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South Africans in Germany

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Moving to Germany – Impressions

One of the first questions many of our FB members ask, is what is different in Germany, what do you like or dislike. Is it easy to adapt, was it a good decision to move there.

I feel the answers to these questions differ from person to person, it all depends on your attitude and your references or experiences

Below is a list of things I picked up that people struggle with and hopefully we can add solutions and grow this list with your help, so please add comments. Please take note that these are based on experiences and is very much my own opinion.

Children adapting to new schools The school system is very different from that in South Africa. Most parents will tell you that children adapt very fast, and that the schools are very accommodating. This is a very difficult and personal decision. Talk to other parents in similar situations, that’s what our FB page is for.
Look on our blog for more information on schools
Children adapting to German languageChildren learn a new language faster that one would expect. Immersion is key
Language barriers in work and daily lifeEven if you work in an English environment you will need to speak some GermanThere are many online options available if you do not have time to attend language classes. Again the key is immersion.
SafetyAny country has hot spots where it is not so safe. Nobody can guarantee your safety. I always answer this question with ” I regularly walk from the train station to home even late at night, without feeling unsafe. We sleep with open windows and sometimes open doors. Our car is parked outside. We dont have an alarm system, and no burglar bars in front of our windows” Again this is my opinion and experience
Buying or renting a homeBoth have their pro’s and con’s The cost of ownership of a house can be expensive. The interest rates are pretty low but there are many hidden costs. You could even pay for a new road in front of your house.
Renting out for a complete blog post on renting – coming soon
Different types of housingFlat – Wohnung / Apartment
Wohngemeinschaften (WG) – Communal flat or house
House – Haus
Furnished house (like airbnb)
The weatherIn Germany there are actually four seasons 🙂I come from the Highveld, we have no real Autumn and spring is max two weeks.
Summers are long. Here you learn to celebrate each season.
The climate in the North is also different from the South West. Freiburg is the city with the most sunshine in a year.
Summer can be hot, winter is cold, wet and dark. It is beautiful when it snows, although it does not snow the whole winter and mostly only in the mountains.
The motto here is, there is no bad weather only bad clothes. It rains a lot so you learn to adapt to it. You don’t cancel all your plans just because its raining.
Sunshine might be a problem in winter, get out as much as possible, have holidays down South, use special lamps and get your dose of Vit D.
House cleaning and gardeningMany have a cleaning service in SAIt is very expensive in Germany to hire help in and around the house. If everyone does their bit housework is not a big issue. Get tech to help you where you can and teach the kids to clean up after themselves.
Can I drive with my SA licenseYesYou first need an International Drivers license that you get at the AA.
You need to convert it within 6 months
Where will I find SA productsThere are many online shops available.
You can also search in this blog