They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and it’s true. For many people out there, living in Germany can sound like a dream. I’ve been an expat in Germany for nearly three years (with a 6-month-long break in Ecuador in between) and let me tell you, there’s a lot of little things that can be hard to get used to and are hard to understand. I’ve collected 31 of them – you want to hear them out?
1. The German language isn’t that hard as they say.
2. Germans aren’t that fluent in English as you’d think.
3. You will have little time to shop…
Because during the week, everything works from 9 to 7, which is when you work, too. And on Sunday, everything’s closed.
4. …and even less time to receive your mail.
The same: post delivers stuff when you’re at work. So if you’re not at home to receive the package and no neighbor’s willing to accept it for you, you’re screwed.
5. In general, German post is surprisingly bad.
Never, I repeat, never use DPD. And don’t believe in the goodness of postmen – sometimes they don’t deliver your stuff because, well, they just don’t feel like it.
7. You’ll never be real friends with your colleagues.
They think work is strictly for work.
8. And it will be difficult to make friends with the locals.
9. The German diet will get you out of shape.
Because bread is just everywhere.
10. You’ll be forced to love techno.
And hip hop. Germans love rap.
11. Most of your salary will go to taxes.
If you’re young, single and childless, you better get old, married and adopt. And do it asap.
12. Don’t expect much from German healthcare.
Finding a good doctor is really hard. If you’re using public insurance, expect not to expect much from German doctors.
13. You’ll forget how it feels to wear heels.
14. And soon you’ll be all make-up-less.
15. You’ll become more punctual to set a good example for Germans.
And you thought Germans are the most punctual and organized people in the world? Ha!
See also: 8 False German Stereotypes
16. You’ll still see poor people.
Poverty does exist in Germany and, as a matter of fact, it is now at its highest ever since reunification. About 12.5 million Germans are now officially classified as poor.
17. Germany is not a job market paradise.
Even though Germany has the lowest unemployment rate in Europe, it doesn’t mean that finding a job is easy. There are more English-speaking foreigners than English-speaking positions, so if you don’t have decent German skills to offer, finding a job can take a long while.
18. Getting fired in Germany is hard…
Remember: if you have an unlimited contract and if you have worked in the company for quite some time already, the employer will have to pay you thousands of euros if he chooses to fire you. So in many cases, he usually chooses not to do that.
19. …so you might get bullied to quit on your own.
No kidding. You can be squeezed out of tasks and responsibilities, kicked out of your team, even forbidden to communicate with your co-workers about work so that you’d just get fed up, quit on your own and save your employer a bunch of money. Unfortunately, this happens for real, and unfortunately, everybody knows about it.
20. It’s illegal to give negative employee references.
Letters of reference must always sound positive – but it doesn’t mean they really are. There’s sometimes a hidden code behind it that reveals the true assessment you’ve been given (from 1 to 5, 1 being the best one).
21. Germans have their own LinkedIn.
It’s called XING.
22. Finding sex in Germany is too easy.
23. But finding a relationship is too hard.
24. Germans don’t like social media and use fake names on Facebook to protect their identity.
Some Germans don’t even approve of Whatsapp. (Seriously?)
25. Most places only accept cash.
Credit card? Thanks but no thanks. Even your German debit card (EC-Karte) can be refused.
26. Traveling via trains in Germany is more expensive than via planes.
27. Germans like nudity.
28. And they love fizzy drinks.
29. They actually like a lot of weird things.
30. And all in all, living in Germany is not at all what you could expect.