Over the past few years, Germany has been the most popular destination for British citizens wanting to relocate to mainland Europe. Each year, thousands of young British professionals move to Germany for work. Germany, being the leading industrial economy on the continent, offers unlimited prospects for people who are looking for new opportunities.
But, when you decide to finally move to Germany, how do you even go about that? For most people, the prospect of moving is quite daunting. Where to begin? How to prepare? How avoid making costly mistakes?
If you're planning to move to Germany, you've likely asked yourself these questions over and over again -- it is understandable. This is doubly true if you're moving to a country where you don't speak the native language. Most people make mistakes, some of which can be really costly.
That's why, in this article, we've tried to simplify the process as much as possible. We'll lay out the details of an ideal move, and how a prospective mover can create a checklist so s/he doesn't overlook anything. Read on and you'll be able to avoid the most common mistakes and pitfalls that plague people moving from the United Kingdom to Germany.
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#1 Finding a Place to Live
Whether you're moving to Germany for study, work, retirement, or anything else, the first thing you want to do is find a place of residence in the country.
Although this might sound easier in theory than it is in practice: the housing market, although not as bad as the UK, is still bad. Housing is expensive, and there are shortages in some places.
Here are the things you need to take into account when deciding where to move:
What kind of house do you need? You should start by asking yourself which kind of house do you truly need? What's your family situation? Are you moving with your significant other? Do you feel comfortable living in a shared apartment? Each individual and their family will have different needs and desires, and they should be one of your guiding lights when making a decision about your housing in Germany.
What kind of services do you need? do you have kids that need to go to school? Do you need to commute to work every morning? Depending on why you want to move to Germany and your living situation, you might need very peculiar services. When choosing a flat/house, you need to keep these in mind.
What kind of money are you ready to pay? ultimately, the kind of residence you're going to get will be determined by how much you're willing to pay for it. If you have money to spare, you can get a house in an attractive place that's quite larger than what you might need. Keep in mind, however, when you move to a new country, you're usually prone to overspending during the first few months. If you're short in cash, you have to take that into account. It is better to be safe than sorry.
By taking all of these aspects into account, you can choose a suitable place of residence that can accommodate you for years. This should be the first on the checklist, and it requires the most amount of research. You might even need to travel temporarily to Germany to check the place yourself before you make your final move if you are really particular about the place of your residence. Otherwise, you can do all of it online.
#2 Sorting Out the Paperwork Involved
Now that you finally have decided on a place to stay, it is time to make sure you sort out all the paperwork involved, and this can be quite considerable if you're not careful.
For short stays, holidays, etc., people from the United Kingdom don't have to fill out any paperwork to move to and live in Germany, but if you want to make a permanent move, you have far more work to do.
British citizens can stay up to 90 days continuously in Germany without needing a residency permit. This is ample time for you to look for a job, apply to a university, etc. but, ideally, you have a valid job/study offer ready before you make your move. There is always a choice between a visa or residence permit, but the latter is almost always the right choice, especially if you're going to stay in the country long-term.
The first thing you have to do is try to get a long-term residency in the country. You'll likely either need a job offer, a study opportunity, or something along those lines for the authorities to give you residency.
But, be careful, you don't automatically have the right to work in the country without the correct residency permit. So, if you have a time-sensitive employment contract, you need to make sure you go to the Foreigners Authority "Ausländerbehörde"'s website and jot down all the paperwork you need.
This might sound complex, and it can be a lot of work, but it is a one-time process that you don't need to repeat once you settle in Germany, so take some solace in that. Depending on the job offer you've received, the company might be able to help you take care of everything. And in that case, you should definitely rely on them for support. Since if they're headquartered in Germany, and they are offering to help you relocate, they are familiar with the legal migration system, and they've helped other employees migrate as well.
#3 Preparing to Move
Now that you have your paperwork in order, it is time to take concrete steps to prepare to move. You have to take extra steps to be careful during this process because a single misstep can cause you a lot of headaches. Here are the concrete steps you can take to adequately prepare to move:
Make a detailed list of all the things you need to relocate to Germany: when you relocate to a whole another country, you're going to move a lot of luggage. Your clothes, your furniture, your personal computer, etc., etc. It is really hard to keep track of all these things during the day of the relocation, and this is why a lot of people forget stuff. You should prepare a list of all the important luggage that you absolutely can't do without, and if possible, you should prepare them for removal days prior.
Ensure that you don't leave important legal/commercial obligations behind: do you have any subscriptions? Do you have any legal obligations that might bog you down in the United Kingdom? When you move to a new country, it is nice to have a new start. That's why you should make sure you are not leaving behind any legal or commercial obligation in the weeks leading up to the relocation. You might need to visit UK government offices to clear some paperwork as well.
Take the final steps to finalize your decision: after you've successfully created a list of all the important items and cleared all your obligations, it is time to take the final steps necessary to prepare for the move: call the relocation company and agree on a date, meet your family and friends and say goodbye, and maybe throw one final party.
After taking these steps, you should be able to avoid the common pitfalls that people often face when preparing for a move. You'll be ready to move on to the next step.
#4 Dealing with a Relocation Company
After you've prepared properly, it is time to contact a relocation company to help you make the move to Germany. The relocation company will be responsible for transporting your luggage, equipment, furniture, etc. to your new home across borders, and if you choose the wrong service, you might end up with something unreliable, expensive, and potentially destructive.
To avoid that, here's what you should be looking for in a good relocation company:
Experience relocating people to Germany: does the relocation company have experience helping people move to Germany from the United Kingdoms? A lot of companies don't have cross-border expertise, and many more don't specifically know much about Germany itself. You need a company that's familiar with Germany, its cities and its streets. A company that, thanks to its vast experience, can help you relocate to the country without a lot of hindrances. A company specializing in international removals.
High standards of reliability and professionals: you're going to trust the removal company with items that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Items that can be very valuable to you. Items that can be absolutely personal to you. You need a company that can treat your items with the reliability and professionalism it deserves. When deciding on which relocation company to choose, you should ask about their employees' experiences, the cars, and tools they'll use, the guarantees they are able to give you.
Affordable prices: cross-border relocations can be very expensive, and for someone moving to a whole new country, you might be short on cash already. It is important to make sure you still pay proper attention to the price of the relocation companies as well. You don't want any hidden fees that might ruin your day later on.
Flexibility: what kind of luggage do you want to be relocated? What kind of furniture are you looking to move? What's the size of your family? Are you looking to move your company? Can everything fit in a small van? The answer might likely be no. This is why you need a relocation company that is flexible and can answer your needs. Whether you need a highly reliable removal service to move fragile items or you want to remove a large quantity of furniture, you need a company that can take care of it.
By scoring relocation companies on these four qualities, you can find a high-quality one that can truly and reliably take care of your international removals' needs.
#5 Unpacking and Taking Root: Health Insurance, Commute, Bank Access
After the relocation company helps you move all your items to Germany, it is finally time to take root in your new home. There are some steps here that you absolutely need to take to make life comfortable for you (and your family) going forward:
Unpacking and organizing your home: you can't relax if you leave half of your luggage, furniture, etc. unpacked for weeks and even months. Sadly, though, this is an all too common practice. To feel comfortable within your new home, you need to quickly unpack and make the house your own. Do you need any appliances that will make your life easier in your new home? Do you want to hang any photos or posters to feel more at home? This is the time to do it.
Getting health insurance: getting health insurance is required by law in Germany, so it is really important to get on it as soon as you move to the country. It is also a good proactive measure in case you feel sick or something along those lines. Thankfully, if you already have a job offer, you'll be automatically covered by your company. But it is important to inquire about what is and what's not included in your insurance. If you earn above a certain salary, you can even in a private health insurance company.
Creating a German bank account: although you might be tempted to keep your British bank, you might face some issues with access to branches and specific banking services. That's why it is always a good idea to open a bank account in one of the most popular German banks when you move there. Make sure the account is in Euro as well, since that'll be the currency you'll be using moving forward. But before creating a bank account, you likely have to have a tax ID number, so you must clear that with the German authorities.
Setting up your commute: how are you going to commute to work or study? That's a very vital question you need to ask yourself. Thankfully, if you have an international UK driving license, you have the right to drive in Germany as well, so that won't be a problem. Additionally, Germany has excellent public transport, so you don't need a car if you so choose. And on top of all this, all major cities are highly friendly to cycling, and so if you want to cycle to work or study, you absolutely can. The point here is that you have a lot of options, but you need to choose one quickly, and make sure you are adequately prepared for it. This should be quite easy.
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