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South Africans in Germany

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Good to know

Your Visas are approved, your paperwork is finalised and you are ready to start planning the big move.
This can be a very stressful time, and we hope the information we provide here helps to ease the process.

Cost of living

In general, properties are more expensive in Germany than in South Africa, also when renting. Food and clothing prices depend a lot on where you are buying. Medical insurance is also more expensive in Germany,
The most, expensive cities in Germany with regards to rent is Stuttgart, Hamburg and Munich
Here are some cost of living comparative sites to give you an idea:

Shopping

Shopping in Germany can be a daunting experience if you are not familiar with how things work here. The worst is probably grocery shopping. In

Medical

Health insurance is mandatory for everyone visiting or living in Germany.When living in Germany you can either take our private (privaten Kran­ken­ver­si­che­rung – PKV) or

Housing in Germany

Types of Housing Flat – Wohnung / Apartment. Atlbauwohnung –  Old building, might be protected Dachgeschosswohnung – penthouse but usually with slanted walls Einliegerwohnung –

Finding a place to stay

Finding a place to rent is almost like doing a job interview. You have to “advertise” yourself and you will have to go for interviews.

Finding a place to live

If you have not already, you need to find a place to stay.
The best advice that we can give is to start by renting a furnished place in the city you want to live in, while you wait for your furniture to arrive. This gives you a chance to explore the areas that appeals to you.
Bear in mind that most places in Germany are smaller than what you might be used to in South Africa. Most young people live in the cities in a flat (die Wohnung), or a shared house.
Living in a shared house is very common and is well organised and thought through.
When you are looking for a place with a garden, it is best to look a bit outside of the city.

What to do with my belongings and furniture

You need to decide what to do with your current belongings and furniture.
One option is to sell everything, but then you have to be certain that you will not come back soon.
Many ex-pats decided to rent out their property and store their furniture.
If you do want to bring your furniture with you, keep home sizes in mind. Big sleeper furniture will not work in most living spaces and it is expensive to ship it.
Do not bring along crockery and linen, it will most likely be cheaper to buy new items here unless you have very expensive or sentimental items of course. I also find that the curtain rails here are very different from those in SA.  Good places to look online and compare prices are:

Another option is to lease your furniture in Germany,  Lyght Living and In-lease offers such services

Beds, Mattresses and Duvets

The sleeping arrangements in Germany is a bit different from what we are used to in South Africa. The average German couple sleeps on a

Electronics

The consensus among most ex-pats is that is not worth it to ship your standard big electronic equipment. Compare the price of new equipment against your shipping costs. Also, consider repair costs and spare part availability. Brands like Defy and Kelvinator are not available in Germany. Information about the EU Energy-efficient labelling can be found on this page 

Disposing of electronics are regulated
 

Televisions

In Germany for cable tv, the tv standard “DVB-C” is used: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVB-C
For “normal TV” via antenna, the standard DVB-T is used.
S
o if you TV cannot handle DVB-T or DVB-C, then you will not be able to receive German TV channels.
If your TV doesn’t support these broadcasting standards, you can buy a set top box (receiver) which will receive these channels and then shows the channels via an HDMI cable on your tv (like an “mnet decoder” basically). 
Search for “DVB-C receiver” on amazon and you will find many, starting at circa 30€ all the way up to 200€, depending on whether you want additional things like recording.

What clothes should I bring with

There is a saying here, there is no bad weather, just bad clothes :-). 
The winter jacket you bought from Cape Union Mart is just not going to cut it.
Bring along clothes that you can layer and buy a decent wind and rain resistant winter jacket here. The shoes I bought in SA are also not made for winter conditions.
In winter it is wet and icy, and with thin soles, your feet will get cold and have no grip. Another note on shoes, you will end up walking a lot, and most pavements have cobblestones. High heels are just not made for that.
Most summer clothes will be suitable here
Here are some sites to compare prices: Galeria KaufhofBonprixC und A , T K MaxxJack Wolfskin – outdoor clothing, Deichmann – shoes

My hobbies, should I buy new equipment

This is a very difficult question and not easy to answer. It depends on your hobby. How much you can get for your equipment, the shipping costs and the price of buying new equipment will all influence your decision.
Do your homework beforehand, also on the legal and tax issues.
As an example, getting a hunting in Germany cost a lot of money and you need to do courses as well. Fishing is also very regulated.

Pets

Everything you need to know about bringing your furry babies to Germany.
We also listed companies that assist with travel arrangements for your pets

Pets

Pet Immigration or transport services The following companies were suggested by our FB members: Animal Travel Services Global Paws Aeropets Keringa Petwings PETport Petstravel Customs

Flight Tickets

For a National Visa (long term) you only book your flight tickets after you received your Visa.
The major airports in Germany are Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin and Düsseldorf.
Direct flights from SA are only to Frankfurt and Munich (SAA and Lufthansa).
The flights to Munich are also seasonal at the end of the year.
Other airlines like Emirates fly to Berlin, Hamburg and Düsseldorf.
Turkish Airlines flies to Berlin, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Friedrichshafen, Hamburg, Hannover, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart.

Television, mobile phones and the internet

Make sure you cancelled all your contracts in South Africa, and apply for services here as soon as you registered your place of living with the Bürgerampt. Remember to cancel your TV license in South Africa. You will get a GEZ letter as soon as you are registered,  to pay your broadcasting fees
Internet in the cities are very good and most use cable. In the smaller towns, you might have to use your good old telephone line or 3G.
Most internet providers offer an internet package, with television and mobile services.
The most popular are Telekom, Vodafone, and O2

The TKMoG (Telecommunications Modernisation Act), will come into force on December 1, 2021. If the provider does not provide the contractually agreed transmission rate, the customer can now reduce the monthly fee based on the newly introduced proportional reduction right. A special right of termination can also be used under certain circumstances. If a technician does not come on the agreed date or if there is a fault that has not been rectified, this can lead to compensation claims against the provider.

Another change is that providers have to offer a 12-month contract and not only 24-month contracts. If the contract has expired you can now cancel it with a one month notice period. Previously your contract was automatically extended for another year if you did not cancel it in time. The new regulation will also apply to existing contracts.

Internet TV and mobile

Internet, mobile and television packages are usually sold as a bundle. Fibre is available in most big cities but not in remote towns.  Legal After registering

Television Licenses

Television Licence (der Rundfunkbeitrag/GEZ-Gebühr) The first thing you are likely to get in your new mailbox is a reminder to pay your TV & radio

Streaming South African content

Your best option to legally watch South African products is to get a subscription to Showmax or Netflix.  Showmax Kyknet and other SA programs Netflix

Related content

Travel to Germany – Tips

Some travel tips for Germany. You are welcome to submit your own tips and we can include them on this page. Flights The major airports in Germany

Documents to bring to Germany

It is very difficult to predict what documents you will need in Germany. It will depend on your type of visa, your family situation, the

Finding a place to stay

Finding a place to rent is almost like doing a job interview. You have to “advertise” yourself and you will have to go for interviews.