Moving to Germany? 7 challenges you’ll face in Deutschland

Expat life
10 Aug 2023
8 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

Moving to Germany can be like entering a new dimension. It’s a bit like being on “Stranger Things,” where you may find yourself upside down!

Even though studying or working in Germany can open doors, there are a lot of challenges that come with the move – unravelling the language and local customs, embarking on a house hunt and more. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you navigate the challenges and ring that victory bell.

So, grab some currywurst, sit back, and let’s explore the woes of foreign students and expats in Deutschland.

German bureaucracy

Do you remember back in school, when the teacher would sternly tell you to “read the freaking manual”? Well, in Germany, that phrase might as well be inscribed on their coat of arms. See, the German bureaucracy operates on an RTFM system – the documentation of every process is all there and available for anyone to use.

If you don’t know what you need or how it works, don’t even think about asking the clerk or the waiter for help. Unless you want to be the recipient of their most cutting-edge rebuke and a firm invitation to read the manual.

For those hailing from other countries where the rules are more fluid and the people are more accommodating, adjusting to the German way can be a tad frustrating.

But that’s not the only challenge you’ll face once you set foot in this beautiful country.

Brace yourself, because everything in Germany moves like a glacier on a Sunday morning – slow and steady, with no sense of urgency. Whether you need to book a doctor’s appointment or wait for a construction worker to show up, you’ll have to learn the fine art of patience. You might as well bring a book to read and a thermos of coffee while you wait for your turn.
Remember, time is relative in Germany – grab a seat and enjoy the ride.

German language

Okay, let’s get real here – Germany may be all high and mighty with its top 10 ranking in English proficiency but don’t assume for a second that you can waltz in and get by without knowing a bit of German. It’s like expecting to survive a marathon with no training.

Even the folks who prepare for the language barrier find themselves sweating over the simplest tasks, like trying to collect a package from the post office. And let’s not forget that most people come here for work, leaving little time for language lessons.

The smart cookies who manage to scrape by are usually the ones who learned German beforehand and prioritised language learning over leisure time. Alternatively, there’s always the option of buddying up with some bilingual pals – “danke” very much!

German housing

House-hunting in Germany is like getting a new rule book!

But, just like any other chapter, it comes with its own set of mysteries. Some people are lucky enough to have relocation agents help them find the perfect place, whereas others have to navigate the confusing rental market on their own.

And once they finally find a place, they have to deal with the little things that make living in a new home a chore. What’s the deal with not having air conditioning? How do you even open a window? And why on earth aren’t there any kitchens?

Okay, we’ll admit, some regions in Germany do have kitchens, but it’s still all new territory.

Plus, if you’re dreaming of owning a house in Germany, you may want to adjust your expectations. Think of it like wanting to date a movie star – it’s a nice thought, but not exactly realistic. Buying property is no walk in the park, especially since renting is the norm and much more affordable.

Sure, it’s not as flashy, but it gets the job done. German renters know the game and are in it for the long haul, often staying put for a decade or more. So, while owning a home may seem like the ultimate goal, sometimes it’s better to just enjoy the ride and not worry about the destination.

Socialising in Germany is not going to be easy

Making new friends in Germany can be as challenging as solving a Rubik’s Cube. Germans are notoriously private, and gaining their trust to let a new person into their inner circle is like trying to win over a cat that’s already decided they’re not a fan of humans. The after-work pub culture that many expats rely on to meet people is also not as chatty as you’d expect. You’ll find people happily raising their steins, but not necessarily their voices in conversation.

Some expats retreat into their own little expat bubble, while others throw themselves into making friends with their colleagues and neighbours. And then there are those brave souls who venture into the world of Vereins, hoping to find like-minded souls who share their interests.
Making friends in Germany is no walk in the park, but if you keep at it, you’ll eventually find your squad.

Convenience may be a myth

Are you used to having everything done for you at the snap of your fingers? Well, Germany may take you out of your comfort zone.

With generally higher wages and fewer menial jobs, Germans don’t have a pool of low-wage labour at their beck and call. Don’t expect anyone to pack your groceries or take care of your kids for peanuts. And forget about the luxury of shops being open 24/7 – they actually close in the evenings and on Sundays. While food delivery does exist, it comes with a steeper price tag.

All in all, be prepared to do a lot more thinking and planning in your daily routine, which might get a little tiring. But hey, maybe the German culture will teach you the simple joys of self-reliance and preparation.

Lack of sunlight in Germany

German weather – a topic of endless fascination and occasional despair. If you hail from a tropical paradise, you may find yourself in for a bit of a shock when winter comes rolling around. We’re not talking deep freeze level here, but the lack of sunlight can definitely take a toll on your spirit.

Expect to feel particularly downtrodden during your first winter season in Germany. But hey, once you made it through that first winter, things started looking up. So, hang in there and keep some extra Vitamin D on hand – you got this!

German society is very rule-bound

Ah, Germany. A land of precision and punctuality, of order and efficiency. But what’s with all these rules, huh? Can’t a person make a little noise in their own apartment without getting scolded by the neighbours?

Apparently not. Germany is a rule-bound culture and they’re not afraid to enforce those rules with a stern talking or even a call to the police. And don’t even think about bringing that “I got mine, forget everyone else” attitude here.

The good of society trumps individual freedom in Germany, which can be a bit of a shock to immigrants from other cultures.

Plus, Germans are low-context communicators, so don’t expect any of that polite indirectness that other cultures use to soften the blow. It’s direct, it’s blunt, and some people find it rude. But hey, at least you always know where you stand. And that’s something, right?

Moving to Germany is still a good choice…

So, you’re thinking about moving to Germany, eh? By now you know that it’s not all bratwurst and beer gardens (although, those are definitely some perks).

The reality is, any move, whether it’s across town or across the world, comes with a period of transition. Germany has its own culture, language, and way of life, so be prepared for a bit of a learning curve.

But hey, you’ve got this! And who knows, maybe you’ll become a pro at speaking German and learn to appreciate the taste of sauerkraut. Anything is possible when embarking on a new adventure.

Before you go…

If you’re planning on studying or working in Germany, you need to brace yourself for the expenses that can add up pretty quickly. But fear not, financially-conscious friend! Instarem is here to save the day.

send money with Instarem

*rates are for illustration purposes only.

By using Instarem to send money abroad, you can rest assured that your precious funds will arrive safely and securely to their intended destination. Plus, just think of all the bratwursts and beer you can indulge in with the money you’ll save on transfer fees. Prost!

Try Instarem for your next transfer by downloading the app or sign up here.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.

About Instarem

Instarem stands at the forefront of international money transfer services, facilitating fast and secure transactions for both individuals and businesses. Our platform offers competitive exchange rates for popular currency pairs like USD to INR, SGD to INR, and AUD to INR. If you're looking to send money to India or transfer funds to any of 60+ global destinations, Instarem makes it easy for you. We are dedicated to simplifying cross-border payments, providing cutting-edge technology that support individuals and businesses alike in overcoming traditional fiscal barriers normally associated with banks. As a trusted and regulated brand under the umbrella of the Fintech Unicorn Nium Pte. Ltd., and its international subsidiaries, Instarem is your go-to for reliable global financial exchanges. Learn more about Instarem.

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