Space Cowboy

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About Space Cowboy

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  • Location Mainz
  • Nationality US
  • Gender Male
  • Year of birth

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  1. Australians wanting to move, travel and work in Europe.

      I don’t know where you heard that about Germany, but it simply isn’t true.  Many Germans learned English in school, but in the east of the country most people never learned any English until after the Reunification.   There are corporations in Germany where English is the working language, but they are the exception rather than the rule.  I work for a large multi-national firm headquartered in the US, but most of my daily conversations with colleagues and customers are in German.   Any kind of skilled work is going to require a minimum of B1 competency.  Administrative/technical will require a minimum of B2 language competency.  I spent over a year in daily classes to learn enough German to become employable.   And - all contracts and government rules you will deal with - lodging, utilities, phone, work, permits, etc. will be in German.
  2. Coronachat - vents, whines, flummoxes & miscellaneous

    @dessa_dangerous  The line between the two threads definitely has blurred, but there is still a line.  The other thread seems to have become mostly memes.  This thread has ventured into conspiracy theory and hyperbole on a number of occasions, but it is still a bit more informative than silly.   I would prefer to keep the threads separate.   (edit)  Sorry, I seem to have got mixed up about the threads - THIS thread is the silly meme thread, the OTHER thread is a bit more informative.
  3. Coronavirus

      I would disagree.  The primary definition of Racism is, "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."  (Merriam-Webster)   It can also be used to describe the act of discrimination based on the above belief.   Xenophobia is, "fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign" (M-W)   Xenophobia is unreasoned fear/hatred (that is why it is classed as a phobia), but it's not the act of discrimination.  One can be racist/bigoted/prejudiced without being fearful, and one can discriminate without being fearful.   So, racists can also be xenophobes, but xenophobes aren't always racist.  Therefore, it seems to me that one cannot say that racism is a type of xenophobia.
  4. Moving from Germany to US (Need Advice)

    yeah, we had total loss insurance through our regular insurance company.  Damage to individual items falls under the „pennies per pound“ rules though.  So - I think there is no financial  advantage to having „professional“ movers pack your stuff.   I was fortunate to have an insurance firm that covered total loss.  Not every one does so for international moves.
  5. Moving from Germany to US (Need Advice)

      Furniture is not hard to pack.  Small stuff in boxes (don't overload the boxes!), wrapped in paper and/or bubble wrap and packed inside the box so the items can't shift.  Large items should be wrapped with moving blankets.  Some people tape the blankets in place - I use the large-size plastic wrap available at moving supply places.  Remove feet/legs/extensions, disassemble anything and everything that can be disassembled, and put the parts in labeled plastic bags, taped to the the disassembled item.   Don't take any electrical or electronic appliance with you, unless you know for a fact that it will work on US voltage.   Number everything, and fill out a detailed inventory form describing the contents.  This will be required by Customs.   Loading a container is a bit of an art form, but you can find tips online, and there are people you can pay by the hour to help you load the container who have experience.  If you aren't filling the container, you will have to construct a retaining wall/system inside the container to keep the load from shifting, so some straps, scrap lumber, nails, and a hammer should be on hand.   Insurance on internationally-shipped household goods is a joke.  It's paid by the pound/kilogram of net weight, not by the value of the items.  When we moved here, I calculated that if the container was dropped in the ocean or smashed during loading/unloading (and those things do happen), we would be reimbursed about 19% of what our household items were worth.      
  6. Coronavirus

      I strongly recommend you seek counseling - immediately.  If the last couple of months of inconvenience and annoyance had that dramatic of an effect on you, you are in need of professional support.  There are many English-speaking counselors and therapists in Berlin.   It's not inconceivable that if there is a resurgence of infections, we will have to go back into what you see as an "authoritarian lockdown."  Counseling will help you get over your current struggles, and better prepare you for another round of isolation, if it occurs.  
  7. you mentioned your wife is a dual national.  If she started out German and voluntarily added U.S. while living in U.S., she legally lost her German citizenship in the process and may not know it yet.

    1. Space Cowboy

      Thanks for the note.  She actually got official permission from the German government to retain her German citizenship when she became a US citizen.

  8. Any impact on Schufa by simply checking it?

    Checking your own Schufa report has no effect on your rating.
  9. Do you like living in Germany?

    In Germany, it is not illegal to have an affair with your therapist.   Think about that.
  10. Versorgungsausgleich and US Social Security

    How Much Will Your Divorced Spouse Receive  If you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record if you have been divorced for at least two continuous years. If your ex-spouse is eligible for retirement benefits on their own record, we will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your record is higher, they will get an additional amount on your record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.
  11. BIS, St George's or ESM?

    You have my my pity  :)
  12. BIS, St George's or ESM?

    So...does any English-speaking parent let their children go to a German public school?  Asking for a friend...
  13. Reciprocal Driving License from US

      No, you cannot.  You missed your window.  If you try to pull a stunt like that, you will be in serious trouble.  
  14. Versorgungsausgleich and US Social Security

    I searched, and did not find anything on this particular topic.  I am wondering if any of my fellow Americans who have gotten divorced under German law have dealt with Versorgungsausgleich (pension equalization) as applied to US Social Security accounts, and if so, how it was handled.   Background   I am currently married to a dual DE/US citizen.  We were married in the US, and lived there for most of the time we were married.  We moved here in late 2016.  My soon-to-be-ex-wife (STBEW) filed for divorce under German law last year.  As of now, we have been married for nearly 18 years.   I paid into SS for 34 years.  STBEW paid into SS for 12 years.  Therefore, if we were never married, she would get a substantially smaller monthly payout than me upon retirement.   STBEW has paid into Deutsche Rentenversicherung for nearly 4 years.  I have paid into DRV for only 2 years.   US Social Security and Divorce   The US does not recognize the concept of pension equalization that the Germans have implemented.  However, there is a provision for ex-spouses:   If the marriage has lasted at least 10 years, AND If STBEW remains unmarried she can, upon her retirement, file a claim against my SS account SS will not take money away from me.  Instead, STBEW will have her monthly SS payout increased to match mine If STBEW chooses to get remarried, she will lose her right to claim against my account; however, she can claim against her new husband's SS (if the new husband has SS funds)   The SSA has definitively declared that it will not accept court orders from Germany that require moving funds from one account to another.   Versorgungsausgleich   The SS rules obviously do not match up with the German concept of pension equalization, and this has become a huge point of contention in our divorce.  STBEW, through her attorney, is refusing to accept this, and is pushing for an equalization regardless.   The problem is that there does not appear to be any clear guidance on this issue within German law.  Both my attorney and I have researched German case law, and it appears that the family courts have been all over the map on this.   Some (most?) courts that have dealt with this have simply declared that US SS will be excluded from equalization, or that there will be no pension equalization at all.   At least one German court declared that requiring the ex-spouse to remain unmarried in order to claim matching funds is patently unfair.  In that instance, the court decided to force the other party to make an out-of-pocket cash payment to the ex-spouse, thus "equalizing" funds, under the Law of Obligations.  There are, of course, numerous problems with this; the most blatant being that since the US does not recognize the Versorgungsausgleich concept, the ex-spouse can remain unmarried and file a claim for matching funds, thus double-dipping, and US SS will not do anything to prevent this.  No appeal was made in this case, so the decision was allowed to stand.   My attitude on the above is that there is nothing "unfair" about it.  If STBEW wanted to ensure guaranteed access to my retirement funds, she could have chosen not to do the things she did, and chosen not to file for divorce.  Apparently though, that is a very "American" attitude   Neither of us has sufficient funds in DRV to make any sort of meaningful equalization of German pension funds.  Since STBEW has her own vested SS account, and since she can easily make a claim for matching funds against mine if she remains unmarried, my attorney has proposed that we skip pension equalization.  STBEW has refused to accept this (despite the fact that she says she has no interest in getting remarried), so her attorney is pushing for some sort of equalization via cash award or the like from me.  I, of course, cannot take money out of my SS account to give to her, and I don't have a pile of money laying around that I can just give to her for no good reason.   Since we cannot come to any sort of agreement on this, it appears that the court will have to rule on this issue.  So, my question - have any of my fellow Americans dealt with Social Security and Versorgungsausgleich, and if so, how was it handled by attorneys and/or the court?
  15. Moving from Germany to US (Need Advice)

    Pro-tip:  Never, ever, ever let your stuff be put into a shared container.  It‘s better to pay more for your own container, even if it‘s half (or more) empty.