10 Things to Consider Before Moving to Germany From the UK
Looking to move to Germany from the UK? From housing, healthcare, and transport to driving and Visas: we go over 10 things to consider before booking your removals to Germany, so you’re fully informed ahead of your big international move.
According to the latest estimates, there are more than 107,000 UK Citizens currently living in Germany. But if you’re looking to join your fellow expats in the Land of Ideas, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before you move to Germany.
And remember, once the plan is in motion and you know you’ll be moving, use Compare My Move to get connected with local removal companies to move you to your new life abroad.
1. Where to Live in Germany
The top 3 areas with the biggest share of the more than 107,000 UK Citizens currently in Germany are Berlin, Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria), and Darmstadt. Let’s look at the best places to live in these 3 top areas.
Berlin is a flourishing city of culture and creativity, with lots of greenery and parks: this is an obvious choice for any young creatives. Think festivals, nightlife, a flourishing arts scene, and a range of creative industries. The capital city is well connected with a highly efficient public transport system and wide-spread cycle lanes.
Frankfurt is found in Darmstadt, and is the financial capital of Germany. Likened to Manhattan, the city is awash with skyscrapers, and is the home of the German stock exchange. A true world city, it is said that a quarter of inhabitants are classed as foreigners, so you’d be joining many fellow expats in a thriving atmosphere.
Oberbayern, or Upper Bavaria, is the southern area of the state of Bavaria, and is centred around Munich. Munich is an attractive place to live, boasting a high standard of living. With the biggest city economy in Germany, Munich is capital of Bavaria, and is famous for its beer gardens and Munich Oktoberfest.
2. Where to Work in Germany
From heavy industry to science there are well-paid and highly skilled jobs to fit your needs in Germany. For scientists and engineers, the city of Darmstadt holds the title of ‘City of Science’, and is a major centre for scientific research and institutes.
Elsewhere, Munich boasts one of the highest standards of living and the biggest city economy in Germany. It’s home to the German and European headquarters of a range of major global companies, including Siemens AG and BMW. Jobs are generally well paid and highly skilled, with publishing, film production and finance being major employers.
Frankfurt is the major financial capital of Germany and of Europe, home of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and German Federal Bank. The city has a very high concentration of highly skilled jobs, meaning alongside the financial sector there are job opportunities in law, real estate, media, and other professional services.
3. Where to Learn German
Though many Germans speak English, if you’re looking move to Germany from the UK you’ll at least need a basic grasp of the language. Kickstart your learning whilst still in the UK with online courses, apps like Duolingo, and tutored classes.
When you’re in Germany, you can take German language courses at nearby Volkshochschulen (VHS), which are adult education centres for all ages. If you’re looking to live in Germany long-term, you’ll want to look for Integration Courses at the local VHS.
Integration Courses will not only teach you the language skills you’ll need for everyday living, but also key information about German culture and society.
4. Registering in Germany
As a British citizen there’s no need for a visa to enter Germany, but if you plan on staying for more than 3 months (as all of you German movers will be), you’ll need to register at the local Residence Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt).
This is mandatory, and needs to be done within 14 days of arriving in Germany. The document you’ll need to bring may vary in each area so remember to check ahead of time, but at the very least you’ll need to bring your passport and a proof of address.
To be eligible to move to Germany, you must adhere to the following criteria:
- Have a valid reason for immigrating
- Prove you are financially stable
- Have the right health insurance
- Have a valid German Visa
- Prepare to exchange your UK driving license for a German one
- Know basic German
5. Healthcare in Germany
A UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid for temporary visitors, and will cover you in emergencies for the short term. But you’ll need to get a Health Insurance card and Social Security number to be fully covered whilst living and working in Germany.
German health care is provided by a range of Health Insurance companies, called Krankenkasse. There is a choice of the most common state health insurance, or private health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenkasse or Private Krankenkasse).
6. Paying for Healthcare in Germany
Once you've moved to Germany, you’ll usually be register with a Health Insurance company (Krankenkasse) through your employer. Your employer will pay half of the monthly cost, and the rest will come out of your monthly pay (usually around 15% of your wage).
If you’re earning more than €4,350 a month, you can switch to the private health insurance option. Once you’re paying for either option, you’ll receive your Health Insurance card and number. Remember to check what’s covered by your Health Insurance.
7. Visiting from the UK
So, you’re on the way to moving to Germany, what about the friends and family you may leave behind in the UK? If they plan to visit, they’ll get to you quickly: flights from Heathrow to Munich are around 1 hour and 45 minutes, and from Heathrow to Berlin around 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Your dream German home may have a limit in regards to beds and floor space, so for visiting friends and family the current average hotel room in Germany per night is £96 (average from Hotel.com).
8. Stay Connected in Germany
Alongside emails and social media, it's good to stay connected with your roots in the UK in a more personal and physical manner through post. Luckily, you can expect letters and postcards through the German postal service to take 2 to 3 days to reach a UK address.
And though you’ll be spoilt for choice from the famous Christmas markets, you may miss those festive home comforts. So keep in mind the last post for International Standard Royal Mail delivery to reach Germany from the UK in time for Christmas is 13th December.
For those on a budget, International Economy post will reach you in Germany in time for Christmas if posted before 16th November. So let your family and friends know!
9. Getting Around in Germany
Germany has well-developed and high-quality public transport systems in place. Cities have train, subway, bus, and even tram networks to ensure efficient travel within the city.
Cities and towns have dedicated cycling lanes, meaning an easily pedal powered commute to work, and trains serve towns and even villages regularly. Remember to get your ticket validated when you get on public transport to avoid a fine!
Major cities are connected with high speed train lines, called the Inter City Express (ICE). Travelling at speeds of up to 200kmh, these high-speed trains will generally get you between cities faster than driving on the Autobahns.
10. Driving in Germany
With well-maintained roads and an expansive network of Autobahns, driving in Germany is a pleasure if done correctly. The Autobahn has no speed limit (except for certain parts that are signposted), but do come with a recommended speed limit of around 80mph (130kph). In built up areas, the speed limit is around 30mph (50kph).
If you’re planning on taking your UK registered car with you, and you plan to be there longer than 12 months, you’ll need to register it with the German authorities. You’ll need the car’s documentation and proof of the latest MOT, and once registered the car will need to pass the German equivalent of an MOT (TUV).
There are a few safety items you’ll need to keep in your car by law, including reflective jackets, a reflective warning triangle, and a first aid kit. Plus, you’re likely to have to either manually adjust your headlights, or add deflector stickers.