Recently moved to Germany - any advice?

77 posts in this topic

Hi, 

 

Apologies if I've posted in the incorrect place and also if you are bored of reading these kinds of posts. Please point me towards a blog or something if easier. 

 

I moved to Germany (near Braunschweig) 3 weeks ago with my wife (she's German) and our 7 month old daughter from the UK. We have been talking about moving here for a while and thanks to Covid I was made redundant so we decided to give Germany a try before Brexit hits. 

 

Luckily with my wife being German she has been able to sort out all the paperwork and get everything sorted for us. I'm starting a language course but it doesn't start until February. 

 

I know this is pretty general query but if anyone has advice on things we might need to help us get up and running that would be appreciated. 

 

Thanks in advance. 

 

Luke

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Done many times, Luke...but not your fault.

Main point - but maybe your wife has sorted it for you all- have you organised health insurance?

It is clear that you need public health insurance/ not working, child on board. Have you  or your wife done the leg work? Or presumed there is an NHS in Germany?

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12 minutes ago, Lukec said:

advice on things we might need to help us get up and running that would be appreciated. 

Have you registered (all 3 of you) with your local town hall?

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14 minutes ago, Lukec said:

 

I know this is pretty general query but if anyone has advice on things we might need to help us get up and running that would be appreciated. 

 

 

 

Have you gone to your local netto and bought all the toilet roll?

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Hi Luke (great name),

Did you join the Mieterverein? If not, do that ASAP. You can thank me later :).

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3 minutes ago, LukeSkywalker said:

Did you join the Mieterverein

But only if you are renting of course. OP's wife is German - they may well have property here. Just saying. :)

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Sounds like your wife has things under control- as others mentioned- : John G is an expert in health insurance.

 

Health Insurance must be top of your list. UK EHIC card is meant for tourists, visitors, emergency treatment.

Anmeldung/ Registration

Insurances - house, 3rd party etc

Auto registration, insurance. ADAC

Drivers licence- might be worth you quickly changing your UK licence for a German licence.

Bank account

TV licence

Remember that most contracts ( newspaper, gym, cell phone, etc) require 3 months cancellation, or will automatically renew.

 

Do check TT search function and type in relevant words- lots of newcomers searching for advice and info.

 

Good luck and enjoy life, Christmas.!

 

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Wow, thank you for all your replies. 

 

Firstly, yes we have health insurance sorted, with having a 7 month old and wife being pregnant AGAIN that was a priority. For some reason we could only go with the company my wife had when she was last here 12 years ago. Other insurance companies we preferred wouldn't accept us unless we first went back with them. 

 

We've registered at the town Hall, that was our first appointment in Germany. 

 

Not purchased Neto toilet roll yet but I'll look out for it. 

 

Mr Skywalker, I didn't know about the mieterverein. Thanks for the heads up, I'll investigate in the morning. We will be renting at the moment. 

 

@RedMidge some good suggestions there, do I need to take a test or anything to exchange driving licence to German? I've driven quite a bit in Germany but I don't understand the right before left logic. Fair enough at a cross section or something but if I'm driving a straight line road why do I have to stop to let someone from the right pull out?! Anyway...

 

Do you have any suggestions with banks? I tried to join DKB today but got rejected for not having a credit history. Are there others that I'd have a better chance of joining? 

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I see that you've already booked a language course for February. Hopefully, that's with the Volkshochschule and not a commercial company. The latter often cycle pupils in and out, letting new people join every Monday. That means that existing pupils have to "revise" to let the new ones catch up. Often they don't use a book, just random handouts. They also tend to wait with starting your course until they have enough pupils signed up, which could be any time.

Enjoy Germany!

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1 hour ago, Lukec said:

Mr Skywalker, I didn't know about the mieterverein. Thanks for the heads up, I'll investigate in the morning. We will be renting at the moment. 

 

@RedMidge some good suggestions there, do I need to take a test or anything to exchange driving licence to German? I've driven quite a bit in Germany but I don't understand the right before left logic. Fair enough at a cross section or something but if I'm driving a straight line road why do I have to stop to let someone from the right pull out?! Anyway...

 

Do you have any suggestions with banks? I tried to join DKB today but got rejected for not having a credit history. Are there others that I'd have a better chance of joining? 

 

I guess your wife knows this as a German but be aware that the utilities you are paying with your rent is an estimate.  Once the meters have been read at the end of the year, your landlord has up the end of 2021 to give you the detailed statement for the actual cost so if you use more heating and water than the estimate, you will pay, if you use less, get money back.

 

Be aware of personal liability insurance (haftpflicht).  It's cheap, everybody has it, you are expected to.  It will pay for damages you cause on other people's property.

 

Since the UK is no longer in the EU, you will have to swap out your UK license for a German license if you want to continue driving.  According to https://uk.diplo.de/uk-de/02/faq-informationen-brexit/610518?openAccordionId=item-2296312-27-panel question 25, you have 6 months to do it. Visit the Führerscheinstelle and ask.

 

We just had a bank discussion on another thread, see https://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/topic/389116-recommendation-for-joint-bank-account/  Many banks here offer free accounts if you have a certain amount going in every month.

 

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Welcome to Germany.

    

First to come to mind...register with a Hausarzt (GP), Kinderarzt (children’s doctor if not covered by GP) and Frauenarzt (gynaecologist)...especially as your wife is pregnant...congratulations!

 

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6 hours ago, LeonG said:

Many banks here offer free accounts if you have a certain amount going in every month.

Some do even if you don't have money going in. N26 for example.

 

6 hours ago, LeonG said:

personal liability insurance (haftpflicht).  It's cheap, everybody has it

Many foreigners and some locals won't even know what this is. I don't really think everyone has it. :)

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On personal liability insurance...  My husband and I are American and we had a mishap with an awning at our former residence.  Because the guy who used to board our dogs required pet liability insurance, we ended up buying personal liability insurance, too.  Lo and behold, we used it.  Our ex landlady was not expecting us to have it and was probably disappointed that we did, since she wanted us to buy her a new awning (she claimed 2800 euros) and the insurance would only pay for the value of her 17 year old crappy one (about 300 euros).  She made such a huge deal out of it, that we also ended up getting legal insurance (also very good to have if you aren't German, IMHO), and we used that, too, when ex landlady illegally withheld our Kaution to cover the cost of her dream awning.  I'll bet it works on remote control.  ;)

 

We sued her and got a settlement, which she has yet to pay...  but the point I'm making is that we've used the insurance.  It doesn't cost much and if you have a problem, you can go to them for help.  Pet liability insurance is also good to have if you have pets.  

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Find one grocery store first and get comfortable before trying all the others. My husband doesn’t cook and ate mostly packaged/frozen food as a single guy, so he didn’t know all that much about groceries here even though he’s German. When I first arrived, shopping at one market for the first few weeks helped orient me towards the types of products here, what normal prices are, and the basic language for getting around.
 

Culture shock is real, even with grocery shopping and coming from a similar western background (I’m American). Don’t get too upset if you find yourself having a meltdown in the canned goods aisle because you can’t find your cart, ask me how I know. 

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Welcome to Germany (and Braunschweig!)

As others have mentioned finding a doctor is a logical next step.

When you first go you'll be asked to fill in a form which seems quite daunting - but its similar to what you'd receive in the UK, any known allergies, any medication taken, details of pre-existing conditions etc etc.

 

Maybe not relevant as you have a German speaker on hand, but you can search for a Hausarzt etc by languages spoken here:

https://www.arztauskunft-niedersachsen.de/ases-kvn/

 

I know some decent places to go for a coffee etc in town (takeout only at the moment, obviously), feel free to drop me a message.

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As for your driving licence, there's no need for a new test: take your UK licence to the town hall along with a copy of your passport, and see if they will change it for you. If you've got a new"ish" licence (so you're about 40 or under) you should be able to swap quickly. It's more complicated if you passed your test before about 1990.

The main advice is that if you ever see any proper (i.e. not Canadian/Irish) cheddar for sale in your local supermarket, buy it all.

Glad you've booked on a language course, but don't sit around waiting for it to start. In my opinion, if you are serious about integrating, then language is absolutely crucial. Don't expect the natives to all speak English, and try not to take advantage of those who offer to muddle their way through with their school English. There are online language resources, also try to read bits from papers and watch bits on TV. I'd suggest starting with translated/dubbed books and films (ideally films with subtitles on too, so you can link the words to the sounds), rather than going say, straight for the Thomas Mann classics.   

 

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I had no problem swapping my ancient, falling to bits paper UK driving  licence. You generally go to the local Strassenverkehrsamt to get it done, which may or may not be in the town hall.

 

Language skills are essential,  get your wife to converse mercilessly in German every day for as long as you can both stand it! So many misunderstandings and misperceptions of people's intentions here (arrogance, unfriendliness stereotypes) stem from basic language cluelessness.

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10 hours ago, Lukec said:

Wow, thank you for all your replies. 

 

Firstly, yes we have health insurance sorted, with having a 7 month old and wife being pregnant AGAIN that was a priority. For some reason we could only go with the company my wife had when she was last here 12 years ago. Other insurance companies we preferred wouldn't accept us unless we first went back with them. 

 

We've registered at the town Hall, that was our first appointment in Germany. 

 

Not purchased Neto toilet roll yet but I'll look out for it. 

 

Mr Skywalker, I didn't know about the mieterverein. Thanks for the heads up, I'll investigate in the morning. We will be renting at the moment. 

 

@RedMidge some good suggestions there, do I need to take a test or anything to exchange driving licence to German? I've driven quite a bit in Germany but I don't understand the right before left logic. Fair enough at a cross section or something but if I'm driving a straight line road why do I have to stop to let someone from the right pull out?! Anyway...

 

Do you have any suggestions with banks? I tried to join DKB today but got rejected for not having a credit history. Are there others that I'd have a better chance of joining? 

 

I have been here since mid 2018. As for banks, I got N26 since all the information was in English and I was new at the time. Planning on opening with Commerzbank soon since they have no fees as well. 

 

As for language schools I hear VHS is full of unmotivated students (especially the afternoon classes). I went to Tandem (a private language school) and took the morning intensive courses from A1 to C1.2. The class was full of young students wanting to enter University. Given the stress of maintaining their visa status in the country, they were definitely motivated and further encouraged me to improve quicker. I heard even at the private school, the afternoon classes tended to have less motivated students in general (housewives needing B1 for residence permits). So try to avoid if you can! Try to watch videos in the meantime and start with a couple of text books. I am sure you can do A1 and part or all of A2 on your own, especially where your wife is German. My issue was I spoke no German outside school, and it became quickly isolating. 

 

In terms of switching you license, do that asap. I went to the Ordnungsamt with just my passport and old license and asked them what I should do to switch licenses. Switching is called "Umschreibung der ausländischen Fahrerlaubnis". I called it Umtausch since I didn't know the word Umschreibung at the time. As a Canadian, I needed to have a German translation of both sides of my drivers license and an experience letter showing how long I have had my drivers license for, my Canadian drivers license, my Aufenthaltstitel, my passport and a couple of photos. There was a fee, but it was cheap compared to what I was used to paying abroad so I forgot the number. It took about 2 weeks to get it. They made a mistake in the license so I had to wait another 2 weeks on top of it. I honestly didn't mind since I was expecting to wait months. But since the Ordnungsamt deals with Germans and foreigners they seem to be more efficient. 

 

Good luck. Toytown has been amazing here. I learned a lot just from reading old posts. 

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1 hour ago, Narjiz said:

As for language schools I hear VHS is full of unmotivated students (especially the afternoon classes).

 

True.  Foreigners who are on benefits get sent to the VHS.  When I went to VHS in Salzgitter, I was in a morning group and the majority of the group were on benefits and were being sent there.  There were actually young guys there, some by marriage and some Russians who actually stated that they saw their future in Germany as being on benefits.  However, that doesn't mean you can't do well in the course if you concentrate on your own learning.  At least one of my classmates had found a study program that was partially in English and was going to start that after B1 and another went to Braunschweig to do B2 because they were offering an every day course while SZ was only offering twice a week.

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