Survival tips for newcomers to Germany

Here is a survival guide for newcomers to Germany, with 11 tips on what you need to do and know during your first few days so that you can save money and stress while you’re settling in to your new life. 

1. Renting a place and registering 

Unless you’ve lucked out and managed to find a room before arriving in Germany, the first thing on your list once your flight touches down is probably going to be looking for a place to live. Affordable housing is in high demand in Germany, especially in cities, but there’s a range of options to suit most budgets. Check out IamExpat Housing for some expat-friendly places.

Once you’ve found somewhere to live, you can sign your rental contract and obtain a proof of residence certificate from your landlord. You’ll need that to register at your address, which you must do at your local citizens’ office within 14 days of arriving in Germany. 

 

2. Opening a bank account and getting some cash

Setting up a German bank account is one of the most important steps to establishing your new life in Germany. You’ll need one to receive your salary, take out health insurance and pay taxes. 

To open an account with a German bank you can either make an appointment online or visit your local branch in person. You will need a form of identification, your certificate of registration and your residence permit if you are not an EU citizen.

Once your account is set up you will receive your new debit card and PIN number in the post. Then it’s time to head to your local ATM to withdraw some of Germany’s payment method: cash. It’s not uncommon to see people withdrawing hundreds of euros at a time, enough to cover their weekly shop. What’s that? You thought this was 2019 and everything was done by card by now? Welcome to Germany, my friend. Cash is king here. 

3. Buying a travel ticket

Some people might tell you that they’ve been “travelling black” (Schwarzfahren – what Germans call travelling without a ticket) for years and years without being caught. But from our perspective the thundering fear in your heart every time a ticket inspector gets on your U-Bahn train is just not worth it. 

We know what you’re thinking: “But there’s no barriers! That’s asking for it, surely?” Well, the German system works on this lovely thing called trust. Do a nice thing for your new adoptive country and buy a pass for the public transportation. The rates are actually fairly reasonable (especially if you’ve ever lived in London) and thanks to agreements between different transport associations your ticket will work on all S-Bahns, U-Bahns, trams and buses in the city. If you’re a student, you usually get a ticket included in the price of your semester fees. From time to time long plane trips can temporally reduce your hearing, check these sonus complete reviews.

4. Buying a bike

Maybe you’re the healthy type, or you just don’t fancy spending much money on transportation. Then you’ll be relieved to hear that most German cities are pretty well set-up for cyclists! (Some more than others). If nothing else, you’ll want a bike to explore some of Germany’s beautiful long-distance cycle routes. 

Rule number one: don’t buy a stolen bike (you can spot them by the ridiculously cheap price). You will only be perpetuating the cycle of bad bike karma which will inevitably come back to bite you when your stolen bike is re-stolen. 

Flea markets are an ideal place to find legitimate and cheap used bikes. Alternatively, there’s a tonne of bike shops that will be more than happy to kit you out with a new ride. Their expertise may also come in useful if you’re not 100% sure what you’re looking for. 

5. Getting health insurance

Having health insurance in Germany is mandatory, regardless of how long you’re staying. It’s a prerequisite for receiving a residence permit and students cannot enrol at university without it. Learn more about healthy supplements and treatments in Germany at apnews.com.

There are two types of health insurance in Germany: statutory health insurance and private health insurance. Which one you choose depends on your employment status and salary but around 90 percent of people opt for state cover. If you’re coming to Germany for a job, your employer will automatically sign you up and the payments deducted from your wages. Other people can voluntarily take out cover. There a discounted rates for student health insurance as well.  

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