8 frequently asked questions (and answers!) about moving to Germany
Are you considering a move to Germany? It's an exciting time as you explore the culture and opportunities of this beautiful country! But plenty of questions can come up as you start planning your move, so AGS Movers Germany has compiled a list of the most common ones (with answers), to help simplify the process.
1. What paperwork do I need to move to Germany?
Unless you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you will need a valid passport and visa to travel to Germany. Once you have arrived, you can apply for a German residence permit to allow you to stay. Citizens of certain countries may enter Germany without a visa but will need to apply for a residence permit if they plan to stay in the country for more than 90 days.
Depending on your home country, you might also need vaccinations and a criminal record check. It's best to consult with the German embassy or consulate in your country for specific details about what documentation is required before you move.
For those staying in Germany for longer than three months, it is essential to register with your local citizens’ office within two weeks of arriving, especially if you are shipping your stuff in from abroad and need import customs clearance. You will need to have this registration document when your shipment arrives at a port or airport. Otherwise, you could experience delays during customs processing.
2. How much does it cost to live in Germany?
Although the cost of living varies from city to city, Munich is generally accepted to be the most expensive city in Germany, followed by Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Stuttgart.
As of 2023, the average household in Germany spends around 2.700 euros per month on their living expenses. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to spend somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of your salary on rent and bills, and another 25 percent on food and transport. Also, don’t forget that taxes are relatively high in Germany, and your wages will most likely be subject to compulsory social insurance contributions, so there is quite a big difference between gross and net salaries.
To save money, consider living on the outskirts of the city where rents are cheaper. The German public transport network is comprehensive and reliable, making it easy to commute to work.
3. How can I find a reliable moving company for my move to Germany?
The first step is to do your research and ask for recommendations from friends and family. Additionally, you can use online resources such as the FIDI Global Alliance to find international movers who are certified and vetted by the global network.
Once you’ve got a shortlist, request some quotes to compare costs and services between different companies. Once you’ve selected a mover, make sure to read through the contract thoroughly before signing it.
International moving companies with branches in many countries around the world offer the convenience of having one point of contact throughout the entire moving process. Their teams will be able to handle every aspect of your move from start to finish, making it a more seamless - and less stressful! - process.
4. What’s a good way to find housing?
If you are working with a moving or relocation company, a good way to find housing in Germany is to see if they offer any kind of home-finding service. With their local knowledge, experience, and connections to real estate agents, they might be able to get you set up before you even arrive in Germany.
Additionally, there are plenty of online resources available with listings of apartments, houses and other types of accommodation such as student halls of residence.
However, you should prepare yourself for the fact that demand on the German rental market is high, especially in larger cities, and so properties move fast! This makes it hard for expats to find accommodation from outside of Germany. It’s easier to apply for apartments once you’re actually in the country, and are able to attend viewings in person. Even with the help of an agent, you might need to apply several times before successfully signing a lease.
5. How can we find a suitable school for our children?
There are several types of schools available in Germany for expats, including public schools, private schools and international schools. Public schools are free and follow the German curriculum, while private schools offer more specialised programmes and have higher tuition fees. International schools follow an international curriculum with instruction in English and other languages.
A relocation company that offers destination services can help you with information about the German school system. These services include preparing a shortlist of local and international schools in the area that meet your specific requirements. Otherwise, it’s worth speaking to friends, family, colleagues and neighbours for advice and recommendations.
6. What is public transport like in Germany? Will I need a car?
Germany has one of Europe’s most extensive public transport networks. With quick, reliable and safe options available everywhere, there’s no need to own a car. Within cities, there are usually various means of transport, including trams, buses, S-Bahn trains, and U-Bahn underground services, depending on location. Long-distance travel is easily accomplished by train.
During the summer months, many people prefer to cycle and use the dedicated bike lanes found in the major cities.
7. How do I open a bank account in Germany?
Opening a bank account as an expat can seem complicated, especially if you do not speak German, as quite a lot of paperwork is required. However, some banks have English-speaking staff who will be able to walk you through the process.
You will need proof of identity (such as your passport or ID card), proof of address (such as a rental contract), and proof that you are allowed to work or study in the country (if applicable).
8. How can I learn German? Are there any classes offered?
Taking the time to learn German will certainly make it easier for you to navigate daily life in Germany, not to mention make a good impression on the locals! Apps like Duolingo or Babbel provide free interactive lessons that you can follow at your own pace, while traditional classes have a set timetable and generally require course fees, but most will offer certificates upon completion.
Weekly "Stammtisch" (local meetups) offer great opportunities to practise your skills and build your social network. It's entirely possible to become fluent quickly with dedication!
These are just some of the questions you may have about moving to or living in Germany as an expat. With proper planning and research, you can have a successful move and be well on your way to enjoying life in Germany! AGS Movers Germany can assist you with every step of your move to Germany. Get a free quote now!