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MOVING TO GERMANY FROM USA

One of the most sought-after destinations for Americans choosing to leave their country is Germany. Germany has been ranked 5th on the list of the world’s most favorable countries to move to.

If you are one of those seriously contemplating moving to Germany from the USA then we have got you covered. Germany has its share of beaches, forests, rivers, mountains, and enough landscape for nature enthusiasts to make a beeline there.

But the surprise doesn’t end there. Germany is also a perfect amalgamation of modern architecture and culture thereby providing enough goodies to the urban dweller.

Being one of the safest countries in the world (details of which we will cover as we move forward) Germany is a paradise waiting to be explored for those moving to Germany from the USA.

Not only are we going to give you a break-up of what to do while you plan about relocating to Germany from the USA, but we will also tell you what to expect once you get there.

Together we will tour Germany understanding the local customs and traditions, the people and the culture, we will also tell you what to do and not to among other things while in Germany.

So, stick with us as we take you through this beautiful Western European country.

FACT: Germany is famously called the land of Thinkers and Poets.

MOVING TO GERMANY FROM USA

VISA

As an American moving to Germany from the USA, you don’t need a visa initially. The visa-waiver program entails permanent residents of the United States of America to enter Germany without a visa.

Do I need a Visa to visit Germany from the USA?

Visa-For-Germany

This is a frequently asked question and if you are an American moving to Germany you should know that you do not need a Visa to enter Germany if you are going there for tourism or business or you are in transit at the airport.

This website holds complete information regarding visa, the documents required if you are an American, and the various steps to attain a Visa for Germany https://www.germany-visa.org/us/

How much is the visa from the USA to Germany?

A US citizen immigrating to Germany from the US will need to make the following fees to procure a visa.

  • If you are on a short-stay then the Schengen visa fee is 60 euros for you
  • A long-stay national visa for you will cost you a fee of 75 euros

Required Documents for Visa

When you apply for Visa, the following documents are mandatory for a US Citizen and US Green Card Holders:

  • You need a valid passport or valid travel documents issued in the last 10 years.
  • You will need to submit a valid US residence permit (Green Card) or US residence visa with a validity of more than three months from the period you intend to travel to Germany
  • You will need to fill, sign and submit the German Visa application form
  • Passport sized photo is a mandatory requirement
  • A valid document which certifies the reason and purpose for visit
  • You will also need a proof of financial subsistence which depicts that you have enough funds to spend a certain sum of money ($50) per day per person.

CITIZENSHIP

Now that you have figured out the procedure to procure a short-term or long-term visa and immigrate to Germany from the US, let’s move ahead and throw some light on the citizenship aspect.

You can apply for a residence permit either from the US or from Germany.

From the US: If you are applying from the US, then please visit the German Embassy in Washington DC or one of the German Consulates in major cities of New York City, Chicago among others.

Since you have a valid passport, you are allowed to enter Germany as an American moving to Germany.

Once you have extinguished the 90-day period allowed to you, you will need to get an elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel (eAT) which is nothing but an Electronic Residence Title.

Citizenship-in-Germany

Required Documents

Make sure you have sorted all required documents as given under:

  • You need to be in possession of a valid passport
  • You will need two copies of completed application form to be submitted for processing
  • Two photographs
  • Registered German residence address as confirmed by German authorities
  • Financial proof of subsistence such as bank statements, tax documents among others
  • Employment confirmation offer letter from Employer
  • Proof of health insurance procured
  • Fee payment receipts

You can get more information regarding German citizenship online by clicking https://www.germany-visa.org/immigration-residence-permit/moving-germany-from-us/

FACT: US and Germany allow dual citizenship.

There are various permits that you get. You can apply for:

  1. Temporary Residence Permit or Standard Residence Permit: which allows Americans to move to Germany for a short period of time
    1. Employment Purposes
    1. Studying Purposes
    1. Marriage Purposes
  2. If you are an individual possessing high skill sets and want to work in Germany you can even apply for the EU Blue Card.

You can also apply for one of the following:

Settlement Permit or Permanent Residence: This is the permanent German residency permit and is the equivalent to American Green Card.

From Germany: If you are relocating to Germany from the USA and applying while in Germany then your processing time is reduced drastically (while applying from the US, it takes an approximate period of 3 months for processing).

You will need to begin the application process immediately on arrival. Visit the German Alien Authorities (Ausländerbehörde) in whichever city you decide to set base.

The following steps need to be followed if you are applying for a residency permit:

  • Report the residence address to the German state authorities. You will need to supply the residence property deed. On receipt of which you will receive a certificate or letter of confirmation from the German State Authorities.
  • Get your health insurance coverage which is mandatory in Germany. We will cover this segment in detail as we go further.
  • You will need a German Bank account and thereby prove your financial stability and eligibility.
  • The Application Fee payment of 100 Euros need to be made if applying for the first time and a fee payment of 80 Euros if you are applying for extension.
  • You will have to prove that you have proficiency in speaking the German language.
  • Finally set up the Residence Permit appointment with the authorities who would check your documents and German language proficiency while conducting the interview.

BANKS

You will need to set up a bank account once you finish setting up after relocating to Germany from the USA. There are many popular banking institutions that you can bank with. Sparkasse – banking institutions that are run by the state are one of the most popular choices for ex-pats who just need a reliable bank account that they can access from anywhere in the country.

Banks-in-Germany

Online banking is a popular means for people in Germany to do their banking transactions. However, there is a charge of 3 EUR which roughly comes to $3.40 per month.

You have a plethora of choices when it comes to both international banks as well as German banks that you can choose from after moving to Germany from the USA.

TAXES

FACT: The period of assessment for Germany is between 1st January and 31st December.

You are eligible to pay taxes if you have stayed in Germany for a period of 183 days which is more than half of the calendar year. You are supposed to pay tax only on the amount you earn in Germany.

Germany follows a progressive tax system. This means as you earn more, you will be taxed more. If you are looking for more information on the cost of moving to Germany from the USA, then this section is one of the most important topics we have for you.

The tax rates in Germany can range anywhere between 0 and 45%. If you earn a salary up to 9744 EUR, then you end up paying 0% tax.

You are taxed at the national level, state level, and also by the municipalities. It’s the responsibility of the Federal government to set national taxes.

These taxes include income tax, customs, and taxes related to exports. The Value Added Tax (VAT) is also decided at the national level.

The Federation and the States end up dividing the money collected from both Income Tax and VAT. This happens on the basis of a quota system.

You pay the municipalities for taxes on homeownership and for the amount you are taxed for staying in hotels.

Some of the common taxes that you pay in Germany are as follows:

  • Self-Employment tax
  • Church Tax
  • Corporate Tax
  • Social Security

Are taxes higher in Germany than in the US?

and the answer would be yes. The average tax burden incurred by a taxed individual in America would be less by about 10% of the GDP than in Germany.

In the year 2014, BBC did an article on which country had the highest tax. Even though it is difficult to compare the taxes of different countries.

On comparing the earnings of a fictitious individual earning $400,000 with a mortgage, family responsibilities, and other aspects and it was found that the wage earner takes home 60.45% in America, while in Germany he would take 60.61% of his salary.

The reason for Germany’s higher tax rates is because of the percentage of social contributions that it goes into.

If we were to show Tax Rates in Germany vs the US in the form of a table then it can be summarized like this:

TaxesGERMANYUSA
Taxes on Income53%63%
Taxes on Property4%13%
Taxes on Consumption42%25%

JOBS

One of the first things you need to land a job in Germany is basic knowledge of conversational German. You might be worried

how to move to Germany without a job?

Don’t worry because in this section we will give you tips on landing the perfect job so that you can move to Germany without worrying.

There are diverse opportunities available in Germany if you are willing to move to Germany. Germany offers amazing growth opportunities coupled with exceptional career choices for those in IT, Financial sectors among others.

Some of the most popular job-related websites hold potential opportunities for many ex-pats and should be the first place to visit in your research. We are listing some of the popular ones here:

  • Glassdoor
  • Xing
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed

Learn how the Germans prefer their CVs and write a good cover letter that will help you get a foot in the door.

How to Find a Job in Germany in English?

You can also access the following websites for hints on job offers in Germany which you can apply for with knowledge of English.

  • English jobs
  • Craiglist
  • The Local
  • Toplanguage jobs

If you need another source to know what are the various jobs and other training opportunities available for an American moving to Germany, you can refer to the website here – https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/en/welcome

Can a US citizen get a job in Germany?

It always pays to know the local language. If your knowledge of German can’t pass muster then you might get jobs that are more infrequent and irregular in nature. What will be on offer will be low-paying jobs which are casual and informal.

If you are qualified for the job and work in a segment that has high levels of shortage then you will be an ideal candidate for working in Germany.

Once your qualification checks out by the relevant German Authorities you will have many job offers lined up.

You can also go the self-employment route. Freelancers account for a small percentage of ex-pats moving to Germany from the USA. Of course, you will be out of the social security net and will need to keep finding regular jobs. However, there are so many professions to choose from and if you are qualified in any one of the following, then self-employment is your route for moving to Germany from the USA:

  • Medical professionals
  • Teachers
  • Lawyers
  • Photographers
  • Artists
  • Graphic Designers
  • Fitness experts

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HEALTH

We will give you an overview of the healthcare facilities in Germany. Germany is a nation that has some of the best healthcare facilities for its people.

Health-Center-In-Germany

As an American moving to Germany, you would be in safe hands as Germany is extremely serious about the healthcare infrastructure.

It can get pretty overwhelming for you to understand the healthcare system and we will try and pack it in a nutshell for you. One of the first things you should appreciate is the compulsion on health insurance.

Germany has a free public healthcare system for all legal residents residing in the country. This is completely funded by social security contributions.

All basic healthcare aspects like treatments and immunization, prescriptions services as also dental checks.

In US, the healthcare contribution to GDP is 17.1% while in Germany it is 11.1% of GDP. American healthcare is popular for being inaccessible and unaffordable.

It is also of questionable quality, whereas in Germany healthcare is accessible for the majority.

When compared head-to-head the funds collected for health in Germany ranked higher (8th) than America (11th) for the overall healthcare system in the Commonwealth fund rankings.

You can have access to public healthcare insurance by registering with the German authorities and making your mandatory social security contributions.

You can also access private healthcare provided your earning capacity makes you eligible. If you are earning an annual pay package of more than 62550 EUR ($69,600) have the option of choosing private health insurance.

You will have to go through stringent medical checkups, share complete information regarding your medical history, and submit proof of income to complete the complicated process of applying for private health insurance.

There are a few well know public healthcare insurance providers such as

  • AOK
  • TK
  • Barmer GEK

The private healthcare insurance providers in Germany are

  • AXA
  • Allianz Private Krankenversicherung
  • Signal Iduna

We recommend acquiring German health insurance as soon as you are done moving to Germany from the USA. On average the spending per individual on healthcare in Germany is €4,000.

For every first visit to the doctor that you make in a quarter you have to make a payment of €10-15. This is only if you have the opportunity to make a visit.

EDUCATION

If you are looking for top-quality education, then Germany is one of the best countries to move to. You have a wide bouquet of schools to choose from. You can choose from either of the following:

  • Public schools – schools maintained and paid by Government.
  • Private schools – schools funded by parents and state subsidies
  • International schools – schools offering internationally recognized qualification

In this section, we will give you a breakdown of the education system in Germany. Rest assured you are accessing world-class education if you finalize relocating to Germany from the USA.

FACT: Germany’s public schools teach all courses in German.

The school system in Germany can be broken down based on the age your child is at:

School LevelAge
Preschool / KindergartenWhen the child is between the age of 3 and 6
Primary SchoolFor children between the ages of 6 and 10
Secondary SchoolFor children between the ages of 10 and 18

The Secondary school level can be divided into three phases with options available dependent on the abilities of students:

  • Orientation – for students aged 10 to 12
    • Gymnasium is the for high-performing students which leads to university.
    • Realschule leads to vocational training which is for mid-level students.
    • Hauptschule is a slower-paced school.
    • Gesamtschule is a comprehensive school which is a combination of the other three school types.
    •  
  • First Phase comes after Orientation and is for students aged 12 to 15
  • Second Phase comes after First Phase and is for students between the ages 16 and 18

Most ex-pats choose The International Schools and there are many schools across all the states in Germany, and switching between international schools is very easy.

Some of the best International Schools in Germany are:

  • Munich International School
  • Berlin International School

PROPERTY/ HOUSING

One of the challenges you might face on moving to Germany from the USA is finding a place of accommodation.

Usually, it is rental properties that ex-pats look for. However, ex-pats find tough competition from the locals who prefer renting rather than owning properties.

We will tell you everything that you need to know about finding housing in Germany. There are different kinds of property you can choose from such as bungalows, apartments, farmhouses, cottages, and semi-detached properties.

You can find real estate listings in local newspapers, word of mouth, online advertisements on popular real estate websites in Germany. You will find the average rent on properties is slightly on the lower side at $1400.        

To help you understand the amount of money you might need to shell out for acquiring a property on rent, we will share some figures:

HousesRent (approx.)
One-bedroom apartment in the city center$770
One-bedroom apartment on outskirts$570
Three-bedroom apartment in the city center$1500
Three-bedroom apartment in outskirts$1100

You will need to furnish certain documents at the time of seeking to rent out properties:

  • Application with your details
  • Passport or Identification card
  • Proof of salary
  • Credit report to show your credibility
  • Bank statements
  • Documents showing you don’t owe any money with previous house owners

If you are not someone who wants to rent a place, then buying a property as a foreigner might be one of the best investment decisions you take. You can buy a house in Germany without a residence permit.

The costs of various types of housing for purchase can be as under:

Types of HousingCost(approx.)
Apartments$6400
Family Homes$4500
Prime real estate (Luxurious) in City$380000 – $760000

LIVING Cost

It is a dream come true for many to move to Germany. Not only is it one of the best places in the world to shift to but also undoubtedly the best when it comes to thriving and growing.

Though the cost of living in Germany has been going up over the years, compared to America, Germany still offers a pretty competitive rate.

You might wonder if it is costly to live in Germany? And the answer would be that Germany has a fair share of places that are much coveted for moving such as Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich among others.

But it also has other places in these 16 States where it would cost you less than staying in any of the top cities all over the world.

Comparing America and Germany you would realize that your home country is much more costly on the basis of housing and rent. We have a table where we will compare the cost of living in Germany with the USA. That would give you a fair idea:

PARTICULARSGERMANYUSA
A basic meal in a restaurant$12.44 (approx.)$14.25(approx.)
Grocery$7(approx.)$8 (approx.)
Gasoline$1.70(approx.)$0.69(approx.)
Schooling$14500 (approx.)$16000(approx.)
Clothing (Jeans and Shoes)$200 (approx.)$150(approx.)

Considering all the facts associated with healthcare costs, household expenses, rent prices, utilities, we can assume that it is cheaper to live in Germany than in America.

Is Germany a good place to live like an American?

We would answer that question in the affirmative. If you like your streets clean and prefer enough money in the bank accounts at the end of the month.

If you cherish a good education for your children and crave affordable healthcare, then Germany is a great place to live as an American. Also, it is pretty easy to immigrate as the Cost of moving to Germany from the USA can be quite easy in your pockets.

FACT: The 16 states in Germany are called Bundesland

Here are a few facts about living in Germany:

  • Everyone has access to universal health care.
  • The work life balance is amazing as employees have one of the shortest working hours compared to other developed nations.
  • Public transport system is super-efficient and amazing.
  • The Local citizens aren’t extremely welcoming and friendly.
  • The lack of variety in food can be quite disappointing for many. Also, Germans like it bland.
  • The taxes which are extremely high can be a deterrent.

BEST PLACES TO LIVE IN GERMANY

Now Germany is relatively a safe haven for ex-pats looking to settle down and wondering how to move to Portugal from the USA and we are here to help:

Berlin: The capital city of Germany is undoubtedly one of the most trending and sought-after places in Germany

Frankfurt: which has the distinction of being Germany’s financial capital

Munich: Ranked high for the quality of life and infrastructure facilities, Munich is also much sought after.

Düsseldorf: One of the most popular destinations coveted by the ex-pats. The city is extremely positive as far as career and culture go.

Hamburg: Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany and also offers great architecture with awesome spaces to socialize.

Nuremberg: If you are looking for a place with less hustle and bustle and more relaxed in nature then Nuremberg is the choice for an American moving to Germany.

Stuttgart: Close in proximity to the hills, valleys, and parks Stuttgart is a car enthusiast’s paradise. It also offers high-quality life with enough options to keep you busy with markets, theaters, parks, and so on.

Bonn: If you are looking for well-paying salaries and small to medium-sized business firms to work for then Bonn is the place to be. A modern well-developed city with a multi-cultural community and cultural environment makes Bonn the perfect choice for many ex-pats.

Cologne: A very well-developed economy coupled with tremendous potential for business houses and industries Cologne is the perfect mix of modern meets traditional.

Leipzig: This is an industrial city and provides amazing variety in terms of wages and available jobs. It undoubtedly ranks high in Germany for the crown of best places to work in Germany.

CULTURE AND CLIMATE

Culture-Or-Climate-of-Germany

FACT: 95% of Germans speak the different dialects of the German language.

What makes Germany unique is the beautifully crafted amalgamation of people, language, and traditions. The Holy Roman Empire has played a role in shaping and influencing the rich history and traditions in Germany.

As an American moving to Germany, you might find it difficult to initially make sense of the Germans. Many describe the Germans as having a tough exterior that masks the soft and sweet interior that they possess.

What are some cultural norms in Germany?

There are etiquettes that need to be followed by everyone. The Germans are very particular about maintaining their public places. Spitting is an extreme no-no. As is encroaching on someone’s personal space.

There is a strict no-smoking in public places law that enforces a tough rule. Germans are also particular about following traffic rules.

Typically, people prefer western clothing in Germany.  65 to 70% of Germans recognize Christianity as their religion, out of which 29% account for Catholics. 36% of the population claim to either not have any religion or belong to other religions.

Potatoes and sauerkraut make up a stable and regular ingredient in the majority of German cuisine.

Germany is a nation that promotes reading. An estimated 94,000 books are published and printed in Germany

Fact: Frankfurt Book Fair which is considered as one of the most important events related to books happens in Germany.

Climate

Germany has a very favorable climate, much liked by everyone. It’s pretty moderate with the summer and winter not over-extending their stay.

Currently, however, Germany has been in the clutches of extreme cold climate owing to the influx of cold polar air from the Arctic latitudes, as described by the German weather bureau.

Does Germany have 4 seasons?

Germany has 4 seasons. Summer starts in June and exits in August. Autumn begins in September and people enjoy the season till November.

Winters arrive in December and remain till February. Finally, Spring follows the winter season and is usually between March and May.

RANKING IN THE WORLD

If you are immigrating to Germany from the US, then you would be happy to know that Germany stands the top third (3rd) in the list of the world’s best countries. German Economy has a high distinction of being the fourth (4th) largest in the world.

The Global Peace Index in 2019 ranked Germany as the 22nd most peaceful country, among 163 countries in the world. According to the Societal Safety and Security domain, Germany attains a high rank of 20 which is no mean feat.

One of the reasons for the safety measures is two terrorist incidents that happened in 2016. After which there was an overhaul of the security apparatus and the German Government took steps to safeguard public transportation, popular buildings, and even the festivals and events that attract large crowds.

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CONCLUSION

FACT: For us, it might be Germany, however Germans call it Deutschland

Home to a population of approximately 82 million people, Germany is not a small fry. Leading the world from the front in many aspects such as healthcare, education, industrial supremacy, Germany is a cool place to be in.

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