Let me start by saying that I like Germany and I can tell you hundred good reasons to move to Germany. I spent wonderful 2 years in this country. It’s been around 10 months since I left Germany and I still want to move back. There are lots of things that I miss about life in Germany.
But I also never looked at life abroad through rose-colored glasses and the time I spent in Germany just confirmed what I think I always knew: there is no perfect country to live. Germany is not some fairytale kingdom where everything is great. There are enough reasons not to move to Germany that want to share in this post.
1. Language barrier
While some people successfully survive in Germany without learning German, this is not the strategy that will serve you in a long run. Bigger cities are easier to live in without speaking German. If you are moving to Berlin, for example, you might face an opposite problem – lack of motivation to learn German because everyone speaks English. But if you move to a smaller city, you will quickly notice that not speaking German will create uncomfortable situations in one or another way. Maybe you have an English-speaking job in Germany but think about all the other things you need to do besides work.
Imagine looking for an English-speaking doctor everytime you need an appointment. Or renting a flat from a landlord that only speaks German. Maybe you have kids and they go to German school or kindergarten. And if you want to make some new German friends, it will be obviously easier if you can speak German.
So as you see, if you are planning to stay in Germany for a longer time, learning German is essential to make your life comfortable.
2. Bureaucracy and paperwork
It always wondered me how the country that puts so much emphasis on being environmentally friendly requires so much paperwork to do anything. The number of forms you need to fill when you first move to Germany might be overwhelming and frustrating. What you can do in many other countries online in 5 minutes might require a few weeks in Germany. Is there any other country where it takes a month to set up the internet at home?
There is a good example that always comes to my mind when I talk about bureaucracy in Germany. International couples need to do so much paperwork in Germany to get married that a whole new wedding industry developed in neighboring Denmark. Foreigners that live in Germany often prefer to get married in Denmark because the whole process is just much easier there. Does it tell you enough about German bureaucracy?
3. Weather in Germany
Some foreigners find German winters too cold, other say winter temperatures are fine. Winter weather is a bit different in South and North Germany. I was lucky enough to live in Freiburg that is known to be the warmest city in Germany. There was barely any snow in winter. But there is one thing about German winters most people agree about: lack of sunlight can be really depressing. Winters in Germany are grey and seem to never end.
4. Income tax in Germany for employees
Income tax is not an issue for everyone, but if you move to Germany as a young single high paid worker, prepare to pay almost a half of your salary in taxes. To be precise, in 2018 the tax rate of 42 % applies to income from €54,950. You will pay fewer taxes if you get married plus there is a wide range of tax advantages if you have children. But if you are a highly skilled, single and don’t have kids, you might think twice about moving to Germany. There is a good chance that you can earn more in some other country doing the same job.
5. Germany is slow to adopt technology
Germany is known to be one of the world leaders in science in technology. But when it comes to implementing technology in everyday life, Germany is far behind many other countries. Uber is banned, for example. Germany remains one of the few countries in Europe where Apple Pay is not launched yet and doesn’t seem to happen soon. There are still places in Germany that don’t accept credit cards and require you to pay in cash. Although I believe all this is going to change in the future because the new generation is much more open to innovations.
6. Cultural differences
How big the cultural differences are between Germany and your home country and how open minded you are can influence how much you like living in Germany. I didn’t have a big culture shock after moving to Germany and really appreciate some “typical German traits” like punctuality. I envy how hardworking and disciplined my German friends are.
But there also things about German culture that foreigners find irritating. Many say Germans are too direct and not easy to become friends with. They follow rules and make sure that other also follow them. They can easily tell you off if they think you are doing something wrong and while you might find it rude, they believe they are fulfilling their social responsibility. I could go on but the main point here is that whether you like or don’t like German culture and mentality, you need to find a way to adapt to it.
7. Bad customer service in Germany
If after reading all the reasons not to move to Germany you still decide to move, remember one thing: the customer is not king. I need to say that I have very basic expectations for customer service and don’t find something like “the waiters don’t smile” important enough to complain about. But it drives me crazy when customer service can’t answer my questions and can’t solve my problem.
Another problem are opening hours. I can see logic behind the shops not working on Sunday in Germany. But what about weekdays? Why is the post office open 9.00 to 18.00 on weekdays and only until 12.00 on Saturday? Or some banks working only until 16.30 on weekdays. Why are banks closed on Saturday? I have no idea how a person that works normal business hours is supposed to get the things done.
This was a short list of reasons not to move to Germany. Remember that everyone expectations and preferences are different, as well as experience. You might move to Germany and not be bothered by anything I listed above. But better to be prepared 🙂
Would you like to move to Germany?