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Berlin & Families

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Kindergeld (Child allowance) is something every new resident of Germany with children needs to know about. It is a payment made to parents for each child living at home up until the age of 18. It is paid monthly and can be seen as a type of tax relief for families. Read on to get information on how to apply!

Kindergeld is a payment made available to all families regardless of the parent’s income. The amount you receive per child is based on how many children you have:

  • 204€ for each of the first two children
  • 210€ for the third child
  • 235€ for the fourth and each additional child

You are eligible to apply for Kindergeld once you have been officially registered as a resident at the town hall (Anmeldung). You must have an Aufenthaltstitel for at least 2 years. Then you will receive a tax ID number for your child/ren which you will need to also submit for the application.

In order to apply for Kindergeld,  a completed application is sent to the Familienkasse, the Familienkasse for Berlin/Brandenburg is situated in Berlin. Once the application form has been handed in, the processing time can vary but expect at least up to 4 weeks – however, in some cases, the processing time can be much longer sometimes depending on where people have moved from. Once the application has been approved you will also receive a back-payment for the time you have been in registered in Germany.

For more information please see:  How to Germany: Kindergeld

(Source: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/familie-und-kinder)

About the author

Hi there! My name is Juli Buchanan. I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and I have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

Starting in 2020 IRC is excited to announce, that we will be partnering with Friederike von Denffer and Elisabeth Villalta (IRC Independant Consultant) for Intercultural training to support our assignees and their spouses and children on their relocation journey.

We believe that by creating understanding some of the initial pitfalls of relocation and all this entails can be relieved or avoided altogether. We also want to bring awareness that many issues which arise in the interaction with a new culture are normal and with understanding will get better over time.

The benefits of Intercultural Training is to learn to gain more confidence when dealing with Germans, your colleagues or administration in Germany. Get to know the most important cultural differences. We want to support you in your understanding of your new ‚home‘ and present tried and tested strategies for successful integration.

The intercultural training is designed to help participants deal with a „foreign“ culture and to acquire appropriate behaviour to promote successful cooperation and a pleasant daily life. The trainings are designed as an interactive learning environment. Content is science-based, and inputs are brief and built around participants interests.

For more information, please contact us on: info@irc-berlin.com

About the author

Hi there! My name is Juli Buchanan. I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and I have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

That stores are closed on Sundays and on German public holidays. In case of emergencies, you can always go to the airport and use the grocery store there. It is more expensive, but it is open on Sunday! You can also purchase foodstuffs at large gas stations and at main train stations “Hauptbahnhof”.- more info in our ‚Grocery Shopping‚ article.

That you have to bag your own groceries and have to pay for your own grocery bags.

That you may have to weigh fruits and vegetables before you bring them to the check-out in many German grocery stores. There is a number listed for the produce that you have chosen which can be matched with the number on the scale, making it easier for those who do not know the German name for all the fruits and vegetables.

That you shouldn’t touch and select produce offered at the speciality fruit and vegetable stands at the Farmers Market. All you need to do is say what you would like and the quantity and the vendor does the rest for you.

That you need a Euro 1 or 50 cent coin in order to free the shopping cart from its stand at the grocery store. This is the way of making sure that all carts are properly returned without having to hire someone to retrieve them from the street. You’ll get your EURO back when you return the cart to its stand. You can purchase a small ’shopping cart coin‘ in the supermarket for your keychain, this will save a lot of hassle!

That you have to introduce yourself to your neighbours, it isn’t the other way around. In fact, it is very appreciated if you hang a note in the foyer for the neighbours to read, say you are moving in, your name and apologies if there is any disturbance on moving in day. This will make for a good start to the neighbourly relationship.

That you should treat your movers to coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches if you want to keep them happy at your home working – Do not serve beer! And the acceptable tip for your moving crew is Euro 5-10 per person, per day.

That tipping in a German restaurant is up to 10%. A tip is already included in the price of your food in most restaurants and German waiters and waitresses earn a salary. A small tip can be given to taxis by rounding-up to the nearest even number. And a Euro 10 tip (per person) to your garbage men and your mailman at Christmas time is standard practice.

That your German washing machine could take up to 1.5 hours to complete a single wash or even longer! Also, top-loading washing machines are virtually unheard of in Germany.

That people follow the rules, all the time! and if you don’t you will be made aware by complete strangers. It’s not just you, it happens to most ex-pats.

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.



Moving to Berlin in 1998 was an adventure:

Adjusting to the “Berliner Schnauze”, their rough, often hurting tone and choice of words, was a challenge after leaving Munich and their “Grüss Gott” culture.

But what I truly admired was the well thought through ”city-planning” and  options to get through the city, stress free. The Hohenzollerndamm, a connection to move from the West towards the eastern parts of the former “West Berlin” and the “Stadtautobahn”, another fabulous means to travel without stoplights through the former West Berlin area were worthy of my praise.

Now many years later, I have decided to no longer move through Berlin with a car. The absolutely incompetent city government has NO oversight of the construction sites; the streets blocked for whatever other reason and NO plans how to properly detour the traffic. The crazy bicyclists who follow no rules except “ME FIRST” are a threat to any driver, at any time of day and are always in the right, even if they cycle without lights at dusk, cycle through red lights and sway left or right without signalling. No respect for rules. They are the biggest threat in Berlin.  It’s almost as if car holders are the bad guys. We now have a politician who wants to ban cars all together from the city. That being said …… I have resorted to using public transportation.

The S-Bahn, the U-.Bahn (not at night as a woman alone), the busses, which never come as planned, the trams and if necessary, a taxi, bring me through the city at all times of the day, safe and usually not stressed..

If only the BVG, the Berlin public transportation company, offering great connections throughout the entire city, would realize, it’s more beneficial to repair and build new connections not all at the same time….. hampering a smooth moving forward.

The BVG offers two great Apps.  BVG Fahrinfo (in German)  listing most of the best connections                            (unfortunately not all) and the BVG Tickets. This last App saves me from looking for coins to pay for my tickets, as I do not buy the monthly ticket, which I would recommend for those of you who travel to work daily.

I am a BVG fan!

One of the most important topics for a family with young children moving to Berlin is finding a kindergarten which suits their children and where they feel their children will be well looked after.

So here we have just a small overview of the most important points regarding Kindergartens in Berlin.

Kindergarten in Berlin is called ‘KiTa’ this stands for Kindertagestätte which means Children’s Daycare. Children usually attend Kita from age 2 until they are school age, this can be up to 5.5 – 6.5 years old depending what their birthdate is or even if the parents would prefer they start school a little later giving them more time to mature. There are also Kitas which include a ‘Krippe’ this is for children under 2 years, but not all Kitas provide this option.

Kita care is essentially free of charge in Berlin, you are allotted an amount of Kita care depending on the child’s age and your work situation. If it is a private Kita, then there can be extra fees. All Kitas charge 23€ a month for food & depending on what the Kita offers, there can also be extra charges for sports, arts, music. The funding comes through the application for a ‘Kitagutschein’ and this is then approved by your local authorities. The Kitagutschein needs to be applied for at least 8-10 weeks prior to Kita starting.

  • *Children under 1 year oldcan attend Kita or have a nanny (Tagesmutter) for a 4-5 hours per day. This is called half days or halbtags To receive this care, you must prove that your child requires it. You can do this by showing your work contract hours or freelance work commitments. Children living in homeless shelters or collective housing are also entitled to halbtags care.
  • *Children over 1 year oldare entitled to 5-7 free hours per day. This is called part time or teilzeit
  • *Children over 3 years oldare entitled to 7-9 free hours per day. This is called full time or ganztags

(Source *AllaboutBerlin.com)

Finding a Kita place in Berlin can be difficult and it is advisable to start looking early and to be patient with the process. The reason for the lack of spaces is due to a large growth in the population of Berlin in recent years. Kitas usually have waiting lists and the places become available around May/June for the start of the new school year end of July/August. Of course, places do become available during the year too, with a bit of luck. It is always sensible to apply to a few different Kitas in order to boost the chances of getting a place.

The winter in Berlin can be long, cold, very grey and at times the city just simply cannot seem any drearier but come late March slowly but surely the sun begins to shine, the city starts to come to life, and we become hopeful for Spring!

Spring in Berlin is beautiful, colourful, optimistic and to be thoroughly enjoyed, so here are some tips for you and your family on places to discover at this time of year.

  1. Britzergarten – 90 hectares of landscaped gardens including a 10-hectare lake at the centre, lovely at any time of year but in spring it is the perfect place to see the sea of tulips and enjoy a walk. A fantastic place to go with children. https://gruen-berlin.de/en/britzer-garten
  2. Baumblütenfest Werder (Cherry Blossom Festival) – The town of Werder is located south-west of Berlin on the Havel River and surrounded by countryside and lakes. It holds a Cherry Blossom Festival annually and this is only the precursor to the delicious cherries which it then produces a month or so later. Werder can be reached by train and is a lovely place to explore. 27.04-05.05.2019 – https://www.baumbluetenfest.com/
  3. Staudenmarkt Botanischer Garten – Perennials Market at the Botanical Gardens. Spring is the time to brighten up your living space, even if you only have a small balcony. This annual market for plants of all shapes and sizes is fun to visit. https://www.berliner-staudenmarkt.de/
  4. Berlin Zoo – the Berlin Zoo is wonderful at almost any time of year, but spring time brings the baby animals, and this means extra cuteness all around. There is also a fantastic adventure playground for children and a café for parents to sit and watch. https://www.zoo-berlin.de/en
  5. Mutter Fourage Café, Nursery and Café – This is a real gem located in Berlin-Wannsee in the very south-west of the city. It is reached by s-bahn & bus and offers a gorgeous café with indoor and outdoor seating, an art gallery and a beautiful plant nursery & flower shop. The food is vegetarian and organic. https://www.mutter-fourage.de/
  6. Bike Tour Wannsee to Potsdam – once the days are a little warmer, a bike tour along the lakes from S-Bahnhof Wannsee to Potsdam is a wonderful way to get to know the surrounding area. Take the S-bahn to Wannsee with your bike on board and then there are several options to make your way to Potsdam, for example along Königsstrasse over the Wannsee hill, past the stunning Schloß Glienecke (Summer Palace) and down to the famous ‘Bridge of Spys’ Glienicker Brücke. From the Bridge there is a beautiful view over the water to the Schloß Babelsberg and then you can carry on to where a delicious lunch is waiting for you at Garage Du Pont (http://garagedupont.de/) There is an awesome app/webpage on which you can plan bike routes and hiking trails called – https://www.komoot.de/
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