GuidelinesWhat You Need to Know Before Going to Germany: A Comprehensive Guide...

What You Need to Know Before Going to Germany: A Comprehensive Guide for Expats

Germany, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and economic prowess, has become an attractive destination for expatriates. Whether you’re moving for work, study, or adventure, there are essential things you should know before stepping foot on German soil. This comprehensive guide, will delve into What You Need to Know Before Going to Germany: A Comprehensive Guide for Expats into crucial aspects that will help you navigate your expat journey smoothly.

General Etiquette and Cultural Nuances

They Are Not Rude People

Germans are often perceived as reserved or even stern, but this is a cultural difference rather than rudeness. Respect personal space, avoid loud conversations in public, and greet people with a firm handshake. Understanding these nuances will enhance your interactions.

Money Matters

It’s All About the Cash

Not every place of business in Germany accepts credit cards. Always carry some cash, especially 1-euro coins and 50-euro cent coins. You’ll encounter cash-only establishments, and they won’t always have signs at the entrance. Be prepared.

Paying to Pee

Yes, you read that right. Most public toilets charge a fee (usually 50 cents to 1 euro). Children can enter with a parent for free, but baby changing rooms often require payment. Avoid the “interesting” free options outside restaurants.

Nursing Abroad images 2023 11 24T121552.288

Visa and Residency

Germany offers several visa and residency options for expats looking to live and work in the country long-term.

The most common visas and permits include:

Work Visa and Residence Permit

To work in Germany, most non-EU citizens need a work visa and residence permit. To qualify, you typically need a concrete job offer. Popular work visas include the EU Blue Card for high-skilled occupations and the Skilled Immigration Act permit for qualified professionals.

In November 2023, Germany introduced major reforms to the Skilled Immigration Act, easing requirements for non-academic professionals. IT specialists can now also qualify with work experience alone.

Freelance or Self-Employment Visa

Non-EU citizens can also apply for a German freelance or self-employment visa if they have a sound business plan and meet certain financial requirements. This allows entrepreneurs, freelancers, and the self-employed to run a business in Germany.

Jobseeker Visa Germany plans to launch a new “Opportunity Card” scheme in mid-2024, enabling skilled workers to enter Germany for 6-12 months to seek employment. Applicants must meet language, age, qualification, and financial self-sufficiency requirements.

Permanent Residence Permit

After living in Germany for a few years with a temporary permit, expats can usually transition to permanent residency. This confers more rights and security than a standard work or study permit. Permanent residents can also naturalize as German citizens after 6-8 years under certain conditions.

Germany offers several paths – especially for skilled professionals – to gain long-term residency rights. The recent reforms also make it easier for non-academic workers to immigrate and fill critical labor shortages.


Germany has a world-class universal healthcare system that covers all legal residents. Expats need to enroll in either public or private health insurance to access medical services.

Public Health Insurance:

Over 90% of expats in Germany are insured through the public system. Premiums are set at 14.6% of your gross salary. Your employer pays half. Public insurance covers all essential healthcare with few out-of-pocket costs.

Private Health Insurance:

Higher earners and the self-employed can opt for private coverage instead. Premiums vary by age, pre-existing conditions, and other factors. Private health insurance often provides access to specialist treatments and private hospitals. Popular expat providers include Allianz Care, Cigna Global, and Ottonova.

Insurance for Visitors:

Incoming visitors from the EU can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for up to 90 days. Non-EU visitors usually need travelNursing Abroad images 2023 12 21T150855.247 insurance with German coverage

Long-term residents require local health insurance. So in essence, expats have access to high-quality care through mandatory health insurance plans tailored to their status and length of stay. This ensures you will be covered and can focus on settling in.


Germany offers free education with many options for families. Over 95% of children attend public schools taught in German. Alternatives cater to expat students include:

International Schools

Popular with expat families, international schools offer curricula and instruction in English or other languages. They provide continuity for globally mobile students but charge tuition fees. There are over 140 international schools, mainly in big cities.

Bilingual Schools

Bilingual schools offer classes in German plus a second language like English or French. Lessons switch between the two languages. They provide an affordable alternative to international schools for expat kids to learn German.


Language Support

State schools offer special German classes to help foreign kids adjust. Extra tutoring and language lessons outside school are also common among expat families during the transition period. The German education system is world-class, with a strong focus on vocational training and affordable university education. So expat children have access to schooling options suitable for their circumstances and future ambitions.

Cost of Living

Germany provides an excellent quality of life at a reasonable cost compared to other European nations. Still, prices vary hugely between regions and cities.

As per 2024 estimates, expect to spend around:

  • €934 per month as a single person
  • €3,203 per month for a family of four (excluding rent)

Major cities like Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg are up to 35% pricier than smaller towns for basics like rent, transport, and groceries. Budget at least 20% more to live comfortably in a metro area.

Childcare, private schooling, leisure activities also carry extra costs for families. But low university fees help offset expenses for higher education. Overall, Germany remains an affordable choice thanks to state benefits, affordable healthcare, and abundant job prospects.

Culture and Lifestyle

Germany offers a very high quality of life. In fact, Germans enjoy one of the world’s highest living standards in terms of income, safety, healthcare, and life satisfaction.

Key cultural aspects that make Germany enticing include:

Work-Life Balance

Germans place a high priority on leisure time alongside work. Employees are legally entitled to at least 20 paid vacation days per year. The government also provides generous maternity/paternity benefits.

Environmental Focus

Germany is a global leader in renewable energy adoption. Recycling is ubiquitous and cities are green. Environmental protection is a high priority across politics and society.

High-Tech Landscape

Germany thrives on innovation, with abundant R&D investment. Tech hubs like Berlin and Munich draw entrepreneurs from across the globe working on cutting-edge industries.

Strong Economy

Despite its aging population, Germany has the fourth largest economy globally thanks to high productivity, skilled labour, and manufacturing excellence. This brings jobs and prosperity.

High Living Standards

Germans enjoy long, comfortable lives thanks to universal healthcare, low crime, robust consumer protections and state welfare programs. These provide a safety net and peace of mind.

In summary, Germany balances productivity with stability to create an engaging lifestyle filled with opportunities for expats and families. So if you seek adventure alongside security, wish to innovate within a progressive society, or desire to raise a family abroad – then Germany is likely the right fit.

The language and culture may take adjusting, but the benefits outweigh the effort for most expats who call Germany home.

Also Read:

Nursing Job Process 2024 in Germany: How to Become a Registered Nurse Under the New Immigration Law

Moving to Germany as a Nurse in 2024: Requirements, Process and Job Opportunities

Nursing Jobs in Germany for Foreign Nurses: Salary, Requirements and Relocation Guide

How to Get German Work Visa Sponsorship as a Nurse in 2024: Complete Process Explained

Caregiver Jobs in Germany: Visa Sponsorship Available for Nurses Seeking Better Career Opportunities

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