German/American Dual National Looking to Relocate from USA to Ffm.

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I am currently resident in the USA, but am looking to relocate permanently to the Ffm. metro area. I am 60 years of age and currently receiving SSA benefits (survivor) in the approximate sum of $1,200/month. My ultimate goal is to purchase a small condo/apartment (1.5-2 rooms, w/Bad u. EBK oder Kochnische). Owing to my status as a German-American dual national, I possess both US and German passports (I have read online that my German passport can be used in lieu of a Personenausweis). I have already determined how to get my benefits deposited directly into a German bank account, and I have already opened and funded an account (Girokonto) with DKB.

 

I am presently trying to find a short-term rental, one that I can use as a legal address while looking for a more permanent residence, but have not had much success using the online real estate sites (Immowelt, Immobilienscout24, et al.) because everyone who is offering such a place seems only to be looking for commuter-renters (Wochenendheimfahrer), i.e., renters who won't be full-time residents. Much of the time, I don't even get a response to my inquiry (most likely, I presume, because they get more than enough responses to disregard mine; but I also wonder if they aren't dissuaded from even considering my application by the extraordinary nature of my circumstances). Ideally, I'd like to get into contact with someone who has successfully accomplished what I am trying to do; or, alternatively, a referral to someone (Immobilienmakler, e.g.) whom I could engage to assist me in this endeavor.

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You've got a few problems here. You aren't physically in Germany, the demand for housing of the sort you're looking for is very high in the Frankfurt area, and your monthly income is only a little over 1K euro in income a month. But that isn't even the worst of it- you're looking a very high premiums for health insurance unless you recently were in an EU country's public health insurance system (within the past 5 years). 

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Regarding how to get (low-cost) German public health insurance please read this entire thread:

which links to:

 

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2 hours ago, wmlgage said:

I am currently resident in the USA, but am looking to relocate permanently to the Ffm. metro area. I am 60 years of age and currently receiving SSA benefits (survivor) in the approximate sum of $1,200/month. My ultimate goal is to purchase a small condo/apartment (1.5-2 rooms, w/Bad u. EBK oder Kochnische). Owing to my status as a German-American dual national, I possess both US and German passports (I have read online that my German passport can be used in lieu of a Personenausweis). I have already determined how to get my benefits deposited directly into a German bank account, and I have already opened and funded an account (Girokonto) with DKB.

 

I am presently trying to find a short-term rental, one that I can use as a legal address while looking for a more permanent residence, but have not had much success using the online real estate sites (Immowelt, Immobilienscout24, et al.) because everyone who is offering such a place seems only to be looking for commuter-renters (Wochenendheimfahrer), i.e., renters who won't be full-time residents. Much of the time, I don't even get a response to my inquiry (most likely, I presume, because they get more than enough responses to disregard mine; but I also wonder if they aren't dissuaded from even considering my application by the extraordinary nature of my circumstances). Ideally, I'd like to get into contact with someone who has successfully accomplished what I am trying to do; or, alternatively, a referral to someone (Immobilienmakler, e.g.) whom I could engage to assist me in this endeavor.

Methinks, as long as you were not self-employed in the USA the past five years or privately insured, you have a chance to get into public insurance in Germany under the Paragraph 13 rule. I don´t know anything about SSA benefits in the USA but did you/do count as publicly insured there?

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Someone at that income level (assuming no secondary source of income) probably would be on Medicaid, which is government-funded health insurance (not comparable to the Kasse here in terms of quality), unless they have a significant enough amount of savings.  

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I appreciate the quick responses, but they seem to have gotten sidetracked at the outset. The upshot of my research into the matter of health insurance indicates that one cannot even get a quote--let alone purchase it--unless one is already legally resident in country. For that reason alone, the discussion is at best premature. Nevertheless, I will address the points raised.

 

I fully expect to have to buy private insurance, at least at the beginning, and I am fully aware that it will not be cheap--presuming, of course, that I could even find an insurer willing to underwrite a policy. I'm a 60-year-old man with some problematic pre-existing conditions. (One question I might ask in this regard in the circumstances--which I have yet to see asked or answered--is, What if one cannot even buy private insurance at any price?)

 

My situation in the States has been much the same as every American's: until the ACA was signed into law, I obtained health insurance through my various employers, or through COBRA, when necessary, such that I was continually insured until approximately 18 months after I ceased working, in 2009. At present, and for at least the past 5 years, I have been insured under the so-called "Medicaid Expansion" of the ACA. Under standard Medicaid rules, one cannot qualify unless one is both low-income and essentially impoverished; that is to say, the benefit is means-tested. The Medicaid Expansion under the ACA, however, apparently is not, and so one need only meet the income requirements.

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You still haven't done enough research.

 

No, you haven't been sidetracked - it's the law that every resident in Germany has to have valid, comprehensive health insurance, see §193 (3) VVG: https://dejure.org/gesetze/VVG/193.html

 

Your situation is delicate - the worst thing you could do is take private health insurance at the start, since you then would never ever be let into public health insurance, since you're over 55.

 

Your only chance is to enter German public health insurance, which covers all pre-existing conditions and would cost around 19% of your income, right from the start. 

 

Since you are a bad bet for the public health insurance, i.e. you will cost them more than you pay in, they will do their utmost to discourage you from joining (give you the runaround, even lie to you), even though you have a one-off legal right to join it.

 

You will probably have to pay a Versicherungsberater to fight for you and force them to accept you, as explained in the threads I linked to before, please re-read them attentively.

 

Paging @Starshollow: going by @kenny1948's last post, the Versicherungsberater you recommended, Thorulf Müller, seems to be a dud: 

Do you have another one to recommend?

 

Alternatively, @wmlgage can choose one from the association of Versicherungsberater: http://www.bvvb.de/BeraterSuche.aspx?map=1

 

Or he could simply sic a specialised lawyer, a "Fachanwalt für Sozialrecht" onto the Krankenkasse (= public health insurance), who would then make them follow the law §5 (1) Nr. 13b SGB V which allows him to join German public health insurance: http://www.wiwo.de/finanzen/vorsorge/krankenversicherung-im-zweifel-vor-gericht-gehen/7834072-4.html

 

An initial consultation would cost (all fees are regulated by law) 190€ + 19% VAT = 226.10€, see §34 (1) RVG: https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/rvg/__34.html

These 190€ would reduce the lawyer's fee for the further work he/she does on the case. Lawyer fees are regulated by law in Germany and are much lower than in the US - as long as you don't sign a separate document called Honorarvereinbarung allowing the lawyer to charge you more than the fee set by law!

Should a lawyer suggest a Honorarvereinbarung, drop him and contact the next one (in my experience, female lawyers are more honest/less greedy than male ones).

 

All lawyers cost the same, so get a qualified one, i.e. a "Fachanwalt für Sozialrecht".

You can find such a "Fachanwalt für Sozialrecht" here: https://anwaltauskunft.de/anwaltssuche/erweitert/

 

That fight takes time, so you need start it as soon as possible, so that everything will have been resolved by the time you move here.

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19% of 1200 USD a month is still quite a bit (it's not easy to live on 850 euros a month or less even after health insurance premiums are paid), and the OP faces currency risk over the long term as well (imagine $1.30 per euro or worse). 

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As a German citizen, he would get top-ups from the state through Hartz IV should his financial situation ever get desperate.

 

A lot of German pensioners don't even have a pension of 1,000€ (source):

224577-st-galerie_gross.jpg.f5a900ead94f

 

224568-st-galerie_gross.jpg.c246f6136be7

 

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15 hours ago, wmlgage said:

My ultimate goal is to purchase a small condo/apartment (1.5-2 rooms, w/Bad u. EBK oder Kochnische).

 

Just as a side note: Do you have sufficient funds to pay cash and did you do some research concerning the prices to be paid for that in the Frankfurt area? Because there is no way to get a mortgage, not at the age of 60 (and with that low income). 

 

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10 hours ago, PandaMunich said:

As a German citizen, he would get top-ups from the state through Hartz IV should his financial situation ever get desperate.

 

Sure, but the guy seems to have savings and affordable health insurance in the US. 

 

Quote

A lot of German pensioners don't even have a pension of 1,000€ (source):

 

But then they are usually receiving Grundsicherung and also have no assets.

 

2 hours ago, someonesdaughter said:

Do you have sufficient funds to pay cash and did you do some research concerning the prices to be paid for that in the Frankfurt area? 

 

Anyone who has sufficient funds to buy property in the area would NOT be eligible for HartzIV.

 

@wmlgage

 

You need to crunch the numbers. You might end up having to use your assets to supplement your income until you are only left with what welfare recipients would receive. 

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10 hours ago, PandaMunich said:

Since you are a bad bet for the public health insurance, i.e. you will cost them more than you pay in, they will do their utmost to discourage you from joining (give you the runaround, even lie to you), even though you have a one-off legal right to join it.

 

You will probably have to pay a Versicherungsberater to fight for you and force them to accept you, as explained in the threads I linked to before, please re-read them attentively.

 

Paging @Starshollow: going by @kenny1948's last post, the Versicherungsberater you recommended, Thorulf Müller, seems to be a dud: 

Do you have another one to recommend?

 

Alternatively, @wmlgage can choose one from the association of Versicherungsberater: http://www.bvvb.de/BeraterSuche.aspx?map=1

 

Or he could simply sic a specialised lawyer, a "Fachanwalt für Sozialrecht" onto the Krankenkasse (= public health insurance), who would then make them follow the law §5 (1) Nr. 13b SGB V which allows him to join German public health insurance: http://www.wiwo.de/finanzen/vorsorge/krankenversicherung-im-zweifel-vor-gericht-gehen/7834072-4.html

 

 

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@PandaMunich : Thorulf Müller seems to have been under a lot of stress recently from what I have seen/learned. And the Expats always came as as an add-on to his otherwise strong business with  Germans. But AFAIK, he is back in normal business circumstances and happy to assist. Having said that, I have probably another Versicherungsberater at hand with excellent English knowledge. I'll check back with him and report here soon.

Cheerio

 

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I very much appreciate all the responses.

 

5 hours ago, someonesdaughter said:

 

Just as a side note: Do you have sufficient funds to pay cash and did you do some research concerning the prices to be paid for that in the Frankfurt area? Because there is no way to get a mortgage, not at the age of 60 (and with that low income). 

 

 

An integral aspect of my plan to relocate is the fact that I can afford it. The first necessary condition precedent was to determine whether or not I was still a German citizen. Had I discovered that I had lost my birth-acquired citizenship (I was born in 1957 in Ffm. to an unmarried German woman, through whom I acquired German nationality; I became a naturalized American as a child after being adopted by Americans), that would have been that. I could not have imagined moving back to Germany as an "immigrant." Being a German citizen, however ... well, I kind of see it as my legal right.

 

Once that hurdle had been surmounted, the next necessary condition precedent was to be shed of all significant ties or binds in this country: primarily my adoptive family, but later, also my relationship to the man with whom I had fallen in love, in 1996, and whom I married as soon as it became legally possible, in 2013. My husband passed away in 2015; were he still alive, I would not be contemplating this action. The triggering event, however, was the passing of the last living member of my immediate adoptive family, my father, who died late last year.

 

The final condition precedent, the one that was both necessary and sufficient, was the sale of my parents' home (representing the bulk of my inheritance), which has provided me the wherewithal to afford to relocate. (I actually had imagined that this fact would have been inferred from the statement that I was looking to buy a small apartment/condo.) The sale closed at the end of July.

 

My research into real estate prices in Germany has been limited to reviewing offerings on various real estate websites. It seems a small apartment would be well within my means, particularly if I was able to acquire it via a foreclosure (Zwangsversteigerung) purchase. But buying an apartment, especially via forclosure, necessarily requires my physical presence to research/inspect available properties, and then initiate and finalize the transaction. Hence my search for temporary living quarters, which I see as more feasible to conduct as an "absentee" participant in the transaction.

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The thing with foreclosures is that:

  1. it rarely gets to the foreclosure in areas like Frankfurt am Main, where there is enough demand to sell a property for a better price on the open market
  2. if a foreclosure does happen, you can bet that the previous owner trashes it before moving out (and you kind of buy "die Katze im Sack", since very rarely do you get to see the inside of the property before bidding on it).

 

I would suggest that you instead look for properties that are getting offloaded by big institutions, e.g. the German railways (= Deutsche Bahn) sold their rental apartments in bulk, and these corporate buyers then legally transform them from rental apartments into condos, and sell them off one by one.

 

Most have sitting tenants which are impossible to get out under German tenancy laws (so disregard all the occupied ones!), but are few are empty (but of course cost more), have a look at those.

 

Have a look here:

 

*****************************************************************************

 

Only people who are looking for an investment buy apartments with sitting tenants.

However, these investments in German real estate are a bit of a risk:

  • the tenant could stop paying and you still can't evict him,
  • the existing rents in those kinds of apartments are low (they were rented to employees of the institutions that are now offloading them, which were mostly civil servants who had lower salaries than normal employees and therefore could only afford these lower rents),
  • the law limits by how much you can raise rents,
  • the state could again impose high taxes like the 50% Lastenausgleich tax on the value of the property (yes, you read correctly, on its value, not just on the income):

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6 hours ago, engelchen said:

You need to crunch the numbers. You might end up having to use your assets to supplement your income until you are only left with what welfare recipients would receive. 

 

That is, in fact, my expectation, i.e., using my remaining assets to supplement my limited income in order to buy whatever is required to live day to day over and above such things as food, shelter (Nebenkosten u. Miete [oder Hausgeld]), and other "necessities" (such as insurance). (I know, under the law, health insurance could be characterized as a "necessity," but not so necessary as food or shelter.) The only thing I can count on going forward is my Social Security benefits; my assets are finite, and will ultimately be depleted, more or less quickly depending on how much such additional "necessary" expenses prove to be. Not being able to determine ahead of time what private insurance would cost me--or whether, in fact, I could actually obtain such coverage--is a distinct hindrance to any number-crunching, however. In any event, finding a place to live, whether short- or long-term, is my principle focus at the moment, because, until then, everything else is purely academic.

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If you're afraid that your savings won't be enough, you should make sure that the apartment you buy is less than 60 square metres big (other sources say 80 square metres, but I would play it safe with 60m², since a court ruling said 120m² is the limit for a family of 4, and for each person less, 20m² should be deducted), since with an apartment of that size, the German state won't force you to sell it once your savings are depleted down to 9.750€ and you need Hartz IV top-up, i.e. you would get to keep it and live and in it and the German state would give you extra money for the Hausgeld, health insurance and your basic needs (food, clothing).

 

You can read more about Hartz IV here: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbeitslosengeld_II#Regelbedarf

 

However, with your 1,200 USD pension, you would only be eligible for Hartz IV should the USD/€ exchange rate take a major turn for the worse, normally that high a pension means you are supposed to live on just the pension.

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43 minutes ago, wmlgage said:

 

That is, in fact, my expectation, i.e., using my remaining assets to supplement my limited income in order to buy whatever is required to live day to day over and above such things as food, shelter (Nebenkosten u. Miete [oder Hausgeld]), and other "necessities" (such as insurance). (I know, under the law, health insurance could be characterized as a "necessity," but not so necessary as food or shelter.) The only thing I can count on going forward is my Social Security benefits; my assets are finite, and will ultimately be depleted, more or less quickly depending on how much such additional "necessary" expenses prove to be. Not being able to determine ahead of time what private insurance would cost me--or whether, in fact, I could actually obtain such coverage--is a distinct hindrance to any number-crunching, however. In any event, finding a place to live, whether short- or long-term, is my principle focus at the moment, because, until then, everything else is purely academic.

...health insurance is maybe - maybe! - not such a necessity as food or shelter BUT it is a legal obligation...😳

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12 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

If you're afraid that your savings won't be enough, you should make sure that the apartment you buy is less than 60 square metres big (other sources say 80 square metres, but I would play it safe with 60m², since a court ruling said 120m² is the limit for a family of 4, and for each person less, 20m² should be deducted), since with an apartment of that size, the German state won't force you to sell it once your savings are depleted down to 9.750€ and you need Hartz IV top-up, i.e. you would get to keep it and live and in it and the German state would give you extra money for the Hausgeld, health insurance and your basic needs (food, clothing).

 

The house I'm living in at the moment--two bedrooms, two full baths, living room and kitchen--is slightly more than 80m² (not including the garage). It was purchased by my late husband, before we met, and is significantly larger than I need as a single adult. The affordable apartments I have been looking at are usually in the 40-50m² range, so that's good to know.

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