6 places to swim in Düsseldorf

Let’s face it, it is cold out there! 

Winter is coming and indoor activities are really appreciated by all of us living in Germany. Mostly during gray, rainy days when it is not so pleasant to walk down the street. 

One of the things that shocked me the most about winter activities in this country is that Germans love to spend time in swimming pools.

I – with my Spanish mindset – had always associated swimming pools to both summer and sports. Now that the holiday season is gone, I can only think of visiting a swimming pool to strength my muscles. However, Germans like not only to do some sports, but also to bring the whole family to spend some time in the pool. No matter whether it is 10 o’clock in the morning, or 7 o’clock in the afternoon. Swimming pools are fully book every day of the week.

What about you? Are you more a sport or a leisure person?

Anyway, no matter which kind of person you are. If you live in Düsseldorf and you are looking for the best swimming pool to enjoy your free time, this post is for you.

Ready to learn more about the best pools in the city? Let’s go:

Schwimm’ in Bilk

Here you can find a 25 meter pool with different lanes and springboards. Lanes are divided in “Power lane”, for those who want to swim fast, and “Relax lane”, for those more relaxed.

This pool has the perfect length for swimming without being an athlete 😉

Website

Hallenbad Allwetterbad Flingern

Also a place with a 25 meter pool divided in “Power” and “Relax”.

Here you can find different type of courses: Swimming for beginners, Aqua Fitness, Baby courses…

Another ideal place for not professionals who want to get rid of the daily stress by training their muscles. 

Website

50-meter Schwimmhalle Rheinbad

As its name suggests, this places has an Olympic-size swimming pool for those braves enough to swim as professionals. As you can imagine, many semi-professionals and professionals use this place to train.

Here you can also find a variety of courses such as Aqua Fitness and swimming for beginners. 

In case you’d rather swim in a shorter pool, here there is also a 33 meter pool whose temperature (28°) is perfect for these winter days.

Furthermore, both pools are also divided in “Power lane” and “Relax lane”. 

However, you have to choose in advance in which of them you want to swim. It is not allowed to visit both pools during the same time slot. 

Website

Freizeitbad Düsselstrand

This one is the favorite place for families with children in Düsseldorf. 

Why?

This place has a 25 meter pool divided in “Power lane” and “Relax lane” perfect to strength the muscles.

At the same time, this place counts with three more pools. Two of them are thought for children, since the water depth is limited to 1.35 meters. The third one is a perfect combination for both adults and children, since there is a small wellness area and a pool slide. 

A part from that, there are three jacuzzis, a second huge pool slide and they also offer swimming and Aqua Fitness courses.

Wesbite

Münster Terme

This place is not just a swimming pool but a health center with different facilities. Among them you can find a 25 meter swimming pool, a sauna, a fitness studio, a physiotherapy center and a salt grotto.

This is the right place if you are looking to escape the cold, windy days to enjoy a moment for yourself.

Website

Family Bath Niederheid

This is another family oriented swimming pool.

Here you can find a special area for children, a non-swimmers pool -the water depth is limited to 1.35 meter- and a 25 meters pool also divided in “Power lane” and “Relax lane”.

Website

 

This year, due to COVID-19, the entrance to the pools is limited. If you want to buy a ticket just choose a swimming pool, visit its website and check the availability in the different time slots.

Take into account that online reservations can be made up to three days in advance. A new day is always online at 21:00 pm.

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Significant changes in Germany

significant changes in germany 2020

From VAT reductions to pension inflations, something is changing in German regulation.

In this post I want to explain more about the new temporary and log-term changes, which are effective from today, the 1st of July 2020, onwards.

Temporary reduction of German VAT

As part of its stimulus package aimed to support the economy after the corona crisis, the German government has decided to introduce a temporary reduction of the German VAT.

Regular VAT is reduced from 19 to 16 percent, and reduced VAT from 7 to 5 percent. The federal government assumes the tax shortfalls amounting to almost 20 billion euros.

The reduced VAT rates come into effect from today, 1st of July 2020, until the 31 December 2020.

Pensions

The more than 21 million pensioners in Germany can now enjoy a significant increase in their pensions.

From today onwards, pensions will increase by 3.45 percent in the west and 4.20 percent in the east of the country. With the current increase, the legally agreed east-west pension adjustment takes effect for the third time. In order to meet this goal, the pension adjustments in the east part of the country had to be higher than in the west part.

Minimum wages for caregivers

From July 1 onwards, caregivers in Germany can expect a slight boost in their minimum wage. The hourly salary will rise to 15 euros and it will go up again in April 2022, to 15.40 euros.

In addition to the statutory vacation entitlement, carers will also be given additional vacation: Five days this year and six days in 2021.

Tenant protection

During the coronavirus crisis, the government instituted a protection against eviction policy to prevent renters in financial difficulties from losing their homes.

As of July 1, this temporary special protection will no longer apply.

The rent remained due for the corona period, however, an interest on arrears may arise. This must be paid by the end of this year.

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Finding a Doctor in Germany

Living in Germany can lead to daily challenges such going to the hairdresser, finding the nearest supermarket or choosing the right doctor. Back home, this decision is easier since you already know the country and how things are done there, mostly when it comes to medical issues.

However, as an expat finding the right doctor can be tough, not only because of the language difference, but also because of the lack of knowledge about the healthcare system and how does it work.

As I already mentioned in my post about the German Health Care System, this country counts with universal coverage for all the citizens. Therefore, every German resident has at least a public health insurance. Nevertheless, those who’d rather pay to have more coverages are enrolled in a private insurance.

For you as an expat, it is important to know that once you do the Anmeldung (registration as a resident in Germany) you will need to decide whether you enjoy the benefits of the public healthcare system , or whether you privately pay for a private health insurance.

No matter which decision you take, finding a doctor and calling the emergency number must be done in the same way.

But, how can I find the right doctor? Where should I call if I get badly sick at night?

In this post I will answer these questions and more. Are you ready?

Finding the right doctor

Choosing the right doctor can be intimidating because of the language difference. However, many doctors talk in English, so you do not need to be worried.

If your friends or colleagues cannot give you a good recommendation (yes, first option is always to ask people you already know, the best references usually come by word of mouth), then the best way to find a good doctor is to use the website Jameda, where you can find all the different doctors in your area depending on your illness.

Do not forget that in most of the cases you will need to visit first the Allgemeinarzt or Hausartz (general practitioner). This doctor will then decide whether he/she can take care of you, or whether you need to visit a specialist.

My personal recommendation is that you find a practitioner close to your house or your work place, in this way when you are really sick, you don’t need to cross the city to visit him.

Finally, take into account that to visit some doctors such as dentists, gynecologists and ophthalmologists you can make an appointment directly with them without talking first to the general practitioner.

Which are the office hours?

Office hours may differ depending on the doctor. However, most of the times, doctors are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm and two days per week from 14:00 pm to 18:00 pm.

If you have an emergency (high temperature, influenza symptoms…) you can visit the doctor without making any appointment. Therefore, check the Akutsprechstunden of your general practitioner.

Akutsprechstunden are short consultations intended for acute health complains which are conducted in the doctor’s office during concrete office hours. Usually, Akutsprechstunden take place either early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

How to make an appointment

When making an appointment either per telephone or online.

If you call the doctor’s office, the first person you will speak to is the doctor’s assistant, who will give you an appointment without asking further questions about why you want to see the doctor. Usually, you can shortly explain the reason of your visit, and she will note it down for the doctor.

When making an online appointment, you can do it directly from the doctor’s website or via Doctolib. This page helps you finding doctors near you and making a direct appointment with them based on their availability.

Emergency number

When you have an urgent medical situation at night or during the weekend and doctor offices are closed, where can you go?

In Germany it exists a very important telephone number for people feeling sick and not able to leave their places: 116117. Use this number in case of an emergency that does not require an ambulance rushing to your house.

When calling this number you will first talk to a telephone assistant which will ask you some questions about your symptoms, your address and your social security number (Krankenkassenkarte). This person will then decide whether you need a doctor or an ambulance. In the first case, the nearest doctor will receive an emergency call and he/she will come to your house in less than 10 minutes. In case of an ambulance, the telephone assistant will contact them for you, so that you do not need to take care about anything during this stressful situation.

However, if your situation is critical and you are able to move, go to the nearest hospital with your Krankenkassenkarte and do not care about the costs. In Germany, health insurances take care of them.

Your turn

Have you ever been to the doctor in Germany? Is there any other information you think I should include in this post?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your experiences!

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Leaving Germany: The checklist

Alright… a new experience is knocking on your door and you are ready for it! An exciting future awaits and you have decided to move on and leave Germany, but… do you remember all the administrative things you had to do when you arrived here?

I have some news for you: All those administrative things will come back to you before you leave the country.

Yes… Germans love administrative processes  😊

To be prepare to deal with all these tasks, I have prepared the following list for you. Before checking it, please be aware that many contracts in Germany have clauses where it is said that you have a notice period of -usually- 3 months before the renewal date.

And now…your checklist for leaving Germany:

Apartment Tenancy

In my opinion, this should be one of the first things you should take care of.

Usually, the maximum notice period is 3 calendar months. Unless your contract stipulates different conditions.

The Mietvertragskündigung – or the official tenancy termination notice – should include a short explanation with your reasons to leave the apartment, it also must be signed and it must be sent per post to the landlord.

Phone and internet providers

To cancel your internet or phone contract can be a nightmare in Germany.

Most customers are on fixed-term contracts, which means that they are on 24 months with automatic 12 months renewal contracts. In this case you have to check the notice period written in your contract. For example, I have a notice period of 4 months before the renewal. If the renewal takes places the 1st of October, I have to cancel it before June.

If you are lucky enough to have a pay-as-you-go monthly contract, it will be easy to cancel it. Just send a letter to the provider or try doing it online.

Gym membership

Another nightmare for many expats who are relocating to another country is to cancel their gym membership.

Yes, if you thought that relocation would be a good reason to quit a contract… I’m sorry! Not in Germany!

Some of my friends – ok, almost all of them – had problems with this point. Therefore, my recommendation is to try to persuade the gym staff to accept your cancellation or try to make a deal with them. A friend of mine agreed to pay a certain amount of money so that they cancel the contract…

Another idea could be that someone you know take on your contract terms. A friend of mine did it and it worked! 😊

Insurances 

Moving abroad is not consider as an extraordinary right to terminate an insurance contract. Surprised?

In this case you should follow the regular procedures. Therefore, you have to send a termination letter to you insurance – signed and per post, German style 😉.

Usually, this written document should be sent 3 months before renewal. However, each insurance is different so you should better take a look at your contract to be sure.

Bank account

In my personal opinion, this should be one of the last things you should take care of.

To close your bank account either you send a written letter to the bank or you go to a bank branch with the letter.

The process is automatic and really fast, which means that once you start it, your account will be closed in less than 24 hours. So please, remember to remove all the money from the account before.

Energy

Easy and straightforward. The process is similar to the one you did when you entered the flat or when you moved to another flat within Germany.

On the day you move out, you have to read the meters and give them to your utilities providers. In case your landlord is the responsible of sending this information to the utilities provider, you just need to read the meters and share them with him.

GEZ or TV tax

The advantage of moving abroad is that you stop paying the €17.50 per month, that every resident in Germany is obliged to pay.

This must be formally cancelled on their website: Rundfunkbeitrag.  They will probably ask you for your Abmeldung.

Abmeldung

Do you remember when you came to Germany and you did the Anmeldung? (You can take a look at my experience here)

Well, now it is time to do the opposite: The Abmeldung.

How does it work?

You have to inform your local municipality when you are leaving the flat. Same way you did when you moved to a new flat. In this case, instead of showing the contract of your new apartment, you will need to prove that you are leaving the country. Therefore, you can use your one-way flight ticket and your new address.

Once you have done this, they will kindly ask you to leave the country in a time frame of one or two weeks – depending on the region you live. So I recommend you to do not do the Abmeldung until the last moment (6-5 days before leaving Germany).

Schlüsselübergabeprotokoll

Here comes the hardest part… Your beloved apartment… The place where you had so much fun, good times, good experiences… It is time to say goodbye… There are so many things you have to take into account before leaving an apartment in Germany…  In fact, I could write a post explaining how moving out of your apartment in Germany works. However, I am just going to focus in the last moments and administrative tasks you must do just before living it.

The day you move out, the landlord will come to inspect the property and to be sure that there is no damage. If everything is right and the landlord considers that the apartment is in good condition, you will receive your security deposit. Otherwise, he will keep it and you won’t see this money ever again ☹

After the inspection, it is time for the Schlüsselübergabeprotokoll, when you give the keys back to the landlord and you both sign a paper confirming that everything is fine. This document should contain the following information:

  • That the apartment is in good condition
  • That the lardlord has received all the keys of the apartment
  • The approximate date when you will receive the deposit back

Once this protocol is done, you are free to go to start your new adventure 😊

 

Your turn

Do you have experience moving out from Germany? Is there any other recommendation you think I should include in this post?

In case you want to share your experience feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

 

 

 

 

 

The origin and history of Carnival in Germany

Once again we reach this time of the year so important for the NRW region, especially for the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne.

Carnival has been celebrated since the Middle Ages in Germany, however, few people talks about the historical roots of this (great) tradition.

Ancient times

This pagan tradition comes from the ancient Greek and Roman times. During those times, people along the Rhine celebrated a festival in honor of Dionysus, God of wine and festivity, and Saturn God of seed and sowing. The festival consisted of a feast with wine and dance, during which people had freedom to criticize and satirize authorities without any repercussion.

Christian times

When this area got Christianized, the above mentioned festival was included in the church calendar. However, things changed a bit and the feast started taking place six weeks before Easter, just before the fasting or Lent period began.

Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Eastern in the Christian calendar. This is a quiet, reflective time when Christians remember the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus in his last days. Whereas Easter celebrates his resurrection and it is a festivity time for Christians.

Therefore, Carnival was a time for rowdy behavior, where people could eat and drink in excess as a way to prepare themselves for the fast. And, as surprising as it seems, the Catholic church allowed it.

Therefore, Carnival is nowadays mostly celebrated in the Catholic regions of Germany – along the Rhine.

Prussian times

 It wasn’t until the 19th century, time when the Prussians governed the regions along the Rhine, when carnival was institutionalized.

During Carnival days, people dressed up in the uniform of Prussian soldiers as a satire of them and their rules. The normal order of things was reversed: Party and drunkenness were allowed and soldiers and royals were satirized.

During this festivity a tradition arose. People – craftsmen, farmers, workers… – rose to the position of princes and royals and paraded through the streets delivering food and wine.

Nowadays, we still find this tradition during Carnival time. In the Rhine area it exists different “carnival societies” which have their own regiments, military orders and their own prince. To differentiate one from the others, each of them wear different colors, bands and medals.

Modern times

The carnival season in Germany is known as the “Fifth season of the year” and it officially begins the 11th of November at 11:11 a.m.

Since that moment the “ElferratCouncil of Eleven – together with the different carnival societies start planning the upcoming events.

One of the most popular events, that take place during those days are the “Carnival Sitzung”, private parties – you need to be invited or get a ticket – where people dance, drink and have a great time together with the members of the society which organizes the event.

Relevant events during Carnival

Altweiber

At 11:11 a.m. people stop working and start eating “Berliner” to celebrate the beginning of the most intense Carnival days.

However, Altweiber is women’s day and it is tradition that they gather in the street to have fun and celebrate. This day they are allowed to “attack” men by cutting off their ties.

In the afternoon there are masked balls and parties all around the cities lasting until late night.

Rosenmontag

On Monday the cities along the Rhine celebrate “Rosenmontag”. A parade, organized by the different societies, takes place during that day. Floats depicting caricatures of politicians and famous personalities go through the city with performers tossing out “Kamelle” (sweets) and flowers.

Usually, each float belong to a different carnival society – which work during 7 months to design and build it – and drives dancers, music bands and the “prince guard” all around the city.

Veilchendienstag  

This tradition is mostly celebrated in Cologne area.

It consist in a ceremonial burning of the “Nubbel” – a straw doll – as a symbolical cremation of the misconduct committed during the carnival festivities.

Coming to an end…

Carnival is not a national holiday in Germany, in fact it is mainly celebrated in the region along the Rhine. In cities such as Düsseldorf or Cologne many schools, companies and stores close for the festivities.

If you ever visit NRW region in this period do not forget to greet people as follows:

  • Düsseldorf area: Helau! (instead of “Hallo”)
  • Cologne area: Alaf! (instead of “Hallo”)

Until “Aschermittwoch” and during 5 days, all the cities and towns of this region are full of floats – for children and adults -, music bands, prince guards and costumed people ready to enjoy this festivity. Once the festivities are over – Aschermittwoch or Ash Wednesday – it is time for Lent.

 

Ready to enjoy the festivities? 😉

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

Upcoming events – Summer in Düsseldorf

Looking for something to do in Düsseldorf this summer? Whether you’re a local, new in town or just cruising through I have loads of great ideas for you.

Ready to find the upcoming summer events in Düsseldorf?

June

European Fencing Championships

Did you know that fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympic games? In fact, competitive fencing is one of the five activities which have been featured in EVERY modern Olympics.

This month of June Düsseldorf will be the house of all fencing athletes competing for their qualification for the Olympics Games 2020.

To experience fencing on the highest level with all possible emotions just come to Düsseldorf 😉

When: From the 17th to the 22nd of June 2019

Where: Messe Düsseldorf

More information: https://www.madeofsteel2019.de/en/

T3 Triathlon

Once again the awaited T3 Triathlon is coming to Düsseldorf. Around 2,000 participants register each year for this important event, where both professional and non-professional athletes swim, run and cycle around the city. As usual, “Mediahafen” is the starting point of this intense competition.

During two days, the meadow in front of the NRW state parliament will be the meeting point. Around 40,000 people come every year to enjoy the triathlon, support all the athletes and spend some time surrounded by friends and family.

When: The 23rd of June 2019

Where: The meadow in front of the NRW state parliament (registration point).

More information: https://www.t3-duesseldorf.de/

Nacht die Metropole Ruhr

50 venues, 24 cities, 300,000 visitors, one night: Die Nacht die Metropole Ruhr.

Since 2001 the Night of the Industrial Culture or “Nacht die Metropole Ruhr” became a unique cultural event where the industrial part of NRW (Ruhrgebiet) opens its doors, so that visitors can discover its impressive industrial heritage. Therefore, around 500 events, from classical music to stand up comedies and fireworks, take part among the different cities of this area.

Dortmund, Duisburg, Dorsten and Essen, among other cities, welcome around 300,000 visitors who easily switch between locations and cities thanks to a free shuttle bus.

If you are interested in discovering more about the industrial heritage of the NRW, do not miss the chance to take part in this event. For only 17€ you have access to all venues and the already mentioned shuttle bus.

When: The 29th of June 2019

Where: Find here all the cities taking part in this annual event – https://bit.ly/2Kija3Q

More information: https://www.extraschicht.de/home/

July

Düsseldorf Frankreichfest

The event of the year is coming to Düsseldorf.

As every year since 1989, the Frankreichfest is a great opportunity to keep cultivating Franco-German relations.

During three days, visitors can experience delicious French wine, local specialties from places such as Alsace and Bretagne and live french music.

In the year of the 30th anniversary LEJ, one of the most successful music band in France today, will be playing in the courtyard of the town hall. At the same time, another anniversary will be celebrated this year during the Frankreichfest: Citroen celebrates its 100th anniversary!. Ready to enjoy one of the biggest gatherings of Citroen cars in Germany?

When: From the 5th to the 7th of July 2019

Where: Rheinpromenade and Düsseldorf town hall

More information: https://www.duesseldorfer-frankreich-fest.de/

23. Open MIC Comedy-Show Punchline

The 23rd open mic comedy show is a nice opportunity to discover new comedians and to experience a crazy show guaranteed to make you laugh.

When: The 9th of July 2019

Where: Biergarten VierLinden, Düsseldorf

More information: https://bit.ly/2wS1t2a

Lichterfest

The festival of lights or “Lichterfest” is the most popular open-air event in Benrath. Here you will find classical music of the highest standard, breathtaking water features and colourful fireworks.

Every year around 11,000 people experience this unique event. Ready for a unique experience?

When: The 13th of July 2019

Where: Palace of Benrath, Düsseldorf

More information: http://schloss-benrath-lichterfest.de/

Open Source Festival

THE music festival of the summer season in Düsseldorf for the last 15 years.

If you like to discover new artists and new music styles do not miss the chance to experience this unique festival.

When: The 13th of July 2019

Where: Galopprennbahn Düsseldorf

More information: https://www.open-source-festival.de/

Kirmes am Rhein

The Rheinkirmes is the largest temporary amusement park in NRW with around 4,000,000 visitors per year. This event lasts 10 days and it takes place every year between the second and third week of the month of July.

The 19th of July do not forget to enjoy the impressive fireworks performance 😉

When: From the 12th to the 21st of July 2019

Where: Oberkassel, Düsseldorf

More information: http://rheinkirmes.com/

August

Open Air Kino

Are you a cinephile? In this case I suggest you to experience the largest open air movie theater in Germany.

Open Air Kino is the best chance to watch the latest movies during warm summer nights. This yearly event takes place in different spots of Düsseldorf during one month.

Ready to eat pop corns under the stars?

When: From the 25th of July until the 25th of August 2019

Where: Düsseldorf (different spots)

More information: https://alltours-kino.de/

Gourmet Festival

Do you enjoy trying different kinds of food? Are you a foodie? Are you willing to discover new tastes? Then the annual Gourmet Festival is the right place for you!

Here you will find high quality restaurateurs, special producers and wine from all around the world.

When: From the 23rd to the 25th of August 2019

Where: Königsalle, Düsseldorf

More information: https://gourmetfestival-duesseldorf.de/

 

Your turn

Do you know any other interesting summer event in Düsseldorf? Are you planning to attend to any of the above mentioned events?

Since I love to try new things and to discover new places, I would be really happy if you leave a comment below to share any other summer event that you love and you want to recommend to all of us! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

Best Expat Blogs 2019

 

First of all, I would like to thank Sparpedia.ch for nominating me for the Best Expat Blogs 2019 Award. This is the first award I receive this year, a great achievement for me as a blogger and a confirmation that my reader base is now bigger than just my family and friends 😉 .

Having said that, I would also like to thank all my readers for following my expat and traveller journey. If you are new to My Expat World: Welcome to this adventure.

My Expat World is a expat blog created to share my journey, inspire others to move abroad and to help expats (and future expats) in Germany to better understand this amazing country.

My name is Hor and I am a traveller and brunch lover. I enjoy outdoor activities, to discover new places and I LOVE the snow. Find more about me here.

If you want to know more about this award and vote for me 😉 just click on the banner above.

Once again, thank you Sparpedia.ch!

 

 

New Regulations in Germany 2019

 

For more expensive train tickets to a new packaging law, many changes have come to Germany since the beginning of the year.

As we enter the New Year many new laws and regulations take effect in our host country. Therefore, whether you already live in Germany or whether you are planning to move to this beautiful, welcoming country, it is good for you to discover what changes have been implemented since the 1st of January 2019.

Ready to discover more? Let´s start then!

Family

  • A new law on Day Care arises – The idea behind this law is to improve the supply of child daycare centers in the whole country by offering longer opening hours, better services such as lunchrooms and a completely free daycare center to low-income families.
  • The monetary help known as  Kindergeld” increases as follows:
    • €204 per month for the first child
    • €210 per month for the second child
    • €235 per month from the third child onwards
  • In case of divorce child support increases as follows:
    • 0-7 years: €354 per month
    • 7-12 years: €406 per month
    • 13-18 years: €467 per month

Housing

  • The tenant’s contribution rate for modernization costs the landlord has incurred will be reduced from 11% to 8%. Good news if you are planning to rent a renewed flat!
  • A cap will be introduced for the amount by which the landlord may raise the rent to €3 per square meter within six years. However, in cases where the Kaltmiete’s price does not exceed €7 per square meter, the cap will be limited to €2 per square meter.

Social Security

  • Diverse gender – A new German law, approved in December 2018, introduces a third gender option on birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, and other legal documents. This means that people born with reproductive anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male (also known as intersex) are now recognized by the German government.
  • New Packaging Law – From a customer point of view, this law will allow you to know if you are buying a product with a single-use packaging (Einweg) or if it is reusable (Mehrweg).
  • Fuel labeling – The European Union harmonized the set of fuel label to provide drivers with better information on the fuels. The three new labels will be as follows:
    • Gasoline-type fuels: Marked by an “E” inside a circle
    • Diesel-type fuels: Marked by a “B” inside a square
    • Gaseous-type fuels: Mentioning the specific subtype within a rhombus.

Work

  • Contributions to unemployment insurance, levied as a percent of income, decrease in 0.25 points.
  • The increase in the minimum wage from €8.84 to €9.19 per hours. Good news, don´t you think?.
  • In response to growing concerns over elderly care, a joint effort by Germany’s healthfamily and labor ministers is now in the pipeline. 13,000 positions will be opened this year to attract new applicants interested in working in this sector.
  • From now on, the monthly installment of the “Krankenkasse” (Health Insurance Company) will be equally paid between employees and employers. So far this installment was paid by employees. So this is good news, isn’t it?
  • Reintegration into the labor market of people who have been unemployed for a long time by creating subsidized jobs will be encouraged. The requirements for accessing this aid are as follows:
    • The unemployed person is at least 25 years old.
    • The unemployed person has received unemployment benefit II (also known as “Hartz IV”) for at least six years.
  • The right to go back to work full-time again arises – People who have reduced their working hours for at least one year, within five years, have now the right to go back to work full-time if they want to. This right, however, will only be applicable in companies that have more than 45 employees and as long as the person has a minimum of six months career in the company.
  • To consider a job a midijob the minimum monthly remuneration must not exceed €450 and the maximum monthly payment must not exceed €1,300.
  • Company bicycles and transport vouchers will be tax-free.

Your turn

Have you ever heard about all these new regulations? Do you think that I missed any important information? Is there any other new regulation/law you would like to share with us? In this case do not hesitate to leave a comment below or to contact me via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

 

Always glad to read your comments! 🙂

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

 

Paternity Leave: Rights and Job Protection in Germany

 

A couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation with both an American and a German guy about parental rights for employees in Germany. I think it was an interesting talk, because it was really enriching to better understand each country´s point of view about the necessities  and labour rights of parents-to-be.

To write this post, I thought that it would be interesting if I answer all the questions that the american (let´s call him Sam) asked to our german friend, so that we can better understand how parental leave works in Germany, which are your rights during this paid time off work and, last but not least, which are the most important german terms you should learn if you are expecting a baby in Germany.

 

How does the paternity leave work?

  • As an employee, you are entitled to parental leave until your child turns three.
  • Both parents can take time off work to enjoy their newborn (or newborns). Therefore, the parent intending to do this must apply seven weeks in advance. Do not worry because during this period your job will remain open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer.
  • Parental leave can be taken by the mother and the father individually or jointly. Grandparents and other relatives can also take parental leave under certain circumstances, for example if the future parent is a minor.

What paternity pay and/or benefits can I claim?

  • Mothers are entitled to full pay during the first 14 weeks. This is known as mother protection time. However, both parents can claim some parental benefirs if they are on leave during the first 12 months after the birth.
  • This benefit is called “Elterngeld” and it is fully explained together with other important legal german words at the end of the post.
  • Important reminder: Those receiving parental benefit (Elterngeld) are still allowed to work part time up to 30 hours per week.

Can I extend my leave?

  • Usually, changes to parental leave or unplanned extensions must be agreed with the parent´s employer.
  • The extend leave is known as “Elterngeld Plus”. In this case, parents may get 28 months of financial support if  both parents work part time up to 30 hours per week at the same time. If so, the applicable percentage is the 65% of the difference between the average nett income before the birth plus earning post-birth.
  • The idea behind the “Elterngeld Plus” is to  “give mothers and fathers more time for family and greater flexibility”, said the former federal family minister Manuela Schwesig.
  • Important information: Parents can choose between Elterngeld or Elterngeld Plus, or they can combine both models. Let´s see this with some examples:

 

Can I travel while I am in paternity leave?

  • From a legal point of view, there is no problem to travel aborad while enjoying paternity leave. However, if you plan a long stay abroad you should be sure that the Krankenkasse (health insurance) takes over the cost in case of illness. In general, german health insurances covers up to six weeks when travelling outside the country. Afterwards, you have to insure yourself and your family privately.
  • Important information: This rule always applies – regardless of whether you travel during parental leave or just like that – but many people tend to forget it 😉

I struggle with the germans word, could you please explain me the most relevant ones?

Mutterschutz

This is the most important word: Maternity leave.

The “Mutterschutz” is considered a period of time to prepare yourself to welcome your baby, as well as a time to rest after the delivery.

Some important information you should take into account:

1. In total, the mutterschutz last 14 weeks. As a mother-to-be you can enjoy the 6 weeks before the delivery to prepare yourself for that moment. After the child´s birth you still have 8 weeks to rest and to enjoy your newborn (extended to 12 weeks in case of  multiple births).

2. The health insurance (Krankenkasse) covers a maximum of 13€ per day with a limit of 390€ per month, the rest is covered by your employer. Let´s see how it works with an example:

Frau Müller (traditional german name 😉 ) earned 2.800€ gross per month during the three months previous to the birth, which means that she earned 1.950€ net salary per month. If we calculate how much did she earn per day during the past 3 months, we can see that her net salary per day was 65€ (1.950*3 = 5.850€/90 = 65€). In this case, the Krankenkasse covers 13€ and the employer 52€.

3. In the case that Frau Müller had a private health insurance, she will receive 210€ in a single payment.

4. During maternity leave you will keep receiving your salary (Mutterschaftgeld)

5. Your job remains open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer during the Mutterschutz because you are protected by Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz).

 

Elterngeld

Elterngeld is a tax-financed payment for couples who became parents. This subsidy will be paid during the first 14 months after the child´s birth and it must be divided between both parents.

The amount of the elterngeld is based on the after taxes income of the parent which ask for it. A person who earns less than 1.000€ per month will get between 100% and 67% of his net income, however, a person with a net income higher than 1.240€ per month will receive 65% of it (with a limit of 1.800€ per month).

Who can get this subsidy?

  • People who recently became parents
  • Parents of adoptive children
  • If the parents of the newborn didn´t work in the months previous to the child´s birth, they will receive a subsidy of only 300€ per month
  • Multiple births – In this case the parental allowance increases by 300€ for each additional child
  • If the beneficiary earned more than 250.000€ in the calendar year preceding the child´s birth, there is no entitlement to Elterngeld

Elternzeit

Elternzeit is a paternal leave provided by the employer, which can be taken any moment during the first three years of the newborn´s life.

This parental leave can be a full suspension of working hours or a reduction of the working day.

Both parents have the right to go on parental leave. Let me show you some examples to better explain how it works (these are real cases of friends of mine):

– Example A: Some friends of mine decided to divide their Elternzeit between both of them, therefore, each of them took 6 months of paternal leave (first the mother, and the last 6 months the father). Both parents enjoyed a full-time paternal leave so that they could enjoy the first year of life of their son.

– Example B: Other friends of mine decided to divide their Elternzeit in a different way. In this case, the mother took a 12 months parental leave after Mutterschutz and the father enjoyed 2 months of parental leave, one month in August (to enjoy some summer time with his daugther) and the second month once his wife´s parental leave ended, so he could spend some time with his daugther before she started the kita (kindergarden for babies).

During Elternzeit both parents are protected by law, any termination of employment is invalid during this period. That means that neither the employer nor the employee can terminate the employment contract.

When should I apply for Elternzeiz?

7 weeks in advance.

This is easier for mothers-to-be, since they have 8 weeks medical leave after the child´s birth. However, fathers have to ask for parental leave 7 weeks before the birth takes place, if they want to go on family leave right after the child´s birth.

Your turn

What about you? Did you have children in Germany? Have you ever ask for parental leave in Germany? Was the process complicated?

I still remember the american´s face when our German friend explained him how does the Elternzeit (Parental Leave) works. Alhtough, to be honest, also in Spain we don´t have such a great work-life balance. In fact, this is a quite sensitive topic in my home country…

How does work-life balance work in your home country? Do you also benefit of parental allowences, elternzeit and such things? Feel free to share your experience by leaving a comment below 🙂 or via social networks.

 

 

Interesting facts about Germany (Part I)

If you follow me on Instagram you have probably heard some stories about #germancoleague.

Since a couple of weeks, I realized that he´s becoming famous and, at the same time, he´s generating mixed feelings among my lovely Instagram family. Don´t get him wrong, he is really nice, the only “problem” with him is that he never got the chance to learn interesting facts about other cultures 😉

So that you don´t have the same problem as my colleague, I prepared a nice and interesting post about Germany, its history, its culture and its language.

Wait! Do not run away! I am not becoming a history teacher! 

This post is a funny way to discover some interesting (and maybe unknown) facts about Germany.

Are you ready now? Keep reading!

History

  • Germany was once a cluster of small kingdoms, duchies and principalities – They were unified as the German Reich in 1871. Later it became the Third Reich and in 1949, after the war, the nation was divided in two parts: the German Democratic Republic (Soviet-supporters) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). The 3rd of October 1990, East and West were reunited.
  • Berlin was not always the capital of the country – Before Berlin, there were five other German capitals including the cities of Aachen, Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Nuremberg and Bonn.
  • Germany is home of famous inventions  – The light bulb, the automated calculator, the discovery of insulin, the invention of the clarinet, the automobile engine, the LCD screen and the Walkman, among others.
  • The first printed book was in German
  • Although the population is on decline, Germany still has the largest population in the European Union with around 81 million people. 3 million live in the capital, Berlin, and around 18 million live in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region (Düsseldorf, Essen, Köln, Dortmund…). It is expected that population drops to 67 million by 2060.
  • If you look at a satellite image at night, you can clearly see the difference between East and West Germany.
  • Mattel produced a Barbie doll of Angela Merkel to celebrate her 50 years old – The Chancellor of Germany (since 2005) was ranked as the powerful person in the world by Forbes magazine in 2012. Will she win the next elections?

Language

  • German is spoken in different countries – It is the official language of the following countries: Germany,  Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.
  • The German alphabet has extra letters –  A part from the common 26 letters of the alphabet, germans have umlauted forms such as ä, ö , ü and the famous “ß”, which do not exist in English.
  • There are two main divisions of the German language – “Hochdeutsch” and  “Plattdeutsch”.
  • When JFK visited Berlin he said “Ich bin ein Berliner”  which can be translated as “I am a jelly donut”.
  • Dialect changes drastically depending on where you are
  • German has hilarious proverbs
    • Das ist nich dein Bier! – “None of your business” –  literally “It is not your beer!”
    • Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei – “Everything has an end, only sausage has two”
    • Ich kriege so eine Krawatte! – “It really annoys me”  – literally “I get such a tie!”

Culture

  • Germans are the third largest beer consumers in the world – After the Czech and the Irish.
  • There are over 300 kinds of bread in Germany – So if you want to try each of them, you will need approximately one year. Are you ready?
  • The Christmas tree tradition came from Germany – Here it is called Tannenbaum and every single german person has one Christmas tree at home, mostly natural not plastic ones.
  • Berlin, the capital of the country, is nine times bigger than Paris and it has more bridges than Venice. Can you believe it?
  • In German schools, once German kids  are in the 4th grade, they are placed into Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium, which pretty much determines if they will go to university or straight to the work force. Is it the same in your country?

 

Your turn!

Did you know any other interesting facts about german culture, history and language? If so, share them with us by leaving a comment below.

Within the next weeks I will come back with more information about german beer, geography and inventions. Read you soon!