Whether you’re familiar with Germany and all it has to offer, or you’ve never set foot in this beautiful country before, here’s everything you need to know before you decide to make the big move.
If you’re interested in moving to Germany, the first thing you’ll need to do is secure a visa. Depending upon where you’re currently living, this can either be a simple or a complicated process. One of the many things that makes Germany unique is that the country participates in the Schengen Agreement, which permits the citizens of countries that have also signed the agreement (including Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands) to move to Germany quite easily.
If you currently live in a Schengen Agreement country, all you’ll need to do to begin your move to Germany is secure a Schengen visa. This will allow you to stay in Germany for up to 90 days with free permission to come and go from the country. While the Schengen visa is easy to apply for and obtain, there is one catch: people utilizing the Schengen visa are not permitted to hold gainful employment in Germany. Because of this, many expats choose to forgo the Schengen visa and apply for a residence permit, instead.
Keep in mind that citizens of certain countries (such as Australia, Israel, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the U.S., and South Korea) can enter Germany without a visa and apply for a work or residence permit within 12 weeks of arrival. To be sure that you don’t arrive in Germany unprepared (and to be sure that you’re on top of Germany’s frequently changing immigration laws and visa requirements), contact the Foreign Office well before you plan to move to Germany.
Regardless of how you plan to gain residence in the country, you’ll need to be prepared to exhibit documentation like your birth certificate, marriage license, employment proof, and bank statements. You should also be ready to take a physical examination upon entering the country.
Once you’ve secured all of your paperwork, you’ll need to decide on a place to live in Germany. While there are many rental options throughout the country of Germany, they can be quite expensive, so it’s wise to begin looking early. This ensures you’ll find accommodations you love at a price that won’t break your budget. Here are some of the most popular housing options Germany has to offer:
Keep in mind that you’ll need to present a selection of paperwork before you sign a rental agreement. You'll need proof of income, bank statements, and copies of your immigration paperwork to be considered for a rental property, so it’s wise to compile these things beforehand.
Germany offers dozens of beautiful places to start your new life. Regardless of whether you’re interested in a quiet, country existence or a spot in the middle of one of Germany’s bustling cities. Here are the top five places people choose to live in this beautiful country:
Known around the world for being gritty, glamorous, and steeped in history, Berlin is one of the most famous cities Germany has to offer. Once a hotspot of Nazi activity during World War II (some say the Holocaust was planned here), Berlin is infamous for being split in half by the Berlin Wall, the remains of which still cast a somber shadow over parts of the city. Despite its weighty history, however, Berlin is a proud city, with plenty to offer natives and expats alike.
Today, Berlin is a hub of art, culture, shopping, nightlife, and cuisine. Known as one of the most creative and vibrant cities in Germany, Berlin thrives on fun, excitement, and unique attractions. Residents of the city enjoy taking in live shows at any of the dozens of pubs, clubs, and galleries, or enjoying a meal at any of the city’s hundreds of mouthwatering restaurants. Boasting a fantastic public transit system and good schools, Berlin is the perfect place for expats to set up shop in Germany.
Known primarily for being the home city of world-famous Oktoberfest, Munich offers an authentic taste of traditional Bavarian culture and heritage. Dripping with beautiful architecture and plenty of authentic Alpine attractions, Munich is a city where it’s not at all uncommon to see people wearing Lederhosen and wooden clogs while strolling the streets.
One of the most-visited cities in all of Germany, Munich draws visitors and expats from around the world thanks to its world-class festivals, art attractions, and ample tech jobs. When the city isn’t hosting Oktoberfest, one of its main attractions is the Alte Pinakothek museum. Known for housing some of the oldest altar paintings in the world, the museum also boasts original works of traditional Bavarian artists such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
A highly walkable and navigable city with plenty to see, Munich is the perfect mix of vibrancy and comfort, traits which make it ideal for the adventurous expat.
Known as the industrial and technological hub of Germany, Frankfurt is often compared to New York City in the United States. Bustling, upscale, and filled with some of the world’s largest finance and business headquarters, Frankfurt is home to the European Central Bank headquarters.
Not surprisingly, Frankfurt is where many expats with jobs in engineering, technology, or banking choose to live. Even if you don’t work in a high-power industry, however, Frankfurt is still a lovely place to live. At the end of the workday, citizens of this city flow out into the streets to enjoy a beer at one of the many local pubs, attend gallery openings, or enjoy live music. The city is speckled with outdoor cafes, parks, unique local shops, and plenty of delicious restaurants. Plus, since the city is home to one of Germany’s major universities, there’s never a shortage of things to do.
One of Germany’s oldest Maritime cities, Hamburg has been called “The gateway to the world.” Located on the banks of the river Elbe, Hamburg has historically been a hub of global trade. Currently German’s second-largest cities and one of the wealthiest in the country, Hamburg is popular among expats from all walks of life.
Boasting the industry, opportunity, and vibrancy of Frankfurt and Berlin, tempered with the calming pace of life on the water, Hamburg is a quirky city with plenty of fresh seafood eateries and a red-light district rivaled only by Amsterdam’s. Recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2015, Hamburg is a historic city with plenty to offer the modern expat.
A hotbed of WWII history and heritage, Dresden was all but destroyed at the hands of Allied bombings in February of 1945. Despite the destruction the city suffered, however, many of the city’s most iconic buildings remained intact and stand, today, as a proud remembrance of a city that, despite the extraordinary circumstances, refused to fall entirely. Located on the Elbe River, Dresden offers its fair share of museums, exhibits, and galleries for the enjoyment of visitors and residents alike.
Expats looking to move to Germany will enjoy its temperate climate and frequent rainfall. Regardless of where you choose to live in the country, it’s uncommon to experience temperature extremes. Winters throughout the region are generally cool and wet while summers are warm and dry, with occasional rainstorms in the early spring. Temperatures tend to be warmest in the Southern portion of the country. The fall season is mild and extended, with the occasional warm windstorm blowing through.
Germany is a beautiful place with plenty of positive attributes. Before you make the decision to move to the country, however, it’s critical to ensure you understand the benefits and drawbacks of the move. Read on to learn more:
Whether you’re looking for high-quality jobs in the tech or financial industries or simply want to enjoy life in a scenic, historic city with your family, Germany has something for you. Recognized around the world as one of the most vibrant and varied countries on the globe, Germany is a hotbed of culture, history, art, dining, and activism. From the sprawling landscape of Berlin to the stately spires and peaks of Dresden, Germany is a unique country with something to offer expats from near and afar.