Expats in Germany will find that life in this cosmopolitan and inventive society is anything but dull. Germany is a highly modernized nation with a rich heritage and great regional diversity. But whether you are moving to Germany for a new job, retirement or personal reasons, the following questions will help you determine if you are making the right decision at the right time.
Is it affordable?
Making such a big move is exciting, but you need to consider practical matters such as your financial situation. Will you be able to afford the move and daily life in Germany thereafter? The cost of living in Germany is considered high, especially in the major cities.When it comes to accommodation, most prefer to rent and in the big cities almost half of the monthly income tends to go towards rent. If you’re moving with family, there’s the cost of schooling and education to consider. Most expats prefer to have their children educated in international schools and the fees at these institutions are steep. Public schools, on the other hand, do not charge fees and are ideal for those who will be staying permanently in Germany. Transportation costs vary depending on the mode you choose. Driving your own car can be expensive. Public transport such as trains and buses are far cheaper and there are many special offers that provide discounts.
Does Germany offer lucrative job opportunities?
Germany has the lowest levels of unemployment compared to other EU countries. Foreigners working in Germany can expect great working conditions and salaries, and also generous benefits. Working hours in certain industries are as few as 35 hours a week with up to 30 days of holidays a year. But the German labor market does witness some vast regional differences. Employment is usually easier to secure in the western region than in the east. The rural areas also witness more unemployment. Native English speakers will not have much of an advantage in the job market except in case of teaching jobs. German schools generally teach English and hence most Germans already have this skill. But since Germany is one of the world’s largest exporters, fluency in other languages may come in handy.
What is the healthcare system like in Germany?
Germany is known for its state-of-the-art healthcare facilities and expats can expect efficient and high quality treatment in case of any medical issues during their stay. German law makes it mandatory to have some type of health insurance. The state health insurance scheme provides subsidized health insurance and if you are working for a company that operates in Germany, you may be able to benefit from this. Self-employed individuals are required to buy private health insurance, which can be fairly expensive. Both public and private hospitals are modern and equipped with modern facilities. There is an extensive network of pharmacies too. Those covered by state health insurance receive reimbursement for generic prescription medications. Those who are privately insured must pay the full charges for the medication and then present the receipts to their insurer for reimbursement.
How will the move affect my family?
This is a common worry among expats who will be relocating along with their spouses and children. Expats can take comfort in the fact that Germany has a comprehensive social security system that ensures citizens live comfortable lives even in times of illness, disability, unemployment or retirement. Spouses and relatives of expats, who hold residence permits authorizing employment, can also work in Germany. Expat parents will have hardly any trouble with the education system in the country. Both public and private schools impart excellent education.
Will I be able to deal with culture shock?
Due to Germany’s cosmopolitan character, expats will not be subjected to much of a culture shock. But there are some marked differences in German lifestyle and culture. Life in Germany tends to be ordered, punctual and private. Great value is placed upon rules and regulations and it is common for someone to remind another person that they are not following these rules. Expats will find that there is also a clear division between work and personal life. Small talk is rarely carried out when there’s a task to complete, and on social occasions, the topic of work hardly ever comes up.