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Be it a house or an apartment, that you buy or that you rent, finding a place in Germany will probably take time and possibly, money.
Indeed, the vacancy rate in Germany is not very high and finding a place in town or city centre might be difficult. Specially if you don't know the country and its customs.
You might also want to start looking before you arrive: there are a number of rental and real-estate agencies on the web that can help you there.
Another way to find a place is looking at the adds in newspapers and asking friends and colleagues once you are there.
Renting or Buying? The decision about renting or buying a house or an apartment in Germany depends greatly on the planed length of your stay, as does the question of furnished versus unfurnished housing of course, a house or an apartment for sale will be unfurnished.
For more precision about what "unfurnished" really means in Germany, please read below. Before moving to Germany you have to think about it very carefully; finding a house or an apartment takes time and, if you use an agent, it takes money too quite a bit of it!
There are many real-estate agencies in Germany as in any other countries and many, if not all, banks have real-estate services available.
Most relocation agencies can also help you find a house or an apartment to buy or rent once you arrived. Again, these relocation companies are not cheap, but some companies do pay the fees for their relocated employees.
Also, Germany is a rather densely populated country. Meaning that there is not much land left to build new places and that the ones already built are occupied.
Even though, you should, with the help of friends, colleagues, agencies, find somewhere to live. Furnished or unfurnished rental?
You might be in for a little shock if you have never try to rent a place here before, because unfurnished house or apartment in Germany, means exactly that: there are NO furniture of any kind, period.
Which mean, no appliances, no closets, no built-in cabinets in the kitchen, no lighting fixtures, some times not even a sink or a toilet!
Nothing, nada! And that is also true for houses for sale. And that might explain in good part why Germans do not move much once they have established themselves somewhere.
Which also means that you will have to bring everything with you or buy it on the premises; appliances, kitchen cabinets, closets, table and chairs, curtains and curtain rod, bathtub, etc.
And once you have bought it all, install it all, and live in it for a while, what do you do with it once it is time to go home?
Because, of course, you are also expected to remove everything from the rented house or apartment when you leave, which can mean serious renovation to the place, to remake it the way it was before you added the "built-in cabinets" etc.
Otherwise, you'll end up doing what a lot of people do: throw it all in the pile of garbage. Which is really not efficient or environmentally friendly.
On the other hand, even though, furnished housing is a bit more expensive than unfurnished, in the long run it will cost you less.
Unless you decide to stay permanently in Germany or you have a lot of money to throw through the windows.
Home-finding Companies I mentioned earlier the use of a real estate agent or home-fnding companies. They can be somewhat expensive but they know their city well and will be able to help you find housing in Germany quite fast.
The way these firms usually work is that they will charge you a fee of between one to three months rent, once they found a place for you.
This fee is NOT included in the rent and it must be paid directly to the firm. So, let say you have a rent of Euro per month, then the fees for the agent would be between to Euros.
You will also have to pay a deposit of one to three months to your landlord that deposit will come back to you at the end of the rental, in part or in total and pay the first month's rent.
All together, you will end out paying: 1 to 3 thousands to the firm, plus 1 to 3 thousand for the deposit and one thousand for the first month to your landlord, for a total of three to seven thousand Euros the first month, and this for a Euros per month rental.
That is quite a bit of money when you have just arrived and have not even unpacked yet! Chances are, you will not yet have your German Bank account open yet either.
So, you need to go straight to a bank to open one. Or you need to bring that money in cash with you!
Because you see, most people and companies such as gas and phone in Germany do NOT accept cheques. They want bank transfers directly from your account to theirs.
You could do it through your old bank account back home, but then you will have to pay for rather more fees than simply open an account in a German bank.
You can also search on the web; as mentioned higher, there are a few real estate agencies who deal specifically with rentals, some are in English as well as in German, but most, like the Newspapers, are in German only.
So the help of a German speaking friend might be necessary. Here are a few German words concerning Housing: QM or M2 is square meters for the size of the residence.
A number followed by Zi, means the number of rooms Zimmer. The number of rooms Zimmer also refer to the number of rooms "in total", except bathrooms and kitchen.
So a 5Zi, will mean a "5 rooms" whonung house or apartment : 3 bedrooms, a living room and a dining room. BJ means Baujar, the year the place was built.
WC, means toilet, and only a toilet, i. Other important words: Ka, Kt or Kaut, Kaution meaning caution, the deposit you have to pay on top of the rent.
This deposit will be returned to you at the end of your rental. Gepl gepflegt means well kept in good condition. Ruh ruhig in a quiet neighbourhood.
NK Nebenkosten is "incidental cost" such as garbage, entrance cleaning, water etc. A little word of caution about these Nebenkosten also referred to as Umlagen by some.
There are two parts to your renting contract: one is the rental fee fix amount per month , the other part concerns these extra-costs.
And these costs can vary during the year according to the price that 17 your landlord has to pay. So, it is quite possible that your rent will vary throughout the year because of these extras.
There is nothing you can do about it. It is completely legal. Also, in some cases, these extra-costs are going to be paid directly from your deposit at the end of your rental or once a year.
Which also means that there might not be much left of that deposit when it is time to move on. Lawyer You might also want to consult a lawyer before signing a rental agreement even if your German is pretty good.
If you deal with a real estate agency, they will do some of the paperwork for you and help you deal with the landlord.
The same is true for a relocation company. Here are a few additional pieces of advices: 1.
Making an inventory of what is included in the housing and of any deficiencies is a good idea. It help to protect yourself and your landlord.
Follow the rules given by your landlord concerning: laundry washing, BBQ, bicycles and children's prams, satellite dish and radio and television antennas, pets Germans in general adore animals, but make sure you have written permission to have a pet first.
You should also ask who is responsible for cleaning the entrance way, the stairways, the front door etc.
You could be surprised by the answer: It might be you! And most Germans also clean up the side walk in front of their house, religiously, each week.
There are municipal by-laws to respect concerning loud music, recycling and trash, etc. Germans in general obey the law to the letter, so don't be too shocked if someone "reprimands" you because you put some trash in the recycling bin or vice-versa!
Buying the house of your dream! Buying a House or an Apartment in Germany can be your best option, especially if you are here for quite some time.
And you can always resell it after, if you move back. In this case, the use of a real estate agent is almost necessary unless you speak perfect German and know all there is to know about the law regarding such matter.
There are many real estate agents in each town and city, and finding one should not be difficult. Shop around and ask colleagues if they know of a good one.
Have fun shopping around for the house of your dreams! So, if you are staying for more than three months, you need to apply for a residence visa.
By the way, the true term is residence permit, but as many, if not almost all, people refere to it as visa, I will be using it too.
Different Visas There are two kinds of visa: a limited one with an expiry date, it is delivered for a certain period of time and you must leave at the end of that time, and an unlimited one with which you do not have to leave Germany after a certain time period.
For others, with the limited visa, they can reapply for a new one at the end of the period for which it has been delivered. Most of these limited residence visa are for one or two years period and then you have to go through the whole process again to get a new one.
The Process I have to admit here that the whole process of getting a residence visa is rather frustrating, inefficient specially for German standards , and even stressful.
And yes, we did had problems with them: we received our resident visa two days AFTER the expery date of the tourist visa.
Even though we did apply very early on after arriving. So, don't wait until the last minute to apply for it. Yes, it is an unpleasant business but it must be done.
There's no way around it. The only posisitive thing I have to say about it all is that the woman officer I have to deal with was trying very hard to be helpful with paperworks.
Medelschein But, before going to the Landratsamt to get your residence permit visa you must register at your local Registration Office Einwohnermeldeamt , usually the town or city hall or Rathaus, where you live.
The document that you will get is called Medelschein registration certificate. It is easy to get you go there and fill up a form with your residence address in Germany, passport number etc.
Also, if you move residence during your stay in Germany, you must register again and notify the old and the new registration offices even if you move just next door.
So, you must bring the originals with you. Also, if your proof of financial support is a contract that is not writen in German, it must be translated in German by an official translator.
Un-married couple A little note of caution for couples who lives together without being married: Germany do NOT recognizes you as a couple, even if you have been together for 20 years.
Of course, the easy solution would be to get marry! Ah, but, getting marry in Germany is not that easy.
You must both have your passport, the Medelsheim, your birth certificates even that of your kids! Quite a few countries don't have such a certificate, the German authorities are aware of that, but they still want you to contact your embassy or consulate to ask them to send you an official document that you must pay for basically saying that such certifiate does not exist in your own country and this writen in German, of course!
Frankly, if you want my advice, get marry in your own country before coming over or go somewhere else for a fast little wedding!
Children and visas Children also are required to have valid residence visas. And another important point is that the children follow their mother, even if both names mom and dad are on the birth certificate.
Which also means that if mommy does not get her visa, the kids have to leave with her when the three months ends! Although the process varies slitghly with each individual application and from one region or city to the next, most rules are the same.
Once there, you will probably see a bunch of closed doors with letters beside them. There will probably be also tables and chairs to sit.
It might seem a bit strange at first; there is nobody to ask what is going on, where you have to go and to whom you should be talking to except maybe other applicants like you who probably don't speak a word of English.
Don't panic, everyone feels the same the first time. I'll explain to you how it works: The letters by the doors, or on the doors, correspond to the first letter of your family name.
Let say your name is Smith, you will therefore go to the door with the letters R-T beside it. Now, of course, the doors are all close and you can not see or hear what is going on inside, if the officer is already with a "client" or not.
So, you will do what any sensible person would do, i. Don't take the barking personaly, you are probably the hundreth person who does this that day.
And as there are no other way of knowing what's gong on inside, you won't be the last one either! It will gererally take a few days or weeks!
So, you can not go anywhere outside of the EU! Once again, I must stress the fact that most officers accept only the originals.
Members of a Family with different family names You should know that if different members of a same family have different family names, they most go separetely to the different officers partening to the different letters, even if you are marry and have the proof with you.
Speaking English or Not? Another point I must stress here: in our experiences, most of these officials do not speak English or don't want to speak it?
Or take a very quick German course! Also, these officials take their jobs very seriously so, always stay very respectuous and patient.
It takes time and there's nothing you can do about it. Happy Ending When your visa is ready, they will most probably call you and ask you to come pay for it about 75 euros per permit and get it.
Once you finally have it in your hands, go to the nearest Weinstube and celebrate with a dunkel bier! You've earned it! Now that you know what to do to obtain your residence permit, go to the chapter 6 about Work Permit and chapter 7 on Workplace.
You should know that work permits are issued not for general employment but for a particular job.
Once that job is over, or if you change job, you must re-apply for a new permit. Work Permits also have an "expiry date" as do Residence permits.
How to Apply To apply for a work permit, you will need to go, in person, to the same office that handled your residence permit, i.
And you will need to bring with you your Meldebescheinigung or Medelschein the registration certificate you received from your Rathaus , your Auftenhaltserlaubnis residence permit and written proof that you have a job offer, usually a certified letter from the employer saying that they are willing to take you on or an actual contract in German, of course.
If you are coming from an European Union country, then you should have no problem getting this permit as you will be treated with the same status as Germans.
Unemployment is currently high by German standards and of course priority is given to Germans and Europeans. But, if you can show that you possess critical skills, with a high level of education, your chances are much better.
Germany is trying to attract highly qualified immigrants and some skills are more in demand than others.
Also, family members of a person with critical skills might be given work permits in order to keep this highly qualified worker in Germany.
Finding Jobs One of the best way to find employment in Germany, especially for executives and specialists, is to use the services of an executive search firm, called Personalberatung in German.
This service is usually free for those looking for job and they can start looking for you even if you are not yet in Germany.
As elsewhere, the newspapers can be useful for looking for jobs or to place an ad yourself, to offer your services. The Saturday editions are usually helpful in that regard.
There are also many websites for jobs in Germany and in Europe, and one of them lists jobs specifically for companies in which English is the main language spoken at work: 24 Jobs In Munich: www.
The labour office, Arbeitsamt www. You can go there even if you do not have a work permit, and it is free.
English versus German speaking Be aware that, even though a knowledge of English might be a plus in finding a job, a functional working ability in German is necessary for most positions as well as being simply a courtesy to your German co-workers.
Also, finding part-time jobs is not easy: companies in Germany have to pay for their employees' social benefits and as these are quite high in Germany, they do not want to employ an employee who can work part-time only.
On top of listing all your education and work experiences, they usually ask for your marital status, your age and sex, and a recent photo.
Including letters of reference is also a good idea. Employers are allowed to ask about your health and criminal record, but can NOT ask a woman whether she is pregnant or not.
You will also have to fill in job applications and of course, there are interviews. If you have an interview, remember that Germans are rather formal when it comes to business meetings, so dress accordingly and don't be too friendly or familiar with the interviewers.
Meaning of the Work Permit A work permit is issued for the same duration as the residence permit and must be renewed before expiration, the same as the residence permit.
Also, as stipulated above, a work permit is issued for a specific job only and you must reapply to get a new one if you change job. It is not a permit for general employment.
Self-employment For those who would like to be self-employed, you must demonstrate that your potential business is viable and that you will bring prosperity to Germany.
Germany will consider your business as 25 having a positive effect on its economy if your bring a capital of at least 1 million euros and create at least 10 jobs.
If you do not have a million euros to spent, you can still apply for a residence permit, but your chances of getting it are obviously not as good.
Good luck! German Workplace If you have fund a job, you might want to know a bit about the German Workplace before going for your first day's work.
To do so, go to the next chapter. German companies take very good care of their employees: it is the law! But, before being a "real" employee, there usually is a 3 to 6 month probation period during which an employee might be fired with 2 weeks to up to 1 month notice.
After this probation period in the German workplace, it becomes more and more difficult for the employer to fire the employee and the notification period also extends up to 7 months for a long time employee 20 years or more.
Vacation Germany's working week is You will also find that German companies are much more generous when the time comes for vacation: minimum of 18 working days per year, as required by the law.
And some firms offer much more than that, up to 30 working days per year, that adds up to about 6 weeks per year of paid vacation.
Maternity and paternity leave is also generous in Germany: 6 weeks of full pay for mothers before the child's birth and then 8 weeks of full pay afterwards.
And then, the parents, mother or father, are allowed up to 3 years leave without pay. There is also a direct subsidy for new parents called Elterngeld, literally meaning "parents money".
Income tax and other taxes If you work for a German company you will have to pay German income taxes but also some premiums for public health care, long term nursing care, unemployment insurance and retirement plans.
Your employer will contribute about half of these premiums, and you will pay the other half. But most of time, quite a bit of it is going back to the employee in the form of subsidies, for the families, to help pay the rent, the public transport etc.
Social services, such as healthcare and public transport, are very good in Germany and income taxes help to pay for these. As for work accident insurance, it is paid for entirely by the employer and the social indemnity for war veterans, war widows and orphans, soldiers with health problems and victims of violent crime is paid by the government.
For more info on the subject of health insurance, go to chapter 8. Retire Pension When it is time to retire, your pension insurance will make sure that you can continue to live a decent life.
It is possible to receive pensions from different countries at the same time, and if you do end up working in Germany, you can expect to receive a German pension after you have retired even if you are living outside of Germany at that time.
Unemployment Assurance and State Assistance If you lose your job after having worked for at least one year during the previous two years, you might be eligible for unemployment insurance.
To apply so, you must go to the labour office, called Arbeitsamt, fill out a form and agree to accept a job that they might find for you in your field.
You must also check with them regularly. The insurance continues for one year if you are under 55, and up to 18 months if you are older.
After that period, you can receive state assistance of euros per months plus some money for housing and other expenses. Little note of caution here: It is also possible that you will get less or nothing at all if they consider that you have other means of support, such as a working spouse or working parents.
Indeed, even if you are an adult no longer living with your parents, the German system considers that they should still help you fnancially until your or their death.
For more detailed information on this subject, and regular up-dates, you should have a look at the German government site: www.
Disclaimer Some data, such as the amount you can receive as a pensioneer, might and will probably change with time, so, if you see a discrepency, please let us know and send us an e-mail.
As an Auslander foreigner you need your own health insurance to cover all medical costs. But, as you need it anyway to obtain your visa from the Landratsamt, this is not an additional problem.
You already have deal with that, no?! If not, go back to chapter 5, Resident Permit, about how to apply and hopefully obtain your residence visa.
You're going to need it if you stay longer than three months in Germany. Healthcare coverage If you are working for a German company, chances are that they will help you get German Health Care coverage through governmental or private health insurance plans.
Every German, and employees of German companies even the foreigners , are by law covered by health insurance. To learn more about health insurance in Germany, you can visit the web-site of the German Medical College.
It is quite useful and in both German and English throughout. Then you ask the insurance company for your money back. Our First Hand Experience We experienced German healthcare first hand and were happily surprised by the speed of the services received at the clinic.
My Mann German for a man and husband thought that he had a kidney stone again! So we called the specialist, in this case the urologist, on Monday, got an appointment for the next morning, and the complete exams on Friday morning.
As specialists are listed in the phonebook, you do not have to go see a generalist first. The exams were performed directly at the clinic and the doctor spoke good enough English.
Now, that's service! The only slight difficulty was that the doctor's assistant and secretary did not speak a word of English.
But, on the other hand, because, as I said above, you can call the specialist directly without being recommended by a general practitioner, I did not have to explain why my Mann needed an appointment.
German Doctors and English. Actually, German doctors, especially the younger ones, seem to speak some English although some are more fluent than others , and all are professional and well educated.
If you are uncertain about the ability of your doctor to speak English, you might want to bring a small dictionary with you for medical terminology or someone who speaks both languages.
I, for one, always have my pocket-size dictionary with me. Most German doctors work in private or semiprivate clinics and at hospitals, which of course, reduces to some degree the time that the clinics can be open.
On the other hand, when one clinic is closed another nearby stays open so that you can always find one open in case of emergency.
The local newspapers usually provide the opening dates and times of nearby emergency clinics or hospitals Krankenhaus , dentists Zahnartz and pharmacies "Apotheka".
If the clinic you are trying to reach is closed, they will probably have recorded a message telling you the name and phone number of an emergency doctor.
You can also find the phone numbers of all the nearby doctors listed by their appropriate medical specialities, with phone numbers and addresses, in local phonebooks.
German Doctors Habits Another important point is that German doctors are not in the habit of explaining the what and why and how of your condition.
So, if you want to know about it, ask the doctor directly. It is not that they don't want to explain, it's just that they have not been taught in this way.
They are if you will, a bit old fashion about that. This fee is quite small in the order of 5 to 10 euros and it must be paid onceevery 3 to 4 months.
Once you have paid that fee you do not have to pay it again for this quarter if you go back to see the same doctor or even a different one.
They will give you a receipt for the fee that you must keep with you at all time. If you have an accident and end out in the emergency unit, they will ask to see this receipt.
If you don't have it with you, you will have to pay it again and ask for your money back if you can produce to said receipt later.
The most times you can pay this fee is 3 or 4 times per year. Emergency Numbers Emergency numbers for Doctors and Ambulance Krankenwagen is: You can dial that number free of charge from any public phone.
In case of an emergency on a major road motorway, highway, secondary road , look at the white kilometre stones or posts by the side of the road for arrows pointing in the direction of the nearest emergency telephone.
Who to call? Finding and choosing a generalist or a family doctor, called Arzt in German, or a specialists, can be a bit intimidating when you have just arrived and don't know much about your new city, specially if you do not speak much German.
But most of them do speak some English, even if it is not perfect. I would like to make an appointment, please.
Es ist dringend. This is urgent, do you have an earlier appointment? Ich Habe ein Fieber I have fever Mein Kind hat ein Fieber my child has fever Ich habe schmerz I have pain Mein Kind hat schmerz my child has fever Specialists One of the advantage for new commers without much German, is that you can call directly the specialist of your choice without being referred to by a generalist which means that you usually do not have to explain why you are calling, just say that you want an appointment.
You can use the phone book to find the address of generalists and specialists in your area or use the web-site of the German Medical Association.
It is a very useful site and part of it is in English and French. To find a doctor in your area, you simply click on "Arztsuche" doctor search and choose the region in which you live.
Of course, you can also ask colleagues and friends to give you suggestions. You can also change doctors if the one you are dealing with does not satisfy your expectations.
Once again, you can call any of these doctors directly to take an appointment. Business Hours Because generalists and most specialists also work in Hospital and not just their own clinic be it private or semi-private , their open hours might differe somewhat from one place to another and be reduced to some degree.
The local newspapers usually provide the opening dates and times of nearby emergency clinics or hospitals Krankenhaus , dentists Zahnartz and pharmacies Apotheka.
As mentioned higher, you can also find the phone numbers of all the nearby doctors listed by their appropriate medical specialities, with phone numbers and addresses, in local phonebooks.
Little Note Doctors in Germany, generalists and specialists alike, are not taught to explain to their patient the details about their condition and possible treatments.
They more or less take for granted that you will do what they tell you to without giving it a second thought.
So, if you have a question, something you are not sure to understand or, you feel like you should be asking why this treatment instead of another, do NOT hesitate to ask.
They have very competent professionals and it is not that they do not want you to know, it's just that, well, it si not in their habit to explain.
That's all. How to find a Dentist There are dentists all over Germany, even in small towns. So, finding one should not be a problem. It is a good idea to ask friends and colleagues, for advice or suggestions to choose one, as you might have done to find your family doctor.
As with many other professionals in Germany, many dentists do speak some English and you should not have much problem finding one who does.
There are no membership fees. So much so, that some Germans now go to other European countries for treatments and foreigners wait until they visit their home country to schedule a visit to the dentist!
So, it might be good to go to your dentist for a complete exam before moving to Germany. All this came about when the government made reforms to the state insurance system, greatly reducing coverage of dental treatments.
The routine treatments such as filling and bucal hygiene are still completely covered by state Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung and private Krankenversicherung health insurance, but major dental works is not.
You can get extra dental coverage, for a fee, if you are part of the state health insurance. You can also shop around for better coverage.
In the end, if your teeth hurt and you must go, then go. You will be in good hands. It just that they are expensive hands!
Emergency Phone Numbers The telephone number for dental, or any other kind of, emergency is the same as for the police: Dental emergency services are available throughout Germany and you'll find a list of dentists on emergency call in the daily newspapers.
They do not sell the latest in video technologies or the brand new-up-to-date carpet cleaner. German pharmacies sell medications and only medications.
Apotheken plural of Apotheke sell prescription drugs and over the counter medications, although you will see that even the "over-the-counter" drugs are in sealed display cases.
You have to ask the pharmacist Apotheker in for what you want, you can not pick it up for yourself.
Even Aspirin. Which, by the way, you can also find in what is call a Drogerie kind of Drugstore, not to be confused with the Pharmacy.
The German Drugstore is a shop where you can buy products for body care such as shampoo and tooth paste but also house cleaners and diet snacks.
Except for a few rare over-the-counter pharmaceuticals such as Aspirin and throat losanges, there are no medications at all in the German Drugstore.
Pharmacist or Chemist The German pharmacist Apotheker in has more latitude when it comes to prescribing medications and it is quite often faster to go directly to the Pharmacy, explain your symptoms to 36 the pharmacist and get the proper medications in no time.
We also notice that almost all of them speak good English. Better even than the medical doctors and the dentists.
Costs of Medications Another point is that, because a good part all of it for children of the cost of prescribed generic medications is reimbursed by health insurance government or private , medications are somewhat cheaper than in North America.
You will also find that there are lots and lots of Apotheken everywhere! I remember in Trier, the oldest city in Germany, we had counted five or six Pharmacies in a radius of less than one kilometer around our hotel.
So, not to worry if you need drugs, you should have no problem spotting one. Business Hours As with most stores, the Apotheken are closed in the evening and from Saturday afternoon 1 or 2 pm until Monday morning, as well as during public holidays.
In Case of Emergency If you urgently need medications outside of the business hours, go to the nearest Pharmacy and look for the Notdienst on the door or in the window, it is a notice with the name and address of the nearest Pharmacy that is on duty for the weekend Notdienst , or look at the pharmacy emergency section Apotheken-Notdienst in local newspapers that also gives the addresses of the pharmacies open outside normal hours see also www.
Apotheker in take turns for weekend duty shifts, so there is always a list with dates and names of pharmacies on duty for emergencies.
Apotheker in on emergency duty are open all day and all night, but you may need to ring a bell for attention outside of usual hours.
Extra fees are charged for night and weekend services. It might be a good idea to familiarize yourself and your family with this system when you arrive in Germany, so as to not panick if something does happen and you need medication on a Sunday for example.
Just go to the nearest pharmacy and look for the list. They usually show the pharmacies on duty for each weekend of the whole month.
A last Note I have found German pharmacists very knowledgeable and always ready to help. Even when my German was less than appropriate.
The word Hospital in German is Krankenhaus. You will also sometimes see Klinik or Klinikum, especially around University campus. You might also come across the German word "Lazarett", it designates a military hospital.
In Germany, the sign for hospital, Krankenhaus, is that of a red cross with sometimes the word Kilinik associated with it. The only road signs that you will see with a big capital "H" on it is for "Halte" and it refers to a stop for the public transportation, such as bus and tram stops.
And these signs are not red, so it should not confuse you with the German hospital red-cross sign. You can also find University clinics in cities with universities.
These clinics are open to outpatients. Once there, it is the doctors of the Krankenhaus that will look after the patient and NOT the one that had asked for the transfer.
In other words it is your doctor who asks for your transfer but, unlike in North America, it is someone else who will look after you once you're in a German Krankenhaus.
Although, it is very improbable that a German Krankenhaus will refuse you access especially in case of emergency , the hospitals are not free: you and your insurance have to pay for every treatment received.
On the other hand, if you are covered by the general social security health insurance, the bills are going to be taken care of by this insurance.
But, you might still have to pay a minimum fee per day for a room. But, if you have an independent private insurance, you should check with them to know what kind of coverage you have before going to the Krankenhaus.
You will have to pay the bills and then apply for a refund. Another point is that you will probably end up with many different bills: one for each department or kind of treatment you had, such as radiology, cardiology, nursing staff, etc.
In case of emergency, it is possible that even foreigners will be covered by the state insurance, depending on the international agreements between Germany and the foreigners' country.
High quality care! As I mentioned in the Health Care chapter, the German health care is very efficient and you should expect high quality care from it.
Germans are also more advance in some domains than most other countries in the world and they use up-to-date treatments and procedures.
First of all, most beds do not have curtains around them and it is possible that you won't be issued a gown for examinations this varies from place to place.
For example, my "Mann" was offered one in a private clinic, while the husband of a friend did not have one in a hospital.
And both places are only a few kilometres apart, in the same region. So, you might want to bring pyjamas or sleep wear with you, as well as a towel, as few hospitals issue them, either.
You might also want to bring some toiletries and slippers. But do not bring too much: the lockers are small and space is limited. But the biggest meal is lunch, not the dinner, and the dinner "supper" for some might be quite early pm.
The length of stay in a Krankenhaus is also usually longer than in North America and young children are not exactly welcome during visiting hours, as they can disturb other patients.
So, if you want to have permission to bring yours back during visit-hours, make sure that they do NOT bother anyone else. Speaking of visit hours, they are usually between 2 and 8 pm.
Parents can stay overnight with their sick child. It is not permitted to smoke in a patient's room, but most hospitals have a "smoking-area", usually the lounge.
There are usually 2 to 4 patients per room same sex , and private rooms are available for a fee you might be eligible for one if you have a private health insurance: make sure to ask your insurer about it.
These fees are regulated by the government and are in the order of Other costs while staying at a hospital include: the use of the telephone and internet access which is being offered by more and more hospitals.
On the other hand, the use of TV available in just about all hospitals is usually included. A thank you card will also be welcomed.
Gute Besserung! Get well soon! Note on Krankenhaus I use Krankenhaus as often as I could in this text so that you will get use to it.
Don't bother asking for hospital in Germany because most Germans won't know what you are talking about and it will confuse you while looking for its sign on the road.
So, better get use to it as soon as possible: Krankenhaus! With a red cross for a sign. For those who are coming to Germany to continue with their own education, a section on Universities and colleges follows.
German versus North American or Anglo-Saxon Schools Before registering your kids in a German school you should know that they are a few important differences between what you are probably use to, and the German way.
The main difference between the German Education system and the North American and Anglo-Saxon systems, is at the level of high school.
I'll explain; Although all children start school at the age of 6 and attend the same elementary school called Grundschule, by the age of 10 they are already being separated into 4 different kinds of schools that we will call secondary school.
Therefore, German children spent only the first 4 years together in the German education system. Afterwards, they, with their family, must decide the type of secondary school that they will attend.
It seems incredibly young and even a tad cruel, to make them do such a choice and so, it is usually the parents that decide the direction of the child's education.
There is talk in Germany about abandoning this system, but nothing has been done yet. For the "manually" inclined.
They receive the same basic education as at the other secondary school, but at a slower pace and with "hands-on" experience. This usually leads to Vocational training, either full time or part-time, until the age of This school too leads to full time or part-time vocational training, but also to higher vocational training at a Berufschule.
It is now possible for high achieving students to switch to the Gymnasium after completing grade 10 at this school. This is the school for academically-minded children.
It leads to University, or to a combination of academic courses and vocational credits. There are also different fields of education in the Gymnasium, mainly: math and natural science, classical languages and modern languages.
There is a fourth type of secondary school in some states of Germany: - Gesamtschule grade 5 to 9 or It is a combination of Hauptschule and Realschule, and, depending if the child finishes in grade 9 or in grade 10, he or she will receive either the Hauptschule or the Realschule certificate respectively.
Every child in Germany must complete at least 9 years of education. Those who drop out of Gymnasium must enroll either in the Hauptschule or in the Realschule.
After that, it is either work, more education in the Berufschule, the Fachoberschule or the preparatory classes for University and college.
By the age of 18, all students should have finished their secondary school and the males should be ready for 2 years of Army service which can be performed as community services.
School Hours Another very important point if you are thinking of enrolling your kids in the German system: German children attend school ONLY in the morning and therefore, there is no lunch and usually no after-school services, such as daycare, either.
So, if both parents work, the child has to go to a sitter for the afternoon or stay at home alone.
Other points: there is a lot more homework and very few after-school activities. School Fees The German school system is free at all levels, except at the University level, where a small fee about euros per semester is now required.
See below for more details on Universities. Indeed, for the very young ones, from the age of three up to six, there are Kindergartens; some are public, some are religious and others are private.
Most of them are similar to North American Kindergartens but once again, most are open only during morning hours, from around 7H30 am to 2H00 pm some earlier, some later.
So, unfortunately, you will run into the same problem as above if both parents are working: What to do with the kids after Kindergarten hours?
Waldkindergarten Another type of Kindergarten offered in Germany is the Waldkindergarten or forest Kindergarten.
There are about of them throughout Germany and they are becoming more and more popular. In these Waldkindergarten the children spent their whole morning usually from 9H00 am to 1H00 pm in the forest, outside, discovering their surroundings in a natural setting.
There is of course a trailer or a small house or a hut on site for the extreme weather, but most of the time they are outside, rain or shine.
It has been shown that the kids attending these pre-schools are less aggressive, have more imagination, are better at concentrating and communicating.
They are also more aware of their natural surrounding, more connected to what some may see as to the "real" world.
In this age of computer and rising number of juvenile obesity, these pre-schools offer a more physically active alternative to the common ones of indoor seating.
In fact, they are seen as a true alternative by parents who are environmentally conscious and worried about their kids not having enough physical activities in the "normal"indoor pre-school programs.
As in anything, there are a few minor draw backs to these pre-schools. Although the kids in general are in better health less prone to sickness than their indoor counterparts, there is the possibility of bugs and ticks bites and they seem to have less developed writing skills.
I should 43 point out here though, that even in the "normal" German pre-schools, the kids spent at least one morning per week in nature and that they are not completely free of bug bites either.
A good anti-bug spray should do the trick. Private Schools Of course, the language spoken in all of these schools and pre-schools that are part of the German Education system is in German, which could be a fantastic experience for a young child starting at Kindergarten or at Grundschule level.
In fact, German secondary schools are not well adapted to accomodate non-German students in their ranks.
So, kids need to have a good understanding of German before enrolling. There are quite a few English speaking schools, but, as they are private, they are far from free.
Such schools as the International Schools offer good programs and the courses are in English or in another language.
Some of them also offer classes during the whole day, which makes it much easier for working parents arriving in a new country. You can find private schools in every major citiy in Germany and their size and cost vary from one to the other, but you should count on paying tens of thousands of dollars for an international school.
For more info about international school in Germany, you can go to the web site of the European Council on International Schools at www.
Children Registration and your local Rathaus After arriving in Germany, you must register yourself and the family if applicable to the local authorities at the Rathaus to get a Medelschein registration certificate.
If you do not register them in a local German school, they will communicate with you to ask you where they are going to school and maybe even ask a for a proof of registration to that school.
As I explained earlier, all kids must go to school until the age of 18 in Germany. Higher Education German Universities and Fachhochschulen Applied Science Universities have sites on the web with all the facts, from their enrollment forms to the list of their many departments.
Unfortunately, very few of the or so listed, have any info. In fact, apart from a very few, you must have a better than good understanding of German to be accepted in a University or a Fachhochschule.
Here are a few web-sites where you can find info. The Site on Higher Education in Germany www. D were obtainable at German universities, it is now possible to obtain a Bachelor's degree as well.
It is still a system in progress The Fachhochschulen are more or less like Universities but they offer shorter and more hands-on programs, such as Engineering and College of Art and Music.
They usually stop at the level of bachelor but some offer also master's degrees. These offer courses on-line and are very flexible.
Some of these are based in UK but there are some Germany-based as well. As I mentioned earlier, most have all their courses in German only, but a few offer courses or whole programs in English.
The rent, the electricity, the gas companies, none of them accept cheques. And stores neither. Another thing, is that although more and more places, such as restaurants, hotels and stores, do accept credit cards, some still don't.
Particularly in small villages and cities outside of the big tourist routes. And even the ones that do accept them, still prefer cash you can pay everything in stores by cash or debit cards.
So, your best bet to pay for everything rent, electricity, gas, restaurants etc. Opening a Bank Account Getting an account in German banks is rather straightforward and does not take very long.
You will need your passport, your address in Germany and some money to deposit. If you have cash to deposit, the account will be opened immediately but, if you brought a check even a certified one that is basically cash written on a piece of paper it will take some time before you have access to that money: up to 5 weeks for certified check, but longer for personal one, about 10 weeks.
So, you might want to bring some cash with you, or travellers cheques, or you will have to use your bank card from back home with all the fees attached to it.
German banks issue a card that is basically the same as a North American or Australian bank card. You do not receive a transaction statement when you take money from your account with the ATMs.
You must go to the statement printer another machine usually situated beside the ATM , called Kontoauszuge, to check the account statements.
All transactions are listed on these statements. Money transferred into the account has the symbol "H" Haben , deposit. Money transferred from the account has the symbol "S" Soll , withdraw.
Your EC card is also accepted by most merchants, hotels, Deutschebahn, etc. It is in fact accepted in more places than credit cards.
But, you won't get it straight away. The bank sends it to you by mail with your PIN and it can take a couple of weeks to receive them.
Another strange fact from my point of view is that most of the time you will use it as we do in North America where we enter our PIN to pay for something, but at other times, the merchant will ask you to sign a receipt as if it was a credit card.
It can be a bit confusing initially but you get used to it. You must go in the bank and see a real human being for that. But all in all, they are very useful.
Some time you can use them "free of charge" if you use the ATMs of your own bank. I'll explain. The rules to deposit money is the same for these four types but, the use of the ATMs is free only if you use one of their own machines.
For the others, you must pay a fee of 3 to 6 Euros. You can of course use them all over Europe, for a fee. And as I mentioned earlier, they are more readily accepted than credit cards.
It is just the way it is in Germany! Home Banking You can also do some banking from home if your German is good enough and you can understand your bank web-site in Deutsch very few of them have more than their home page in English.
Otherwise, I would not bother. Just go to see a real person if you need info or a service offer by the bank, and use the statement machine for read-outs.
Other Services By the way, German Banks offer much more than just deposit and withdrawals: you can exchange money, buy stocks and bonds, purchase an insurance, some traveller checks less and less demand for them as they are not as universally accepted anymore , you can even buy gold and other precious metals.
You can get a mortgage, buy real estate and of course, transfer money around the world! Line of Credit German banks are also known to be rather conservative when the time comes to allow you a line of credit.
Some people prefer to deal with other banks for that reason. You can usually get a line of credit equivalent to 2 to 3 times your monthly salary and it is possible to overdraw.
Money Tranfer for Bills Payment As mentioned earlier regarding most service companies such as gas and phone, they do not take cheques for payment: they want transfer of your money to their account directly.
You use these for unusual payment to a merchant, for example. Once you have filled out the form available at the bank , the set amount will be deducted from your account automatically and transferred to the recipient account.
It is actually cheaper that way than writing a check every time if check are accepted. The Lastschrift direct debit that you use to pay reoccurring sums that vary in amount, such as for gas and cell phone.
You have 90 days after the sum was debited to claim it back even if the payment was proper , it would then be seen as an unpaid bill.
This is to assure that no body can debit your account of some money without your knowledge. Business Hours Most German banks are open on weekdays only from 8H30 am to 4H30 pm and usually on Thursday evening to 5h30 or 6h30pm.
But, some close during lunch hour from 12h30 to 1h30 or from 1h00pm to 2h00pm and others close also on Wednesday afternoon, from 12h30 or 1h00pm.
Es gibt viele Situationen, in denen ein sicherer Geldtransfer über Ländergrenzen hinweg benötigt wird.
Western Union ist ideal, um weltweit in kürzester Zeit Geld zu versenden. Je nach Empfängerland sind weitere Auszahlungskriterien zu erfüllen.
Informationen hierzu erhalten Sie in Ihrer Postbank Filiale oder unter www. Zuzüglich zu den Transfergebühren ist auch die Konvertierung in Währungen kostenpflichtig.
Aufgrund bestimmter Transaktionsbedingungen - etwa gesendeter Betrag, Bestimmungsland, Verfügbarkeit der Währungen, gesetzliche Auflagen, Legitimationsnachweise, Öffnungszeiten der Vertriebsstandorte, unterschiedliche Zeitzonen oder mehrerer dieser Optionen - können sich Auszahlungen verzögern oder Dienste nicht verfügbar sein.
Es können zusätzliche Beschränkungen eintreten. Details entnehmen Sie bitte dem Versandformular.
Achten Sie bei der Geldtransferservicewahl sowohl auf die Transfergebühren als auch auf den Wechselkurs. Gebühren und Wechselkurse können aufgrund mehrerer Faktoren je nach Anbieter, Standort und Methode variieren.
Änderungen zu den Transfergebühren und Wechselkursen sind jederzeit vorbehalten und können ohne Vorankündigung stattfinden.
Die Barauszahlung ist an ca. Informationen dazu erhalten Sie in Ihrer Postbank Filiale. Nein, einen Käuferschutz gibt es nicht.
Der Geldtransfer Service über Western Union ist sicher.