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Living in Germany — Pros and Cons

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My half a year in Düsseldorf is coming to an end. And fast.

Updating the blog has been a bit slow lately due to the news that I received at short notice about moving back home. Leaving Germany requires running some errands and of course lots of packing, which have taken the most of my free time during the past week or so.

Time is indeed flying and my half a year in Germany is about to end. That said, in a couple of days lovely Rauma and beloved home are calling. While running from one bureau to another, filling in forms and harassing our HR department with some stupid questions, there have been some thoughts popping into my mind why I really miss Finland and why I’m so happy to get back home.

There are also some things I will really miss after going back home. And then there are things that I definitely won’t be missing. Having my head messed up with all these thoughts, I got an idea about the pros and cons of living in Germany.


Living in Germany — Pros and Cons | Live now – dream later travel blog


I want to point out that these are my opinions – from a perspective of a Finn. They are personal feelings that the past 6 months have evoked, not the ultimate truths of life. And as it’s always nice to end a blog post with positive thoughts, let’s start with cons.

Con #1 — Nearly everything is closed on Sundays

Sundays in Germany really are holidays, which means nothing, despite small kiosks and maybe gas stations, is open. For some people, it can also be a positive thing, like for the staff of a supermarket.

For me personally, it was extremely harmful on that Sunday when I moved to Düsseldorf. I hadn’t eaten anything during the whole day; I had been travelling for hours, moving to a new country and struggling to find my way to my flat with heavy luggage in a city I’ve never visited before. I was feeling excited, and a bit scared at the same time and still being sad about leaving home behind me…

When I finally arrived at my new home, my tummy was rumbling so loud that they probably heard it in Cologne. And then, I found out there are no shops open on Sundays.

Well, luckily there are Döner kiosks around nearly every corner so you won’t die of hunger even on a Sunday.


Living in Germany — Pros and Cons | Live now – dream later travel blog

It might not look pretty, but it is quite tasty. I had to take a picture of my very last döner in Germany.


Con #2 — Nasty surprise on a payday

Be prepared for a nasty surprise on your very first payday!

If you are planning to move to Germany, you might want to take into consideration that the taxes and social contributions might cut even 35-40 % portion of your gross salary. It doesn’t feel right, especially if your salary isn’t great in the first place. Luckily, you’ll get used to it very quickly and learn to live according to your expenses.


Con #3 — Having a bike is practical, but not very pleasant

Life of a cyclist isn’t very pleasant in Germany. There are lots of strict rules that you might get fined of, for example not having a backlight or if biking side by side with your friend.

In spite of all the rules, there is absolutely no respect for cyclists. Even if there was a separate lane for bikers, it would be full of parked cars, and you have to go into the driving lane and bike among the cars anyway. I really miss the proper cycle paths we have in Finland.

Yet, cycling is the fastest (and cheapest) way of getting from one place to another, at least in Düsseldorf. Plus you can get a second-hand bike with very little money.


Living in Germany — Pros and Cons | Live now – dream later travel blog

This beauty was my vehicle for half a year in Germany. You can find used bikes fairly cheaply from the internet; This one cost me 30 euros, and it worked like a charm. The only con was biking itself — it’s not always so nice, but you’ll get used to it.


Con #4 — Walking isn’t so easy either

The con number four is the German way of walking in the middle of the street so that no one—and I mean no one—can pass.

It seems like it’s not an exception but a rule; No matter how wide or narrow the street is, or if the person is walking alone or with a friend. This might sound a bit silly, I admit, but it can also be very annoying and frustrating. I’m a fast walker.


Con #5 — Where is the sense of humour?

Con number 5? The lack of sense of humour! Especially with sarcasm, Germans just don’t get it. And Finnish people love sarcasm. Can you see the conflict here?


Living in Germany — Pros and Cons | Live now – dream later travel blog
Germans clearly have some sense of humour when talking about architecture, but they just don’t get jokes. Especially the sarcastic ones.


Con #6 — Bart Simpson doesn’t speak German!

Dubbed TV programs and movies are so annoying. It’s just not right that the Simpsons family is speaking German. It’s just not right. Sorry.

So, it wasn’t really that bad after all. And as usual, you can always find some positive sides to everything. And these are the reasons why I really enjoyed living in Germany despite the points above:


Pro #1 — Easy to adapt (especially for a Finn)

In spite of the language, Germany isn’t that different from Finland after all. For a Finn, German is quite an easy country to adapt to; It rains a lot, there are many rules, and people love drinking beer.

What comes to the language barrier, you can manage quite well in English in case German is not one of your strongest languages (except for watching telly).

Whether you’re European or not, here you can find more detailed information about moving to and around Germany, visa requirements and all things important.


Pro #2 — Public transport

Public transport in Germany works like a charm, at least in Düsseldorf and nearby areas. And the connections are good, too.

Travelling by train is quite pricey, but in case you can travel with friends you can get quite nice group discounts already with 5 travellers. Also, during the evenings and weekends, you can use the local transport with a ‘buddy ticket’, meaning 2 for 1.

Although, I do have experience about public transport in Germany NOT functioning so well…


Pro #3 — Location, location, location

Thanks to Germany’s central location, it’s very easy to travel from Germany to elsewhere in Europe. The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Poland… and very cheaply too, if you’re lucky.

My personal con is that I didn’t take advantage of this lovely benefit enough when I was living in Germany.


Pro #4 — Healthcare system

I (luckily) didn’t need this service during my six months in Düsseldorf, but according to my friends who did, the healthcare system is working like a dream in Germany. A definite con is that the local insurance covers nearly everything.

Too bad that I only found out a couple of weeks before my departure that I could have got rid of my two remaining wisdom teeth for free in Germany. Hopefully, someone else can benefit from this tip.

You can read more about the German healthcare system here!


Pro #5 — Germans are really active

The amount of activities in Germany, especially during spring and summer time, is definitely a huge plus.

There are carnivals, Japan day, museum nights, funfairs, festivals, outdoor cinemas, rollerblading nights… and so much more. For every weekend (and even on weekdays) you can find something fun to do.


Living in Germany — Pros and Cons | Live now – dream later travel blog
Kirmes fair in Düsseldorf.


Pro #6 — I mean, they are really active!

In case there are no activities organised by the city, Germans arrange something by themselves.

For example BBQ in a park. Is it legal? No idea. But go to a park or the banks of the River Rhine on a sunny day, and you are guaranteed to find at least one BBQ party. With beer, of course.


Pro #7 — Germans are active and… yes, they love their beer!

There are lots of rules in Germany. Regarding everything.

But you can drink beer anywhere!


Living in Germany — Pros and Cons | Live now – dream later travel blog

On Sundays, you don’t have much to do in Germany, so it’s a good day to go to a park… with a few beers.


As I have been living abroad a few times, I can share one truth of life with you: even if home might sometimes feel like a boring, perhaps even unpleasant place, it’s really not. It’s true that there will always be things that are better somewhere else, but there will still be so many more things that are so much better at home than anywhere else (no matter what the famous dream-living nomads say).

That’s the beauty of travelling and living abroad—sometimes you need to leave home to understand and learn to value certain things in life. At least myself, I feel I now remember to appreciate so many lovely things that are waiting for me when I return home. Even if I didn’t mention them in this post.

Home is a wonderful place. Appreciate it. But I still think you should definitely try living abroad—at least for a little while!

—Edit. Some useful links added in August 2016 to provide you with more information and to ease your moving process, recommended by a helpful blog reader who has recently moved to Germany (Danke schön, Marianne!) 🙂


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This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. “it rains a lot, there are many rules and people love drinking beer” This is the best description. I moved to Germany one year ago. The most difficult thing was to get used to see “closed” on the doors at Sunday. It was kind of strange. Best regards!

    1. Thanks for your comment Julia. It’s always a fascinating experience to move to a new country, but luckily you’ll get used to it quite quickly! 🙂 Are you still living in Germany? Where about?

      1. Oh wow, that’s a lovely city. I have been to Berlin once, but unfortunately I only had about 24 hours to spend there. But as I tend to say, always leave something to go back for! 😉

  2. I am planning to move to Germany in August and spend a year! Hope I will manage to adapt!

  3. I’m planning to go germany for studies. Are the local people friendly with foreigners ???

    1. Thanks for your comment, Hiren. I guess it depends on a lot where in Germany you’re about to move. I lived in Düsseldorf which is quite an international city. I felt everyone was very friendly for foreigners (except for the person who stole my phone from my bag while I was shopping in Primark, but that can happen anywhere).

      Perhaps other readers could share their experiences from different parts of Germany? Anyone?

  4. My wife and I might have an opportunity to move to Germany from Ohio USA. Her company headquarters is located in a small town in the Black Forest area. We recently visited there and I liked it, but moving there permanently is another question. I would really miss my gun hobby first of all, and many things would have to be sold. I am 68 and my wife is 50. We love hiking, backpacking, kayaking, biking, motorcycles, and most outdoor activities. I don’t even think they allow kayaking in Germany. I have also learned that it is near impossible to backpack in Germany and make a camp anywhere you want in the forest – only in designated spots. I fear the taxes although my retirement income from USA would not be taxable in Germany. I don’t know what I would do with my firearm collection. I also understand that owning a motorcycle if very expensive. But I did like how trucks stay on right side of autobahn and drivers seem to drive in a very predictable way. I like no right turns on red too. I like that everything was clean, and I didn’t seem to see very many ‘low class’ (looking or acting) people. Just about everyone was friendly. We did get a couple of ‘nienes’ though. 1 was when we got lost in forest in car and were close to driving on hiking walkway to turn around. Another was when I pulled into gas pump too close to truck parked there to deliver gas. My wife would be the one getting hit with the 40% taxes, but there are lots of holidays and vacations. My grown children don’t come visit me now, so maybe they will come if I’m there – at least once maybe. I’ll be retired so I can always fly back here is I need to.

  5. I enjoyed your insight on Germany and will take note. I have been thinking about the move from here in the states and it answered a few of the questions I had. Thank you

    1. Happy to hear if this helped you, Lee. Although it’s good to keep in mind it’s 5 years already since I moved to Germany (and 4,5 years since I moved back to Finland) so some things might have changed! 🙂

  6. Are the people friendly enough and can you make good friends?
    I am 19 years of age and planning to go to Germany for Music Purposes.
    Is shifting to Munich good for Music and how’s the life there.
    I am planning to shift to Munich for music purposes.
    I am currently staying in India.
    Do suggest some pro’s and con’s to shift to Munich for Music Purposes?

    1. Hi Rene. Yes, I think Germans are very friendly and easy to get along with. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with Munich or music industry, as I’m not experienced with either, so I’d suggest you try to find some music-related forum for this question.

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