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Welcome to Germany, what do you know about life in Germany? Is it all oompah music, steins of beer, Lederhosen and large portions of Meat & Potatoes? Well yes, there is that too but there is so much more to learn about those quirky german ways and soon enough you’ll be following the rules whilst wearing lederhosen, dancing to oompah music with a beer in your hand!

  1. What do you mean there is no kitchen?! It’s no joke, many german apartments/houses come without an inbuilt kitchen. This will appear as a shock to most ex-pats as a kitchen would seemingly be just part and parcel of a rental. But in Germany, this is most often not the case. The theory is, it stems from the fact that germans rent for longterm, meaning for the rest of their lives (well not always but sometimes!) and therefore they want to pick a kitchen which is theirs and consistent with their own style. So you may find yourself having to purchase a kitchen – however, it has become more common in the past 10 years for there to be a kitchen already installed.
  2. Introductions, where do you begin? When being introduced to someone, it is common to shake hands as a greeting and to introduce yourself by saying your last name. Germans will feel embarrassed if you introduce yourself with your first name. It is also common to shake hands when saying good-bye. When being introduced to a mixed crowd, always shake the hand of the woman first – erst die Dame – Ladies first. And be careful not to cross your arm over another couple shaking hands – this is bad luck in Germany!
  3. Introductions continued! – Always address Germans formally with Frau (Mrs./Ms.) and Herr (Mr.), or should the person have a title such as Dr. be sure to use it. The formal “Sie” and the informal “Du” (as in French vous and tu) sometimes cause confusion. Germans are very careful with offering someone the “Du” form, and the offering is always done by the older person. Adult women are always addressed as “Frau” whether married or not. The term “Fräulein” is out and is never used.
  4. Prost! A toast to your new life in Germany – be careful, a possible faux pas is lurking – When toasting, be sure to look the person with whom you are toasting directly in the eye, otherwise, it is 7 years of bad luck, and bad manners. “Zum Wohl” means “cheers” or more literally “to your health”.
  5. Sundays are for rest. There is a multitude of things you are not supposed to do on a Sunday, mow the lawn, vacuum, any kind of handyman jobs and you are not allowed to hang your laundry outside on a Sunday – historically to keep churchgoers who walk to church from being exposed to this unpleasant sight!. This can be expanded into the topic of „Ruhezeiten”, or quiet times in Germany, are every day from 13.00 – 15.00, including Saturdays, all day on Sundays, and every day after 22.00. You are not allowed to “make noise” during this time (e.g. mow your lawn). However, you are allowed to have a party (i.e. make noise) once a month!! It is customary to announce your intentions to make noise to your immediate neighbours or better yet, invite them to your party!.
  6. Happy Birthday! …. Now that you know how to say cheers and when you may party, the next important point is: Birthday celebrations, in Germany it is the responsibility of the birthday boy/girl (this also applies to adults!) to organise the celebrations. This means you give (i.e., pay) for your own birthday party/dinner. Often times, the one celebrating a birthday will bring cake and drinks into the office to share with colleagues.

Now, of course, all of these points are general and it will depend where you are living in Germany. Often Berlin is thought of as much more liberal than say a small town in the South but it’s always good to know the general rule.

Winter is approaching and due to the cooler weather, we are also starting into the time when people start to get the sniffles around us. It’s important to keep yourself and your family healthy during this coldest of seasons.

Influenza vaccine (Grippeschutzimpfung) is generally recommended for all people. It is covered by health insurance for certain people. Those who are definitely advised to vaccinate are people over the age of 60, people with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases or asthma, employees of medical institutions and people who regularly come into contact with many people at work.

The flu vaccine should be given every year, preferably in October or November. After vaccination, it takes about 10 to 14 days for the body to build up sufficient protection against infection. Even a later vaccination at the beginning of the year is usually still useful. Especially if the flu epidemic has not started or just started

Please check with your health insurance provider if this is covered for you and contact your GP for further details.

(Source: https://www.impfen-info.de/ )

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.

The German health care system is one of the best in the world. Everyone is required to be insured and this insurance covers a large range of medical care across the board from General Practitioners, Specialists, preventative measures to dental. Depending on where you are coming from you may find the German System very extensive, it offers some excellent options for not just the treatment but also prevention of illness and general wellbeing for body, mind and spirit.

There are two types of insurance in Germany, Statutory Health Insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and Private Health Insurance (Private Krankenversicherung). It is mandatory to have medical insurance, which insurance you are eligible for depends on your income.

The criteria is as follows, Statutory Health Insurance is compulsory if you are:

  • in paid employment or in vocational training, including trainees and apprentices, and earn less than €57,600 per year (2017 figures);
  • pensioners who have been insured for a sufficient period of time;
  • receiving unemployment benefits or assistance;
  • in some form of youth assistance (Jugendhilfe);
  • students in an approved higher education institution;
  • farmers or assisting family members;
  • artists, writers and those in publishing professions (under the Artists Social Welfare Act);
  • have no other access to healthcare services (under certain conditions).

Spouses, civil partners and children (up to age 23, or 25 if studying) of someone covered by state healthcare insurance are eligible for family co-insurance in certain conditions, without having to pay contributions, provided their income does not exceed €415–450 each month, depending on the situation (casual or regular, respectively).

(Source: https://www.expatica.com/de/healthcare/healthcare-basics/a-guide-to-german-health-insurance-693463/ )

If you earn above the 57,600€ a year then you are open to choose Private Health Insurance. The benefits of private health insurance can definitely be Doctors/appointments being more readily available and access more senior staff at hospitals. Private health insurance is more expensive and it requires you to pay for spouses and children separately. Once you have been privately insured in Germany, it is difficult to almost impossible to change back into the Statutory Insurance – this is important to consider this when deciding whether to choose private insurance because if you have a change in financial circumstances you are bound to the higher premiums.

It is always advisable to look into various Insurance companies and see what they offer, make some comparisons and consider if they have specific offers which are compatible with your needs. Especially if you are looking to ensure a partner/spouse and/or children that you are being offered the best package. Under the Statutory Insurance families can often be insured with the employee.

The costs of Statutory health insurance are 14.6% of your income before tax (this is subject to change) – you pay around half of this and the employer pays the rest.

The costs of private health insurance are determined by various factors including your gender, age, current health and also your medical history. It is also important to note, if you are privately insured you will be billed by the doctor or medical institution and then subsequently reimbursed by your insurance, so there will be a time period in between where you are out of pocket until the reimbursement.

There are websites which offer comparisons of the different health insurance companies, you will need to enter in your data regarding your income, family situation, etc and they will give you an overview of the costs and what is offered.

For example: https://www.check24.de/gesetzliche-krankenversicherung/ or https://www.gesetzlichekrankenkassen.de/

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, I have 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.



As Oliver Twist said ‚Food glorious food‘ and who doesn’t love to eat?! Autumn is a great time to discover some great new restaurants and eateries around Berlin or to learn some new skills and partake in a cooking class. The Berlin Food Week is primarily being hosted by the Bikini Mall in City West but there are events all around the city including showcases, cooking courses and pop-up stores.

Since its launch in 2014, the Berlin Food Week has established itself as an integral part of the food scene. The capital has long been known for its creative and cosmopolitan protagonists of a new food culture. Restaurateurs and innovative young chefs are shaping the culinary image of the city with their curiosity, joy of experimenting, and passion. This makes Berlin the ideal venue for the most exciting food festival in Germany. At various locations throughout the city, chefs, food entrepreneurs, and manufactories will present tasty and thrilling innovations from all over the world. The focus is on enjoyment, trying things out, and exchanging experiences. Visitors will learn all about creative food trends, fascinating nutrition topics, and sustainable consumption. Workshops and networking events will invite them to join in. Look over the shoulder of experienced chefs and get to know the producers behind the products. Enjoy the culinary delights that will be served in food trucks and restaurants throughout Berlin. (source: https://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/berlin-food-week )

Full Programme can be found here: https://www.berlinfoodweek.de/programm/

This blog is a way that the IRC Team and our clients can share their experience and knowledge with you. Every year our Team helps many people in their relocation to Berlin, singles, couples and families and we want everyone to feel comfortable and settled in their new environment.

Moving to a new Country or City can be very daunting, we hope to make your transition a little easier by sharing things we learned on our own journey of being new in Berlin.

Berlin has so much to offer, it is a melting pot for people and cultures from all around the world and we want you to be able to find people, places and things which make you feel comfortable in your new hometown and not to mention discover what german culture and Berlin have to offer.

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