly find a wide range of international cuisine as well as various health foods in the main urban centres of Germany, it may take a while to get used to traditional German food.

German cuisine is highly meat-based, so vegans and vegetarians may struggle at first. But it shouldn't take too long for new arrivals to familiarise themselves with traditional foods and find something that meets their dietary requirements. Traditional German food tends to be very hearty and rich. Portions tend to be on the larger side as well. 


Communication in Germany

Germans may seem unfriendly and unemotional at first. But this is often because they respect each other's privacy. Similarly, being loud or angry in public is seen as a sign of weakness.

Expats should be careful about complimenting people and do so sparingly – too many can come across as false and embarrass a person rather than flatter them.

While they are generally polite, Germans tend to communicate directly. This type of honesty may cause offence in other cultures, but it's appreciated and expected here. Locals also enjoy their personal space and avoid touching people while speaking unless they're family or close friends. It's best to keep an arm’s length of space when talking to acquaintances.

Accommodation in Germany

Finding a place to stay in Germany is the first priority for most expats. And having a comfortable home in an area that's suited to their lifestyle will go a long way to easing the transition in their new surroundings.

Accommodation in Germany ranges from furnished apartments and maisonettes to trendy studio apartments, cottages and large family homes. Luckily there are plenty of options for reasonably priced housing in most cities.

As one travels further from the cities, iconic German fachwerk (half-timbered) houses, cottages, and bauernhause (farmhouses) become available. 

Expats usually rent property in Germany rather than buy because of the short-term nature of most expat assignments, but most locals tend to rent their homes, too. 


Types of accommodation in Germany

Expats moving to Germany will find their choice in types of property will depend on whereabouts in the country they are based. Generally, within the city centres of major urban hubs, most people tend to live in apartments. The standard of accommodation in Germany is on par with other countries in Western Europe. Properties are often comfortable but small, air conditioning isn't common (though it is rarely necessary), and adequate heating is essential in winter.

Expats wanting to rent property in cities such as BerlinFrankfurt and Munich will find that housing costs are largely determined by location; the closer someone lives to the city centre, the more they can expect to pay. Many people look for accommodation in outlying suburbs where they get a better balance between price and space than 'downtown' areas.

One benefit of living in Germany is that no matter where expats live, they'll have access to efficient public transport.  


Finding accommodation in Germany

The process of finding a property to rent in Germany is relatively easy. Expats can search online or check local newspaper listings – especially as using a real-estate agent can cost as much as a month's rent in some cases.

Once they've found a suitable property, expats will need to arrange a time and a date for a viewing (bezichtiging) with the landlord. Group viewings are common, and there may be as many as 20 other potential tenants at a single viewing. Expats should express interest immediately if they've found the right property, especially because landlords often determine the shortlist for rental applications themselves. They should also note that they may need to pay three months' rent as a security deposit.

While shipping furniture to Germany – particularly from within the EU – is a viable option, expats shouldn't have much trouble buying items to kit out their new homes after they arrive. Most German cities have numerous stores that sell new, second-hand and antique furniture.

Home security shouldn't be a major issue either. Although petty theft does occur, especially in the downtown areas of major cities, home invasions and violent crimes are rare, and expats generally feel safe in their homes. 


Renting accommodation in Germany

The availability of rental property does vary from one location to another. In the major cities, properties do tend to move quickly as the demand is high, so expats will need to act quickly in order to secure a suitable place. 

Upon finding suitable accommodation, expats should start by arranging a viewing with the landlord or agent. If the property is particularly popular the landlord may opt to hold a group viewing. Having viewed a property, if expats are interested in renting it, they will need to express this to the landlord or agent. Again, if the area or property is popular then the landlord may take their time and compare potential applications. In such cases, expats will need to ensure their paperwork is in order so that they can apply swiftly. Usually, expats will be required to provide a copy of their ID, work permit (if applicable) and payslips or a contract of employment. 

To secure a property in Germany, tenants are required to put down a security deposit of at least one month's rent. In some cases, the landlord may ask for up to three months' rent as a security deposit. Generally, leases are a year long, but expats can try to negotiate a short-term lease if necessary. Be sure to read the tenancy agreement carefully in order to understand how much notice is required to terminate a lease early. Furthermore, tenants should carry out an inventory and note any damages to the property formally to ensure the security deposit can be returned in full at the end of the lease.

Renting property in Germany

As is the case in most countries, expats in Germany generally tend to rent property rather than buy due to the short term nature of most expat assignments.

However, this trend also applies to local Germans, most of whom rent property instead of buying throughout their lives.


Types of rental property in Germany

The types of property available vary according to where one is based. In the city centres of major German cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Munich expats will find that most people will live in apartment buildings. However, the further one goes into the suburbs the more chances there are of finding houses with gardens suitable for families.


Finding rental property in Germany

Most expats moving to Germany enlist the help of estate agents (makier) in finding properties. The advantages of using these services are that these professionals have an intimate knowledge of local property markets and they can really help those who struggle with the language barrier when it comes to negotiating and understanding local property laws.  While renters won’t usually be expected to pay agent’s fees, the properties promoted by agents do tend have higher rental rates.

Online property portals are a great source of information and allow expats to do some background research before arriving in the country. Expats who are able to find a property through an online source will save on agent’s fees.


Rental contracts in Germany

When expats have found a suitable home in Germany they will have to sign a mietvertrag (rental contract) to secure the property. The contract contains various details about the property in addition the rights and obligations of the tenant.

Most rental contracts in Germany are one year long and if either party wants to terminate the lease early they’ll need to provide three months' notice. Expats should ensure they are aware of whether the quoted rental amount includes additional utility costs. They'll also need to pay a security deposit of one or two months' rent.  

Tenants should ensure they are present with the landlord or estate agent when an inventory of all the items and any damages is carried out before they move in. If there is any damage to the property at the end of occupation, the landlord will be entitled to deduct these costs from the tenant's security deposit.

Once the contract is signed both parties are legally bound it is therefore essential that expats fully understand the document. 

Healthcare in Germany

The standard of healthcare in Germany is excellent and there's a growing culture centred on healthy living.

Both public and private hospitals in Germany should meet expats' expectations. Germany is home to several leaders in medical research and pharmaceuticals, and there are numerous specialist hospitals, with Berlin, in particular, being a leading health destination in Europe and housing some of the country's largest medical centres. 


Hospitals in Germany

With more than 2,000 hospitals in the country, expats will never be too far away from medical assistance. Around half of these are public hospitals, while there are two kinds of private hospitals in Germany: non-profit and for-profit facilities.

Medical facilities in both public and private clinics in Germany are first class and are known for having short waiting times. Doctors and medical staff are well trained, professional and generally speak fluent English. Most German hospitals have a number of specialists, but it's also possible to find specialists that work outside of hospitals.

Typically, expats in need of medical assistance would first visit a General Practitioner who would assess them and then refer them to a specialist if it's necessary.

EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.


Pharmacies and medicines in Germany

Pharmacies, or Apotheken as they're known locally, are easy to find and can be identified by a large red 'A' on their signs.

By law, pharmacies in Germany must be owned and run by a qualified pharmacist. But each pharmacist is only allowed to own up to three pharmacies. So, unlike many other countries, expats won't find any large drugstore chains in Germany. North American expats should note that a drug store, or Drogerie, in Germany sells toiletries and consumer goods but not medicines.

In German pharmacies, all medications including non-prescription drugs, are kept behind the counter. Only a selection of non-medicinal health products is available on the shelves.

Pharmacists in Germany are cautious and are likely to ask customers whether they understand the dosage on their prescriptions. They also generally speak English well and can offer advice on non-prescription medicines.

Pharmacies in Germany tend to be well stocked. If a customer needs medicine that's not in stock, it can usually be ordered for pick-up in a few hours or the following day.

Most pharmacies are closed in the evenings, on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and holidays. Some even close early on Wednesdays. However, every pharmacy has a list on the door with pharmacies in the local area that stay open late to handle emergencies.


Health insurance in Germany

It's compulsory for all residents in Germany to have health insurance, including expats with a residence permit for Germany or a fixed-term contract for more than a year – so new arrivals will have to sign up for some form of health insurance.

There are two types of health insurance in Germany: private health insurance through a company, or statutory health insurance provided by the state. Expats can only take advantage of statutory health insurance if they are formally employed by a company in Germany, while self-employed expats have to get a private policy.

Employers share the cost of health insurance with expats and usually pay half of the cost per month, regardless of whether the expat has chosen private or statutory health insurance.


Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for Germany

No special vaccinations are required for expats moving to Germany. However, these routine vaccinations are recommended:

  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)

  • Tetanus 

  • Diphtheria

  • Hepatitis B


Emergency services in Germany

In the event of an emergency, expats can call an ambulance in Germany by dialling 115. With the exception of some smaller private hospitals, most hospitals in Germany will have an Accident and Emergency unit. 

If a patient arrives at a German hospital in an emergency situation they will receive treatment even if they are unable to show proof of health insurance. However, if they aren't covered, their treatment is likely to be expensive.

Education and Schools in Germany

The national government only plays a minor role in providing education in Germany and the responsibility for schools mainly lies with individual states (lander). Therefore, differences in the curriculum, teaching style and facilities can vary not only between schools but between different areas in Germany.

The German education system accommodates and caters for students with various abilities. Beyond the traditional academic subjects of maths, science, geography, history and languages, the German system also provides opportunities for students to study vocational disciplines.


Public schools in Germany

The standard of education in Germany is generally good. Public school is only really an option for expats who plan on relocating to Germany for the long term or those with children who are young enough to pick up a new language without it having a negative impact on their education.

Most expats send their children to a private bilingual school in Germany or an international school which allows their children to continue studying the curriculum of their home country.

Nursery and kindergarten

Sending children to nursery school or kindergarten between the ages of three and six is optional in Germany. From the age of seven to 18 school attendance in Germany is compulsory.

Primary education

The education system varies throughout Germany owing to the fact that each state is in charge of its own education policy. However, most children attend primary school, or Grundschule, from the age of six to 12.

Secondary education

There are five types of schools that make up the secondary education system in Germany:

  • Gymnasium – secondary school which is designed to prepare students for tertiary education and finishes with final examination after grade 12 or 13.

  • Realschule – this type of school offers a broader education for intermediate students. Realschule offers a range of vocational subjects in addition to the traditional academic courses. There is a final assessment after grade 10.

  • Hauptschule – this type of school offers students a vocational education and the final examination takes place after grade 9 or 10.

  • Gesamtschule – school which combines academic courses with vocational ones and allows the student to transfer to either Hauptschule or Realschule in grade 10.

  • Sonderschulen – another type of school which prepares students for Hauptschule or Realschule. Only one in 21 pupils in Germany attends this type of school.

In Germany, most children only attend school in the morning. As there are usually no facilities for serving lunch to the students at public schools in Germany, most return home after their lessons in the morning and return in the afternoon for extra-curricular activities. The amount of extra-curricular activities available at schools in Germany varies considerably and is determined by each individual school.

Tertiary education

In order to apply to university in Germany, generally students are expected to have passed the Abitur examination following their Gymnasium education. However, students who have attended Realschule and passed the Master Craftsman’s Diploma, or Meisterbrief, have also become eligible to apply for certain university courses. 

For students who do not choose to attend university in Germany there is a special system of apprenticeship in place called Duale Ausbildung, which allows pupils who have studied vocational courses at secondary school to do in-service training at a company.


International schools in Germany

Most expats living in Germany send their children to an international school, since they eliminate concerns surrounding the language barrier.

German cities such as Berlin and Munich have large numbers of international schools which cater for students of a variety of nationalities.

International schools generally offer a high standard of learning, smaller class sizes and a variety of extra-curricular activities.

The downside to sending a child to an international school in Germany is the hefty price tag.


Bilingual schools in Germany

An alternative to expensive international schools are bilingual schools in Germany. These are effectively public schools and therefore have no fees attached. Bilingual schools are a good compromise as they allow expat children to mix with German and expat students.

Bilingual schools in Germany usually offer two curricula: one based on a child’s mother tongue and another in German.

Bilingual schools are very popular in Germany and therefore spaces tend to disappear fast, so expats considering this option should start researching school choices as early as possible before moving to Germany.


Special needs education in Germany

Children in Germany, regardless of disability, have the right, according to the Basic Law (Grundgesetz), to early childhood education, and primary, secondary and tertiary schooling. Children with disabilities are supported as far as possible in mainstream schools and there have been recommendations for increasingly inclusive educational practice in general education and vocational schools.

The goal is to enable children to be educated together regardless of ability and to guarantee and develop the standards achieved in special education teaching, advisory and support services. Ultimately, the government tries to ensure that those with special needs can comfortably attend their nearest school, have access to the same standard of education as their peers, learn and play in a safe environment and be able to make good academic and social progress.


Tutoring in Germany

Education is extremely highly valued in Germany, and tutors are widely used to improve and assist children's schooling. Tutors might be employed to assist in specific subjects such as maths or science, or expat parents will often hire a tutor to improve their child's German language proficiency. Tutors are further used in preparation for important exams or for university entrance exams.

Newcomers to Germany might also find that their child may benefit from having a guiding hand in navigating a new school system or just to build some confidence. Top private tuition companies include Lernwerk and Teachers24 Network.

Transport and Driving in Germany

Germany has a modern and efficient transport system and most people use public transport for getting around, with trains being the fastest and most economical way of travelling in Germany.

Expats living in major cities such as BerlinMunich or Frankfurt won’t need a car for local travel. And on occasions where they do decide to travel through the countryside, they can carpool or hire a car for a few days.


Public transport in Germany

Public transportation in Germany consists of trains and buses and, in major cities, trams too. With such a comprehensive railway network, long-distance buses aren't necessary, but are a good alternative for expats on a budget. 

Trains

Germany has an efficient and reasonably priced rail network that covers most of the country.

Trains are the most popular mode of transport in Germany as they're considerably faster than driving. For example, driving from Hamburg to Munich takes eight hours while the equivalent train ride only takes six.

Long-distance and regional trains in Germany are run by Deutsch Bahn and there are various services for expats looking to travel around Germany.

All of the major cities are linked to one another by InterCity Express (ICE) trains. These trains are operated at high speeds of up to 205 mph (330km/h), but tickets are pricey. 

Regular InterCity (IC) trains are more affordable. They're not as modern or as fast as the ICE trains but are still reasonably comfortable.

Both ICE and IC trains run approximately every hour during the day on the most popular routes. But expats should be aware that while the network is fast and modern, delays are known to happen – so it's best to avoid booking connecting trains that are less than 20 minutes apart.  

If expats are organised and plan their trip in advance they can make considerable savings. Reservations aren't always necessary, but pre-booking seats for travel on weekends or public holidays is a good idea. Ticket prices vary depending on the route and type of train. For those who plan on using trains regularly, getting a Bahn Card is a great investment. It is valid for one year and offers various discounts. Tickets for trains in Germany can be purchased at stations, on board the train and at an authorised vendor. However, for the most affordable rates, expats should purchase tickets online and as far in advance as possible.

Intercity buses

Apart from extensive bus services in all major cities and towns, there are also a handful of intercity bus routes in Germany, and most of them travel to or from the capital, Berlin. The major advantage of travelling by bus in Germany is the price. 

For those booking in advance, the Neun-Euro Bus allows passengers to travel on any service connecting Hamburg, Hanover, Kassel, Frankfurt, Mannheim and Heidelberg for a set price.


Taxis in Germany

Taxis are plentiful in Germany's major cities and are cheaper than in many other large European capitals. Most drivers speak English and are generally helpful. 

Expats can either flag one down in the street or find a taxistand (taxi rank). While taxis are easy to find in city centres, if travelling to or from the suburbs it is best to pre-book a vehicle ahead of time.

Travelling by taxi can be useful late at night, and it becomes a cost-effective method of transport if a single vehicle is shared by a group of people travelling in the same direction. 

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Free Now are also a super convenient way to get around. Expats can simply download the app, link their credit card and start riding.


Domestic flights in Germany

While it's often more straightforward to use trains in Germany, competition between budget airlines can make flight prices very competitive. Sometimes travelling by plane can even be cheaper (and is definitely faster) than the equivalent train journey.

However, expats should be aware that budget airlines often use smaller airports that aren't always conveniently located, so they might end up spending extra time travelling by bus or train to their final destination.


Driving in Germany

Driving in Germany is made easy by the country’s world-famous network of excellent roads and motorways, including the Autobahn. There are no toll fees for cars but taxes mean that petrol prices are high.

Foreigners are allowed to drive for a period of six months on any foreign or international driver's licence before they're required to get a German licence. Expats who plan on hiring a car in Germany should be aware that most cars are manual and requesting an automatic car can be considerably more expensive.

Germany’s national roads are in excellent condition and signage is easy to understand. But parking can be expensive and hard to find in major cities. While there are generally no speed cameras on motorways, there are a large number on smaller roads. Getting caught will result in costly fines. Drunk driving isn't tolerated and law enforcement is particularly strict and visible around holiday time.

Carpooling is also popular in Germany. It's an environmentally friendly way to save money and numerous websites allow people to contact others who are travelling to the same place. Some websites do charge a small fee for their services.


Cycling in Germany

Germany's major cities all boast bike paths, dedicated bike lanes and combination foot/cycle paths, and many locals find that getting around cities by bicycle is a cheap, healthy and feasible way to travel.

Cycling in German cities is a pleasant experience, as most drivers are aware of the large numbers of cyclists on the roads and are therefore cautious and courteous.

Expats who wish to cycle in cities will have a range of bike-hiring options to choose from. Alternatively, it is also possible to buy a second-hand bicycle quite cheaply. 


Walking in Germany

Often the best way to explore city centres is on foot, and walking is sometimes the simplest way to travel short distances.

While there are plenty of pavements available for pedestrians, newcomers should be careful not to mistake them for the red-brick cycling paths, which are for cyclists only.

Jaywalking is illegal and most pedestrians in Germany stick to the rules.

Keeping in Touch in Germany

Staying in line with its high-tech reputation, Germany’s high-quality communication infrastructure features some of the most efficient technologies in the world. Expats shouldn't have any problems keeping in touch in Germany and staying in contact with family and friends back home. 


Telecommunications in Germany

Telecommunications in Germany are highly developed, so expats can expect excellent service from the many service providers that operate in the country. The largest mobile service providers are known for offering world-class service.

The mobile phone market in Germany is dominated by three main operators – T-Mobile, Vodafone, and O2. One advantage for expats who choose a prepaid package over a mobile contract, apart from being able to monitor their usage, is that many include international-call perks. 


Internet in Germany

Although most people prefer accessing the internet from home, expats who enjoy the novelty of ordering a double espresso while clicking away on their laptops will be happy to know that most coffee shops and restaurants in Germany offer free wireless access. 

Many apartments include a wireless connection with the cost worked into monthly rental fees. However, not all apartments offer this package and new tenants may need to look for a service provider. The most popular service providers include 1&1, Vodafone and O2. Choosing a host might seem difficult, but all of them offer similar services at competitive prices. Most of the larger mobile operators also offer internet packages.


Postal service in Germany

The national postal service in Germany is run by Deutsche Post. Although the company has now been privatised, there remains very little competition in this area.

Generally, the German postal service is reliable and fast, with most letters sent within the country arriving at their destination on the following day.  There are a variety of postal options available depending on the size of the item being sent and when delivery is required.


English language media and news in Germany

English language news sources are quite readily available in Germany. The Local is the main English-language news source in Germany and The Munich Times provides local daily news for the English-speaking expat community in Bavaria. Biled and Spiegel are useful online sources which offer national news stories in English. Daily international newspapers, as well as a range of magazines, are available from newsstands and newsagents throughout the country.

Certain English TV channels such as BBC World, Sky News and CNN are available via cable TV in Germany. Deutsche Welle is the main English-language radio station in Germany and provides up-to-date news stories. 

Shipping and Removals in Germany

There are many ports and means to ship to Germany. There are many shipping companies from the UK. Germany's rivers have acted as traditional shipping routes and it is possible to use water transport to ship inland.

Air freight is also available but generally more expensive. When shipping expensive cargo it is a good idea to purchase insurance and use an insurance company other than the one used for transport to ensure reliable coverage. Pets should qualify for the Pet Travel Scheme which streamlines shipping animals into EU countries without quarantine.

Frequently Asked Questions about Germany

Germany is a modern, wealthy European state, but expats planning a move to the country will likely still have many questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Germany.

Is Germany safe?

Germany is exceptionally safe. Healthcare and infrastructure are modern and of an excellent standard and well maintained. Violent crime is rare in Germany, but we'd advise that expats be careful and vigilant in certain sections of larger cities. Petty crime such as pick-pocketing is more common.

Should I learn German?

We recommend that expats learn German, or basic phrases at the least. Germans learn English in school but to varying degrees. Some Germans don't speak English at all. As in most countries, locals will appreciate the attempts of expats to learn their language. Everything from reading signs to menus and television is in German and not knowing the language can often lead expats to unpleasant and isolated overseas experiences. International business is often conducted in English.

What are expat salaries like in Germany?

Salaries in Germany are some of the highest in the world so expats working in Germany can expect to be paid well. Those with qualifications in sought-after fields such as IT, finance and science, in particular, can expect to earn a good salary. However, those moving to Germany and expecting to find a well-paid job after arriving in the country should be aware that unemployment in certain cities, such as Berlin for instance, is high so it is always good to have some savings to fall back on.

What is the standard of healthcare in Germany?

Expats moving to Germany will have access to some excellent public and private healthcare facilities. In major cities, expats will find that doctors speak fluent English and that hospitals, research facilities and medical technology are of a high standard.

However, excellent healthcare comes at a price. The German government has made it compulsory for every expat in Germany to have some form of health insurance.

What schooling options are available for expat children in Germany?

The standard of education and schools in Germany is first class. However, unless expats are moving to Germany for the long term or with very young children who can pick up the German language, it is not wise to choose a public school in Germany. Instead, most expat parents choose to send their children to international schools, which allow the students to carry on studying the same curriculum as they did back home. Expats will find that all the major cities in Germany will have a variety of international schools.

Articles about Germany

Banking, Money and Taxes in Germany

As with most things in Germany, expats will find the systems of banking, money and taxes to be sophisticated and easy to navigate. Once an expat has a residence card, opening a bank account is fairly straightforward, everyday transactions are simple since online banking is a standard feature, and credit cards can be used at most outlets. 


Money in Germany

The official currency in Germany is the Euro (EUR), with 1 EUR divided into 100 cents.

  • Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR

  • Coins: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents and 20 cents, and 1 EUR and 2 EUR


Banking in Germany

Germany has a well-established and respected banking sector, with some of the major local banks including Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and DZ Bank. Many international banks also have branches in Germany, including HSBC, Lloyds TSB and CitiBank, and continuing an overseas account is sometimes a good option for expats.

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account in Germany is easy and online banking is commonly used to make transactions and manage accounts. Expats opening an account will need to provide their residence card, proof of address and a passport.

To open an account immediately, expats will need to bring a nominal amount of cash. Alternatively, funds can be transferred from overseas but this may take a few weeks.

ATMs and credit cards

Once someone opens an account the bank issues them a Eurocard (EC) which can be used to withdraw cash, print out bank statements from ATMs (Geldautomat) and make purchases. But expats should note that withdrawing money from another bank's ATM will incur extra charges.

Most debit and credit cards are accepted in Germany. ATMs can be found nearly everywhere and generally offer good exchange rates (there are transaction charges for international card use that can quickly add up). 

Otherwise, expats can exchange cash at bank branches, bureaux de change and even post offices – which surprisingly offer some of the best rates.


Taxes in Germany

Expats will have to pay tax on income derived from German sources. Higher earners pay much more tax than those on lower salaries.

Taxes are generally automatically deducted from an employee's pay cheque by their employer. As is the case in most European countries, workers are taxed throughout the year and adjustments are made for possible under- or over-payments at the end of the year.

The rate of income tax increases progressively up to 45 percent. A solidarity surcharge (5.5 percent of income tax) also has to be paid. No income tax is charged on basic allowances.

Expat must get a tax card when they start working in Germany. Self-employed people must complete a tax return at the end of each tax year.

Germany has double taxation treaties with many countries, but all expats are required to complete an annual tax return regardless of whether they are formally employed or do freelance work. 

*Information about tax allowances and rates change regularly so expats are advised to check with the authorities for the latest information

Expat Experiences in Germany

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Germany and would like to share your story.


Marisa Tishner is American who transferred to Germany with her pug to be closer to her soon-to-be spouse. She shares her experiences, advice and insight about living in Germany, how to make friends and how it compares to life in the States. Read her expat experience in Germany here. 

Katlin Gamache and her family moved from America to the small city of Kaiserslautern in the southwest of Germany. She says that even though it took her a while to settle into her new home, Germany is a fantastic country for expats to relocate to – and that every village, town and city has something special to offer new arrivals. Read more about her expat experiences in Germany.

Phil Southward is a New Zealander who moved to Munich in Germany some 14 years ago, after meeting his German wife. His experiences of being an expat for more than a decade led him to write a book, called The Soaring Kiwi and the Sauerkraut, about the funny things that happen when trying to adjust to life in a new country. Read more about his expat experiences in Munich.

John Roman is an American expat living in Germany. He moved to the town of Bielefeld to join his German partner and now working in the marketing and communications industry. Read more about his expat experience in Germany.

John is an American expat living in Germany

Yolande is originally from Singapore. Before moving to Frankfurt four months ago, she spent two years in Oxford, UK. She loves the cosmopolitan vibe of Frankfurt and the simplicity of getting around the city. Read more about her expat experience in Frankfurt.

Jenni is originally from Melbourne, Australia, and has been living and working in Berlin for the past five years. Although Germany is such a huge distance from her home country and family, in this day and age, Skype, email and text message mean that they are never too far away. Read about her expat life in Germany.

Samantha is an American who moved to Germany with her husband when he received a post at the university in Bielefeld, a small cosy town in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe Region. She teaches English and is working as a freelance writer and editor. Read about her expat experience in Germany.

Andrea is from the USA but has been living in Wachtberg, Bonn, Germany for three and half years. She, her husband and two children relocated for her husband's job. Andrea enjoys writing, is a passionate reader, loves music, travelling, cooking, cycling and hanging out with her kids. Read about her expat experiences in Germany.