Recommendations for a 3-6 month stay in Germany

28 posts in this topic

I'm a dual US/Italian citizen currently residing full time in Italy.   I have an Italian passport, ID card and tessera sanitaria (health insurance) that covers emergency medical needs throughout the EU.   I'm retired.  I want to spend some time in Germany, 3 - 6 months, primarily to relearn some German and to do some sight-seeing.   Also, I'm considering a permanent move to Germany, so I want to get an idea of whether I would rather be in Germany than Italy.   It's been a long time since I've been in Germany, so I'm looking for suggestions for an interesting place where I can sub-lease a furnished apartment to use as a base to explore.  I don't want to spend more than 1000 E/month.  I'll be keeping my apartment in Italy.

 

My first thought was Jena because of the University there and it's centrally located.  Also it's smaller than the main cities.  However, sub-leases aren't very available there.  Essen/Dusseldorf area sounds interesting, although there have been a lot of negative comments on this forum about that area in the past.  I don't find the negativity to be very constructive, though, so I may just ignore it.  I'm not interested in the largest cities--I'm not a city person and I'm in my 60s.  Night life is not that important to me.  I do need a city large enough to have a selection of good language instruction, paths for walking and biking, reasonable access to supermarkets, some interesting restaurants, an expat community.  Things like that.  I haven't investigated more northern areas, although not for any good reason...  

 

I'll be coming November-ish.  Any recommendations?

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I'll narrow this down a little.  I'm now considering Leipzig, because (1) it's relatively inexpensive compared to other major cities, (2) it's in central Germany, and since I plan to explore, that makes it a reasonable "home base", and (3) it's sort of near Jena, which would still be my first choice if there were anyplace to live there.

I've read some of the posts here, although a lot are too many years old to be relevant.  Are there areas of the city that I should avoid?  There is a lot more availability of affordable sub-lease places than other cities I've been looking at, so I might have some options.

What is the winter like there?  I was living in the Colorado mountains for the last 25 years before coming to Italy (7000+ ft altitude), so I actually like cold weather.  Continuous gray skies does not appeal to me, though.  That wouldn't really influence a decision about Leipzig for this temporary stay, though.  

Is there an active expat community there?  

Any info will be appreciated!

 

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Almost any place in Germany starting in November is going to be cloudy and grey for a few months.  

 

Leipzig has a university and apparently the airport is increasing the number of flights it has.   I have visited the city many times, but have not found so many things to see or do there.   When i have brought foreign tourists to the city, we spend a half day there.   If a museum or the zoo would be part of the itinerary then maybe a day.   

 

Nearby are Dresden (fantastic), Lutherstadt-Wittenberg, Erfurt, Weimar, Dessau, Eisenach, Torgau, and Berlin.    Not all are beautiful, but i find them interesting.   The Elbe is not so far away if you want to do some cycling.  

 

It might help if you would provide an idea of what types of cities or attractions you want to explore.  

 

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, balticus said:

It might help if you would provide an idea of what types of cities or attractions you want to explore.  

Thanks for the info balticus.  Actually, I'm considering moving to Germany in a year or so.  I'm an Italian/American dual citizen living in Italy right now.  My trip to Germany is to do some tourist things but mostly to work on relearning my German and to look around and get some sense of the "character" of different areas in relation to my lifestyle and interests.  Having said that, if I do choose to move to Germany, I'm not afraid to make a mistake (or 2 or 3) about the "right" place to live. 

 

I've moved around Italy a bit, although I haven't spent any time in northern Italy yet.  But my experiences tell me that southern and rural Italy are not good places for intellectual independent single women.  I've had a varied enough life to be able to ignore some of the stupid, but after a while it irritates me.  I would prefer to avoid choosing a part of Germany that's like that.  I love being in nature, hiking and biking, but I also crave intellectual and cultural stimulation.  Given that I am in my 60s, it's probably prudent for me to be closer to a city with services and amenities than to live in a more remote village.  I do have a car.  

 

There are many factors for me to consider before I make a decision to move to Germany or not.  This trip will be a broad "survey" and will ease me back into speaking German a bit.  

The more I read about Leipzig, the more I like it, but I'll check out Dresden, too.  Right now I feel like a kid in a candy shop!  But I do have to choose a place for this upcoming trip and commit!  

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If you have not spent a 3 day weekend in Berlin, I would recommend it.   For a large city, it is pretty accessible and there are lots of activities and events.     

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3 hours ago, Maradel said:

I'll narrow this down a little.  I'm now considering Leipzig, because (1) it's relatively inexpensive compared to other major cities, (2) it's in central Germany, and since I plan to explore, that makes it a reasonable "home base", and (3) it's sort of near Jena, which would still be my first choice if there were anyplace to live there.

I've read some of the posts here, although a lot are too many years old to be relevant.  Are there areas of the city that I should avoid?  There is a lot more availability of affordable sub-lease places than other cities I've been looking at, so I might have some options.

What is the winter like there?  I was living in the Colorado mountains for the last 25 years before coming to Italy (7000+ ft altitude), so I actually like cold weather.  Continuous gray skies does not appeal to me, though.  That wouldn't really influence a decision about Leipzig for this temporary stay, though.  

Is there an active expat community there?  

Any info will be appreciated!

 

3 hours ago, Maradel said:

I'll narrow this down a little.  I'm now considering Leipzig, because (1) it's relatively inexpensive compared to other major cities, (2) it's in central Germany, and since I plan to explore, that makes it a reasonable "home base", and (3) it's sort of near Jena, which would still be my first choice if there were anyplace to live there.

I've read some of the posts here, although a lot are too many years old to be relevant.  Are there areas of the city that I should avoid?  There is a lot more availability of affordable sub-lease places than other cities I've been looking at, so I might have some options.

What is the winter like there?  I was living in the Colorado mountains for the last 25 years before coming to Italy (7000+ ft altitude), so I actually like cold weather.  Continuous gray skies does not appeal to me, though.  That wouldn't really influence a decision about Leipzig for this temporary stay, though.  

Is there an active expat community there?  

Any info will be appreciated!

 

 

The last 5-6 winters have been relatively mild but before that there were a few years with lots of snow and some cold snaps when it stayed below 0 for weeks at a time.

 

According to the stats bureau there are about 700 Yanks and 500 Brits living in Leipzig and there are Irish bars with quiz nights etc.

 

https://english.leipzig.de/youth-family-and-community/foreign-nationals-and-migrants/migrants-integration-and-intercultural-activities-in-leipzig/#c70470

 

Property prices  have gone up a lot in the recent past so it might not be as cheap as you expect, though you will certainly find something for 1000 a month.

 

I don't know of any areas to avoid but there are some grim Plattenbau estates  like Grunau that I wouldn't like to live in.

 

If you like mountains then you should look further south e.g. Jena, as Leipzig and surroundings are all very flat.

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17 minutes ago, arsenal21 said:

Property prices  have gone up a lot in the recent past so it might not be as cheap as you expect, though you will certainly find something for 1000 a month.

 

I haven't looked at long term rentals, but there are some furnished sub-lets in Leipzig running 600 - 1000 per month, everything included.  I haven't seen them in person, of course, but the photos look a lot nicer than where I'm living now.  I'll investigate long term rental prices when I'm there.  I know relatively little about housing in Germany.  The cold rent/hot rent thing threw me a bit at first.  But really, I have modest needs. I wouldn't want more than a 1 BR apartment at this stage of my life.  I don't have any furniture.  I arrived in Italy with 3 pekingeses and 3 suitcases.  I shipped a bicycle trailer and a few boxes of books and old photos.  

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4 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

There is a thread by another dual citizenship "German" returnee in your age group, who (I think) ended up renting an apartment in Dresden in this hotel for a year: 

Great!  I hadn't seen that; I'll check it out.  Thanks!

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1 hour ago, PandaMunich said:

There is a thread by another dual citizenship "German" returnee in your age group, who (I think) ended up renting an apartment in Dresden in this hotel for a year

PandaMunich,  wow, I have read through a lot of that thread.  You know, his experience sounds a lot like what happened to me when I landed in Italy, although I had done quite a bit of prep before taking off for Italy.  However, within 2 days I became extremely ill, temp 104!!  Pneumonia, bronchitis.  I won't go through all the gory details.  I was sick for 5 months before I finally diagnosed my own problem:  a botched root canal done in the US right before leaving.  Perforated maxillary sinus, sinus infection which continued to drain pus into my lungs until I had the tooth removed and slammed everything with multiple antibiotics.  Absolute nightmare, and I'm still recovering.

   

My experience with the Italian healthcare system was just as bad.  And I was enrolled in a language school and received no help from them in navigating the system.   My travel insurance helped a little, but it's really just easier to pay out of pocket and see a private doc.  Even simple things like how do you fill prescriptions were opaque. I have a bilingual friend where I live now who has helped me over the last couple months, but health care everywhere is so f* up, it's terrifying.  The US system would be just as bad for someone coming from outside, although most hospitals do have translators available.  I'm beginning to think no MD speaks English in Italy.  Except my dogs' veterinarian speaks excellent English!  I want to be his patient!  Vets are better docs, anyway, but then I'm biased!

 

Finding a place to rent was also a nightmare.  Lots of places listed, but inquire and all of a sudden you find out that they're not available when you mention that you need a REGISTERED lease to establish residency.  Oh, no! No one wants that!  They'd have to pay taxes!  

 

That thread is a big flashing reminder to have some friends in Germany before I move, if I move.  And make sure I can actually SPEAK the language and COMPREHEND when native speakers talk to me.  I had been listening to public TV newscasters speaking Italian.  No problem understanding them or my Italian teachers.  Wow, no sweat, I thought!  But go out on the street and no one speaks that version of Italian!!!  

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4 hours ago, balticus said:

Almost any place in Germany starting in November is going to be cloudy and grey for a few months.  

 

Leipzig has a university and apparently the airport is increasing the number of flights it has.   I have visited the city many times, but have not found so many things to see or do there.   When i have brought foreign tourists to the city, we spend a half day there.   If a museum or the zoo would be part of the itinerary then maybe a day.   

 

Yes, the cloudy grey winters...I do miss Colorado sunshine, but actually visiting a place in winter is a lot better way to know if you can stand living there.  Colorado sunshine is great, people move to the mountains because it's so beautiful in the summer, then winter hits and you're dealing with 50 - 80 mph winds for days on end.  Nine months of winter and the main snow doesn't hit until March/April, just when you really need spring to come.  Then the mud...  

Every place has its drawbacks...

 

I guess what I will try to scope out is what a place is like after I've done all the tourist things.  Will there be other things to keep me there?  Friends, activities, cheap rent, etc.

 

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7 hours ago, Maradel said:

That thread is a big flashing reminder to have some friends in Germany before I move, if I move.  And make sure I can actually SPEAK the language and COMPREHEND when native speakers talk to me.  I had been listening to public TV newscasters speaking Italian.  No problem understanding them or my Italian teachers.  Wow, no sweat, I thought!  But go out on the street and no one speaks that version of Italian!!!  

 

Word of warning - the dialect in Saxony is one of the most difficult to understand.    Parts of south Germany have some pretty thick dialects as well. 

 

By the way, German public radio/tv has some resources too if you are interested. 

 

https://www.dw.com/en/learn-german/s-2469

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14 hours ago, Maradel said:

PandaMunich,  wow, I have read through a lot of that thread.  You know, his experience sounds a lot like what happened to me when I landed in Italy, although I had done quite a bit of prep before taking off for Italy.

 

Sadly, he didn't post the end to his story, but I assume his cataract surgery went well, otherwise he wouldn't have been looking 10 months after the "cataract" thread into how to replace his UK driving licence by a German one:

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, balticus said:

Word of warning - the dialect in Saxony is one of the most difficult to understand.    Parts of south Germany have some pretty thick dialects as well. 

 

By the way, German public radio/tv has some resources too if you are interested. 

I guess every language will be like that, but if I'm there while I'm learning, maybe my ear will pick up more.  That's the theory anyway :)

 

Thanks for the suggestion about public radio & TV.  I actually have not had a real TV for a couple decades, so it's not usually the first thing I think about, but RAI in Italy has been helpful, and I just watch/listen on my computer.

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PandaMunich, I have to say I am in awe of your information searching skills!  I had a consulting business for a while providing a variety of kinds of information to biotech start-up companies (scientific, marketing, funding, etc), so I understand the process and appreciate your skill.  I also know it's fun!  But it also takes a certain kind of experience to be able to ferret out the misinformation from the real information and then organize it so that it's easy to understand.  I got into that work kind of sideways, but I'm curious, do you have a background in library science or some related area or just a natural knack??

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Oh, our Panda. You ain't seen nothing yet. Look at her tax advice threads (not all of them, that would take a while...)

 

She is an actual super-hero.

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I'm narrowing my search down a bit now.  There are 2 places I like in the Leipzig area, assuming they both will allow dogs.  One is farther out in the Kleinzschocker area (south west).  I like it because I'm more used to living out in the country, there is a park really nearby and a yard, which will be better for my dogs.  Ground floor (also better for my dogs). Easy parking and a wood stove, which might be nice since I'll be there in the winter.  It has other nice amenities that I used to take for granted in the US (dishwasher, washer, dryer).  The other apartment is close to the center of Leipzig, easy walking or biking to anything I might be interested in, more people nearby (probably better for learning German).  Same amenities, about the same price, first floor with lift. 

My dogs are older pekingese; really, animated couch pillows.   Walking them consists of me walking and them riding in their dog stroller for most of the way.  Stairs are not their favorite things, although they can manage a few.  They sleep about 20 hrs/day.

 

I'm having trouble deciding between these 2 apartments.  Any thoughts, suggestions?  Again, they might not allow dogs.  However, if they will consider dogs, usually saying that I'm a retired veterinarian adds points.

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19 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

She IS the force ;)

If she sleeps under a Star Wars duvet and carries a light saber in her purse, then I will reconsider 👻.

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