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Moving to Germany from the US, UK, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada and other countries

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Moving to Germany is very easy! Find out how

Now that the world is learning to live with corona, you should be thinking about moving to Germany. On March 1st, 2020, new rules for the immigration of skilled workers to Germany came into force. The new law expands the possibilities for employees from non-EU- States to move to Germany for the purpose of taking up work and living in Germany.

9 things you should really consider BEFORE moving to Germany

Although moving to Germany is easy, there are certain things you have to consider BEFORE you make the decision to move to Germany and the consequent choices you make AFTER you move to Germany.

1. Make sure you have a good support network

Moving to Germany as an Expat is very different from spending a few weeks on holiday in the summer. At some point you start to miss a lot of things that were once so normal for you and adjusting to new social setting.

The following will become your focus in the first few months you are in Germany:

  • You will have to depend on yourself at first until you build a support network
  • You will miss your family and friends
  • You will have difficulties settling in — especially how long it can take
  • You will at times feel lonely and find it challenging to find and make new friends and community

Here is the trap that MOST Expats fall into when moving to Germany:

They prioritize housing, banking and logistics instead of putting enough time and energy into integration and building support networks.

They find themselves alone and without the support they need in a new and often different environment.  Mentally, this is the worst start to your adventure after moving to Germany! Think about stress, depression and other mental health conditions. Some Expats end up giving up and going back home

How to easily build a support network after moving to Germany

  • Stay in touch with friends and family at home. It won’t help you to completely cut yourself off!
  • Get out there! In most German cities, you can get by speaking English. So start building new relationships – “I like your shoes! Where did you buy them?” “Do you also support Bayern Munich?” (if they are wearing sport gear!)
  • Know where to go for support when you are in Germany.  Most cities have groups where you can get information in English and they are also places where you can make friends. If you are in Berlin, try SEKIS – a self-help contact and information point
  • Spend some time online and on social media platforms and find out the best local expat communities in the city you are moving to

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2. You will experience some culture shock in Germany

There is a lot of “Buyer remorse” when it comes to moving to Germany from the US! Just open TikTik and you will be bombarded by videos of Expats complaining about moving to Germany from the US.

@ali.fehr

Reply to @lady.janine I used to live in essentially a greenhouse in California, so I am grateful for rolladen & insulation! #americaningermany

♬ original sound – Ali Fehr she/her

It’s a NEW country! Why would you expect Germany to be just like the US? It defies logic that some expats moving to Germany from the US are “shocked” at how difficult it is to make friends! Most Expats wish they had learnt a bit of the German before they made the move.

Give it a “trial run” before you move to Germany’

You don’t buy a car before you go for a test drive, do you?

IMPORTANT: This is especially true if you plan to move to Germany with a spouse of with kids. Take a trip to Germany for a few weeks and just experience the lifestyle before making the commitment to permanently moving to Germany. Your life in Germany will eventually be very relaxed if you knew the answers to the following questions BEFORE moving to Germany:

  • How are the 16 German states different and how does that impact culture broadly?
  • Is the German language mandatory everywhere and what key phrases would be useful to learn?
  • What is considered polite behavior? Find out how to be polite and how to read social gestures and cues correctly. What are local customs?
  • What is the political climate in Germany? Are there any issues that might affect foreigners? (such as the liberalization of the job market for foreigners!)
  • What’s going on in Germany at the moment? What’s in the local news?

3. Money Money Money!

When it comes to money after moving to Germany, DON’T think like a tourist until you settle in!

Most Germans are frugal. So act like one! Once you move to Germany, you will need to:

  • Explore your city on foot
  • Find out what can be done for free
  • Find cheaper attractions or attractions that offer 2-for-1 deals
  • Scout around for happy hours at bars!
  • Look for an inexpensive bilingual school in your area

4. Relocation and logistics

Some Expats who found it hard moving to Germany always have the following to say:

  • Customs issues
  • “It takes a long time”
  • Don’t rush the move”
  • “Start earlier”/“Plan ahead”

It all honesty, it boils down to being lazy and complacent! If you know you will be moving to Germany, get yourself a pen and paper and plan! See below.

How to properly move to Germany from the US and other countries

Below is a checklist that you have to have:

a. Are all your identification documents in order?
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Valid Passport – Don’t wait to renew your passport once you have moved to Germany! Valid Driver’s license/International driver’s licence – Take your driver’s licence, but you may also need an international driving permit.
b. Is your visa and work permit in order?
  • Visa – When in doubt ask your employer for guidance or contact the German embassy.
  • Work permit – Germany is very strict when it comes to the work permit! Chances are your company will be sorting your work permits – but it’s always worth asking.
c. Finances and money in general
  • Do you have a bank account in Germany? (6 months prior) – You can now open a bank account in Germany before you move to Germany – Look at the offers from DKB and N26.
  • Can you survive for at least 6 months? (budget for 6 months) – Don’t struggle when you move to Germany because you did not account for certain expenses. Also think about costs associated with visas and passport renewals, the predicted cost of your move, and settling in expenses.
  • Do you already have a Job – Are you moving as part of an existing role, or are you moving for an existing post. Then you can relax. You current DO NOT have a job? Then start your job search early! There are great job sites in Germany where you can get job in English (Englishjobs.de is a great example) Are there expat agencies? Below are a few agencies that love Expats in Germany:
    • TTA Personal – Multilingual Company focusing on Spanish candidates.
    • Orange Quarter – Tech Recruiter
    • Designerdock –
    • Euro London
    • German Jobs
    • Pure – financial services, professional services and commerce & industry
    • Recruiting Germany – medical recruitment
    • SIRE – chemicals, healthcare, and life sciences industry.
    • Urban Jobs – IT recruitment
    • Work in Berlin – customer service agents / call agents (m/f) for multilingual customer support
d. Your healthcare needs

Do you know what your health care requirements are? – Define any specific health care needs you may have including ongoing conditions or chronic conditions. Additionally, include the level of care you would like to receive if you do need medical attention

Once you move to Germany, you need to know:

  • Where are the hospitals in the Germany city I am moving to?
  • What about pharmacies in Germany? You can get most drugs in Germany with a prescription for a fixed amount (copayment). You just have to remember that if you have private health care you will likely need to pay the full amount and submit a receipt to your insurer.
  • Are you getting public or private insurance?
  • Should you just get international health insurance BEFORE you move to Germany? (This is a good option if you don’t want to deal with the local companies especially because of the language barrier)
  • What about immunization? (German employees of community facilities or medical facilities born after 1970 must be protected against measles. If you are traveling with young children, this is a must!)
  • Are you currently on medication? Make sure you get a certificate from you doctor – Before entering Germany from a country that is not a member of the Schengen Agreement, patients must have their prescribing physician issue, and carry on their journey, a multilingual certificate specifying the individual and daily doses, the name of the active ingredient and the duration of the journey
e. Timing
  • Most people find the German summer too unbearable! So if you don’t enjoy the sun, plan on moving to Germany in autumn.
  • Are you moving with your pet to Germany? – then start preparing at least 9 months before you move – Your pet may need to be quarantined in Germany before they can come to live with you. For temporary moves to Germany, just leave your pet at home!
  • You’ll need to apply for a pet passport and check the requirements in Germany for the type of pet you have. For example, you may need proof that your pet has had certain vaccinations.
  • Have you set up a postal redirection? – Do this 2 months before you move to Germany – If you are moving from the US to Germany, simply tell the postal service to redirect any letters or parcels to your new address in Germany (if you already have an address already)


5. Family

Moving to Germany with kids is a complicated thing to do. Think about:

  • Finding good schools for children
  • You don’t have family and friends to help with child care

A key challenge is staying in touch with family. Another is how hard it is for the whole family to settle in.

How well can you prepare yourself for moving to Germany with your children?

  • Take your children on a trip to Germany for them to see the house or flat, neighborhood and the schools they will be attending
  • If moving with teens, make them as involved as you can. Make the decisions joint decisions and give them responsibility.”
  • Opt for an international to help them socialize and learn better with a diverse friendship group
    Find the right neighborhood with a family doctor, childcare, schools and has a lotof opportunities for children
  • Find social opportunities for your children to make friends such as clubs before your arrival so that they settle in with their social life.”
  • Maintain strong ties with family and friends back home for your children to stay connected.
  • Look at all your childcare options
  • Plan your finances very carefully and be prepared for money to be limited
  • Don’t forget to research local doctors and plan for your health care. Find an international doctor quickly as the change in climate can cause illness when moving.”
  • Take extra time to adjust to and accommodate cultural differences as children can feel uneasy in Germany
  • Teach children to learn and enjoy the German language before relocating.
  • If you are moving with babies, make sure you keep your support network at home, but also find peers in Germany to support you there.

6. How well do you know the location where you are moving to in Germany?

Are you moving to the right location (for you!) in Germany? What do you know about the following:

  • the city
  • the region
  • where to stay/live
  • things to see and do
  • places of interest
  • local information

Why is the location important when it comes to moving to Germany?

As part of your pre-move planning, finding out where you will live is exciting and fun!

  • Your favorite places to go
  • Things to do as well as eateries and facilities

The 6 cities and surrounding regions in Germany that see the most Expats are:

  • Düsseldorf
  • Frankfurt am Main
  • Hamburg
  • Munich
  • Berlin
  • Stuttgart

If you are moving to these regions in Germany, make sure to find

7. Your accommodation in Germany

You should consider the following when deciding on where to live when you move to Germany:

  • Where are the good areas to live?
  • Is it easy torent/buy?
  • What are the housing costs?

Note on the rent prices: Cold and Hot water

In Germany, most rent quotes do not include the cost of hot water. Which means what you see online might just be the rental price without the additional costs such as water

8. Health care

Make sure that healthcare is not neglected when it comes to moving to Germany.

Think about:

  • A dentist
  • An OB-GYN (women)

Before moving to Germany, it is essential to assess the quality of care and your access to it. What level of care do you want? And how can you ensure you get it?

9. Are you making the right career move?

What if you do not like the work environment in Germany? Or are you just driven by the quality of life?

If you decide to change jobs after moving to Germany:

  • How hard will it be for you to find a new job?
  • Can you survive until you get a new job?
  • That the job they were moving for was what was bad or not what was promised
  • What about taxes?

Why this is very important for your move to Germany

You have to completely research this aspect of your move to Germany because it has an implication on:

  • Where to move in Germany
  • When to move to Germany
  • Whether to move to Germany at all

Getting a work visa / work permit if you want moving to Germany

moving to germany

If you have completed your degree outside Germany, then you will easily get your work permit approved.

Make sure you get an official recognition of your professional qualifications. This can only be done by official bodies. You can find information on the procedure at anerkennung-in-deutschland.de.

Make sure you start this process very earl because it can take some time.

What are the requirements for a work visa to be issued?

  • Your qualification must be recognized in Germany or be comparable to a German educational qualification. If you want to work in a regulated profession, for example in a health care profession, a professional license is required. 
     
  • You have a specific job offer from an employer in Germany. It is important that your recognized qualification enables you to take up the job. This means that employment in related professions is possible.
     
  • Are you older than 45 and are you traveling to Germany for the first time to work? In that case, you must achieve a gross annual salary of at least EUR 46,860 (in 2021) with the desired job in Germany or provide evidence of adequate retirement benefits.

Tip: Do you have a recognized university degree? Then check whether you meet the criteria for an EU Blue Card. This residence permit offers qualified specialists particularly attractive opportunities.

When and where to obtain a residence permit in Germany for work

Citizens of the following countries can obtain a residence permit AFTER entering Germany – from the immigration authority that is responsible for them:

  • US
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Republic of Korea
  • New Zealand

Citizens of other countries must apply for a visa before entering Germany. This is possible at the German diplomatic mission in the embassy or consulate of your home country. (This now applies to the UK and Northern Ireland!)

What residence permits are there in Germany?

So-called third-country nationals must apply for a residence permit for their stay in Germany if they want to stay in the country for more than 90 days

A basic distinction is made between temporary and permanent residence permits.  Only the permanent residence permit and the permit for permanent EU residence are valid as permanent residence permits

While the settlement permit is limited to the federal territory, the EU long-term residence permit even entitles its holder to stay within the EU for an indefinite period of time and to move freely.

Temporary residence permits are provided with a validity date and after this date can be extended under certain conditions. These include:

  • blue card EU
  • ICT card
  • Mobile ICT card
  • residence permit
  • visa

Visa types and categories

The visa is also one of the temporary residence permits. A distinction is made between different types of visas. The main types of visas are:

  • Category A Visa: Airport Transit Visa
  • Category C visa : visiting visa
  • Category D visa : National Visa

While category C visas entitle you to short-term stays of up to 90 days, the national category D visa is issued for longer-term stays. It is granted to certain people who study, work or want to stay permanently in a Schengen country. 

Spouse and family reunification

If you want to bring your family with you to Germany, nothing stands in the way. However, certain requirements must be met for the spouse to join them:

  • You must be in possession of a residence or settlement permit or an EU Blue Card yourself. 
  • You should have enough living space in Germany and have sufficient financial means to ensure the livelihood of all family members.
  • In some cases, the immigrant spouses must demonstrate at least basic knowledge of German in order to be able to communicate in their recipient country from the start. This does not apply if you have an EU Blue Card yourself, if you work as a highly qualified person or a researcher in Germany or if you or your spouse are citizens of the countries in which a visa has to be applied for after entering Germany. If the accompanying spouse has a university degree themselves, they do not have to have a basic knowledge of the German language.

What should you immediately accomplish AFTER moving to Germany?

There are some very important administrative things that you need to immediately do after moving to Germany.

A very important checklist to use after moving to Germany

Now that you have finally spent your first night in Germany, there a few important things that you need to immediately do!

  • Register your address with at the “Burgerbüro” / “Einwohnermeldeamt”. You will need to bring your passport with the entry visa, certificates from landlords, employment contract and health insurance.
  • Get information about garbage collection / garbage can at the town hall. However, in most apartments in major cities, the landlord takes care of this issue.
  • Once your address is registered, you will have to deal with the TV / radio licence: registration or re-registration required at Rundfunkbeitrag.de – more information is also available from the central information point in the town hall / citizens’ office
  • Get yourself a landline / Internet: Deutsche Telekom or other telephone provider
  • If your energy costs are not included in your apartment rental agreement, you need an energy supplier. You can find more information at the “Stadtwerk”
  • Subscribe to a local newspaper. This way, you can stay in touch with what is going on around you.
  • If you opened a German bank account while still at home (N26 or DKB), make sure to immediately communicate your new address with them

Some quarks that you will just have to get used to after moving to Germany

Garden gnomes, socks in sandals, reserving deckchairs with bath towels – some clichés about the Germans are persistent. Without wanting to lapse into stereotypes about a specific behavior, however, it is always possible to observe a few very special country-specific circumstances that are simply “typically German” and which many Expats would have wished they had known about before they arrived in Germany. HereLocation has compiled 10 partly bizarre, partly funny facts, which international transferees should at least have heard about before they move to Germany.

1.It’s true! Germans are punctual

moving to germany

You will have to force yourself to get used to German punctuality at work and in social setting.

2. Fall in love with carrying wads of cash around!

moving to germany

Germany is still old school when it comes to payments. A lot of small shops still don’t accept cards. That is changing in bigger cities. However, when you go on excursions or hikes, you will notice that smaller towns have more shops that do not accept cards.

3. Yellow, blue, green and black bins!

moving to germany

Germans are internationally known for their waste separation. But what belongs where? For example, what do you do with an old toothbrush? You will have to find out.

4. Psssst! It’s Sunday! Why are you making that much noise?

moving to germany

Sunday is a rest day in Germany. That means all shops are closed. Refrain from listening to loud music or mowing the lawn unless you want a fight with your neighbors – that includes vacuuming, running a loud washing machine. Check your rental agreement if it has a clause regarding Sunday

5. Once you start learning German, pay attention to Duzen vs. Siezen

Older Germans care about politeness. Obviously among new friends it’s not a thing to worry about.

Frequenly Asked Questions about moving to Germany

Can I move to Germany without a job?

If you have a specialist work background, you can apply for a visa to look for a job in Germany that your qualification enables you to exercise for up to six months, provided that your foreign qualification has been recognized.

If you have a university degree and want to work in a non-regulated profession, it may be sufficient if your university degree is recorded in the anabin database. You can find more useful information here.

If you want to work in a so-called regulated profession (e.g. in the healthcare sector), you must prove that you have been granted a professional license or that it has been issued.

Skilled workers with vocational training must provide evidence of German language skills that correspond to the desired job (usually level B1). With the visa, you are allowed to do trial employment for up to ten hours per week.

How do I move to Germany as an American?

Americans do not require a Schengen visa. That means you can move to Germany and stay there for 90 days until you receive your residence permit. You should note that as a US citizen you need a residence permit to stay in Germany after the 90 days.

If you realise that the 90 days are about to expire, you can easily get an extension if you proove that you are enrolled in German classes for the sole purpose of learning German so that ou can continue to look for work. That usually works.

Once you find employment, you permanent move to Germany is as discussed above.

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Expaturmhttps://www.expaturm.com/
Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany
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