Coming to Germany…
…is a dream for many people for different reasons. It is politically stable, has a good working economy and is central in Europe for further travels. However, moving to a new country is always a big step and you need to prepare a lot and you should be sure if this is the right path to take. Have a look at this checklist and gain a little insight into what you would need and what people expect from you.
First of all, check the internet and see what you are getting into. There are loads of videos on YouTube where people document their experiences in Germany with the culture, people and especially the food. Make sure that you exactly know what you are getting yourself into. While you are already at it, have a look if your job is in demand in Germany or if the market is not in need at the moment.
Once you have verified that Germany is your destination of choice and you are familiar with the culture, you need to get into the language. The most important point is to understand and speak German. There are not many opportunities where you can speak English in your job in Germany and don’t need to speak any German. Even though Germans learn English in school it can be difficult for a lot to actually communicate in English. Please be aware that you should have at least a B1 level to get by. If you need to work in a German company you should better take classes until a C1 level. This will increase your chances drastically to get a job.
Check your passport and make sure, that you are actually allowed to travel. If you need a visa you should apply for it in due time and make sure that all your documents are valid.
Get a job
In all honesty, this is the hardest part of your journey. If you are not a specialist in your field of work it can be frustrating and rather disappointing to get a proper offer from a company. There is a shortage for certain professions in Germany and the biggest one is in IT. If you have a bachelor or masters degree and the first work experience you could get a serious offer with the proper preparation. First of all, you should update your CV to a German standard.
In Germany, you are writing your CV anti-chronological and begin with the most recent experience first. Also, you separate work experience and your education. A rather common feature in the CV is a professional picture of yourself and certifications from university and past employers. It is not common to cite references but rather you get a written recommendation or certification about your tasks and responsibilities in your employment.
Find a guide and templates on how to write your CV right here.
Permits and applications
If you are not from the European Union you would need a work & residency permit. The EU is offering the Blue Card for certain professions that are in need. You can find all information about the Blue Card here.
Sometimes you might need to get your university degree certified. You can have a look at this database to find your university and your degree in order to see if this is valid in Germany. If your degree is not valid you can get in touch with the authorities right on that website and they can validate your degree and add it to the database for future references.
Another possibility would be to get a jobseeker visa and you could stay in Germany for 3 months and search for a job while you are already here. Please bear in mind that Germany is a big country and it can take you hours or even days to get from one side of the country to the other.
Taxes and labor costs
If you are working in Germany you will find a lot of labor costs are directly deducted from your paycheck. The biggest part is wage taxes and health insurance. The whole deductions roughly around 30 – 35% and are based on different factors. You can calculate your actual net salary on this website. One big advantage of this is, that you can go to any doctor and get free medical advice.
Germany is actually a country that is overinsured and there are insurances for every possibility that could or could not occur. If you are just setting up you might not need to look into this but if you are already settled you might want to have a look for the most important ones which are
- Haftpflichtversicherung (Liability insurance)
- Berufsunfähigkeistversicherung (Disability insurance)
- Private Rentenversicherung (private pension insurance)
- Risikolebensversicherung (term life insurance)
So you got your job, you know how much taxes you are going to pay and now you need to organize everything else around you. Let’s start with the most important things.
You need an apartment and this might be a bit of a struggle. Have a look at this website, where you can find apartments and houses to rent and to buy in all regions and cities in Germany. Another thing you might want to try is eBay Kleinanzeigen. This might sound strange, but in Germany, there is a version of eBay for classified ads and you can find almost everything there. Think of it as craigslist for Germany.
If you are renting your apartment, you highly likely need to set up your own landline & internet connection. Since there are always loads of offers, it is best to get a proper comparison of all the offers. Have a look on this website and compare what suits your needs best.
In order to pay all your taxes, you are going to need your tax identification number (Steueridentifikationsnummer). Once you have your apartment you will go to the town hall (Bürgeramt) and inform the authorities that you are living here now. While you are already there you can directly apply for your tax identification. The application takes no more than 5 minutes and you will get a letter to send home with the number that you need to give to your employer.
You are going to need health insurance that you can choose yourself. You can choose between normal insurance and private insurance. For the first months or years, normal insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) is completely sufficient. You can get an overview of all the insurances here and get a good grip of what is offered and how they differ from each other. Normally it just takes a couple of minutes and you will get all the documents you need by post. In rural regions, it might be good to ask your colleagues which health insurance they prefer, since some don’t have a local office, which could come in handy.
In order to receive your monthly salary, you will need a bank account. This website shows an overview of different banks and their accounts. Normally you can set up your bank account online and will get the IBAN directly.
What Germans are expecting from you in the workplace
When it comes to your job Germans expect a lot of you. You should always be on time, especially if you are working in a team or are constantly in meetings. Also, you should always be professional. Normally there is a clear distinction between friends and colleagues and some even only do small talk at work and won’t participate in deep and/or private conversations with colleagues.
Germans appreciate efficiency and being organized, are (mostly) always politically correct and your political opinions are not discussed at work. If you are in a discussion always base your arguments on facts and not on emotions.
After all, there is a lot to consider when you want to move to Germany. A lot of preparation is needed and you need to put a lot of attention to detail. Are there things you are struggling with or things that need more attention? Let us know!