Finding Accommodation in Germany:
It is recommended to start thinking about accommodation before you arrive in Germany. Unlike other universities or institutions, German institutions do not automatically provide rooms or accommodation for employees or students when they enroll. Depending on your financial situation and preferred location, private accommodation might be difficult to find.
Accommodation options across Germany range from empty rooms to fully furnished apartments. You have the option to rent a single room or an entire flat and can also share flats and apartments with other occupants. The rental contract can only be signed in person once you meet with the landlord after arriving in Germany. But still, it is recommended to research into possible accommodations and set up possible appointments for when you arrive. This will ensure that you find a suitable place to stay as soon as possible and without much hassle.
Part-time Jobs for Extra Money:
There are several part-time job opportunities available throughout the country. Having a good knowledge of the German language can improve your chances of finding a job. Jobs available range from waiting staff, temp workers, to private tutors. You can find ideal jobs that may in some way be related to your own field of expertise. You can also find jobs that suit your interests or passions.
Once you are permanently employed, you will be required to pay normal social security contributions including payments for health insurance, nursing care, pension, and unemployment insurance, etc. You are exempted from these contributions if you work less than two months at a time or work less than 50 days in a year.
Tips to Save and Handle Money:
There are several ways to save money and reduce your living expenses. If you are someone interested in traveling, purchasing a ‘BahnCard’ will save you from around 25-50% off from normal ticket purchases.
There are several commercial and savings banks with branches spread out throughout Germany. You can also find online banking options that enable you to conduct all your money related transactions electronically and at a reasonable commission.
It is advised to set up a German bank account as soon as possible, preferably at a national or direct bank. This will help you take care of most of your rent payments and can be used to deposit your earnings. This makes it possible to make payments electronically and more conveniently. Money can be withdrawn from ATMs free of charge. You can also set up ‘standing orders’ that will take care of your regular payments ensuring that the required amount is transferred automatically every month at the required time.
Opening a bank account will require you to have several important documents such as your passport or personal identification card, confirmation of registration from the resident registration office or the alien registration office, documents relating to your employment/training, and your accommodation status. It is recommended to research the various requirements beforehand and to be well prepared before you visit the bank. Most transactions, transfers, and standing orders can be done via the internet or with the help of specially marked bank machines found or at the counter.
Once you’ve opened an account, you will be issued a debit card which is known as EC, Giro, or Maestro cards in Germany. It is preferable to use the EC card over a credit card as credit card withdrawals are charged at extremely high rates.
Managing Living Expenses:
When compared with most other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is extremely feasible even if the costs for most day-to-day requirements are slightly higher than the EU average. The largest expense is the rent. On average, the living cost in Germany can be approximated at around 850 euros per month. The monthly living expense can be distributed as follows:
|Rent and utilities||€ 300 – € 700|
|Food and drink||€ 150 – € 200|
|Utilities (Phone, internet, TV)||€ 220|
|Travel costs (car and public transport)||€ 100|
|Health insurance, medical costs, medicine||€ 105|
|Total||€ 900 – € 1000|
The expense of living can vary from city to city. Smaller cities require a lesser amount of money as compared to the larger ones. In larger cities, such as Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich, rents higher than the average.
In Germany, most higher education institutions and establishments do charge any tuition fee for Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses.
Safety and Security:
Germany is considered to be very safe for international migrants. German law enforcement and legal system are highly reliable and dependable. The emergency contact number in Germany is 110 and can be used whenever you are need of help. In addition to this, almost every country in the world has an embassy or consulate in Germany. As a result, you can contact official representatives from your home country in case of serious emergencies.
The most widespread internet service available in Germany is DSL, which was introduced in 1999 by Deutsche Telekom. Other technologies such as Cable, FTTH and FTTB (fiber), Satellite, UMTS/HSDPA (mobile), and LTE are also available. Deutsche Telekom is considered to be the top choice when it comes to mobile network quality. It was rated the ‘best German mobile network’ thrice in a row by a popular consumer magazine. Although it is one of the pricier options, it’s quality is definitely unmatched.
Germany offers parcel and postal services to every corner of the country and the world through Deutsche Post AG, which is the German postal service. Post offices are designated by the symbol of a black postal horn on a yellow background. Letters and parcels can be directly taken to the post offices and letters can be dropped off at yellow postal boxes located throughout the city. Small and large parcels can be sent via designated parcel stations called ‘Packstationen’. The delivery charges and postal fees vary depending on the weight and size of the parcel. It cost around 60 cents to send letters and around 45 cents to send postcards. International delivery of large packages cost around 3.50 euros for packages under 500g. Stamps can be purchased directly from post offices or at stamp vending machines provided outside, and even online through the Deutsche Post website.
The health care system in Germany is one of the best available in the world today and is supported by well-trained physicians. Listings for GPs, dentists, and specialists can be found in the local Yellow Pages or online. Prescription medicines usually require you to pay an additional 5 to 13 euros as a ‘surcharge for medication’. It is necessary to have health insurance as it can cover the rest of your expenses. Emergency services and ambulances can be contacted using the emergency number ‘112’. For situations where you require urgent care from a physician, you can also take advantage of the ‘Ärztlicher Bereitschaftsdienst’ or the Medical Emergency Service. There are General Physicians on call that handle emergencies outside normal office hours. This service can be reached anywhere in Germany using the number 116 117.
In case of road emergencies, orange emergency telephone boxes are available at roadsides to reach out if you encounter an accident or a breakdown. This is particularly true if you are traveling on the autobahn and you can find the nearest emergency telephone by following wither the black and white street posts or the arrows on the kilometer markers.