Germany is in the center of Europe and is the second most populous country on the continent with over 82 million residents. It is a popular destination for expats looking to relocate for work, retirement or just a change of scenery. Learn about working and living in Germany and decide if you should consider it for your next relocation.
Working in Germany
Germany is consistently ranked as one of the top economies in the world, so job opportunities are plentiful, especially if you have professional expertise in the right trades. Top industries include the automotive, manufacturing, and machinery fields. Proficiency in biology, mechanical and automotive engineering, physics, chemistry, health and IT sectors will make it easier to relocate to Germany as there is a shortage of skilled workers. These positions are some of the highest paying salaries in the country.
Efficiency is greatly valued so expect co-workers to cut straight to the point when it comes to executing business. Professionals should be on time for appointments and keep to agendas. Meetings are formal, so people will dress conservatively and greet associates by their last names with ‘Herr’ for men and ‘Frau’ for women. People dress less formally in creative fields like the arts.
An average work week is around 38 hours on a 9-5pm schedule with an hour break for lunch at noon. English is widely used, however, knowledge of German will make life easier.
A residence permit allows expats to stay in the country for over 90 days. It enables you to work in Germany, study, and more. Unless you’re a resident of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein, you’ll need a residence permit.
Lifestyle in Germany
The climate varies depending on what region you’re in. Generally, there’s a 38°F average in January and 72° F average in July. It gets warmer the farther south and east you go, with the northwest being the coldest area.
Top expat cities in Germany include the capital Berlin and the port city of Hamburg. Other top choices are Munich, Heidelberg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg and Stuttgart. A basic understanding of German is best for living here even though English is widely known.
Rules and order are a big deal. Some regulations are laws but some are common practices only locals know. It’d be wise to get educated quickly on what is frowned upon and expected of you in your new locale. On the plus side, you’ll benefit from things like clean parks and streets because of this adherence to order.
All shops close on Sundays for rest so be prepared with food and other essentials before the shutdown. Germans are a fun-loving people, case in point: Oktoberfest. Each fall the city of Munich hosts this infamous beer festival, a tradition that’s been around since the early 1800s. Beer is a big part of the culture as the country makes over 5,000 types. Other popular German delicacies include a lot of pork dishes (think Bratwurst), baked goods, and hundreds of types of bread. Locals often enjoy watching and participating in sports – particularly soccer. Culture aficionados and history buffs will like the wide range of historical art and architecture across the country including castles, universities and old churches.
The cost of living is good compared to other places in Europe, with housing being the most expensive component. If renting an apartment, know that they come completely unfurnished. You’ll have to supply things like light fixtures, kitchen appliances and more. And if you’re looking to own a home, you should hire a real estate agent to navigate the landscape. Be prepared for a hefty expense there. The official currency is the Euro.
Moving with Kids
Education in Germany is good and is highly valued. If you’re moving with the family, larger cities have a lot of international schools to choose from. The only catch there is the big expense for tuition. Bilingual schools are also an option. Just be sure to reserve space as soon as possible as these private institutions are in high demand. It’s optional to send your child to kindergarten before the age of seven,at which time school is mandatory. Most German universities are free or have a very low cost.
Moving to Germany
Germany offers a solid economy, a plethora of arts and culture, fun traditions and efficient infrastructure. No matter the reason for your next move, you’ll need an experienced moving company to handle the transportation and moving process.