Retiring to Germany as a U.S. citizen

101 posts in this topic

 

@OldTymer

If I were you, I would try to spend six months here to get a real feel for things before making a full commitment to moving here. This maybe cheaper than moving over here completely and going back if you don't like it. I would say this to anyone moving to a place they are not familiar with, whether it's Germany or some tropical island. Speaking of which, the climate here is not really good. Do you want grey skies and precipitation almost all year around? There are a couple of other places in Europe which combine good weather, low crime rates and affordable housing, you know?...

I am also planning to possibly retire to Germany. Like Old Tymer, I am trying to get a feel for the cost of living. I have visited many times, but never actually lived there other than spending a summer in Munich.

 

I would try doing as you suggest. Living there for six months and seeing how I like it, and whether I can afford it. What bothers me is, how do I stay legally for more than ninety days. Likewise how could I find a place to rent for less than a year. Most short term rentals are a lot more expensive.

 

And for those of you, who make triple digit incomes--most of us retirees do not! So yes we have to figure out our expenses, and the best way is to ask others.

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OldTymer2008, I also forgot to point out that health care in Germany is somewhat "gentler" than the US. Many medications are plant-based or homeopathic, and "old remedies" are still often used. It's not that medicine is primitive, rather that folks here are less medicated that in the US. Whenever my daughter has been ill while visiting the US, the doctors always immediately prescribe antibiotics. They seem surprised when I first request something non-antibiotic. I was shocked to read that roughly one quarter of all American children are on some form of medication!

So I guess what I'm saying is that health costs here have a slightly different focus. Also, the increased exercise from walking/bicycling more helps keep you in shape too :-)

Hmm,

I hope you are still around Munich Mom! You sound like you might be able to help me with my biggest question. HEALTHCARE, or rather put health insurance. I am one of those Americans who has worked jobs which did not provide health insurance. I currently have not had any for quite awhile. I go to the doctor if I need to. I get checked out thoroughly, every couple of years. This last time ( three months ago) I was told " all your bloodwork came back negative, you are a very healthy man". I am 59, and do not take any medication, use mainly herbal supplements if I am feeling low. I eat a healthy diet, and stick to it. And yes I am totally familiar with German food! My family is German. Like the old saying goes, "everything in moderation". I am not a healthnut.

 

However, I am aware that to live in Germany I must have health insurance. I don't know about Germany, but here you can find reasonably cheap insurance, but it covers very little. Since you are not legally required to purchase insurance here, I never have. I pay as I go. What I need to know is, in Germany what do they require you to have. Total catastropohic coverage, or just simply medical coverage? Likewise here, you can go to an outrageously expensive doctor, or a simple walk in clinic. So I have no idea, without input. I don't expect everyone to do my homework, but it helps to have an idea.

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I can't see that there'd be a problem with residency because as a pensioner you'd have a fixed income - although the fluctuating exchange rate could cause you personal problems - and you couldn't therefore become a burden to the state. Where you might have a problem would be with provision of health care. If your US insurance has arrangements for Germany when you live here for a longer period it'd be OK. Otherwise, since 1 April 07, Germany insists that all citizens have adequate health insurance. The only temporary exception is certain self-employed people, but they also have to comply by mid 2008. The minimum provision runs at approximately €200 per month, in most cases you could expect to pay upwards of 50% more. Don't under-estimate this issue. If you need further advise come back to me.

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Sorry I cannot help you with the health insurance issue OldTymer2008, but I can tell you this. NRW is a great part of Germany to live in. The people are very friendly, there are so many cities within such a short distance (talking about the Ruhrgebiet) and the climate is relatively mild compared to other areas of Germany. I am not a German expert by any stretch of the word, but I did live in Hamburg for 5 years. It's a beautiful city but a far cry from NRW. I guess I basically wanted to reinforce your positive view of the state and let you know I do not think wanting to retire in Germany is all that wrong. Good luck!

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looking for info on this topic for a friend.

 

And since it seems Oldtymer didn't stick around TT long enough to give an answer, I'll ask again...

 

Has anyone gone through the process? Do you have any tips or info to make it easier?

 

Friend has Tricare, pension and finances are more than sufficient, has family in Germany.

 

thanks for your input.

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I am a retired police officer, I got to see the real gritty side of Miami, if any of the readers got to see the things that I saw over my career they would understand why I don't want to live in Miami. I don't think anyone in Germany has seen a dead body after a car bomb went off, have they? Miami is known as the drug gateway of the US.

I thought about Italy but its almost as crime ridden as S. Florida. I value a place where I don't have to sleep with a semiautomatic pistol underneath my pillow.

I remember the story of a NYPD officer, Frank Serpico, who went off to Switzerland because he got sick of New York. That is my sentiment on Miami.

 

I've seen Dexter and Burn Notice on TV, and can understand not wanting to live Miami.

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I have Tri-Care Plus...as a retiree but I worked for the Dept of Defense. I do have a co-worker that even though he is DOD he is not retired so he has German Health Insurance. I will talk to him on costs and the name of the company and relay back on this forum.

 

I know that to retire here in Rheinland Pfalz is not that hard because the local Auslander Behorde is use to dealing with Americans. Plain and simple: How much you make a month, Health Insurance, and Place you will live. Maybe a Police check to make sure you are not a criminal or terrorist or fleeing persucution.

 

Other than that the Auslander Behorde here is pretty nice to Americans.

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thanks Vman.

 

i won't go into too many details, but this is just a simple move to Germany to retire, so no work history or anything.

 

also wondering if they want to see a certain amount of money in a German account.

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It depends on the Auslander Behorde. Though the Aliens Law is federal like the USA, the states in Germany are the ones that enforce it. In other words it depends on the particular Aliens Authority and the person working there processing the paperwork. What my Friends here gave them was a copy of their Current Retirement Earning Statement (monthly) and Current Bank Statement or statements. Of course if you have good funds in the bank then it doesn't hurt to show them this. The USA has a freindship agreement with Germany which allows Americans an easier process but still have to show you will not be a burden to the state. The USA is one of the few countries outside the EU that Germany allows American Citizens to come here as a tourist on your VISA waiver ( 3 months without a visa)and actually apply to stay and work while here. The USA is also looked at as a privilage country where you may have high rate of approval to stay. I think proving to them that you have the resources, wanting to learn their laws and culture, and learn some languege skills will get you cool points with the Aliens Authority.

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I am researching the idea of starting a retirement community in Germany near Kaiserslautern much like those found in the States. It would be marketed to the large expatriate population from the USA living in the area but would not exclude Germans or those wanting to move to Germany.

 

I have a 10 year working knowledge of the military system in Germany as well as being experienced in the German system with its visa and working requirements. I am currently working with a German attorney on the feasibility of the project and would like to start marketing to the population.

 

Would anyone on this forum be interested in living in such a community? What would your expectations be for cost and care? I would appreciate your input as this project takes shape.

 

James

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What is an American retirement community? Never heard of it. Sounds depressing to be quite honest. As you are a new member, you must be understanding that members on this site are from all over, not only the U.S.A. Do Americans retire to Germany? I don't think I know any. Based on this thread, although I could be mistaken, it doesn't seem to be too many that are.

 

If a retirement commnity is what I am imagining, I would not be interested. I am semi-retired and the thought of being around others like me would probably place me in a Seniorenheim a lot sooner than I would hope.

 

Good luck with your idea.

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There are many assisted living facilities in the USA. They are quite popular especially in warm weather states like Florida, Arizona, and California. Here is a link to one that explains what is meant by a retirement community. Pacifica Santa Clarita

 

I understand there are many people on the site that are not Americans. I have seen numbers of retired Germans languish in a home they cannot maintain only to be sent to an Altersheim until they die. Their lives would have been much better if they would have moved to an assisted living facility willing to help them with some daily needs so they could live as independently as possible for as long as possible.

 

People of all ages need help in life. Families provide that help but retired Americans in Germany and many Germans have no families because they had no children or they retired from the military and do not want to return to America. Younger retirees may be fit and do not need assistance but as time goes by and life becomes harder, moving to a place that can provide assistance can be a wise choice.

 

Thanks for the input!

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Why Germany? It doesn't have the sort of climate people are looking for, the system, doctors etc all speak Geman, and Germany's expensive (including medical treatment). Doesn't make sense to me at all.

 

I've lived here for over 20 years and love the place, feel totally integrated, but I am thinking that when I retire I'll practically be forced to go somewhere else (cheaper) to do alright.

 

Guess you could set up a luxury settlement for rich bilingual people who like snow and rain :lol:

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I guess the retirees would have to be wealthy.

German retirement homes or living arrangements are basically

Seniorenheim: Housing (mostly without own furniture), basic medical care and the accomodations range from awful to decent.

Seniorenresidenz: More like a hotel, uptown tastes, pets and own furniture often allowed. Medical care, entertainment and so on.

Senioren-WG (geriatric flat share): Flat share with mobile medical care, food delivery, depends on what they need

Betreutes Wohnen: Retirees have their own appartments, furniture and additional services and care if they need it. I guess this is the aequivalent to assisted living facilities.

 

The problem is the wages of care takers and insurance. You'd have to hire qualified medical staff in Germany, and the retirees would have to be insured to get the necessary treatment and care.

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I guess the retirees would have to be wealthy.

German retirement homes or living arrangements are basically

Seniorenheim: Housing (mostly without own furniture), basic medical care and the accomodations range from awful to decent.

Seniorenresidenz: More like a hotel, uptown tastes, pets and own furniture often allowed. Medical care, entertainment and so on.

Senioren-WG (geriatric flat share): Flat share with mobile medical care, food delivery, depends on what they need

Betreutes Wohnen: Retirees have their own appartments, furniture and additional services and care if they need it. I guess this is the aequivalent to assisted living facilities.

 

The problem is the wages of care takers and insurance. You'd have to hire qualified medical staff in Germany, and the retirees would have to be insured to get the necessary treatment and care.

 

What does wealthy mean??? The community would be in the Seniorenresidenz or betreutes wohnen category. Would there be a need for qualified medical staff if the residence is not a medical facility?

 

Thanks for the input as you have added some more information to the idea.

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Why Germany? It doesn't have the sort of climate people are looking for, the system, doctors etc all speak Geman, and Germany's expensive (including medical treatment). Doesn't make sense to me at all.

 

I've lived here for over 20 years and love the place, feel totally integrated, but I am thinking that when I retire I'll practically be forced to go somewhere else (cheaper) to do alright.

 

Guess you could set up a luxury settlement for rich bilingual people who like snow and rain

 

Thanks for the input as well! What does cheaper mean? What kind of monthly expense would be in order for a 1 bedroom apartment that provided 24 hour assistance if needed. There would be the liaison service to the German systems (rathaus, banking, rentenversicherung, medical, +++). Nebenkosten and meals would be included with transportation services as well.

 

Imagine coming from America for a year to live in Germany as a retiree into a place that will meet all your needs and provide you a base to travel as well as call home. Again, there are many American military retirees living in the Kaiserslautern Community that are dependent on the military systems yet have little help with the German systems they are bound to because they live off of the base. Where can they go when they are alone and have no one in America to turn to?

 

You ask why Germany. Because I understand the German as well as the American military systems. Germany is cheaper for lebensmittel and healthcare. American medical care costs at least 3 times what German medical care costs. I have experienced self pay in both systems within the last year.

 

Here is the quote from the first post that started this thread...

 

"I am an American citizen interested in retiring in Germany. I used to be a civil servant in Miami, FL where I currently reside. I traveled to Germany nearly a dozen times over the past six years and would love to spend my retirement years there, it also seems to be easy to get to Italy from there, frankly I prefer colder weather. I am getting both social security and my retirement pension. I am also ex US military but was in Okinawa when I was in the service. I heard of American servicemen living there, I was wondering if I could get a residency permit. I have a regular source of income, and actually found the cost of living to be cheaper than South Florida, I am currently spending a winter holiday in the NRW and I really like it."

 

I could help this kind of person and I bet there are many more like him. Again, if you would stay into retirement, what would be a fair monthly fee for such a community?

 

I really appreciate your time and input!

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Very much depends on the insurance. For a German with a German Pflegeversicherung the monthly costs can amount to 5000 Euro, but part of that is payed by the pflegeversicherung.

 

http://www.seniorenz...rk.de/1507.html

 

Pricelist of the DRK Kaiserslautern, fulltime medical care. Prices of private homes might be even higher.

 

 

Would there be a need for qualified medical staff if the residence is not a medical facility?

This is Germany. Even the girl who sells you buns has to have a three-years training.

 

You need trained medical staff for medical care. You don't need medical staff for cleaning. But the wages and rights of employees are quite different in Germany, they all have to be insured. And even if they don't need medical care if they move in, would they be kicked out if they needed it?

 

Maybe John G knows more about the insurance situation for ex military. I couldn't tell you.

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