A Step-by-step Guide to Immigrating to Germany

Germany, and in particular the city of Berlin, is a very popular hub for expats and digital nomads. The relatively low cost of living, together with a friendly and intellectual atmosphere make it a perfect place for expatriation. The biggest disadvantage of this city is that it is incredibly difficult to find a job that will suit you, but as a nomad who is working on his global business, it’s really an advantage.

Here’s how you should prepare to move to Germany:

1. Pre-preparation. 

Munich Airport, GermanyPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Munich Airport by erix-pix

Before doing anything else, you need to ensure that you’re eligible for so much as entering another country – let alone one as advanced and as in demand as Germany.

Make sure you have a valid passport. Determine the type of visa you need to live and work in Germany. If you’re a citizen of the European Union you don’t need any visa at all, nor do you if you’re a citizen of Switzerland Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland. For everyone else, the type of visa you need depends on the purpose of your stay as well as your skill levels or education. These include everything from self-employment visas for freelancers or the self-employed to limited job-seeking visas that allow six month entry into Germany to look for a job. Best of all, though, is a work visa that allows professionals like doctors, IT specialists or engineers to live and work indefinitely anywhere in the European Union by being granted an EU Blue Card.

If you aren’t eligible for a visa that allows for temporary residence in Germany or if you wish to extend your stay beyond your visa’s term limit, you will need to get a residence permit. Along with the conventional residence permit, you can also apply for a family reunification permit or a settlement permit, which can be applied for five years after living on a residence permit.

2. Finding work, residence and other specific preparations for your move to Germany.

BerlinPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Berlin by johnas

Unless you’re working off a job-seeker, student, nomad or other such temporary visa, it’s highly recommended that you look for certain basics to ease and, at times, even enable your move from one country to the next.

Germany has some of the highest salaries in the world to go with a fairly high tax rate and as a highly developed country that is among the leaders of the world in a number of industries, employment opportunities are highly lucrative and also highly in demand. To maximize your chances of getting a good job, emphasize your efficiency in your job applications (Germans love efficiency) and, obviously, the more skills and education you have the higher your chances of obtaining a world-class job. This is of course true for the rich areas in Germany like Bavaria, but as mentioned above – Berlin can prove to be very difficult in that respect.

Like most highly developed but not particularly large countries, property prices are no laughing matter so do your best to shop around and hire a real estate agent if you’re looking to buy. It might make sense to rent even just a temporary residence to start you off, especially if you’re coming from a country where your earning power/ currency is less than what you will ultimately be making in Germany.

Learn German to make your transition easier.

talkingPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Talking by theogeo

Decide whether to sell, keep or store your possessions and decide what to do with any property you currently own, weighing the benefits of, say, selling your house or renting it out. Again, considering the high costs of moving to a first-rate country like Germany, it’s always smart to ensure that you have the most amount of money with which to work.

Speaking of money, it’s also crucial to figure out how to move your money from your current country of residence to Germany and, if you’re coming from a country that doesn’t use the Euro, how to convert your money. For the latter, it’s highly recommended that you make use of a foreign exchange company over a bank to convert your money across countries. Here is a list of the most popular ones for transferring funds to Germany. Not only is it significantly cheaper both in terms of conversion and wire fees (the latter is often entirely free, in fact) but it also offers added bonus like a dedicated agent to cater to your needs, including opening a private bank account for you, holding your money for you until then. Foreign exchange companies also tend to have a wide network of vital contacts in related fields like mortgage and real estate.

3. Making the big move.

Frankfurt AirportPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Frankfurt Airport by bortescristian

Establishing your new life in Germany is obviously the most individualized part of the process. In many respects, life in Germany is pretty typical of life in any major, developed country but, inevitably, there are unquestionably unique peculiarities to German culture that are worth learning. The orderliness and efficiency are things that stand out most to new migrants but Germans are also far friendlier than the stereotypes would suggest and far, far more liberal and open-minded too. Germany’s exceptional relationship with most if not all other major developed countries in the world makes it just that much easier for foreigners to settle in to daily life there, while maintaining a sense of connection to where they came from. It’s hard to settle into any new country but with time, perseverance and some knowledge of the German language, making a new life for yourself in Germany is worth the effort.

Germany can be a very good choice for travelers, expats and nomads (which are somewhat of a cross between the latter). Do not hesitate to give it a try.

Note: This article is in collaboration with InternationalMoneyTransfers.org

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