Posted by Matthew Andrews on July 17th, 2017.
Germany may not have the abundance of sunshine and glorious beaches that some of its European neighbours enjoy, but the high quality of life, rich culture and amazing local beer still make it a popular destination for many expats.
Germany is also famed for its efficiency, but this doesn’t mean there won’t be hurdles to surmount if you decide to move to the nation. There are also some economic and cultural differences which it may take a while to acclimatise to.
To help you get prepared for life in Germany we’ve put together a list of three things you should consider before making the move.
One of the things expats tend to find most surprising about living in Germany is just how early everything starts shutting, and entire cities can become scarily empty at certain times of the week.
The 1950’s saw Germany pass its draconian Ladenschlussgesetz (store-closing law) which placed huge restrictions on the times businesses were legally able to operate, and the laws remained largely untouched until the 1990s.
Thanks to efforts by workers unions to you will still likely find that most shops close at 7-8pm at the latest, which can make it extremely difficult to get anything done after you finish work.
You will also find that Germany’s strict labour regulations means nearly everything is shut on a Sunday as well. So if you find you are out of milk on Sunday morning you will likely need to drag yourself to the closest railway station or petrol station to ensure you get your morning cuppa.
With continued pressure from both Germany’s unions and Catholic and Protestant churches, it’s unlikely that this situation will change for the foreseeable future, so brace yourself for more restricted shopping hours when you move to Germany.
While Germany is known for its great public transport and services, these don’t come cheap and taxes in Germany are comparatively higher than in some other European countries as a result of this.
According to analysts at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) a single person in Germany earning an standard salary can expect to be taxed 39.90% of their earnings, almost 15% more than the OECD average of 25.10%, with only Belgium’s average tax rate being higher.
However families with children will find the tax rates more generous, with child tax credits meaning a couple with two children would be subject to a tax rate of just 21.3%.
If you’re a member of a registered church in Germany you’ll find that you’re also liable to further taxation on top of your standard rate, generally charged at 8-9% of your income tax payment depending on which federal state you live in.
While the upfront tax payments are undoubtedly quite high in Germany you will find that most are in agreement that the tax-benefit ratio is more than reasonable.
Those looking to move to Germany should also prepare themselves for a potential culture shock as many expats are unlikely to be used to some of the nuances of German culture.
One of the most commented on differences you may notice is the directness of speech and the lack of interest in small talk – so don’t be taken aback if no one has any interest in talking to you about the weather.
Working in Germany can also take a little getting used to as while there are many advantages (such as good working conditions and career opportunities) you may find working in Germany to be more isolating than you’re used to.
While this is a bit of a sweeping generalisation, German nationals don’t tend to mix their work lives with their private lives, so you may find it difficult to make many friends in the workplace. Going for a few after work drinks might also be off the table!
One final consideration to make when looking to relocate to Germany (or any other country) is how you’ll transfer your funds into the local currency. One way of making this process easier (and a lot more cost-effective) is to consider using a reputable currency broker to transfer your money.
While your first thought may be to use your bank, the more competitive exchange rates brokers are able to offer could save you thousands. You’d also avoid the fees that are often tacked on by banks and have access to a range of transfer services that can be tailored to suit individual requirements.
If you’re considering relocating to Germany in the near future, find out more about your currency transfer options.
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