Germany has always been an attractive place for people to immigrate or move to for some period of their life. Yes, Germany is a great country, but not for everyone. Some aspects of local life can be a big no-go for you.
The top reasons why you shouldn’t move to Germany are:
- Lack of career opportunities
- People report on others and mistrust
- Less competitive salaries
- High taxes
- German bureaucracy
- High cost of living
- Germany vs other countries
- German food
- German language
- German mentality
- You will always remain Ausländer
- Landlords are hard to deal with
- Long-lasting contacts
- Poor customer service
- Lack of air conditioning
- Boring nightlife
- Slow internet
- Strict Bicycle Rules
- Zero sunny beaches
- Off Sundays
- No kitchens
- Unreliable public health insurance
Reasons why people move to Germany are understandable: some people strive for a better career, while others for education or other pursuits. But what about reasons not to move to Germany? What disadvantages does this country have that you didn’t know about? Read this article to learn about the most important reasons why Germany might not be the right place for you.Also read about reasons why you should not move to German capital, Berlin.
Reasons you shouldn’t live in Germany
1. Lack of career opportunities
Non-EU citizens might struggle to get a good job in Germany. In general, German and EU citizens get the best career opportunities. Furthermore, rising in a career is more difficult for foreigners.
Firstly, it happens very slow due to the German work mentality. Secondly, there is a large pool of highly educated/trained candidates to hire for the next position.
Even if you are fluent in German, your job might be given to native or European.
Germany has the best career prospects for foreigners in the STEM fields. For anything apart from this area, it’s better to look in another country.
2. People report on others and mistrust
Be prepared that your German neighbor might report on you to the police one day. It can be when someone parks wrong, disturbing the order but it also can happen without an obvious reason.
Since World War II, denunciation is still in many people’s heads. Thus, you’ll definitely experience this culture shock after moving abroad.
How will one still tell a secret to the other?
On the one hand, people are helpful and help the neighbor, but then you have to be afraid of a few who might report you if you show wrong behavior in their peaceful country. And it’s not out of bad intention. People just want you to follow the rules and keep order.
3. Less competitive salaries
Generally, salaries aren’t particularly high in Germany compared to some other countries with a large number of immigrants (USA, Canada, Australia). If you are in engineering, medicine, IT, chemicals, petrol industry you can earn a lot more living in the USA & Canada or other countries with a powerful economy.
The average salary in Germany is 56,985 EUR annually or 4,748 EUR monthly before taxes, which doesn’t make it a high-paid place compared to the high cost of living. It’s very rare when a person earns more than 100,000 EUR in Germany, while it’s absolutely normal in the USA.
Source: Salary explorer
Read more about salaries in Germany here.
4. High taxes
Taxes are high in Germany, seriously high. In fact, they are one of the highest in the world. If you aren’t married, don’t have children, and earn a solid salary, expect to pay half of your salary in taxes every month.
Luckily, your health insurance is included in the deductions, but the fact remains the same, you will owe a lot to the state.
Yet, you might expect to pay high taxes depending on where you’re coming from.
Taxes in Germany are divided into income tax and social contributions for several insurances. The minimal income tax bracket is 14%, and top earners pay up to 45% of their salary.
Generally, employees pay between 35%-40% of their salary in taxes in Germany.
Insurances you pay every month include:
- Health insurance: 7,3%
- Pension insurance: 9,3%
- Unemployment insurance: 1.2%
Plus church tax (between 8% and 9%) and the solidarity tax (5,5%). For example, with a gross salary of 2,000 EUR, you get 1,400 EUR net. With 5,000 EUR it’s going to be 2,900 EUR.
The income tax rate for a foreigner with a gross salary of 40,000 EUR is estimated to be 36%.
Read more about taxes in Germany here. We compared German taxes to the US.
5. German bureaucracy
Old processes and bureaucracy – are very German. Generally, any official process needs some forms, tons of appointments, and a lot of time. In many instances, you will need to show up in person – online governmental services are still in the process.
Bureaucracy is a cultural thing in Germany. German Bureaucracy can be a nightmare for someone coming from abroad, especially outside of other European countries. Below is a representation of German bureaucracy compared to other European countries.
Unfortunately, Germany is a “late mover” when it comes to innovation in the public sector. It’s a significant hurdle for international workers and students who are planning to come here.Hopefully, in the coming years, Germany will be more digitized same way many countries are nowadays. For example, look into Estonia. Their internet is also much faster and available in all public places.
6. High cost of living
Depending on your country of origin, life in Germany might seem pretty cheap, moderate, or expensive for you. As many of us move to Germany from less developed countries, our cost of living tends to skyrocket. Students will need at least 900 EUR to maintain basic life in an average German city and more so in expensive Munich.
The average cost of living in Germany is one of the highest in western Europe, except for countries in Scandinavia.
The table below shows a comparison between the German cost of living compared to other European countries.
7. Germany vs Other Countries
If you are deciding between moving abroad to Germany or some other new country, make sure you compare them all. Germany isn’t the best country in the world if you are looking for a career enhancement.
Your professional growth and opportunities might be limited when not speaking German. Hence, places like the US, Australia, Canada, or even the UK, might be a better choice.
Germany used to be the world’s first country at some point. However, nowadays, the US has taken this place. All innovations, as well as the world’s largest companies come from there.
Even when looking at the internet, Germany is lacking behind.
8. German food
For some people, German food might be a reason for moving to the country, but for the majority, it isn’t. You will certainly see a lack of variety when it comes to traditional German food and what the average Germans love to eat on a daily basis.
Their menu can include German cuisines like schnitzel, pasta, pizza for weeks and months. What’s more, the beer is pretty thick and a bit warmer, which can be weird for expatriates from the UK and US.
Yet, you can find international food in all major cities and towns. Mexican, Japanese, and Vietnamese food is widespread throughout Germany but will cost you more. Although you might find barbeque and ham burger options, the results may be disappointing, to say the least.
Besides their bland taste, German food prices are also outrageous. Germans spend about 15% of their income on food.
9. Bad weather compared to other European countries
Germany is a beautiful country but it isn’t known for great weather. Moreover, some German cities are doing particularly badly when it comes to more rainfall and fewer hours of sunshine.
Generally, gray weather or winter is quite terrible in Germany. It’s not really cold but also not warm – just cold and wet, with few hours of sunshine yearly.
It won’t be an issue if you are used to Central European weather. For someone from warmer climates – brace yourself for German winters, which start in November and end in April.
If you can’t find an apartment in one of the cities close to the warm black forest, moving into this country will be a pain.
10. German language
German language prevalence in the entire country is one of the cultural differences you’ll encounter in this country. Someone with no German skills and no desire to learn a new language shouldn’t move to Germany in the long term. Although most Germans speak English, they still prefer to speak German, their native language.
Hence, you might find it difficult to build relationships and friendships with locals if you only speak English.
Besides, foreigners need to keep in mind that the German language isn’t easy. You will need several years to become fluent.
Nonetheless, most people would make an effort to understand your broken German. They will be glad to see someone is trying to learn their language.
Moreover, every official document is in the German language. So unless you are willing to learn German in the long term, it’s not worth coming to Germany.
Percentages of Germans speak English
11. German mentality
The German mentality is a special one and very distinctive from any other culture. For newcomers, German people often seem to be cold, rational, and unemotional. Moreover, many expats describe German local culture as rude. But it’s not the case, it’s just a mentality you will have to deal with.
If you are used to American politeness and smiles – don’t move to Germany, you will be welcomed with zero emotions.
Furthermore, German folks are the most direct and straightforward people I have ever met. Yet again, their honest and sincere answers sometimes come across as rude and undiplomatic. So, you better have thick skin before coming here.
12. You will always remain Ausländer
It doesn’t matter how long you have lived in Germany or how well you speak the language, you will always be considered an Ausländer (foreigner).
You might see discrimination at work, where leading positions are given to Germans. As a foreigner, you will have to work harder to get the same results that native Germans achieve.
Expats in Germany often find themselves surrounded by other expats and foreigners in their social life. And it’s all for the very same reasons.
In the recent four years, Germany dropped from 12th to 36th on rankings for expats. People are less satisfied with life there.
In essence, nearly half of expats think Germans behave unfriendly toward foreigners, and more than half have trouble making friends with locals.
According to the study, expats find only Kuwait and Saudi Arabia more difficult than Germany to integrate into the local culture.
13. Landlords are hard to deal with
Landlords in Germany are quite difficult people, I have to say. If you don’t want to deal with them, better don’t move here. Most of my landlords were sort of strange/crazy people. Maybe they become so under the pressure of managing their property and normal job, not sure.
One is clear that Germany’s homeownership rate is one of the lowest in European countries and globally. Hence, there aren’t many people owning an apartment, and those who do, often feel empowered and special.
14. Long-lasting contacts
If you sign a contract in Germany, it might mean you won’t be able to cancel it for the next year or two. Therefore, every contract with a service provider in Germany (internet, mobile phone, gym, insurance, etc.) is usually for 12 or 24 months.
Plus, if you don’t cancel it on time, it tends to auto-renew for another 12 months.
You need to submit a termination request with a one-month notice period after the first 24 months to cancel such a contract.
Hence, pay attention to any details in any contract you are signing especially, if your plans for Germany are short-term. Otherwise, you might pay for something you don’t want and need.
For example, in order to change an Internet provider, you have to wait for at least a year! In the US, you can do it in one day. And for this year, you have to pay for the crappy Internet connection.
15. Poor customer service
Most expatriates, especially those from Japan and the United States, complain that German’s customer service is unnecessarily hostile and horrendous.
What’s interesting is that most Germans accept that although the situation is pretty bad, it’s been worse. Therefore if you come from countries where customers are a priority, German isn’t ideal for you.
Most people have high expectations when moving to Germany as most of their amenities like the social security systems are among the best and run smoothly. In this regard, you will definitely feel disappointed when you wait for your check for ages, as the waiters are probably on their break.
Most enterprises and businesses have a general principle that serving their customers is typically a favor and not an obligation. They will feel no remorse due to your disappointment.
Whatsmore, Germans aren’t fond of apologizing for things they aren’t directly responsible for. In the case you receive poor quality products, the customer service won’t try apologizing on behalf of the business.
16. Lack of air conditioning
Most German houses don’t have air conditions. This is primarily due to the high cost of installing, operating and maintaining the residential A/C or ‘comfort cooling’ as its commonly known in this country.
German has pretty few hot days throughout the year, making air conditioning almost useless here. Instead of spending lots of cash for minimal usage, most people sought out inexpensive and easier ways to combat the heat, during summer.
Most homes open their windows at night to let the coldest air into their homes and shut them by midmorning to keep the cold air in and reduce solar heating from direct sun rays. If you aren’t a fan of this arrangement, it’s best to avoid relocating to this country.
17. Boring nightlife
If you enjoy going out on the weekends, drinking, and making new friends, Germany isn’t ideal for you.
Most of the German entertainment establishments in the city center are mostly similar; you’ll likely get bored after a few weeks.
Getting a corner booth to chat with some German friends is also close to impossible. Such reservations are extremely expensive.
You may also have a hard time socializing in German bars, thanks to the people’s unfriendly and brutally honest nature.
18. Slow internet
Many expats are baffled by the ridiculously slow internet connection in Germany, despite the booming economic stability. This cuts across all areas, be it on your mobile phone or at home.
Although Germans pay some of the highest charges for mobile data, their 4G network is the worst in the entire Europe in terms of availability and speed.
Most of the German cell towers aren’t connected to the high speed network, resulting in poor connectivity. This in turn results in highly priced mobile plans, limited data amount per plan, and mobile phone’s optimum speed.
About 1.6% of all German mobile users can reach or easily access the mobile phones’ promised or expected optimum internet speed. This is pretty low, and reduces your chances of having an ample internet speed while in this country.
Another reason for poor German internet connection is the wide use of copper cables, which aren’t capable of transmitting at a speed faster than two hundred and fifty megabits per second. Generally, these cables promise an average of fifty megabits per second, which is pretty low.
German isn’t a perfect relocating choice for you, if you require an internet speed of about one gigabit per second to work or entertain yourself.
It’s best to stay in your home country or move to other favorable regions, until the German government decides to switch the copper wires with reliable fiber optics.
19. Strict Bicycle Rules
Although cycling is pretty popular in Germany, riding a bicycle in this country isn’t a walk in the park. If you think that the German license requirements and policies to maintain clean cities are absurd, you probably haven’t ridden a bike in this country. Breaking any of the stipulated rules mostly results in fines.
Moreover, you can hardly get away with any mistake, as the police officers are always alert, ensuring all laws are followed to a tee.
Expect being yelled at if you don’t fully understand all the bicycle rules but insist on riding on German roads.
German bicycle lanes aren’t functional. You will often find cars in these lanes, which is pretty unusual and infuriating for many expats.
German cycling paths signs
Below are signs showing the cycling paths in Germany.
Source: German Road Safety
20. Zero sunny beaches
Although there are some sunny, sandy beaches along the Baltic sea and North sea, most of the German beaches are cold and muddy.
Although it may get warm during the summer, it definitely doesn’t get close to the Floridian weather.
Unless you can access the warm island beaches, living in Germany isn’t ideal if you enjoy swimming and basking in warm, sandy beaches during summer.
21. Sundays Off
Another common culture shock expats experience is the off Sundays in Germany. Sundays are treated as one of the public holidays in Germany; almost everything, aside from small kiosks and grocery stores, is closed on this day.
It was originally so due to religious reasons. Thanks to the protestant and catholic church resistance and the big city parliaments opposition, this tradition is nowhere close to being done away with.
Many Germans justify this tradition by insisting that it’s a way of protecting small and family-run businesses from competition with larger business chains.
Germans presume Sundays are days to hang out with family and friends. Thus, most employers maintain off Sundays, to ensure their employees have ideal work life balance.
In this regard, below is a comparison of Germany’s work life balance to other European countries.
This can be frustrating when in urgent need of something but all shops and supermarkets you could find it in, are closed. If you’re lucky enough to find it, you’ll have to pay more for it.
The only way to save money is to wait till most shops open on Monday morning.
22. No kitchens
Most German apartments don’t come with a built-in kitchen. Although the apartments may have kitchen space, they hardly have any appliances installed. According to Germans, this has several perks like low rent and the option of designing your kitchen to fit your style.
If you aren’t ready to paint your kitchen space and purchase new kitchen appliances and kitchen counter, German isn’t a perfect match for you.
You should note that furnishing your own kitchen if you aren’t extremely rich may take weeks or even months. This means you’ll have to survive on take out throughout that period, which is also pretty expensive if you think about it.
Additionally, if you manage to completely build your own kitchen, you’ll have to move with it, if you can’t sell it to the new tenant.
23. Unreliable public health insurance
Germany offers free healthcare, which includes statutory health insurance. However, this plan has several setbacks.
Aside from being quite expensive for new professionals or the healthy younger generation or people of young age, the government may take longer to make public health insurance or public services payments, resulting in delayed treatments, which can be dire.
Doctors tend to prioritize those with private health insurance and thus you’ll have to wait in line and longer for doctor appointments.
Specialists like urologists and psychotherapists don’t accept public health insurance, meaning the purported Germany free healthcare is almost a sham like the state of the entire universal healthcare.
Therefore, you’ll be forced to take private health insurance for optimum health care in Germany.
German public health insurance only covers necessary treatments; you’ll have to pay for special or luxurious treatments if you don’t have additional private insurance.
Source: Germany Visa
Public health insurance is selective in Germany. If you’ve just moved into the country as self employed or a creative, you won’t qualify for this plan.
24. Expensive housing in major cities
If you’re fond of living in major cities but are on a tight housing budget, Germany isn’t the best option for you. Housing prices in Germany’s major cities are among the highest worldwide.