Becoming an expat in another country is not easy, regardless of the distance you need to cross. Since you’ll be traveling significantly farther than someone having a cross-country relocation, there are few things you need to take into account if you’ve decided that moving to Germany is what you want.
As you wave goodbye to your friends and family, make sure you have everything in order to begin your new life abroad. Getting ready for such a life-changing decision takes a lot more time than you think. Besides the necessary paperwork you need to take care of, you also have to find a proper job, check the educational opportunities for the kids, and find reasonably-priced housing. Taking this into account, make sure you get ready to uproot your life way before the relocation date, with the help of experienced movers.
Nonetheless, there is no reason to stress out. Thousands of American citizens move to Europe every year. By following these practical tips, you won’t have any issues in your new country. You will enjoy everything it has to offer and become one of the locals in no time.
Get Oriented in Your New Area – What You Need to Know
You might be relocating to Germany, far away from the States, but don’t think you will be alone there. Germany is heavily populated by American citizens, and even before you know it, you will meet someone from the same US city as you. Bavaria probably takes the lead with more than 50,100 Americans living there. The other places include North-Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, and Berlin, which has around 36,000 US expats.
Explore Your Future Neighborhood
Stoke up for the day with a good breakfast and plans for exploring. As soon you move in, unpack and arrange everything, take a stroll around your neighborhood and meet your closest neighbors. You will probably need some time to adjust to the new environment and learn how to live in another country, but don’t let weeks pass before meeting the people that live near you. In Germany, everyone likes to bike and walk. If you visit the nearby parks, you’ll see countless locals hanging out, mingling, talking under the shining sun. If you’re planning to live in Berlin, Viktoriapark just might be the best place to meet people.
Start Networking – Don’t Stay In
Don’t just meet people from your neighborhood – go out there and start networking. Check popular events, exhibitions, or concerts that are taking place in your city, and other fun things to do. You won’t get a real taste of your city unless you go out there and interact with others. If you are relocating to Berlin, you will have a wide array of exhibitions and happenings to check. Keep track of everything that is out there.
Residence Permit – Visa Requirements
One of the first factors that should influence your decision is finding out what the German visa requirements are and how to get a work permit. If you already have a job waiting for you there, prepare a list of relocation questions to ask the employer. However, if that is not the case, you should take care of the most important documents needed to travel abroad and ensure a legal stay in the country. You can apply for a Standard Residence Permit, which will ensure your stay for up to 90 days. You can do that even from the comfort of your home in the States.
Prove Your Financial Stability to Get a Residence Permit in Germany
In case you want to be a German citizen in legal terms, keep in mind the following:
- You have to have a Standard Residence Permit for five years before you apply for citizenship.
- You will probably have to enroll in an integration course to learn more about the place you’re going to.
- You need to have a certain level of knowledge in German, at least B2.
- You have to be financially stable – a bank statement should be enough for this purpose
- Ensure you have proper health insurance that is valid in Germany.
Check detailed immigration regulations and start collecting the necessary documentation. And if you plan on relocating with pets, get yourself familiar with the required procedures and the necessary paperwork.
Apply for Job Newsletters for Different Posts Around Germany
Unless you already have a job that is waiting for you, it’s time to explore your work options. If you don’t want to work right after you move, save up enough money for the first few months, so you have enough time to enjoy the city and explore it. However, keep checking job websites and sign up for newsletters just to keep track of what is going on. You never know when a good opportunity will come. Start your job hunt right away if you wish to start working as soon as you relocate.
Housing – What Are the Options
Here you will have to choose between 16 states since Germany is a federal republic. It is well known that choosing a metropolis, such as Berlin or Munich, as your home, will put a bigger strain on your bank account. If you have set your sights on Bavaria, you’ll need a lot of money to have a good standard of living.
Renting or Owning a Home in Germany
Most Germans don’t buy their homes – they simply rent them. If you are determined to purchase a place, you can expect to pay around $4000 per square meter in Munich, with the prices going up for the parts of the city that are better-off. Don’t look for the “for sale” signs in front of homes – you have to look for properties that are advertised in the newspaper or online.
You can always go to a real estate agent and hire them to help you out. This will probably cost you more, but you will save so much time and effort. You should also get to know more about stuff like German real estate insurance and bank loans. Get enough information before buying a house or apartment in this country becomes an option.
Choose Berlin, Munich, or a Less Urban City to Move To
What kind of lifestyle do you like? If you are used to the bustling New York, you will be looking for something similar in Germany – opt for Berlin or Munich. You will likely find Berlin to be one of the most multicultural cities in this federation – beside Germans, you can find many other nationalities here. People from all over the world come to visit – this also means it’s a huge tourist hub. If you want to rent a flat in the capital, you will need around $2000 per month for a 900 square foot apartment, so you better start working and saving up.
If you opt for a less urban city, you will pay significantly less. The cost of living in Berlin is high, mainly because of high rent. Prices are relatively similar in Munich, which is one of the best European cities to live in, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, or any other metropolis here. Think twice before you set your eyes on a big city.
Driving – You’ll Have to Get a License if You’re Staying for a Few Years
If you like driving and plan to ship your car overseas, get ready for the land of the autobahn. You can even drive with your US driver’s license, but after a year, you will have to get a German one. An automatic car will cost you more here. Unlike the US, the manual and a gear shift are a more popular option. Nonetheless, you will enjoy driving – it won’t take too much time to get used to the traffic here. Even if you don’t speak the language, you won’t have issues on the road – the streets are well maintained with enough signs to help you navigate around the city.
Learn the Language, Don’t Rely Too Much on Your English
Even though most Germans are relatively good at speaking English, it is always wise to pick up a few words before you arrive. Why not take some classes and learn the most common phrases before the moving day comes? For example, learn how to greet others, what to say at a grocery store or a bank, or how to ask for directions. Knowing the language will be a great advantage in your job hunt, too. Besides, English and German are in the same language category – it won’t be that hard to learn the basics.
One Language, Two More Countries to Visit – Switzerland and Austria
Do you know that German is also spoken in neighboring Austria and Switzerland? That’s right! You will be able to practice the language as you travel through 17 Swiss cantons. Whenever you decide to visit beautiful Austria, there won’t be any language barriers.
German Lifestyle – Food, Travel, and Culture
Even though you will hear many stories about the diligent German nation and long working hours, you will see that Germans there actually appreciate their free time, and whenever the weekend comes, parks are full of people.
Even though public transportation is not expensive, you will enjoy biking here. This is a great way to explore the surroundings.
There Is More Than Good Beer – Try out German Wine
The country might be renowned for some of the best beers, but you will also find excellent wine as well. Riesling is one of the most popular white wines here. Other high-quality wines here include Spätburgunder, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, and Eiswein. Try out some of them before you choose your favorite beer.
Sunday Is for Rest – You Need to Relax
Everyone here loves Sunday, and they like to rest. If you were thinking about doing some extra work on Sunday, forget about that. Almost all shops are closed, so make sure you do the grocery shopping on Saturday.
Explore the Beauties of This Green Country
This beautiful land has so much to offer. Did you know that the second-longest river in Europe begins in the Black Forest region of this country? That’s right! Check out the towering Cologne Cathedral located on the banks of Rhine. Popular spots include the oldest ski area at Todtnau, the magnificent spa facilities of Baden-Baden, and the attractive resort of Bad Liebenzell. Come up with a list and begin your journey!
After you are done exploring the country, you can move to the neighboring states. The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Switzerland are just a few hours away from some areas. Plan a getaway weekend with your family to explore other European capitals.
Moving to Germany – Orchestrate an International Relocation
After you finalize your decision to move across the world and choose this nation as your new location, you have to decide what to do with the stuff you own and what to pack when moving abroad. If you want to move some of the items you have, hire a professional company to help you by providing overseas moving by air or by sea, as well as storage services for the items you plan on leaving in the US. You have to think this through – don’t rush into anything. The process of relocating overseas can be stressful, so start on time to avoid problems and think about getting international health insurance. There is a lot of planning, and the help you hire should be picked carefully. All the packing and unpacking, shipping, and organizing can be managed by an experienced international relocation company. Don’t wait any longer, start digging and check the quotes of leading international movers.