It is always good to have some tips in advance before you start a new life in another country. Through my Germany experience I gathered some tips which would be very useful for your orientation in Germany. If you are looking for orientation tips, opportunities to save money and time, here is the list of 30 awesome tips for Germany.
30 Awesome Tips for Germany
1) Carry always cash with you
Most of the restaurants and small markets use only cash instead of credit cards or debit cards.
2) Be punctual (in German “Pünklichkeit”)
Germans give high importance to punctuality. I can tell that the tolerance is +- 5 min. Ps. Don´t apply it in the interviews. Be there 20 min before to be on the safe side 😉
3) Greet with handshake
Especially at work, most of the people greet each coworker in the morning and just before the meeting by shaking hands.
4) Get used to share your table with foreigners
It is interesting but normal in Germany. Most of the restaurants have limited sitting place and therefore it is very common to use every last chair in the restaurant. 😀 So you can end up in a table that you know anyone.
5) Do answer your phone calls with your name
You can say “Hallo, hier ist … (your name)”. This will provide you to avoid name confirmation afterwards 😀
6) Do make a reservation to restaurants in advance
Not to face with surprises, I recommend you to make reservations in advance because most of them are fully reserved for dinner and sometimes even for lunch. One week before reservation works for most restaurants.
7) Don’t postpone your shopping to saturday evenings and sundays
There are only a few open markets in saturday evenings and sundays, in case you are in a big city. In most of the cities your only option could be small markets in filling stations. But I can assure you that you won´t find most of your requirements there.
8) Be careful with the market prices
Based on general prices I can tell that Aldi is the most cheapest market in Germany and it is followed by Lidl, Netto, Edeka, Real and Rewe. So Rewe is has the highest prices.
9) Don’t through away your bottles before checking for “Pfand”
You are paying additional money for the bottles with “Pfand” remark. Therefore when you finish the bottle you can give it to the machines in markets to get your money back. This is applied to cans, plastic and glass bottles. Some people earn money by collecting these Pfands.
Otherwise you need to pay between 0.10€ and 1€ for bags.
11) Greet the people even if you don’t know
You can always use “Hallo”, “Guten Tag” or “Morgen” to the people that you don´t know. Also, there are some idioms that you can use based on places.
“Moin Moin” used in north part of the Germany “Servus” used in south part of the Germany
12) Order tap water in restaurants without payment
You can directly drink the tap water in Germany and it is possible to order tap water in restaurants if you don´t want to pay money for water. You just need to say, “Leitungswasser bitte!”
13) Get used to send and receive posts
In Germany most of the official paperworks are done by post. So be ready for it! It was very surprising for me, they are even informing appointments per post.
14) Download Apps to your smart phone for local public transport
Each city has a local transport firm and all the firms have their Apps for smart phones there you can find all information regarding delays, strikes, accidents and so on. In addition, all these local Apps are also syncronized with Deutsche Bahn App.
Besides you can also be informed about “Feinstaub” alarms for big cities like Stuttgart in local transport Apps. “Feinstaub” alarms are informed due to high level of air pollution for some days and Germans try to encourage people for using public transport. In these days, if there is an agreement between the company you work and the local public transport company, you won´t pay money for public transportation within the city. (For example Bosch has an agreement with public transport company (VVS) in Stuttgart)
15) Buy your public transport tickets online
Online public transport tickets are cheaper than the ones that you buy from machines. So, I recommend you to buy them from internet. For example in Stuttgart while online daily tickets for 2 zones cost 5€, machines sell it 5.20€.
16) Pay attention to the daily, weekly and monthly public transport tickets
Evaluate all your options for the price optimisation. One-way tickets end up with higher price at the end.
17) Take your lunch with you to the company you work
It is very common to bring your lunch from home to work in Germany. Although there are wide range of foods in most of the companies for lunch, you can save your money by doing so.
18) Get used to recycling classification
Germans take recycling very seriously. Therefore, be careful in classfying your trash! If it is noticed that you making wrong, than you can get a penalty for it. You can take brochures from “Rathaus” to get more information about classification.
19) “Rundfunkbeitrag” is obligatory to pay
Although you don´t use radio and/or TV, every apartment is obligated to pay 17,5€ per month to government as taxes. (Called “Rundfunkbeitrag” in German)
20) Don’t make too much noise on Sundays
Otherwise your neighbours can complain you to the police and you can get penalty for it.
21) Collect points in shopping
You can get such cards from markets and collect “Treuepunkt” in each shopping.
22) Do sport
There are several sport opportunities in Germany and it is the easiest way to get to know new people in your adaptation period.
23) Find a flat or flat-share from popular websites
Generally it is not very easy to find a flat or flat-share in Germany. It is unbelievable that all offers take many applications in a few seconds and rented in hours. Therefore you need to start as early as possible to your search and be fast for your application!
In your application always introduce yourself, mention about your values, and possible movement date in your message. It is very critical to add all those information in your application. Otherwise your application will not take the attention of the landlord.
“Aldi Talk” is one of the cheapest option in this subject. You can find the possible packages between 8€ and 15€ in Aldi Talk.
25) Get German story books from flea market (in German “Flohmarkt”)
If you want to improve your German, reading is one of the good options for it. Sometimes books are sold for charity to church and you can buy how much you want by paying less money for it and plus you can help the church.
26) Create an account in career websites
If you are looking for job opportunities, I recommend you to create accounts in LinkedIn, Monster and Xing. Except Xing, all mentioned websites are used for many countries in Europe. On the other hand Xing is a specific career platform for Germany.
You can find most of your requirements in Euroshops only for 1 €. Worth to try!
28) Take into consideration delays in bank transfers
I can tell that bank transfers are very slow in Germany. It could take 3 to 4 days for within Germany money transfer. Therefore, make your plans accordingly if you have a payment deadline!
29) Be aware of validity period of your foreign driving licence
Unfortunately for most of the foreign driving licences are valid only for the first 6 months of your stay. After that you are obligated to revise your driving licence in Germany.
For example in 2019 in Stuttgart; If you have a driving licence in your home country and you need to renew it based on German system, it costs around 1200€. If you don´t have a driving licence in your home country and you would like to have one in Germany, it costs around 2000€.