So you’ve decided to make the leap. You’ve chosen to say Auf Wiedersehen to your job, flat and home comforts and Hallo to a fresh, exciting (and sometimes uncertain!) start in Germany. It’s time to trade in your burritos for Bratwurst, your vin rouge for fulsome Bier, and your rock ‘n’ roll for industrial techno tunes. But before you go and find a job in Germany, you still need to do some preparing for your move to Germany.
To lessen the culture shock, we’ve compiled a list of some of the things that are useful to know before moving to Germany:
1. If you’re not into green living, you soon will be.
If there is one thing Germans love, it’s recycling. Germany is king of the hill when it comes to recycling and reuses a staggering 70 per cent of the waste the country generates. Initially reluctant, after a few months in Germany, I soon found myself scurrying through my plastics, bottles and cardboard on a cold November evening – unperturbed by the encroaching frostbite, I was intent that my recyclables ended up exactly where they should be – German bonus points for me.
But Germany’s environmentally-conscious practices are not limited to recycling. Despite a seemingly endless array and love of sausages, Germany is at the forefront of a vegan revolution. The capital alone has over 80,000 vegans and over 70 eateries geared towards the non-carnivorous amongst us. If the thought of chickpeas and tofu doesn’t take your fancy, then you can also tap into the eco-German inside of you by purchasing a Fahrrad (bike). While not quite on par with the Dutch, Germans love a good cycle – most cities have an extensive bike lane network and the countryside offers some great touring options.
Even if environmental concerns have not been a priority to you in the past, even the most ardent gas guzzling, meat-eating, climate sceptic would struggle to not be influenced by Germany’s green approach to living.
NEXT STEP: Kickstart Your Move to Germany
2. Cash is king
Whilst many European countries are currently hell-bent on becoming a cashless society and fully adopting the latest and greatest disruptive payment technology, Germans prefer to keep it old school when it comes to their moolah. The country is one of the most cash-intensive advanced economies on earth with roughly 80% of transactions being settled using cold hard cash and the average German chooses to line their wallet with over EUR 100.
Opinion is divided as to why Germany remains a cash-loving nation. Theories are bandied around that it is due to the anonymity that cash offers in a country that has an enthusiasm for protecting privacy, while others argue it is because it is easier to keep track of personal finances if you can physically see the dosh in your wallet. Whatever the reason, expect to pay cash in a large number of restaurants, bars and clubs throughout Germany.
3. Sunday is Ruhetag
While Germans are old-fashioned when it comes to monetary affairs, the same can be said for their approach to Sundays. Sunday is Ruhetag or a ‘rest day’ and you are effectively forced to take a step back, relax and enjoy a day off. Whilst shops not being open on Sundays seemed frustrating at first, I soon became accustomed to lazing away my Sundays with long walks and obligatory Kuchen (cake).
The rules surrounding Ruhetag are also not to be messed with – expect to feel the wrath of your neighbours if you attempt to put a wash on, vacuum your home or are the cause of any other noisy disturbances on Sundays.
4. Pack slowly at your peril
While expats generally adapt quickly to the rapidity of packing that is expected in German supermarkets, you’ll initially be taken aback by the tsunami of groceries that come flying your way at breakneck speeds. The shop assistant will scan and hurl your shopping like there’s no tomorrow – but fear not, you’ll soon be cool, calm and controlled as you nimbly speed pack your weekly shop like a true German.
MORE READING: 8 Things to Leave Off Your Packing List
There are a number of contradictory rules that can cause a headache when moving to Germany. Whilst German bureaucracy grinds along like a well-oiled machine, becoming an integrated cog in this machine can be frustrating. For example, in order to secure an apartment, you often need to have a bank account, but to open a bank account you need a proof of registration (address)! Similar issues arise when obtaining tax numbers, signing up for phone contracts, registering at a gym etc… Fortunately there are a number of relocation providers around that can guide you through all the administrative and practical steps to getting settled in with as little hassle as possible.
6. All-night techno party
Since the fall of the wall, a unifying force in Germany has been the country’s passion for electronic music. Germany is not only an early adopter when it comes to electronic music, but also a pioneer and quickly became a central breeding ground for the genre in the final decades of the 20th Century.
The scene is focused around the techno heartland of Berlin, where power plants, bunkers, and underground stations were converted into world-famous nightclub venues in the early 1990s. On weekends, over 50,000 Berliners hit up the capital’s nightspots, many of which simply stay open until the last revellers decide to go home. You may even find yourself proselytising about your new-found love of the genre before too long!
Even more convinced you need to move to Germany?
So there you have it, a quick run through just a few of the things you can expect when moving to Germany. While many things can seem foreign at first, we can guarantee that you’ll quickly feel comfortable with the culture and quirks of Germany!