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About thomash2

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    Yam Yam Yam Yam Yam

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  • Location Germany
  • Nationality American
  • Hometown USA
  • Gender Male
  1. Blood tests without health insurance?

    I recently did a blood test. The doctor told me I would get a separate invoice from the laboratory. I got a Rechnung in the mail from the doctor for 65€ which had stuff for testing of cholesterol and minerals, etc., and I didn't see anything from the laboratory, so I sent it off to my private health insurance company to make a claim. But then a week later, I finally got the bill from the laboratory, which was another 65€, for stuff like endocrinology and entzündungsparameter. I guess the extra cost was because I asked the doctor to do every type of blood check she could recommend. So possibly a basic test is around 65€, and a more investigative test would be around 130€, but the actual cost could be greater, depending on the types and quantities of tests ordered.
  2. Tax rate can be higher than 45%. I saw the rates in the tax law on the official website, but can't remember the exact income levels. The top tax rate for the part of income over 50k (?) is 42%. Then you have to increase tax by 5.5% for soli. So it comes out to 47.475%.  Then, if you are classified as a Gewerbe, you have to pay Gewerbesteuer, which is  a different rate for each city. There is a federal tax credit for the Gewerbesteuer, but in an expensive city where the rate is higher than the maximum tax credit, you could be paying an additional 2%.  So you are looking at a maximum of maybe 50% tax.  This does not include insurance or social security. If you had public health insurance and are also required to pay social security, you would be left with much less.   However, the part of your income below the max tax rate is taxed at the lower rates.  The website has the formulas, it's non-linear, so the rate depends on the portion of the income.   So once you reach a certain income, it is probably better to stop working because it's no longer economic to work.  
  3. I guess it depends which city you live in. Where I am, the Zollamt is pretty central, so it's a good opportunity to burn some calories by taking a bicycle there in 25 minutes each way, and although they are not extremely friendly, they were not hostile either, and were willing to help a little tiny bit in English.  I visited Cologne once and their Zollamt is in the farmland. I can't remember how long it took to ride my bicycle there, possible 1 hour each way. There wasn't an U-bahn or RE going there, only local buses that took 2 transfers for I think 1.5 hours each way.
  4. I was expecting to save $100 on the tent but after the unexpected fees it came out only $50. It was on a Black Friday sale and I also wanted to use a small amount of the old REI membership credits before they expired.
  5. I don't know why some people have an extreme hate for people on bicycles. From what I see, most cyclists in Germany follow the traffic rules. I've only seen a few cyclists riding dangerously. I usually see almost the same number of people jaywalking or car drivers going through or turning on a red light.   Cycling saves me 10 minutes of walking each way to the supermarket, and I don't have to carry all the weight of the groceries on my feet.  Cycling is almost the same amount of time as the U-bahn to most places that I need to go to, and I don't have to spend 50-80€ per month on U-bahn tickets. I don't have to sit in a sealed compartment with ill people coughing and sneezing. Cycling helps to reduce an expanding waistline.   In most German cities, a car is not really necessary unless you're often driving long distances or have to carry a lot of cargo, or if you live outside the range of the U-bahn.  Otherwise, taking the U-bahn or cycling is much cheaper and more convenient.  Don't need all the paperwork, insurance, fees, inspections, petrol, parking spaces that come with owning a car. If you need to take cargo somewhere, car2go and iDrive are extremely cheap and convenient to use. Or rent a transporter from Enterprise for 40€ per day.
  6. Freelancers working from home will find it difficult to socialize, especially if you don't speak the local language, unless you're really extroverted and can easily befriend strangers at your first meeting. If you worked at a co-working space, or are employed at an office, it is easier to socialize and get invited to events.
  7. I saw in the news that a man in Hamburg had his stash of fireworks confiscated yesterday:   There were also a few recent stories about German teens getting injured or blowing stuff up. I wonder how Germany compares to the US for injuries and deaths due to explosives accidents.   The neighborhood kids where I grew up would recombine several firecrackers together to create a stronger explosion.  Seems to be what the German boys tried to do when it exploded on them.
  8. If you lived in the innermost parts of a segregated American city, you might have a different opinion. You'll get to experience racist teenagers tossing explosives at you on a weekly basis if you appear to be of an ethnic minority or of immigrant descent. On holidays where fireworks are used to celebrate, if you go outside at night to watch the fireworks and they deem you not worthy of celebrating with them, they'll come and physically attack you and tell you to go back from where ever you came from (your house 2 blocks away, har har har).
  9. You would have to figure out if you'd actually be working freelance or as an employee because the tax filings and paperwork are very different between the 2 classifications.  If you're working almost exclusively for 1 company, you might be considered an employee, and you'll need to setup the paperwork for the correct classification in the beginning.  Then you'll need to figure out which German work visa you will apply for.  The type of visa is also very different between freelance and employed work.  Also, if you're a 3D artist, you need to figure out if your type of activity is considered artistic or technical, and if it is artistic then you might need to join the KSK as an artist and pay into their social security and health insurance, which is also expensive.  If you're freelance but not an artist, then you might be able to choose whether or not you want to pay into social security, and you might have a choice of cheap private health insurance.  I think I read somewhere that if you are a high income artist above a certain threshold, you might be able to get private health insurance instead of paying for the KSK public insurance.  Also, if you really are classified as freelance, the income level you mentioned will require you to register and charge for sales tax to your clients.  The sales tax isn't too complicated to handle after you learn how it works, but it becomes more complicated if you are doing freelance work for B2C clients who live in other EU countries because of the cross border VAT problem for digital goods and services.  B2B cross border is simpler. But the benefit of registering for sales tax is that you can get a refund for the German sales tax you are billed, through your monthly/quarterly sales tax reports.  You will also need to find the rules about how to correctly invoice your clients (the required information that has to be displayed on every invoice).  If you have a website that advertises your services and you live in Germany, you will need to make sure it displays all the information required by German law, and it especially needs a privacy policy that shows all the stuff that the new GDPR rules require. Also, your worldwide income is taxable in Germany, so if you still get income from Egypt, you have to pay German tax on it.   The main problem is trying to figure out all the requirements and doing the paperwork.  If you pay no taxes and have almost no paperwork for how you are operating right now, then I myself would prefer the much simpler life compared to being stuck with paperwork. But if you really want to experiment with trying to live in a different country and you are willing to do the paperwork, then you could consider the move.
  10. Just a note of caution for the next few days because of the new year, be careful of the teenagers throwing around explosives carelessly, especially at night, and if you're riding your bicycle.  It's kind of annoying when people throw the explosives next to you while you're minding your own business.   Last year while I was going home on my bicycle at night, a teenage boy was trying to impress his girlfriend by lighting a very strong explosive, and he dropped it next to the bike path that I was riding on, and then they walked away.  I didn't notice it until several seconds later when it blew up 2.5-3 meters to my right side. I almost lost control of the bike but managed to hold on. But my right ear was really painful and I couldn't hear out of it clearly for the next hour. I was really angry and wanted to go yell at the teenagers, but since I couldn't hear much with both ears for the first half minute, I didn't speak to them, and continued on my way home.   So this year I'm avoiding going out on my bicycle at night for the next couple of days to avoid the risk of the same thing happening again.
  11. I got something from REI recently.  I noticed that the Zollamt opened the package for inspection, probably because REI did not itemize the products on their commercial invoice, nor did they add the HS Tariff code. REI lumped them all together into a single line.   Luckily, the customs agent kind of got the Taric codes right so I didn't get charged an incorrectly high amount of import duties.  However, I was surprised how much the duties were.  Tents and clothing were 12%.  I was kind of expecting 6%, but I looked it up on the EU site and it's correct.  I also noticed that textiles and clothing have an additional 25% duty for stuff coming from USA that was slapped on this year, probably due to the trade dispute.   REI sent it by USPS priority. Normally stuff that comes by USPS has to be picked up and paid for at the Zollamt, but for some reason it was delivered by a DHL driver and I paid the duties to the driver, although the sticker on the box says Deutsche Post. DHL charged 6€ for the service.  If you pickup at the Zollamt there is no extra fee.
  12. How to deposit a check in Germany

    I haven't yet seen a German check so I don't know what types there could be. But I might be receiving a check in the near future. The internet bank that I use doesn't take checks, and there is no way to send them a check in the mail. Everything else is done by SEPA.   It's got me wondering about how I haven't seen any sales at German stores offering rebates by check, like in the US where the shops mail you a check after you send in an application form with a copy of the purchase invoice. It does seem like a lot of extra paperwork though to use checks. But I read that the shops in the US choose to do it this way instead of offering instant cash rebates because they expect many people to forget to mail the forms or to not follow the instructions correctly (like sending the order confirmation instead of an official invoice), therefore disqualifying themselves from the rebate and saving the shop some money.
  13. How to deposit a check in Germany

    Can you or how do you cash a German check at a German bank where you don't have an account? I can't deposit a check since I've switched to a German internet only account.  In the US, internet banks have started adding features to their mobile Apps for depositing checks by taking photos with the phone camera. But I don't see German banks doing the same. Are there also specific types of German checks? I haven't yet seen a German check so I'm not sure what to expect compared to my experience with a US check.
  14. REI is having a 20% off 1 item sale until Nov 19 with a code. Shipping to Germany is free from $150.  Even with the 19% VAT and approx. 6% duties, you'll still save 15-20% over buying a comparable item in Germany, so it's a good chance to save money on 1 expensive camping gear you've been wanting. But you'll have to spend the time to go pickup the package from the Zollamt.   Camping gear in Germany used to be extremely expensive, so I would previously buy them from REI and ship them here. REI used to charge a lot for international shipping, but now it's free from $150. However, German prices seem to have been going down in the past couple years, probably due to the growth of internet shopping.  In the past you could save 100-200 Euro per high priced item by importing from REI, like ultralight tents and high insulation down sleeping bags, but it seems like lately the difference in price has come down to 50-80 Euro. So now it should usually be more convenient buying stuff locally in Germany while having warranty here. But the Nov 20% sale is always a good chance to save on that 1 item you wish you could have.   At least Germany is not like Australia where prices for camping gear are doubled. But in Australia you could take advantage of the $1000 AUD tax free threshold for imports, for example in a situation where you had to replace your entire backpacking gear that you've lost.
  15. An alternative to using a communal machine is to buy a small one from Mediamarkt.  The one I got was on sale a little below 200€. The cost for utilities running a load is probably 40 cents. Save 3.50€ at a waschsalon per load (costs 4€ here), I only have 3 loads per month, make back the cost in 2 years. It's just a pain carrying it up the stairs to the top floor of the apartment building because of the weight of the internal mass dampener. I opened up the top, it looks like a concrete block.   I remember backpacking in Australia, and tried saving some money by sharing a wash load with another guy. After putting all our clothes in the machine, I saw that he had some kind of pealing skin disease. Luckily the machine wouldn't turn on, so I took back my clothes and washed it separately some other time.