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From the UK to Wiesbaden: Live Work Germany

22 May, 2017 09:23  Erin Erin

live work germany I’m James, originally from Birmingham area, UK. Now living in the beautiful spa town of Wiesbaden, Germany. I run the blog Live Work Germany.

1. Why did you move abroad?
I had been thinking about it for a while. All of my friends were getting married so I thought back then that it was perfect time to take the plunge. I couldn’t really see myself staying in the UK….the weather is so depressing and the prettiest parts of the country are not where most of the jobs are. A German speaking country was the obvious choice because I had lived in Germany for a year as part of my studies.

2. How do you make a living?
I am a Regional Procurement Manager buying capital equipment for a consumer goods company. Although when I moved here it was for a different company. I’ve done 3 different jobs since I moved here 10 years ago.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Usually once a week with my parents on FaceTime or by phone. Teaching my Dad how to use FaceTime was a challenge!

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Germany?
Clean, safe cities with easy access to wonderful recreational opportunities. I love hiking and cycling and there is an active, outdoorsy culture here. Great beer and wine and a real awareness of seasonal produce. Summer street festivals where everyone just has a good time and there is very rarely any trouble. Easy access to the rest of Europe. Skiing in Winter and of course putting your foot down on the Autobahn.

5. What's the worst thing about being an expat in Germany?
High taxation and Germans being rooted to the belief that their way is the right way. There is definitely a Groupthink culture here where nobody seems to challenge the status-quo. Also, for one of the wealthiest countries in the world, I find Germans in general to be quite pessimistic.

6. What do you miss most?
Apart from friends and family, a good curry and a cosy English pub! Most other things you can get here if you know where to look.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
My friends initially were all expats, and even now a lot still are. Originally I used meetup.com to meet people and then later, once Facebook became popular, I joined and was an Admin for a FB group for expats in the city where I live. I could already speak the language so that wasn’t an issue for me. Adopting to some of the weirder aspects of the German workplace and trying to make German friends was a challenge at first. Germans tend to have smaller but closer groups of friends and penetrating a tight-knit social circle can take time.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I find it strange that people who have worked with each other for 10+ years still call each other Herr X or Frau Y. Germans separate work and leisure time very distinctly and the workplace is much more formal than it is in the UK. Don't expect your boss to take you on a team night out! I do kind of get this and the see advantages of this approach in some respects.

Nonetheless, I find it extremely strange that you would still address somebody formally with whom you spend so much time.

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That the Germans are efficient. Yes, they are extremely efficient at making stuff and distributing it. When it comes to anything to do with administration or bureaucracy though, they are one of the most inefficient countries you could imagine. There is a saying that if you want to experience German efficiency, go to Switzerland.
Oh yes, and the trains running on time is also another one.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Most everyday necessities are a little bit cheaper. Groceries are cheaper and going out for meals and drinks at the weekend is cheaper. Local public transport is pretty reasonable. Property generally is cheaper, although it has risen in price sharply over the past 3 years and there is a big difference between major cities and rural areas. In beautiful wine country you can still buy a house for €100,000! Any type of service which requires manual labour like hairdressers, mechanics, handymen etc is much more expensive. Salaries here are considerably higher though, around 20-25%, for most jobs compared to the UK.

11. What advice would you give other expats?
Learn German! So many don’t and I think every immigrant should learn the language of the host country. Expats are no different. Plenty of people less smart than you have managed it. “Everyone speaks English here” and “German is really hard” are just excuses for “I can’t really be bothered.” You just need to apply yourself and focus, and consider it one of your priorities that you find time to do.

12. When and why did you start your blog?live work germany
I saw there was a gap on the web for an informal, light-hearted “how to” site explaining some of the nuances of life in Germany. There are a few more formal or generic sites out there but not much in a narrative style. I've lived here long enough and speak German fluently so I figured I could help people with this advice.

Longer-term I would like to turn it into a business serving newcomers to Germany. I would love to connect with a female mom blogger in Germany to help with a few family-orientated posts. If there is anyone out there, drop me a line or connect on Twitter @liveworkgermany.

 

Blog LinkJames's blog, Live Work Germany

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