10 questions you might have about moving to Germany (and the answers)
Considering relocating to Germany? Or perhaps you’re already decided and are starting the process of planning your move. Naturally, you’ll have lots of questions about moving to Germany - from everything to finding a job to learning the language - so relocation experts Move-In are on hand with some answers to some frequently asked questions.
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we receive about moving to Germany.
1. How do I find a job?
The German labour market is experiencing a significant shortage of skilled workers. In October 2021, the Federal Employment Agency stated that the country needed more than 800.000 skilled workers to ensure the sustainability of its labour market and social security system, and so there’s plenty of work out there for qualified workers across a range of fields.
If you’re considering moving to Germany, it’s a good idea to start your job search from your home country - initial interviews especially can often be done remotely. Your visa application will be much easier if you already have an offer of work.
Here are some tips for finding a job in Germany:
- Get to know the German job market and working culture. Do some research, or ask some friends or family who might already have made the move.
- Identify some companies that could match your job search profile, skills and experience, and see if they have any openings.
- Update your CV and cover letter so that they adhere to standard practices in Germany.
- Update your online profiles (Linkedin and Xing are the most commonly used platforms in Germany)
- Connect online with employees who already work at the companies you highlighted in step 2.
- Start applying for jobs, either directly via companies’ websites or on German job boards. Remember it’s quality, not quantity, that counts when it comes to job applications.
2. Do I need a visa?
This depends on your nationality.
If you are an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa or residence permit to live and work in Germany.
If you are from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the UK or the USA, you can enter Germany without a visa, but if you plan to stay long-term or work, you need to apply for a residence permit within three months.
If you are from any other country, you need a visa to enter Germany. You can then apply for a residence permit to stay long-term.
3. Do you have to speak German to live in Germany?
German is the only official language in Germany but German citizens generally have a very good level of English. That being said, learning some German will greatly improve your integration and help you in your daily life. For instance, workers at government offices and banks cannot be depended upon to speak English.
If you’re planning to work, speaking German is required in some specific sectors like healthcare and education. In other sectors, it depends on the company culture, but English-speaking positions are becoming more and more common.
In summary: you can come to Germany without knowing the language but it's recommended that you learn it once you are here.
4. What is the cost of living like?
Official German public statistics say that a household spends an average of 2.623 euros per month (in 2021) on basics like rent, food, transportation and communication.
For a family with one child living in one of Germany’s larger cities, this might break down to a monthly budget of something like this:
- Rent including utilities for a 3-room apartment: 1.500 - 2.500 euros
- Food: 600 - 1.000 euros
- Transportation: 500 euros for a private car; 70 - 100 euros for public transport
- Clothing: 100 euros
- Mobile phone plan: 10 - 50 euros
It is also important to budget for other one-off expenses you will incur when moving to Germany, especially if you have to wait until the end of your first month to receive your first paycheck:
- Flight tickets
- Apartment deposit (up to three times the basic rent)
- First month’s rent
- Paperwork costs (like translating and certifying documents)
5. What are salaries like?
The minimum gross salary in Germany is 12 euros per hour, or 2.016 euros per month for a full-time (40 hours per week) contract. This equates to a monthly net salary of around 1.500 euros. According to the German official statistics office, the average gross salary in 2021 was 4.100 euros - a net salary of 2.636 euros.
Average gross salaries in Germany vary quite a bit depending on your years of experience:
- <1 year: 3.244 euros per month
- 1-5 years: 3.732 euros
- 6-10 years: 4.686 euros
Your job position also influences your average gross salary. For instance, someone who works in IT or marketing gets a gross average salary of around 5.000 euros per month, compared to 6.150 euros for people working in finance, and 7.500 euros for doctors.
6. Which city should I move to?
Germany has 80 cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants. Each German city has its own atmosphere, history and distinctive culture. What is certain is that wherever you go, you will have the best of both worlds: city life and green spaces.
7. How do I find somewhere to live?
The German real estate market is tight: characterised by high demand and low supply. While the prices might be higher than what you’re used to, the good news is that the quality of accommodation is generally rather high.
To find your home, you must be prepared to spend time, be open and flexible about your expectations and have documents and money ready. Don’t try the old fashioned way of knocking on the doors of real estate agencies (if they are open!), go directly online to find your dream home. It’s also worth speaking to friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances - sometimes the best offers don’t even make it to market.
8. Is Germany safe?
Germany is one the safest countries in the world, enjoying a particularly low crime rate and high quality of life in both cities and rural areas. You will find that Germans generally respect rules and regulations and uphold order in public spaces.
9. Can I drive in Germany with my driving licence?
If your driving licence was issued in a different EU country, you are free to drive in Germany with it.
If it was issued somewhere else, you are allowed to use it for six months after arriving in Germany. After six months, you will need to exchange it for a German one. Depending on where it was issued, you might need to pass a driving theory or practical test (or both), or a medical examination, before you can make the exchange.
10. What are the school options for children?
If you have children, you’ll also need to know a bit about the German school system. The public school system in Germany is well-regarded. It is administered at state level, and so the curriculum varies slightly from place to place, but generally the same level of education is offered. School is mandatory for all children from the age of six, and homeschooling is not allowed in Germany.
If your child is aged between zero and three, you can send them to a local nursery. Between the ages of three and six, they can go to kindergarten. This, however, is optional. Compulsory schooling only starts with primary school (Grundschule) at age six. Your child will attend this until the age of 10 before moving on to a different school.
Secondary level schooling in Germany is generally divided up into three streamed levels, depending on academic performance: Gymnasium (academic secondary school), Realschule (secondary school, for vocational studies) or Hauptschule (general secondary school, for technical studies).
Most main cities also have private international schools offering bilingual education and international qualifications.
Planning a move to Germany? Move-In offers a range of relocation packages to assist you with everything you need to make your move a success, from filling out paperwork to finding your new home and providing information about the insurance required to live in Germany.