In a recent survey commissioned by HSBC, Germany was ranked the 4th expat destination in the world. This was mainly because of its high scores in terms of economy, political stability, safety and raising children. Overall speaking, expat life in Germany is often said to be clean, orderly and fun. But bear in mind that great differences exists between everyday life in the countries’ most vivid cities and more quiet small towns. Although cost of living in Germany is relatively high compared to most countries, many people moving to Germany praise the country’s high standard of education, excellent infrastructure and qualitative healthcare. There’s little wonder why this lively, culturally diverse and stable country attracts so many young expats.
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Moving to Germany
Although the real estate market kept stable during the economic crisis of 2008, house prices are on the rise. The old divide between East and West-Germany is still visible in the price of property: Berlin is known to be one of the most affordable European capital. In Germany, a notary is needed to close a sale of a house, and using the services of real estate agents is common for newcomers. There are no restrictions from the government on foreign home-ownership, but the fixed costs payable when buying a house may be significant (think notary fees, taxes for transferring property). When considering to buy a home in Germany, it’s wise to keep in mind that in most parts of Germany, considerable costs are payable by house owners on a monthly basis, aside from the mortgage. To get a mortgage from German banks, one usually needs to deposit 30-40% of the value. It might also be advantageous to show a proof of your credit history in your home country.
Luckily, there are plenty of housing options available for expats moving to Germany. The rental market is relatively large; many Germans rent their homes and have a lot of options to choose from. Since public transport is very efficient and affordable in Germany, it’s not uncommon for expats to look for accommodation outside city centres, even if they do not own a car.
Because it is very difficult for German landlords to get rid of tenants that do not live up to rental contracts, they tend to be quite picky. In some parts of the country, the security deposit that one is required to pay when renting a house can be as much as three months’ rent. Oftentimes, landlords will organise viewings with multiple prospective tenants simultaneously and in that case, making a good impression helps a great deal. Furnished apartments in major German cities (especially in the former West-Germany) can be quite expensive, especially when they are rented for a limited period.
Those who undertake a long time international removal to Germany would want to cut cost by shipping container to Germany that contains their goods. The process usually requires quite some time and a good preparation. International removal companies are, therefore a good way to ensure a time-efficient and smooth shipment. Usually for shipping container expats will need to contact international removal companies that are experienced in shipments to Germany. The best way to get in touch those international moving companies is using online platforms which provide services to compare quotes. Under normal circumstances multiple international removal companies will contact you. Even if the quote the very first one makes suits your interest, is it wise to allow yourself time to evaluate the offer and most importantly to check the reviews from others who used their services. This is the best way to find trustworthy international moving companies which aim is to ensure a hassle- free shimpent.
A point to note is that although shipment rates are important, they are not the best indicator for the professionalism and efficiency of the international moving companies. Price differences are dependent from the company’s strategy and organizational policies.
If you’re renting because you’re looking to buy property and wish to get to know the neighbourhood first, a long-term stay in a guesthouse or bed-and-breakfast for a reduced price is recommended. This is a great way to experience German culture, food and hospitality.
Because of the financial risk involved in renting a house or apartment, agents are often hired by landlords. Tenants usually have to pay their fees. This is not cheap, but it’s a very efficient way to find a suitable place to rent. The commission they charge may be equal to one or two months’ rent.
If you’re having trouble to find affordable accommodation in Germany, you may apply for a Wohnberechtigungsschein (WBS) permit. This gives you the right to live in state-subsidized accommodation, provided that your income is below a certain level, and that your residence permit is valid for at least one year. In Germany, people live up to contracts more strictly than in some other countries, so be sure that you understand everything that is stated in a rental agreement. It is not uncommon in Germany for landlords or housing agencies to imply strict rules upon tenants with regards to nuisance, cleaning and even garbage disposal. Not following up these rules may cause great troubles for those who are not accustomed to these kind of structures when they move to Germany.
Moving to Berlin
Berlin is the largest and cheapest capital on the European mainland, and therefore attracts a lot of young expats. Most parts of the city have a very alternative and international atmosphere. There are few places in Europe where it’s easier to find accommodation; Berlin is nine times bigger than Paris, but has only twice as many inhabitants. Although unemployment rates are high, this hip city attracts many self-employed entrepreneurs. There are almost half a million people with a foreign passport living in Berlin. The cities’ boisterous history is still very visible, the atmosphere and cityscape is very diverse and great differences may exist between adjacent areas. The list of nightclubs, cafés and bars is long. One thing is certain if you’re moving to Berlin – you won’t easily get bored.
Moving to Munich
There’s much more to Bavaria’s capital than the Oktoberfest and BMW’s. Economically speaking, Munich is one of the most attractive cities in Germany. When moving to Munich you will soon notice that the roads in and around the city are filled with the luxurious sedans that Bavaria is famous for. Among Germans, Munich has the reputation to be a ‘village that got out of hand’. The heart of the city consists of large multinational firms attracting many expats, especially from Southern and Eastern Europe. In fact, Munich has one of the highest percentage of inhabitants that do not hold the German nationality in Germany. Which is no wonder, as the economic climate, rich culture and beautiful surrounding landscapes (the black forest and the Swiss alps only being a couple of hours away) make this city a place that has everything one could wish for.