Whether you’re looking for a fresh start or are moving for work reasons, Germany is a great place to relocate to. In the heart of Europe, Germany offers an exciting place to work, live and travel. With a booming economy, diverse community and endless culture and historical sights, there’s no wonder more Australians are choosing to relocate to Germany. But how do you make the dream of living in Germany a reality? Here’s our guide to moving to Germany and everything you need to know before you settle into your new home.
Is moving the right choice?
Many Australians dream of living overseas, but deciding to pack up your life in Australia and relocate to Germany is a big decision. Before you book your flights and pack your bag, it’s important to have realistic expectations of your new life. Adapting to a new culture, language, or job takes time and energy. Making friends also doesn’t happen overnight so prepare yourself for a few months of difficulty as you adjust. Relocating overseas also requires some financial planning so ensure you have adequate savings and budget for some unexpected expenses. It may be a few months till you find steady income so prepare to live off your savings for a little while.
German culture vs Australian culture
German culture and Australian culture are pretty similar when it comes to the love of beer and sausages. You’ll enjoy a wurst (a sausage) with some sourdough bread and wash it all down with a pilsner in a classic German brew hall. However, German cuisine isn’t just limited to sausages! Influenced by its diverse neighbours, German cuisine features the flavours of Polish, Turkish and traditional Jewish cooking. Vegan and vegetarian meals are becoming more commonplace with over 40% of Germans choosing to reduce their meat intake.
Sport is very popular in German culture with soccer (football), handball and skiing being some of the most common sports. Catch a professional game and witness the passion in action, or why not get involved and join one of more than 31,000 amatuer clubs across the country?
If the creative arts are more your flavour, Berlin puts Melbourne to shame with hundreds of galleries, cinemas and theatres to choose from. Try getting into the notoriously strict and mysterious nightclub, Berghain, or wander the streets to delight in the iconic street art murals.
The stereotype of Germans having no humour is simply just a stereotype. Many Germans enjoy a joke, however some humour like word puns however may get lost in translation due to differences in language structure. Germans are also well known for being direct communicators which can sometimes be mistaken for rudeness. Don’t be surprised when your new German friends are un-interested in small talk. Punctuality is basic etiquette in Germany so don’t turn up late when attending an appointment or meeting with people.
It’s no secret that Germany has a long and complex history. Ensure that you are sensitive to the historical sights and respect that some Germans may be uncomfortable discussing the specifics of their history.
What to know before you move
Before you leave Australia and fly over to begin your new life in Germany, here’s what you need to know about relocating.
To live, study and work in Germany, you’ll need to have the appropriate visa. You can find which visa you need by using the Visa Navigator. If you are wanting to study in Germany, you should apply for your visa after entering Germany. In the case of wanting to extend your stay in Germany for more than three months, you must register at your local Einwohnermeldeamt (register office) within 14 days.
While many Germans can speak English, learning German can go a long way into smoothly integrating into your new home. It’s recommended to learn some basic conversational German before you make the move as it can make a significant difference in finding work as well as forming friendships with the locals. Making the effort to use some basic phrases like “guten morgen” (good morning) or “tschüss” (goodbye) with hospitality staff, co-workers and your neighbours is also a great way to get to know people and integrate into the community.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Germany is relatively affordable when compared to other European countries. As part of the European Union, Germany uses Euros as their main currency. At the time of writing, the Euro is stronger than the Australian dollar (roughly €1 to A$1.50) so keep the conversion rate in mind when creating your budget.
Eating out, shopping for groceries, and entertainment and sports are considerably cheaper in Germany than in Australia. Renting in Germany is on average cheaper than in Australia, with a one bedroom in the city centre costing about A$1,320 a month. The monthly salary in Germany is on average lower than Australia, at approximately A$3,800.
Rules and taxation
When it comes to rules and regulations, Germans don’t tend to muck around. From the proper sorting of recycling to abiding by the red light at the street crossing, there is a general respect for all rules. If you are living and working in Germany then you’ll need to pay tax. As an employee, your taxes should be automatically deducted from your pay. In the case of freelancing or being self-employed, you’ll need to calculate your own taxes and pay them at the end of the financial year.
Life in Germany
Ready to move to Germany? Here’s how you can set up your life in Germany for success and begin acclimating to your new surroundings.
An easy way to find out your work prospects in Germany is to visit the Quick-Check website. There is currently a demand for healthcare workers, IT specialists and transportation workers (train drivers, etc). It’s best to first secure work before you move especially as companies can apply to fast track skilled immigrants. You can also find work via websites such as Make It In Germany, Stepstone, and Monster. Ensure that you have the necessary work permits before you begin working in Germany to avoid deportation.
Some popular German cities like Berlin are facing housing shortages which can make it competitive to find a place. However, renting in Germany is cheaper than in Australia with a one bedroom apartment in the city centre costing around A$1,330 a month. If you’re looking to purchase a home in Germany, there are no restrictions and you don’t require a German residence permit. Buying an apartment in Germany is more expensive than in Australia, estimated around A$10,420 a square metre for something in the city centre.
Germans are known for their efficiency and there’s no greater example than their public transportation systems. In the bigger cities, it’s easy to get around with the S-Bhan (the city rapid rail), the U-Bahn (the metro), and trams (or Straßenbahnen). Bikes are also popular with many German cities including bike lines in their road infrastructure. Some rideshare services are available in Germany, but keep in mind that Uber is unpopular and unlicenced due a court ruling in 2019. If you are wanting to drive, you’ll need to change your Australian licence to a German one after six months of living there.
One main advantage of living in Germany is the proximity and ease of visiting the rest of Europe. No longer will you need to take a 21 hour flight to London, instead you can enjoy visiting anywhere in Europe for a weekend. Accessing the rest of Europe from Germany is easy thanks to Eurail. Purchasing a Eurail pass gives you access to train services across 33 countries in Europe. Cheap flights via budget airlines like EasyJet also make travelling the rest of Europe affordable.
Building strong and rewarding relationships can make a significant difference in how happy you are living in Germany. When you move to a new country, you’ll be faced with the challenge of constantly meeting new people and trying to form new friendships. The key to making new pals is to put yourself out there and make an effort to get to know other people. Having lunch with co-workers or study peers is a great way to begin building friendships.
Joining a sports, hobby or arts community can also help you bond with like minded people while doing something you love. Joining a German class has the combined benefit of helping you to brush up on your language skills and meeting people in a similar situation. Look on social media for expat community groups in your local town or city.
Don’t be afraid to learn something new as well. Moving overseas presents the perfect opportunity to try something you’ve always dreamed of - whether that be ice hockey or pottery, you’ll get to know locals while also learning a new skill.
As an expat, you’ll need to show proof of health insurance when you apply for your visa. Choose a comprehensive insurance plan that will cover for any specialist care, such as eye and dental, as well as covering for COVID-19. Fortunately you can also access the subsidised state healthcare, which covers basic hospital and out-care.
The climate in Germany isn’t too dissimilar to Melbourne, with changing temperatures throughout the day. However, a German summer can’t be compared to an Australian one. While they can be warm, expect frequent rainfall and invest in an adequate umbrella or raincoat. The winters tend to be colder, temperatures dropping below zero celsius with some snowfall.
Moving with Pets
If you are wanting to bring your pet with you to Germany, you’ll need to abide by German custom rules. Every animal brought into the country must be marked with a microchip and/or tattoo, be vaccinated against rabies, and have a veterinary certificate (Tier aus Nicht-EU-Staat). You can find out more about the requirements of entering with a pet here. Leading up to the move, take your pet to the vet and ensure they are up to date on all vaccinations. Using a pet relocation service is also an easy and efficient way to get your pet safely to their new German home.
Ready to Relocate?
An international move requires a significant amount of organisation and work to successfully execute. At Allied, we’ve helped thousands of Aussies move to their new home in Germany. Here’s how you can get ready for your departure date.
Packing tends to be one of the most boring and stressful parts of moving to Germany. While you pack up your belongings, take the time to sort through your things and declutter. Decide which clothes will work well in the German climate (might need a few less pairs of thongs and a warm winter coat instead), which items you can replace overseas (can you replace your pillows and blankets when you get to Germany?), and what you can live without. If possible, sell some items to make some more money before you leave. Donating or giving unwanted items will mean less things to pack and help you make room to acquire new belongings in Germany.
If you have some things that you won’t take to your new home, but are unwilling to part with, then consider using a secure storage service. Allied offers a range of short and long term storage options, and can even transport your belongings and furniture to Germany from Australia when you need.
Choose the right moving company
An international move is complex. Having experienced removalists with a global network like Allied, can make your relocation overseas a smooth and hassle-free experience. We’ll be able to handle all complicated logistics that an international move entails and do all the literal heavy lifting for you. Unlike other moving companies, we’ll be there every step of the way throughout your move to Germany thanks to having over 600 locations worldwide.
You and your belongings will have to travel over 14,450 kilometres to arrive in Germany. While Allied is known as the careful movers, there are still events and accidents out of our control. Our comprehensive insurance policy will ensure that you and your belongings are covered even if the worst case scenario does occur. Moving internationally is already stressful enough so give yourself peace of mind by organising moving insurance.