5 common difficulties people face when relocating to Germany

5 common difficulties people face when relocating to Germany

So, you are relocating to Germany. You already have a residence permit, you’ve booked your flight and your bags are packed. You’re excited about all the challenges that are waiting for you. 

But who said that moving will not bring any difficulties? A jump from one environment to another is always a scary thing. So how to make it smoother? Start by foreseeing the most likely relocation problems and then prepare to deal with them. 

Let’s consider them step by step… 

1.  Flat hunting in Germany

The first essential issue you will face when relocating is finding accommodation. If your destination is one of Germany’s five largest cities, be prepared for the fact that it is unlikely to be easy. 

Act quickly

The main apartment hunting secret in Germany is to act fast, as the housing market here is competitive. Don’t rule out apartments located outside of the city centre or even in the suburbs. The public transportation system in Germany is really well-developed, so it would not be as inconvenient as you might think.

Keep your budget in mind

The second secret – mind your budget. It may sound obvious, but there are some peculiarities to housing adverts in Germany. In most cases, landlords offer prices as if you are just renting the space itself, known as “cold rent”. You will also need to spend money on laying down flooring, equipping the kitchen and furnishing the flat. Don’t forget about utility bills, either. 

Be quick off the mark

The third secret is as plain as day – start your apartment search as soon as possible, before you even arrive in the country. I asked several expats about the main challenges they faced when relocating to Germany. Here’s what Boris, who recently moved from Bulgaria to Essen, said:

“It’s better to find an apartment in advance. Start searching for an apartment before coming to Germany. The difficulty for me was that in Essen there is very high demand for good places, so nice apartments get let within just a week, on average.” 

2.  Bureaucratic issues in Germany

Paperwork is the least pleasant part of the relocation process. This is especially true in Germany, where a passion for order and strict procedures is the guiding principle. First of all, you will have to learn two complicated, but crucially important, German words – Anmeldebestätigung and Sozialverischerungsausweis. They sound scary, but there’s no time to despair. Let’s sort it out: 


The Anmeldebestätigung is an official registration of your address in Germany. Once you’ve found your new dream flat, hold off with the celebrations – make a reservation at your city’s registration office first. It’s likely that you will have to wait a month or more for your appointment, but unfortunately you have no choice: without an Anmeldebestätigung, you will not be able to get a residence permit, take out health insurance or open a bank account.


The Sozialverischerungsausweis is your personal social security number. It proves that you make contributions to Germany’s pension and health insurance schemes. Generally, once you get a job, your employer automatically enrols you in this system and you will receive your Sozialverischerungsausweis in the post.

3. German labour market competition

Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world and is one of the most desirable destinations for highly-skilled migrants. These two facts explain the high level of employment competition. It may take you quite a long time to find a job in Germany, so the best option is to think about it in advance. Do research on the German labour market within your professional niche, outline companies you would like to work in and polish your CV.

One more important thing to make sure of before you start looking for a job in Germany is whether your qualification is recognised by the German authorities or professional associations. You can check this easily online. 

4. Learning the German language

Of course, if your English is fluent, you won’t have serious trouble in your day-to-day life in Germany. Most Germans start to learn English at a primary school level. Around half of the population are near enough fluent, while the other part understands and does their best to speak it. There are also plenty of jobs for which you do not need an advanced level of German.

But if your plans go beyond just a few years of living and working in the country, having good command of German will make your life significantly easier. Beyond navigating through your daily life in shops, restaurants and on the street, most bureaucratic paperwork is conducted in German. Moreover, if after several years of residence you choose to apply for citizenship, you will have to prove your level of German. 

5.  Cultural differences in Germany

Just type “Germans” into the search bar and the top Google results will list all the stereotypes you’ve ever heard about Germany. “Obsessed with order”, “arrogant”, “cold” and “too direct” are just a few examples. 

Yes, German people value their time and appreciate business planning and perfectionism at work. Yes, they love order and tend to structure things. But try to change your angle – these people drive one of the most developed countries in the world! Embrace the new!

Mark, a Backend Developer who moved from Israel to Berlin, says that the German mentality encourages a good work atmosphere and helps him to be more effective as a specialist:

“I think the German mentality suits me better. Here everything is as plain as day, clear and understandable. Therefore, I can be more effective as a programmer. Germans are more honest, and this is cool,” he points out.

Bear all these things in mind and your relocation process will not be accompanied by stress and anxiety! Being prepared means being able to find a solution to any issue.

Anastasia Sidorova


Anastasia Sidorova

Content writer, journalist, living in Moscow, Russia. Currently is Marketing and PR specialist, freelance author at Germany-based Zero to One Search IT recruitment company.

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