- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Germany Guide (PDF)
Located in the north of Western Europe, Germany is blessed with breathtaking landscapes that include lush forests, rivers, imposing mountain ranges and sweeping North Sea beaches. A country steeped in a storied, millennia-long history, Germany boasts several major metros each with its own unique past, character and charm, the capital being Berlin.
Living in Germany as an expat
Expats moving to Germany usually find the transition straightforward and painless, without too much culture shock. A cosmopolitan and innovative country with a powerful economy, Germany has long been a popular expat destination for the high living standards it offers.
One of the biggest hurdles expats who want to move to Germany will face is its stringent immigration regulations. But there are plenty of opportunities for qualified expats in fields such as business, science and technology, especially if they have skills that are in short supply.
The general standard of infrastructure is excellent. Expats probably won’t need a car thanks to extensive public transport in German cities, and long-distance travel is made easy thanks to low-cost flights and good transport links.
Expats have a variety of options when it comes to accommodation in Germany too – from furnished or unfurnished apartments and maisonettes to trendy studios, cottages and family houses. Most expats living in Germany rent property, but the process of purchasing a house isn’t complicated, even for foreign nationals.
Cost of living in Germany
Living costs in Germany can be quite high but not necessarily higher than the average for Western European countries. As is to be expected, rural areas are cheaper than cities.
Expat families and children
Families relocating to Germany will be happy to know that the standard of healthcare is nothing short of excellent. Both public and private hospitals in Germany are on par with international standards, and expats with specific health concerns can find comfort in the fact that specialist facilities are in good supply.
The standard of education in Germany is also exceptionally high. The system accommodates the fact that students have different abilities and there are various options that include an array of international schools throughout the country.
There is also plenty for families to get to in their leisure time, including countless museums, amusement parks, city parks, forest hikes and much besides.
Climate in Germany
Weather in Germany changes frequently from day to day and even seasonal patterns vary from year to year. The northwest region of the country is generally the coldest, with temperatures increasing eastwards and southwards. On the whole, summers tend to be warm across Germany and winters bitterly cold. Extremes aren't common, but severe winters can sweep through the country every now and then.
Expats may initially find that life in Germany is quite rigid. But if they’re willing to live by both the written and unwritten rules of German society, they’ll be rewarded with a high quality of life in a safe environment amid wonderful scenery and warm people.
Official name: Federal Republic of Germany
Population: Around 84.3 million
Capital city: Berlin (also largest city)
Neighbouring countries: Germany shares borders with Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Switzerland and Austria to the south, France to the southwest, and Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to the west.
Geography: Germany has a diverse landscape stretching from the mountainous regions of the Alps across the forested North European Plain, to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Political system: Constitutional republic
Main languages: German is the official language but English is widely understood.
Major religions: Christianity
Money: The Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents, is the official currency. Germany has a sophisticated banking system and opening a bank account as an expat is relatively easy. ATMs are easy to find throughout the country.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the end of March to the end of October)
Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. Two-pin European plugs are standard.
International dialling code: +49
Emergency numbers: 110 (police), 112 (ambulance)
Internet domain: .de
Transport and driving: Germany has a well-established and efficient public transport system and a car is not necessary if living in one of the country's major cities. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.
"Everything moves at a much, much slower pace than in the States. It took me a while to get used to not being able to shop whenever I wanted. Sundays are when everything is closed and you have to find other ways of entertaining yourself – like going out for a nice walk in nature or have a coffee." Learn more about expat life in the Germany by reading Marisa's interview.
"Germany is fantastic. Every single place, from the tiniest village to the biggest city, has something that they want to show the world. Go find it! " For more tips on enjoying expat life in Germany check out Katlin's interview.
Are you an expat living in Germany?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Germany. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world. Cigna are offering a 10% discount on all policies bought in November and December.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.