Anyone living in Germany but working remotely?

55 posts in this topic

OP: I'm a sound engineer, in short I make peoples' songs sound good before they are released, all online, 90% of my clients are english, otherwise american, italian, portuguese, swedish, but so far only 1 german "direct customer" ever.

 

This would be the very definition of a financial pain in the ass.

 

But... my rent, bills, food, beer and everything comes to €350-€400 a month and I live like a king. Before I came to Berlin, my rent for a single room sharing with 3 others in a crap area of Hackney, in a building with mobile phone masts on the roof, cost me £445 ex bills per month.

 

This means I don't bother advertising or expanding my company; I work approx 10 hours a month. The rest of the time I spend playing drums, cooking elaborate meals, reading, riding my bike around and learning german at a snails pace - it's like one big fat holiday so far lasting 9 months.

 

Therefore Berlin rocks and exceeds the quality of living of london by such a magnitude it's ridiculous.

 

:P

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hey there, i'm new to this forum.

i live in berlin but don't work in germany.

as in: i work for a touring theatre company that tours all over europe (and sometimes beyond), so as it didn't really matter where i lived (we're all from all over europe), i chose berlin. i've been here for 4 years but as i'm not here very often (on average about a week a month), i'm still a bit of a tourist.

prior to this i lived and worked in london for 4 years, but i am originally belgian, which is where is started off in theatre.

 

i strongly agree with laney, i live like a king (queen) as well, especially compared to my past life in london.

i've been looking in to moving back home, but even that would mean giving up part of my lifestyle (exotic travel during longer periods of no touring).

 

and i'm not willing to do that just yet.

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Berlinbase, your lifestyle sounds like a lot of fun. Tell me there are some downsides to it, just so I don't feel so bad about my own non-touring, non-exotic-travel (but otherwise perfectly fine) life.

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the only downside is that building any kind of social life here is hard. my life is too irregular to become part of any kind of organisation or group.

when i lived in london, i also worked there, so i managed to build a social network in no time at all.

 

right now, my social circle is spread across europe.

dinner parties are harder... <_<

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I see what you mean. I do enjoy dinner parties and local connections ... so maybe I can comfort myself with that. Still... the travel (not to mention the work, which I imagine is really interesting) has got to be awesome.

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I work remotely part time here in Berlin.

 

It allows me the flexibility to do my work and also collect my child from school. It's a good job and gets more and more challenging. I can work when I want to and use both English and German.

 

After 4 years of it I am starting to miss having colleagues around me. So I keep meaning to turn up to either Connet again or to a TT meeting. My social circle is also now spread across half of Europe so it's great to go visit places and see good friends. I think I need to make some new friends here though!

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I have a chance at a short-term contract in London. I'm currently claiming benefits based on my contributions in Germany. What are my options?

 

If I register as self-employed in the UK I can pay contributions there - but I'll have a 6 month contributions gap over here.

 

But what will happen when I get back? Assuming I don't have another job right away - am I technically still unemployed in Germany (not self-employed) and able to sign on again. Will I lose benefit under 'habitual residence' rule?

 

And if I'm registered as self-employed in the UK, can I 'unregister' at the end of the contract, so I don't suddenly get a scary tax bill, later?

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Boots, will you actually go to London to do the work? Or will you work remotely (from Germany)? If you maintain a residence in Germany and move to UK for 6 months solely for the purpose of fulfilling that limited contract, you should be able to keep all taxes and everything else going right here in Germany with no interruption. Just make sure you are physically present in Germany for 186 days of that year (or 365 days of the 2 calendar years, if the 6 months crosses Jan 1st).

 

Not sure about the self-employed situation you asked about but if you remain in Germany during that temp contract (or, I think, even if you don't but are planning to come back to Germany as your normal residence and tax home after contract is over), then you can continue to be Freiwilligversichert in Germany, paying Krankenkasse and all the other Sozialeabgaben for that 6 mo duration.

No, if you have a job anywhere in the world, you are not unemployed in Germany. You can sign up again for unemployment benefits in Germany if you find yourself here and unemployed after the 6 mo contract is up, as long as you haven't (or won't) exceed the ALG term limits. This applies to ALGI (which I'm asuming you're on - if it's ALG II [Hartz4] then I really have no idea). The ALG I clock doesn't start again at zero when you get short-term work and then re-register for benefits, instead, you use up the time left from your earlier ALG "Konto". The clock only restarts after you've been re-employed (and paying in) for something like a year at least (but do check with the AgfuerArbeit - it might even be on their website).

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i work for a touring theatre company that tours all over europe (and sometimes beyond), so as it didn't really matter where i lived (we're all from all over europe), i chose berlin.

 

I think there are a lot of people, musicians and such, that work on tour but have chosen to live here, because it's cool, central and cheap.. You can afford to be away from home half the time because the rent is so cheap. What do you do in the theatre Berlinbase?

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I have been a stringer for some UK publications for some years now, and living in Berlin. I put off going to the Finanzamt for so long that I started to think about the adverse consequences, so I finally registered as a Greman taxpayer and payed some back tax as well. As the auslaenderbehoerde never used to give you any information with your visa about what they expect of you in Germany, I doubt if the Finanzamt could have fined me but they made a big deal about the fact that there was, on this occasion, no penalty for being a couple of years in arrears. They actually laughed when I presented myself the first time, I got the impression that they expect a lot of foreingers don't bother to pay tax. The theory is you pay tax where you perform the work but long as you pay tax somewhere on a non-EU double tax treaty, it probably isn't that important but of course they will act like it's a major issue.

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ha ha, tax tax tax.

 

if you are a free independent mature human being and you're own boss, I suggest notifying your government that you claim responsibility for your own actions and life; and exist free of statutory restraint and obligations such as tax which funds war.

 

To do this you need to develop self ownership through knowledge (do some research, don't be hasty). If interested, start here with a notice of understanding and intent and claim of right:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ft_Qbx84rw

 

look up robert arthur menard

 

B)

 

he he, I wonder if unleashing this little chestnut will earn me some dirty looks on the forum!

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Hi all, I just moved to Germany and I'm considering my options for what concerns working here (before, I've been working as a freelancer in the UK for the a few years).

Since I speak/understand ZERO German, I'm also considering to leave freelancing behind (unwilling to deal with the difficulties of communicating with the local authorities) and to consider perm employment;  Looking around I found quite a few interesting opportunities of "permanent" remote work for companies based in various parts of the world (USA, Malaysia, Hong Kong etc...) 

 

I wonder: Does anyone here know how these things work? I mean, Is being formally "hired" by a company that doesn't have a branch/office here in Germany ok? how are they expected to deal with the local tax authorities/contribution? Has anyone here experience of situations like these?

 

The only time I came in contact with a company that was hiring remote developers at global scale they where actually expecting the "employee" to have a freelance position and invoice every month (and that's the weirdest definition of "perm employment" I've ever seen in my life); Hence, I wonder if this is actually the "only" way these things work or if there are other ways (where a local office/branch is not available in your country of residence).

 

Thanks in advance to everybody for your help!

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2 hours ago, totallylost said:

 

I wonder: Does anyone here know how these things work? I mean, Is being formally "hired" by a company that doesn't have a branch/office here in Germany ok? how are they expected to deal with the local tax authorities/contribution? Has anyone here experience of situations like these?

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Yes. It doesn't matter if the employer is in Mumbai or New York or London... the two criteria that really counts are that you are employed (not freelance) and where you are physically present while doing (most of) the work.  If you are going to do (a certain proportion of) the work while you are physically present in Germany, you need to be eligible to work in Germany (If you are a UK citizen, no need for a work permit now, but the Brexit fall-out might be fun.)  IIRC there are several tests for whether one counts as physically present for this purpose.  One is something like 180+ days a year of physical presence (regardless of how many of those are work days for you).  

 

If you are considered to be working (while present) in Germany, you are responsible for negotiating and arranging the details with your foreign (EU or non-EU) employer regarding the payment of the employer contributions to your German-based social insurance.  If they don't make contributions, you have to cover both the employee AND the employer contributions yourself, with no exceptions.  (In my case, my employer couldn't cope with paying money to anybody but me, so I received the employer portion of my monthly contributions and transferred that (and my employee portion of the contributions) to my Krankenkasse each month, who then paid it into wherever those things go. That included the contributions toward my (gesetztliche) Krankenkasse, too - I was voluntarily insured by them and my foreign employer thus paid the employer contributions (though not before bristling about it - it was a long and frustrating process of getting them to agree to that, since they did not have the same costs for workers based in their country, but it worked out in the end).  

 

So basically by being an employee of a foreign company who is normally present/working/resident at least part-time in Germany and who was not specifically sent to Germany by said company, you have to manage all the admin when it comes to all insurance contributions, tax, etc. If it's an EU company, there are ways the German government has of (eventually) getting them to pony up if they aren't willing to (EU workers' mobility regulations); if it's a non-EU company, it's all on you. 

2 hours ago, totallylost said:

 

The only time I came in contact with a company that was hiring remote developers at global scale they where actually expecting the "employee" to have a freelance position and invoice every month (and that's the weirdest definition of "perm employment" I've ever seen in my life); Hence, I wonder if this is actually the "only" way these things work or if there are other ways (where a local office/branch is not available in your country of residence).

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On 10/22/2009, 2:50:25, chickwithbob said:

 

 

 

All of the information I've written above is solely for employees, not freelance.  

 

Hope that helps.

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Thanks @liebling! that clears a lot of things! it also makes clear, to me, that I wouldn't probably be able to cope myself with all the local admin stuff if I've to do it myself, since I speak no German and I've no idea of how the system works here; all in all, very precious information, thanks again!

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20 hours ago, totallylost said:

Thanks @liebling! that clears a lot of things! it also makes clear, to me, that I wouldn't probably be able to cope myself with all the local admin stuff if I've to do it myself, since I speak no German and I've no idea of how the system works here; all in all, very precious information, thanks again!

 

I had to do it as well, and it was a bit of a headache, but once it was set up, it was fine.  The tax agency in Germany (surprisingly) was patient and helpful with me.  I did skip over public insurance and went straight for private.  The benefit of that was that i was able to find a broker who spoke english and helped me get everything i needed.  The disadvantage was the costs and deductibles, which i hate.  There are people who can help you (tax accountants and insurance brokers) but its hit and miss.  I had a lot of help and had to ask a lot of people for input just to make sure i was getting all the right answers. 

 

It worked out well for a few years but then i got an opportunity to switch everything around so i could go under the umbrella of someone else's registered company in Germany.  What that meant was that that company would then bill my foreign company for my time, and then issue me my paycheque (adjusted for the overhead). I switched back to public insurance and everything is simpler now.   The finances work out,  I pay A LOT less for health care but a portion of what i would get from my foreign company is less because of the deductions by the german company.  

 

A highly personal disadvantage to all of this was that it really prevented me from learning german.  I did learn eventually, but very slowly and would get *that* look when i said how many years I've been here, then i'd have to explain, well, i work in english so... But i made good money and got to work at home, so.   

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Thanks a lot @Joanie, invaluable advice! Yeah, I'm currently going down the same road: I'm evaluating a few umbrella companies (or, as they call them here, "contractor management companies") as it seems to me as the easiest solution; of course my retention is lower, since I'm basically considered as an employee of the umbrella and as such my payslip will suffer from national insurance contributions, but in the end this seems to me as the more practical solution, at least for a few years.
Thanks again!

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@Joanie and all: I've an additional question (sorry!): I'm evaluating an Umbrella company here in Germany as we speak. One thing that concerns me is that the deductions that they make in my payroll seems incredibly low.. this is because they first remove from my salary a big chunk in "allowances" (like, use of home office, visit to parents overseas etc) and then they calculate the taxes due on the resulting difference (gross income - allowances).

 

Now, my question is: is this legit? I thought allowances/deductions where the norm when working as a freelancer,but with an Umbrella shouldn't I be considered as an "employee"? (I mean, are deduction/allowances applicable in this regard?)

 

Anyone here has had similar experiences?  Sorry, most of my life I've been working as a freelancers, so the whole Umbrella "thing" is pretty new to me...  

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I live here and work both remotely and locally, but it's a challenge.  I'm in a specific scenario since I started my own business in Krakow, Poland, and have since been able to manage everything remotely from here via VOIP phone, Skype, cameras etc.  But recently I started HappyBart, which is a personal concierge service where you can easily have anything done you don't want to do yourself by me.  I do home repairs, renovations, IT support, moving services, furniture assembly, deliveries, or anything else in between.  And since I'm back and forth between Krakow and Berlin, I operate in both cities now.  I think Berlin has a lot to offer in terms of culture, art, and food not to mention the mix of people here.  I've lived in many other European cities and Berlin follows in line with mixing a great group of international people, languages, cultures, and adventures.  I would say confidently that it's because of the people that I decided to stay here.  There are also a lot of good posts on here of what to see and do so I definitely recommend that. 

 

Regarding finding something abroad while living in Berlin, it's difficult. Unless it's someone that already knows you, it's very difficult to have someone hire you for a reasonable wage, knowing that you're somewhere else.  If they're going that route already, they often choose to hire someone in a country/city with lower salaries and use the typical 'outsourcing model'.  However I'm guessing that what you're looking for is to have a good salary, and use that to your advantage here in Berlin.  Definitely possible, but difficult to achieve.  

 

In any case, I hope you enjoy Berin and ToyTownGermany.

 

All the best,

HappyBart

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