Priorities for new expat arrivals in Germany

Posted on 14 Aug at 6 PM in Germany
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Priorities for new expat arrivals in Germany

Priorities for new expat arrivals in Germany

Once you’ve accepted a new job or university course in Germany and arrived at your temporary accommodation, you’ve hopefully got a week or so to sort out the necessities of life in a strange land.

Looking for a suitable apartment is a basic priority, especially as affordable rentals are in high demand in all German cities. Once you’re suited and your rental contract has been signed by both parties, you’ll need your landlord to provide a certificate of residency, without which you’ll be unable to register your address with your local citizens’ office within two weeks of your arrival. Once this is done, the next priority is opening a German bank account in order to receive your salary if you’re working as well as paying your taxes and setting up health insurance.

If you’re not from an EU member state, your chosen bank will need your registration certificate, residence permit and tax ID number. After you’ve visited the bank, your debit card and PIN number will be sent to you by post, allowing you to use ATMs. Cash is the country’s method of payment, with locals taking out hundreds of euros at a time. If you’re planning to avoid pricey public transport and plan to stay healthy by cycling to and from work or lectures, you’ll need to watch out for stolen bikes, easily identifiable by their ridiculously cheap prices. Legitimate and inexpensive bikes are easily found in the popular flea markets as well as in local bike shops.

One expense you’ll not be able to avoid is healthcare insurance, mandatory for all expats in Germany. You’ve a choice between statutory or private insurance, with most new arrivals who’re not being covered by their employers opting for state cover as it’s far cheaper. By now, you’ll have realised your new apartment actually needs more furniture than just one bed, as the previous tenants have stripped it of everything else as is common in the country. Buying brand new, even from IKEA, is an expensive undertaking, but the local quirky flea markets are lifesavers as regards secondhand furnishings and other household goods.

The final essential is your internet connection, a slow process unless you’ve taken over the previous tenant’s provider, with the gap between applying and getting as long or even longer than four weeks. However, a German SIM card for your smart phone is easily had at almost all supermarkets and local stores.

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