Moving to Germany: The Top 10 Things to Consider

Moving anywhere is a challenge. Even a short move across town can be problematic. An international move presents additional complications, but a little preparation will mean fewer hitches. Even if you are fortunate enough to be using the services of a relocation agent, you should be aware of the following ten factors to consider when moving to Germany.

Berlin apartment parking

Having a car in Germany can be a mixed blessing. Here: apartment parking in Berlin-Friedrichshain. PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

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1. Get Oriented
By “get oriented” I mean get to know the culture, the language, and the place where you’ll be living. This may seem obvious, but I am constantly amazed by how many new expats fail to do this. You’re moving to a new country with a culture and a language very different from what you’re used to. Don’t arrive in German-speaking Europe without at least some basic preparation. This is what our German Way site is all about! You’ll find all sorts of help here, and here are a few tips on what you need to learn: Continue reading

Bureaucracy and the formalities of moving to Germany

From the outset, I am going to give you a disclaimer. I don’t profess to know everything about German immigration. But for the past few months, I have been working as a relocation consultant for expats moving to Germany for large multinationals. I accompanied them to the Ausländeramt and filled out any number of forms for them. So here is what I know.

The two situations I have dealt with in recent times are expats moving from countries that do not require a visa for entry into Germany. This applies to Americans, for example, and also to South Koreans (and many more, I am sure). Those people can enter Germany without a visit to the consulate in their home country and without filling out any paperwork. However, in order to work, they need an elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel (eAT). This also applies to people who enter with a visa. I have had transferees from Russia, for example, who required a visa. At home, they have to fill out paperwork to apply for a  temporary visa. When they arrive, they have to apply for the eAT as well, and if they are allowed to work, they receive a Fiktionsbescheinigung, which they can hand in at work. Remember, I have only been working with people who are here to work. I can’t vouch for the way this works for others. Continue reading

German Residence Permit Day – A true story

Or how not to get your Aufenthaltstitel

The big day started at 6:30 a.m. when I suddenly woke up and realized that today, November 27, was the date of my appointment at the Berlin Ausländerbehörde (Aliens Authority) to apply for my long-term residence visa (Aufenthaltstitel, not to be confused with an entry visa). I had made a reservation online and then received a confirmation email for an 8:00 a.m. appointment. That part of this experience had gone smoothly.

Unbelievably, the night before I had gone to bed without even setting my alarm clock! After a recent trip to France to visit my son and his fiancée, it had just plain slipped my mind. Totally weird how I just woke up and – bang! – realized it was visa day. Continue reading

Teaching English in German-Speaking Europe

So you think you want to teach English in Germany (or Austria, Switzerland)… Well, you’re certainly not the first American (or Brit, etc.) to come up with that idea. The good news: There is a demand for qualified native speakers of English to teach the language in German-speaking countries. The bad news: The pay and working conditions are often poor. Do you know the questions you should be asking (and answering) before you accept a job teaching English in Germany?


Do you know that Germans normally learn the British version of English?

In our German Way Forum and other expat forums the pros and cons of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL, ELT, TEFL, TESL, TESOL, not ESL)* in Germany get discussed from time to time. Complaints about low pay, poor work conditions, and bad management are not uncommon from people who have taught English for private schools like Berlitz or a public Volkshochschule (VHS, adult education night school) in Germany. Nevertheless, for some people, teaching English may be a good job option, but you need to have the facts before you can make that decision, and definitely before you get on a jet headed for Germany thinking you’re making a brilliant career move. Here are some of the questions you need answered before venturing into the EFL field. Continue reading