Germany offers so much more than Octoberfest, bratwursts, and pretzels! It’s the land of opportunity when it comes to tech jobs. If you’re willing to relocate for your dream tech position, then Germany’s booming industry could be the place for you.
According to an expat survey by HSBC, Germany is the eighth most popular country to move to, with its economic stability being one of the main reasons people choose to make German their new home.
Germany has a population of around 83.52 million, making it the most populous country in the European Union, of which it’s also the largest country. It’s divided into 16 states, each with its own constitution and capital. That said, there are few large cities in the country. Only Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne have a population of over 1 million. It’s no surprise then, that these cities are the employment hubs of the country.
As more and more expats relocate to Germany, it’s not difficult to find people who speak or understand English, especially in the aforementioned cities. That said, learning the native language will give you a huge boost in confidence when you are out and about, and will make life so much more comfortable for you as you try to settle into your new home.
Work Permits & Visas
If you are in negotiation with your new German employer, ask about the relocation package, specifically if they provide assistance with the paperwork for work permits and visas… you’re going to need it!
If you’re an EU member state citizen, then you can work in Germany without a permit. If not, the process will depend on your nationality and can be quite laborious. For further information on which countries require entry visas and work permits, you can check Germany-visa.org.
The Cost of Living and Quality of Life
The cost of living in Germany’s main cities is lower than many other major western European cities, but it can vary in-country. For example, Frankfurt and Munich are relatively expensive, while Leipzig and Jena are much more affordable, therefore the cost of living much depends on the area you relocate to.
According to the German Federal Statistics Office, the average household expenditure is about €859 a month, which includes housing, energy and maintenance. Lunch will set you back around €7–€12 in a cafe or restaurant or €5 for a sandwich. You can grab a cup of coffee for around €3–€4, and a beer for €2.50–€3.50.
In terms of quality of life, Germany ranks above average in the OECD Better Life Index. German cities score high in terms of infrastructure with quality public transportation, excellent education system and a high standard of healthcare and public services.
Where to Live and Work
Berlin isn’t just the capital of Germany, it’s Germany’s capital of tech with a new startup company popping up every 20 minutes. Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city and is also number two when it comes to the number of startups. The city also hosts offices for Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter as well as being one of Germany’s largest clusters for gaming companies.
Munich is also a great option with the headquarters of some of Germany’s biggest multinational corporations, such as Siemens and BMW, being located in the city. It’s also a hub for virtual reality, media and finance.
Renting an apartment is more popular for both locals and expats alike with a large number of high-quality properties to rent. Accommodation types range from trendy furnished apartments to cottages and large family homes.
You can easily find rental accommodation by looking online but if you do decide to use a real estate agent, be prepared to pay fees of up to two months’ rent plus VAT.
If you are relocating alone and worried about meeting people or making friends, then a house or flat share will be a good option. This option is known as “Wohngemeinschaften”, or “WG” in German, and is a kind of shared accommodation. You will have your own private room with a shared kitchen and bathroom and you’ll pay your share of the utilities.
Attitudes towards work in Germany tends to be on the more formal side, but of course it does depend on the company and the industry. Tech start-ups usually have a more modern approach to work culture with more flexibility than the traditional 9-5. That said, punctuality is still in high regard!
There is also a better work-life balance in Germany than in other European countries, with out-of-office hour emails and conference calls being extremely rare. You can also expect to enjoy up to 30 days annual leave, although the statutory minimum is 22.