10 Things To Do Before Start Of Expat Life in Germany
Like everyone else, I too was excited to know that I am moving to another country for my work but I was also thinking somewhere in my mind about the challenging life in a Unknown place with new culture and environment. But slowly when I have started dealing with it, my thoughts shifted towards a different direction.
I have shared my experiences in my blog 5 Insider Truth About Living Abroad after living here in Germany for 3 yrs which one should definitely consider before planning to move abroad.
Nevertheless This blog talks about my initial experiences as an expat when I shifted to this beautiful place Frankfurt, Germany.
Frankfurt(Germany) is a beautiful place with mix of international and German culture. This place also accepted me in all way possible. When I talk about Germany,below are the lifetime experience i have faced before life starts here and I am sure if you are new here or shifted recently your life will also be way smoother after going through all of these.
Every Step of life is a face of change, Better to be prepared.
Here in my blog, I am providing you all 10 Key points to consider before starting an expat life in Germany. If you get to organized on below things then you can concentrate on the more enjoyable part in Germany.
1. Know Germany:
It would be advisable to know about Germany beforehand which helps to get into the German lifestyle early on, mainly the particular city you are traveling to. The Very least knowing that certain registration are mandatory like Immigration and Health Insurance, all shops are closed on Sunday and public holidays so arrange well for the needed stuff, always remember to buy a ticket before taking any public transports otherwise it costs a lot of money, Taxis are expensive, stand right in the escalator to allow people to walk on left if they needed to. Also to know the house rules, be aware that generally you’ll need to keep the noise down after 10pm and before 6am. And Germans carefully separate waste into different coloured containers for recycling, Calling someone before 9am is also not advisable unless you know the person closely.
2. Arrange Temporary Accommodation:
Arrange or Book your temporary stay well in advance and for good amount of time i would say atleast till you get settled with the initial mandatory processes, This is something everyone does but wanted to mention because I find this is a very important step to follow in Germany and this gives some time to breathe and relax before starting the actual steps. Below are few sites which I know for a short stay booking, check as per your convenience
3. Finding House:
Getting House in Germany is a nightmare, has lots of checklist to follow. Nothing to be worried about though, everyone gets a good house at the end but mentioning this to make aware of the situation here. Apply for a house as soon as possible from your side is advisable. You can apply online and wait for the response from the owner, Fix the appointment and then you can check the apartment.During summer there will be a lot of option but in winter comparatively less. So this also a factor to consider before the journey started.Few highly reliable and recommended websites where you can start your search, are mentioned below. Register the account and start applying.
Apply more and more until you succeed. You will get your appointment from the landowner. It is completely on Landowner to decide upon.
4. Local Address Registration
Germany still follows sending confidential data by POST to the registered address like Bank account activation details/Job Contracts/Health insurance card and many more. Anyone who lives in Germany is required to register themselves with an address in the local authority and also de-register if they move. This is top priority as per German law and everyone binds to follow this.An important note here is after address registration, you will be assigned with a TAX and SSN(Social Security Number incase you are working in Germany) by the local authority. Generally working people gets SSN one they register, in case of dependent needs to be raised separately.
If you need to change your Tax class the Tax office assigned for the dedicated area is the only place where you can complete the process. If you have dependent with you then this is a mandatory step to save the amount from your earnings.Also, important is to flash your name in letterbox which will help people to drop the relevant letter or parcels in your box. If you have kids then you can also get the benefit from the government.
5. Health Insurance
Health Insurance is very important to have in Germany and it helps you in lots of ways. Healthcare system is very good here but you need the insurance to make use of it. Also in another way, everything in Germany is so costly that Insurance helps us to save a lot of amounts to be spent on. It is also required to extend the visa or to get the resident permit. Two types of Health insurance generally available in Germany
Check the insurance according to your need. If you have a plan to stay for a longer time then go for Public Insurance otherwise for a short stay private insurance will work as it cost as per the age, older you are more cost it will be.It’s also advised to find and register with a doctor (hausarzt) either by recommendation from colleague or neighbor or searching by online.
6. Applying for resident permit
The Visa from India we get is always "Entry visa" which is valid for 3 or 6 months based on type and location you are applying from, Most people get confused with this. Once you enter to Germany you need to change this visa to Resident Visa/ Blue Card depending upon the work contract you will have from the company. An Appointment has to be taken from immigration authority (ausländerbehörde) to apply for the Resident Permit. prepare yourself with all the documents and submit the document as per the appointment. And it takes 3 weeks time to get it done in case of the electronic card. Also sometimes people get it stamped in their passport and that follows a different process.
You can check on the site for the required document needed to apply for Resident permit/BlueCard/ ICT depends on the entry visa you get.
7. Opening Bank account
If you are getting salary definitely you need to know how to open a bank account in Germany. To open a bank account advisable way is to take an appointment and Visit the bank personally to avoid unnecessary confusion due to language bar here. Below are a few banks which most of the expats use here
· Commerz Bank(this works great than others for me)
· Deutsche Bank
8. Sim Card/Internet for home
This is also something which we have to check about once you have planned to come to Germany. Sim card you can get here in any supermarket and follow the process to activate it. Many good plans are available to make international calls. For the Internet, you need to apply online in the sites of the provider, select the plan and choose the appointment time and a technician will come to give the connection to it.
9. Explore Public Transport and Tickets
As here the connectivity with public transport is so good, I always prefer to travel in a local train, bus or trams.
It has many types of transport locally
· ICE or IC
· RE, RB
Tickets also have many types like one-way, two-way, group ticket, day ticket, group day ticket, Extension ticket. These tickets are valid based on the source and destination or the region you are traveling to. Sometimes you can save a lot of amount by exploring one of this. Two important mobile application I use to keep me up to date about public transport on a daily basis
i. RMV(Works in Frankfurt public transport, for different places in Germany people use different applications)
ii.DB(Works all over in Germany including long-distance trains like ICE or IC)
10. Growing personal Network
When I say about personal networks it actually worked for me here in Germany. Using social media sites, joining groups related to place or city in Germany helps in many ways like buying second-hand furniture, utensils, searching for the house, etc. Also community festival celebrations, applying for jobs or asking for the little query to know about something in this new place and many more you can do this via these groups.
Try to get mixed up with the local people, Meet your neighbour and greet apartment people whenever you see them, this might also help you in lot of ways.
I am sure this will help every new expat for their initial journey but do also let me know about your experiences or suggestion if you are already in Germany or in case had different experiences than this, would be glad to hear about it.I know many other questions will be running in around the mind. Write it out to me, I will try to answer at my best.
All the best & Happy Living.