12 Things You Need To Know Before Moving To Germany From The UK
With a healthy economy and an influential position in European politics, Germany offers expats a clean and efficient quality of life alongside cheaper living costs than in the UK, Australia, France and Canada. UK citizens don’t need to apply for a visa to live or work here, either.
Germany’s an absolute hotbed of culture, too: take your pick of its trendy and progressive cities (let’s start with Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt…) with vibrant attitudes to work and play. And when the hardball city life all gets too much, you can hop on a (punctual, clean, affordable) train and take in some of Germany’s multifarious landscapes, from lush green forests with medieval castles and sparkling lakes, to its steep and snowy pistes.
Sounds good? Here’s what you need to know before you go. Deutschland über alles!
1) Beer Worship is a Thing
So much more so than in the UK. Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival - actually starts in September, and there are over 1300 breweries in Germany last time anyone counted. Bavarians are the hardcore beer-lovers, though: they drink wheat beer for their traditional breakfast.
2) Drunk and Disorderly: Not a Thing
Beer (and wine) consumption is all about quality over quantity here, so listen up, Brits. If you get out of hand on your first big night out in Munich, your new German friends will excuse your behaviour by explaining to fellow beer drinkers, quite simply, that you’re British. Don’t be that person.
3) The Autobahn Has a Speed Limit
There’s an advisory limit of 130km/h (about 80 mph) on this famous highway (the German name for it is actually ‘radschnellweg’) while some sections have actual speed limits. You have been warned, petrolheads!
4) Germans Don’t Care Much for Tea
So ditch the PG Tips and get used to drinking coffee. Invest in a snazzy coffee machine for your apartment if you want people to come back and hang out - check out local selling sites like Craigslist for furnishing your new pad on the cheap. While we’re on the subject of beverages, order water in a restaurant and you’ll be served fizzy water by default.
5) Jaywalking is Illegal
For those as-yet-uninitiated, this means crossing the road willy-nilly and not waiting for the green man to light up. Germans, by and large, don’t do anything ‘willy-nilly’. We’re pretty sure there’s no word for it in the German dictionary. In the words of satirist Jerome K. Jerome: “The German citizen is a soldier, and the policeman is his officer.” In short, Germans tend to obey the rules, and it’s not considered particularly cool to flout them.
6) Germans Love to Recycle
This is a proudly clean, green and super-efficient country - one that recycles more than most other EU nations - and they love a bit of colour-coding here. Green or blue bins are for paper and cardboard, yellow bins are for plastic and cans, and biodegradables go in the brown bin. Everything else (and that’s not a lot if you’ve done your homework properly) goes in the black bin. Got that? The recycling industry is worth over €50 million a year to its economy, and Germans are proud to do their bit.
7) Sarcasm Doesn’t Translate
You’ll find that a lot of Germans speak great English, though don’t let that deter you from learning the language. It can be even more of a challenge to get fluent in the larger cities where English is widely spoken, but do persevere. One thing that doesn’t translate well, however, is sarcasm. Do you really want your words to be taken literally? Thought not. And anyway, everyone knows it’s the lowest form of wit.
8) Cycling is the New Uber
So invest in a bike and helmet for getting around your new city. Stick to the cycle lanes or risk the wrath of the pedestrians. Demonstrating its huge commitment to cycling and the environment, Germany has just opened its first section of the ‘bicycle autobahn’ which will cover over 100 km when completed, from Duisburg to Hamm.
9) Food is Important
Three basic things you need to know: a) You’ll struggle to find cheddar for your ‘homesick’ cheese toastie, but you’ll find all manner of tasty alternatives in the supermarket. b) Springtime is white asparagus season, and you won’t be able to move for ‘spargel’ stands in every town. c) A Frankfurter is not the same as a Bratwürst.
10) German Timekeeping: It’s Not a Myth
‘On time’ in Germany means ‘early’ to us Brits. If you’re a few minutes late meeting your new German pals, one of them will undoubtedly text you to check you got the right day / time / place.
11) Dogs Are Allowed Pretty Much Everywhere
Get used to this concept now, especially if you’re going to be working in retail, bars, hotels or restaurants.
12) Don’t Mistake Frankness for Rudeness
German discourse is naturally more direct and honest while British chat is characterised by much beating-around-the-bush, a repetitive placing of one’s foot in one’s mouth, and lots of apologising. The German way is great news for language learners because it leaves little room for misinterpretation and cuts an awful lot of crap in the process. Germans have quite high expectations when it comes to courtesy, actually - failing to greet a shop owner when you step inside their premises is considered terribly rude. Not bidding them farewell on your way out? Pure insolence!
So now you know it all, go ahead and start planning your German adventure with Movinhand! Know someone planning a move to Deutschland? Share the knowledge!