New Relocating to Munich: Feeling a little lost

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Hi everyone,

 

I just signed on to a company in Munich and I haven't left the US yet, but will in a few weeks. I just have a few things I'm unsure of. Please note that I'm a single person with no pets.

 

 

1. When arriving, I was informed that I would not be able to immediately sign up for a cell phone service without having a permanent address. This would be an issue as I'll be living in a hotel for a bit while looking for an apartment. Any way around this?

 

2. The paperwork... yes the paperwork... I heard that it can take 2 weeks to complete, however what I'm uncertain of is if I would need to be in Germany 2-3 weeks in advance before I would start work. My company is taking care of my work permit/visa in advance before I arrive. Unfortunately I am only being provided with a company hotel from the day I begin work, but not before. Should I arrive early or at the start of work? I'm not sure how exactly to do this in Germany or what would be acceptable.

 

3. Lastly, as I've never been outside of the country (except to Canada, but I live 40 minutes from the border so that doesn't really count), would it be easier to look into a relocation service to get me started or can I do it myself?

 

Thanks for any help or assistance. I should probably mention my start date at work is February 1st, 2013 which is quickly approaching.

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Hi,

 

Thanks for the response. I already have an insurance company picked out through a very good recommendation. I'm more worried currently about the time and process I would need to file the papers necessary while not having a perm address. I was told that I shouldn't arrive early as I couldn't file any papers as I didn't have a perm address, while someone else I know said I should get there early to file the papers. I'm just not sure what to think right now with the timing of everything.

 

At the same time, I don't really want to bother my employer as from what I've been told, Germans dislike constant question asking. I'm trying to be low key about it.

 

So, should I arrive early, or right when my contract says so?

 

As a side note and question, how can I get a cell phone service without having a perm address? This would be a big issue considering I've become very attached to Google Maps on my smartphone and it would be awkward without it while learning a new city for the first time.

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Welcome to TT and congratulations on your new job!

 

Munich is a wonderful city, and there's a lively expat community, so you should feel less lost quite soon. :)

 

As you're far from the first expat to move to Munich, there's lots of information here for you - use the search function to explore what's out there. A regular search will bring up all the threads with your key words in the thread title. Using a Google-powered search will bring up all threads with your key words anywhere in the thread.

 

Paperwork: If your company is taking care of your work permit/visa in advance, then all you will need to do when you get here is register. See this TT Wiki page for more information on that process. You need to decide for yourself whether to arrive a few days early - personally, I would definitely do that, to get some time to walk around the city center, get to know the public transport system, etc. before starting work. Not sure what you mean about "what would be acceptable", unless you mean whether your employer will put you up if you come earlier - that is something you would need to discuss with them. However, there are various hostels and hotels that aren't *that* expensive for a few nights, or a week, if you have to cover the costs yourself.

 

Cell phone: Consider whether signing a contract is really a good idea - signing a detailled contract in a language you don't understand is not something I would recommend. Mobile phone contracts in Germany are generally for 24 months, with automatic renewal if you miss the cancellation period (3 months before end of contract). And please don't depend on the salesman to give you the best of advice, he will tell you what he thinks will get him a commission. For more information on the agony that is German mobile phone contracts and cancellation, I recommend using the search function here on TT. At least to start with, a prepaid plan is best - there are numerous threads on providers and coverage, for example:

 

* Prepaid SIM cards for mobile phones: Cheapest and best options

* Prepaid SIM cards with flatrate mobile internet

 

Relocation: Unfortunately, it's too late now to negotiate a relocation service as part of the package from your employer. There are several relocation services that advertise here on TT - best to get in touch and find out what they charge, and then decide whether it fits your budget. Please read this TT Wiki page on renting accommodation in Germany, as things are quite a bit different to what you are used to from the US. The rental market in Munich is *extremely* tight, and it's a seller's market - finding a flat may well be the biggest challenge you face.

 

There's a thread here somewhere with tips for finding apartments in Munich - I'll have a look if I can find it.

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I already have an insurance company picked out through a very good recommendation.

I don't know who gave you the recommendation, but I *strongly* urge you to get in touch with one of the independent insurance brokers active here on TT before making any decisions. Health insurance for expats is extremely specialized, there are lots of rules and regulations that change constantly, so a recommendation from someone who is NOT completely up to date, or not aware of special rules impacting expats, can mean a lot of grief later.

 

Contact TT members John G. or Starshollow - I highly recommend both.

 

@ Kay: I was actually thinking of a thread, since I didn't know that page existed - also very helpful!

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As we have all had numerous conversations here about public versus private, and you have only a one time opportunity to enter the public system, you should take that very seriously. You can always leave public, but you will never (bar losing a job and still being able to stay here legally) be able to return to public.

 

You can register at a hotel if you want, so whoever said that was wrong.

 

Also, the most important thing is to open a bank account- that is done (in Berlin) by appointment and I think you might fund it useful to come early to sort some of these things out (and your firm should definitely help with the letters banks will request, as well as any prospective landlords (income verification and so on)).

 

I find relocation companies a money sink and when forced to use them, that they are not as organized or timely as myself, and far less thrifty when booking services. But mileage on that may vary, especially if you speak no German and will have no local help.

 

Good Luck! Munich is a charming town.

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Do you seriously believe, gail123, the poster knows about the difference between public and private insurance here? Do you know how long he intends to stay here or what are his best options?

 

No, you don´t and neither do I.

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Nope. That's why I suggested he read through some of the very many threads on that topic here on TT. Because, like a roach motel, private is a one way trip.

 

Luckily, my advice is confined to suggesting that he do some actual research, with the knowledge that a decision to go private is, generally, for a US citizen, irreversible.

 

And I can actually note a few other things the OP might be interested in knowing. Because although insurance is a very very important choice, a telekoms contract was- for us- the only thing that required actually threatening to use our legal insurance (which, OP, you should totally get if you are expecting to live in GErmany).

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You did not suggest he read through many of the threads on the topic here on TT. You said " we have all had numerous conversations etc ". Who´s we? He´s just joined. No Keydeck refere :) nce to the Search function!

 

How do you know he qualifies for private insurance? I don´t.

 

How do you know what his earnings will be in the future..so that he could get into public insurance? Can you provide the information?

Being a US citizen is irrelevant here. Can you inform him why?

 

By the way, I do as much work getting people into public health insurance as private. Do you?

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Wow! Lots of responses! I was shopping for luggage and didn't notice them piling up! Thank you everyone!

 

As for insurance, I was recommended this by an expat I know living in Germany and someone who is native of Germany: Techniker Krankenkasse.

 

For cell phones, this is what I was told: In order to register for a plan, eg. T-Mobile.de (already picked out a plan there, no need for a sales guy), I would need to have a permanent home address. I am going to assume this is wrong?

 

For paperwork: what I was worried about when I mentioned arriving at an appropriate time was that I was under the assumption that by arriving late, I wouldn't have an opportunity to sit in lines during the work week to file the papers. I wasn't sure if I could take off time or it would be appropriate to leave work to handle paperwork.

 

For banks and apartments: I didn't realize that I would need to file for one in Berlin instead of at a branch. For apartments, I was given http://www.immobilienscout24.de/ which seems to be pretty comprehensive. My only concern would be to find one in a quick amount of time as my employer is only providing me with a free hotel room for 2 months at the start of my working contract (February 1st).

 

This week my employer is signing the contracts I've mailed them and I hope once that is done, I can ask for a little more assistance in getting set up. Essentially I know what needs to be done (as outlined in my welcome pdf I was sent), I just an foggy on the correct sequence of arriving and taking care of things before and after I start work. This is a HUGE undertaking for me, but I *think* I'm doing ok :)

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For paperwork: what I was worried about when I mentioned arriving at an appropriate time was that I was under the assumption that by arriving late, I wouldn't have an opportunity to sit in lines during the work week to file the papers. I wasn't sure if I could take off time or it would be appropriate to leave work to handle paperwork.

 

Don't let yourself be needlessly confused. Of course you don't need to go to Berlin to open a bank account. You're in Munich, so go to a bank in Munich to open an account. And of course there's a TT Wiki page on banking in Germany for more info on that.

 

Apartments: Immoscout is fine, as far as it goes. Do be aware, however, that there are scammers active on the various rental websites. See the threads Beware of accommodation scams and Apartment rental scam suspected for some hallmarks of scam accommodation adverts.

 

Please also read the TT Wiki page I linked to in my first posting on renting accommodation. There are some major differences to what you are used to from the US. The page will also give you tips on where to look, and some vocab help for understanding ads.

 

RE filing papers: Please read the links I gave in my first posting regarding registering. That, going to the Finanzamt to get your tax number, getting your health insurance sorted, bank account opened and then starting the search for an apartment is all the "paper filing" you will need to do at the start - but I do think it would be good to have a few days ahead of starting work to deal with all that, and orient yourself a bit in Munich.

 

Mobile phone contract: You seem very set on getting a mobile phone contract. Would it help if I told you that - even if you leave the country before the 2-year contract period is up - your provider will insist you pay in full through to the end of the contract? Act in haste now, repent at your leisure. Now is the time for you to research, browse, read up on other's good and bad experiences, and learn from that, so you don't make the same mistakes.

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You did not suggest he read through many of the threads on the topic here on TT. You said " we have all had numerous conversations etc ". Who´s we? He´s just joined. No Keydeck refere nce to the Search function!

 

How do you know he qualifies for private insurance? I don´t.

 

How do you know what his earnings will be in the future..so that he could get into public insurance? Can you provide the information?

Being a US citizen is irrelevant here. Can you inform him why?

 

By the way, I do as much work getting people into public health insurance as private. Do you?

 

No, John. I receive absolutely no recompense for anything that I recommend to anyone at all, on TT or in real life. And my guess is, if someone is a US citizen coming here, he is over the private limit. But, if he is using TT, he probably can guess what threads and conversations are. If not, I bet he will be told.

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Good point about the mobile phone contract. I had the intent of moving and staying permanently within Germany and not leave. For some reason, with my degrees, the job market has been... well 0% response rate in the US. Far better for my field in Germany actually.

 

I did notice 1 scam apartment on the site. Usually I've found that if the pictures and price are too good to be true, it probably is.

 

I will look over the wiki pages further and think more. I haven't booked a plane ticket yet as I wasn't sure when I should arrive to take care of things.

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No, I meant that in Berlin when one opens a bank account, one needs to make an appointment (a foreign concept to an American). Perhaps in Munich they are more customer friendly and will take walk-ins. Muncheners would be better able to answer that. My banks both have branches in Munich, so the issue never came up.

 

We came here expecting to be here for 2 years. It's just on 6 now and in October I expected to move to Munich (and was looking there at houses) and instead we are suddenly off to the US. Who knows what life brings.

 

We are with TK and extremely happy, btw. And, as I don't get any commission for making any recommendations, nor am I working in this country, you can take my recommendations as you please. I do take care of all insurance and agent interactions, though.

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Wow! That is some of the best clear cut information that I've seen compiled together in one simple list :D That is everything I've been looking for!

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

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For the health insurance: I am also with TK and happy with them. They translate many of their documents into english, which helps when you are new. Also, I gave them my work address as the contact address, since I didn't have a permanent address when I first moved here.

 

For the mobile phone: You can get a pay-as-you-go SIM to begin with and then switch to contract later. I'm sure you can survive without a smartphone for a couple of weeks if needs be. When I first moved here,I got a little pocket map of the city from the tourist information, and if I was travelling to a new place off the map, I'd use my computer and then print out a map from google maps in advance. For getting my mobile contract, I took with my passport, proof of address and 1 month's bank statement (showing my salary being paid in and the fact that i have a german bank account), which was enough to convince the people in the shop they could sell me a contract. But, it was a mistake to get the contract because the rates are bad and for my personal use it would have been cheaper to stick with pay-as-you-go.

 

I wish you a smooth and successful move!

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I'll never finish to thank PandaMunich for his outstanding post!

Just a question: is there a online version of paper to fill at Finanzamt office? I'd like to prepare it already compiled and check any required document.

 

Thanks

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It will be a very simple form, like this 2013 one: http://www.finanzamt.bayern.de/Informationen/Formulare/Lohnsteuer_ELStAM/Arbeitnehmer/Antrag_auf_Ausstellung_einer_Bescheinigung_fuer_den_Lohnsteuerabzug-2013.pdf

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