The most compelling reasons you should move to Germany now

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Published 2018-06-15 09:20

Are you trying to decide on your next expat destination as a digital nomad? Or have you just been offered a job in Germany, and you wish to know more about your future host country? Germany is split into 16 federal states, each of which has its policies and laws regarding education and culture. Europe’s largest economy is a major exporter of heavy equipment, vehicles, and chemicals, and has a highly-skilled labour force. Despite the low fertility rates and increase in immigration, Germany can still afford a generous social welfare. Expat.com shares the top reasons you should move to the country of Goethe, Bach, and Beethoven.

Free and diverse education

Primary school students in German school
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The German education system produces high-performing students. Not all of them establish an academic career, but the majority succeed in finding their path and practising the skills they are strong at. Elementary school (Grundschule) ends at grade four. Then, at the age of ten, the child and family must choose among three different types of schools, according to its academic achievements, personality, and talents. Hauptschule gives students vocational education and access to part-time apprenticeships in a specific field. Realschule is also based on vocational training, as opposed to the Gymnasium, which prepares studious students for higher education with an academic and demanding curriculum. Other kinds of schools are the Sonderschule, which are for children with special needs, and have specially trained teachers, as well as a smaller student to teacher ratio. Boarding schools (Internat) specialise in sports or music, and attendance can be restricted to male or female students only. Regardless of the school, students must complete a minimum of nine years of education plus five years of study of a foreign language. Expats can benefit from the public education system and integrate their children in the German culture. However, they have to take into account that all classes in non-international schools are conducted in German.

Fair pension system

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Due to its adequacy and effectiveness, the German pension system ranks 12th in the world, which makes Germany an appealing destination to older expats. The retirement age used to be 65, but recent legislation has shifted the minimum age to 67 for those born after the year 1964. By working in Germany and paying a contribution for 60 months or more, one becomes eligible to receive the government pension. A significant advantage of the German retirement system is the recognition of child-rearing as a decisive factor towards your future pension plan. If you, for example, have raised at least two children in the first three years of their lives in Germany, you can claim equal pension benefits, even if you have never worked in the country.

Efficient healthcare

Germany emergency system
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Overall, Germany is a safe country with limited crime incidents and traffic accidents. However, it is important to know what to do in the event of an emergency. There are three emergency responders: Medical Service, Fire Service, and the Police. The free of charge emergency number is 112. While the most staff is fluent in English, as an expat you should be able to speak some basic German (or have access to a reliable German person) when you have to say your name, address, and telephone number urgently. According to the German law, emergency services must arrive at the scene within ten minutes from the moment they received the call, depending on the condition. When speaking with the emergency services, remember to stay on the phone until you are asked to hang up and to mention the names of any prescription drugs you might be taking. For urgent medical care, you can also take the initiative to drive to the nearest hospital’s A&E (Notaufnahme). Some words to add in your German vocabulary are: hilfe (help), Rufen Sie einen Krankenwagen (call and ambulance), würgend (choking), gebären (in labour), herzinfarkt (heart attack), and schlaganfall (stroke).

Rare unemployment benefits

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You may have arrived in Germany to progress your career or undertake a promising job position. However, things don’t always go according to plan, and you may suddenly have to deal with redundancy. The German regulations have predicted all unpleasant situations, and “any registered person that has worked for more than one year in Germany can claim benefits” — even if they have resigned by choice. Also, under certain conditions, European Union citizens have the right to transfer some benefits from their country to Germany. But how are the benefits’ duration and amount measured? Generally speaking, if you have worked for two years, you can claim benefits for one year. If you are under 45 years old, you cannot claim benefits for more than one year, and the amount is usually 60% of your net salary and 67% if you have children, plus the health insurance expenses. Such a support system gives you the advantage to stop worrying about bills, and start planning ways to move forward and rebuild your life. So, first you must register at the Arbeitsagentur where you will be assigned a counsellor to discuss your options, CV, and job applications. Note that if you are self-employed, you don’t have such generous security.