Anyone living in Germany but working remotely?

40 posts in this topic

Hey I was wondering how many people have given up on a German paycheck and are working remotely? In say London? or Amsterdam? NY, etc.. Online?

I'm located in Berlin - yes, I know...the city of HartIV..:-)

I have a lot of friends who say - most people are making their money elsewhere - in Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, London, online, etc.. but then living in Berlin.

I'm just interested in hearing some stories on how many people are managing this.. I have 2 friends that are NY journalists who are doing the whole living in Berlin but working for NY publications - lucky them.

If you're shy about revealing your situation - you can can also send me a PM..

 

btw, Toytown is the best! really - I can just come here, read a few posts and never feel alone here in good ole Germany:-)

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Hi, left London for Berlin last Oct. Plan to establish income stream here next year, but in 2009 have been (very luckily) continuing to work on London-based projects. Can do most of this by phone/email/videocon and fly to London couple of times a month. Love being in Berlin, but it misses some of the entrepreneurial spirit that London has. Then again, if it was more like London, I probably wouldn't like it here so much. Can't have it both ways I guess!

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I don't live in Berlin but I have offers for next year and am considering being based in another German city - to get an experience of somewhere else - as I could be based anywhere. It's not actually anything special of course - a lot of people earning their money in, say, London or Brussels, don't actually live there.

 

With "remote working", it's perfectly easy in some professions now. You have three basic options. You can have an employer based in another country (this sounds like your friends) although the risk there is if they dump you (again, your friends wil be reliant on employers for a visa presumably). Or you can rely on assignment work that you find yourself. The other is to do a mix (some remote work, some local work, some work in other cities - any combination thereof) and that's often a good balance because it leaves you less vulnerable if one source bombs out. Over my years here, I've done all of these at some points: 100% local, 100% remote, a mix.

 

As the last poster says, anything other than the employer-based route and the key is probably to be well-connected and networked, so as to have access to the sort of work that you want. The key to accessing local networks in Berlin is probably that old chestnut - the language - and you just have to get out a lot, get yourself known. If you can get it going, the problem is too many choices as your local contacts build - so you get pulled between that and the "remote stuff".

 

Finally, it's a small world now. It's not a given you are limited to work in your home nation or Germany. Plenty of international companies here and lots of cross-Europe working possibilities too. Increasingly, you can be based anywhere.

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I continued to work part time (as a web developer) for an English company for about 3 years after moving out here. It was good financially, but I found 100% remote working a bit tedious - motivation is hard when you never see your colleagues or employers. I never really looked for work here until the other work dried up, and that was a mistake, because it took me about a year of 'beggars can't be choosers' style stuff before I had enough decent contacts to live comfortably again. Doing it all in German didn't make it easier. Now I have work contacts here, I prefer it. I feel more integrated into the country, and I don't feel so insecure about what happens if one source of work dries up.

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I just finished a multi-year stint employed for a UK company but doing the work telecommuting from home in Germany. I went to the UK a couple times a year at most, for a week each time. It was a job for which normally employees would be onsite in the UK, so not working for a German "office" or branch or anything. It was a great job in many respects (esp. when the pound was high!) but the admin and tax and social insurance stuff was all a nightmare as UK employer was inexperienced in having remote (not the same as "entsandte") employees and refused to deal with German paperwork even though (a) they were required to by EU regulations and I had everything translated for them so they'd have no excuse for delays. In the first year of the job I probably spent up to 20% of my time dealing with questions and problems arising from UK HR and Inland Revenue and from German Krankenkasse and Arbeitsagentur and Finanzamt. Not fun. Maybe other arrangements work out better than mine did? I needed to keep German social insurance payments going, be categorized as Pflichtversichert, and pay German taxes otherwise all hell would've broken loose (I'd have lost pension entitlements, for one thing).

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I live here but work remotely with the US. Similarly, all my work is over Skype (local US number, most people don't even know they are calling overseas) and email. My work is with art and interactive design. It is with a small firm that worked with for 3 years prior to moving (for health insurance to have our first child).

 

I have kept all my tax things and payment there. I am essentially residing here as a tourist. I am fairly sure I am doing the taxes correctly since all my payments are going only through the state and my wife files separately here. But similar to the post above. The work definitely is getting different over the time (9 months). And although I travel to meet 2 times a year, it is definitely different. I am beginning to look for a part-time additional work here to slowly transition to German working.

 

I also echo that feeling of being disconnected. Especially since I am working on a US time schedule, I am unavailable in the evenings every weekday and don't have the extra work camaraderie so I am still feeling very much an outsider after so many months.

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I live here and work remotely from Ireland as a graphic designer & printer and have been for the last 2 years. First year I flew back a lot but this year only every month or two. Although not too busy I have a few clients and most of the time like the previous poster I think they think I am in Dublin half the time. I also pay all my taxes/insurance etc in Ireland as all my earnings are made there. I think once the work gets done they are happy. Of course I have lost work there since I left Dublin but I knew that would be the case but it was a lifestyle decision, moving here for the quality of life. But I agree that it can be a tad lonely working by yourself somedays and miss the chats I had with people in the building I was in. So if anybody wants to meet up for a cuppa, say the word, since we are all in the same both. Best of luck too.

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Without resorting to finger-pointing, name-calling, or any other typical forum behavior, I'd suggest that both the previous posters contact an accountant very soon, as you are both legally resident in Germany and therefore liable to pay German taxes and social insurance contributions, regardless of where your income originates.

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Indeed jeff. It's where you live, not where you earn. Social insurance is not an issue if self-employed (you just have to pay healthcare insurance). Also, the tax rate here is hardly high for the self-employed at 15% (and that's before you even get to deductibles). I don't see any real tax advantage of not being resident here really.

 

One thing I should have said about the work in Germany / work in English for foreign employers is that it gives you less chance to integrate. You are stuck in front of a PC looking back to the UK / Ireland etc and working in English, and sometimes travelling there. I got to the point where I stopped for a while in order to break that - went to language school, built the local contacts, did lots of networking etc.

 

Right this minute, I'm documenting an event I recently ran in Europe, working across three nations affecting people in 30. Then, I have a new German client! So it can be done :) . Now I have the German culturual background (language, impressive client list, knowledge of systems / processes), I'm very in demand in other parts of Europe, as a native EL speaker who has proper business level command of another language (not that many of us around).

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@ Jeff / Swimmer

 

Thanks for the info and the advice, any more would be grateful. I have had this discussion with the Irish tax system and I am actually paying my tax/social insurance at the moment. They maintained that I have to pay tax there as I am providing my service there. There is a law for some cases for people who spend more than 181 days out of the country but my line of work doesn't qualify and I have to pay tax there. My accountant in Ireland has looked into this last year and this year. I guess thats why I am not resident here but rather travelling between the two.. I am married to a German resident and all other taxes, ie residential etc are paid here. I suppose I was a bit unsure and didn't want to end up with a double taxation situation. The other reason was that we also wanted to make sure we were staying in Berlin. Maybe your suggestion of meeting an accountant or somebody here that has knowledge on these matters would be appreciated or anybody with similar stories. Thanks

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My two penn'orth: It's where you ARE when you actually provide the service that counts. Ie, if you are doing 90% of the work remotely from Berlin, for Irish customers, billing them in Ireland - you should be paying all your tax in Germany only. That is what my UK accountants have told me anyway...

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Just re: the previous topic on tax etc. I just got off the phone to the Irish tax office and basically they said it doesn't matter where I live, if I am working for Irish companies I pay my tax as usual in Ireland, even if I am resident in Germany and spend all my time here. They recommended I contact the German tax office as they reckoned that if for example the tax was a bit more here, I could be liable for a little bit of tax or if it was a bit less I would get a tax credit as they would look at my earnings as world wide earnings. Anyway that as much info as I could find out.

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Well, they would say that, they need the money to pay for NAMA... however, you should check with a good German tax advisor, as the Finanzamt would be bound to say something else - they need the money to pay off Magna.

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@ Rainking

Ha brilliant, thats so true NAMA, what a joke. I guess they need all the money they can get. But I'll definitely meet a tax/finance advisor here for future earnings. Cheers for the advice and sorry original poster if this topic has taken over your topic.

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I think you'll find that whether or not you are tax liable in a particular place is up to the tax authorities of that place.

 

So that could mean that you are tax liable in Ireland and also in Germany. This would mean that you have to submit tax returns in both places, but because Ireland and Germany no doubt have a double taxation agreement you would avoid actually paying both on top of each other.

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They are right on the first bit - if your are employed by an Irish company, then they will pay normal payroll deductions for you. However, your personal tax obligation is in Germany if you are resident here. Working for a company in another countray does not remove that. Any tax you paid in another country is set against your liability here. That's so-called "double tax", so that Germany doesn't tax you on your income twice, but it can take more than ireland would if the rates here are higher. Entirely logical - if you consume German services, you pay the tax rate that buys them.

 

This is useful for the OP imho in that it sets out exactly some of the things you may come up against.

 

Another point on building networks is that you have to build the right ones. Too many immigrants seem to assume all you need to do is hook into people just like you - other newly arrived immigrants who are often unfamiliar with language / culture / routes in etc and so have few useful contacts and limited knowledge. In fact, you often need to avoid those like the plague. It's established / local businesses and workers you need to hook into. Even a decent language school - the sort frequented by professionals - is a better option.

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Yes yes yes, that's what all of my headaches were about. Germany doesn't care what the Irish taxman tells you. According to EU cross-border worker regulations (and German tax code) I can confirm: it's about where you are physically present when you perform the work, not about where the work is contracted or paid for or whatever. If you are physically present in Germany while you do the work, you must pay German taxes and you fall under German social welfare regulations for whatever your job is (self-employed or angestellt or whatever) . Believe me, I wish it were different, as I'd have loved to be liable for UK taxes rather than German ones - German taxation is much higher not just "a bit".) But it's not possible. If you are physically present and performing work in Germany for more than half the calendar year, you are liable to pay German taxes on that employment and you may be liable for social welfare and other contributions, depending on employment status. (Yes, you do need a German work permit, too! No work permit, no legal earning.)

 

There will be no double taxation in the end no matter what because the EU countries have agreements between them (and US and Germany have an agreement, too). You will pay Germany first and foremost and if Ireland (or the USA) is due anything on your accounts, they'll claim it back from Germany. It's not particularly easy to find accountants who are really familiar with this situation, nor can many Arbeitsagentur employees understand it but ask around and don't stop until you (they) figure it out. The Heidelberg Finanzamt has been very helpful in answering my questions over the years- don't be afraid of your local Finanzamt and Arbeitsagentur since you can go ahead and ask hypothetically about the situation without revealing too much, if need be. But in the end YOU are responsible for seeing to it that your German taxes and income-related liabilities get paid, and if you don't you'll be in deep doo-doo and no amount of "nobody told me" or "my home country's tax man told me..." or other arguments will help. For your own financial and legal health now and in the future, make sure that you follow these matters up. Also, if you are doing work in Germany (from home, telecommuting, whatever) you will need to get a Betriebsnummer from the Arbeitsamt to make it legal. It takes about 10 minutes to sort out and is a must. It would suck if you faced a huge tax bill, fines, and maybe even deportation as a result of Steuerhinterziehung and Schwarzarbeit. Look after yourselves!

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Thanks for the info Swimmer/Liebling, all very helpful and will set out finding out more from the right sources. My wife is german which helps to ring said parties and find out the information I need for my situation. Many thanks again. It can be complicated but good to hear some sound advice. Vielen dank.

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I'm living here (in Berlin) for 3 months, working as a web designer & programmer. I plan to return for 6 months next year.

I normally reside in Sydney, Australia but I have dual french/Australian nationality.

I run my own multimedia business in Sydney hence all my taxes, income, projects and clients are mostly Australian-based, with some other bits and pieces coming from all over the world.

 

It means working odd hours (usually evenings) due to the annoying time difference but I find it's worth it as the industry seems to be much stronger/healthier in Sydney and the rates pay higher (to my surprise admittedly).

 

Why am I here? I enjoy the change of working in a European city, I'm in love with Berlin, plus I have strong interests/ties with the electronic music scene here.

 

To be honest I'm not really sure how Germany could prove I'm working here (though others may fill me in on this!) as I don't own a German bank account, I'm renting a holiday apartment, and I've taken out 3 months travellers health insurance on the off chance (touch wood) I have a health issue. I should probably review the situation again when I am here for longer next year I guess.

 

To those that mentioned they felt isolated whilst working, I recommend hiring some desk space in a co-working share-space.

There are varying options such as hiring a permanent desk, non-fixed desk space, part-time or casual usage etc

They supply wireless, desks etc.

 

One that specialises in the creative fields (though anyone could probably get some space) is called betahaus, located in Kreuzberg.

(See http://www.betahaus.de ) It's great for networking too, plus meeting new people who are in similar work situations.

I don't have a desk there but I have friends that do and I only hear great things :)

O and as per usual, everyone speaks English :D

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