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.

 

 

 

 

 

Mini-job in Germany

 

Around 8 million Germans work mini-jobs and, for most of them, they are their only source of income. Although this model – known as “minor employment model” – is heavily criticised, its success from an economic perspective has motivated other European countries to consider it as an option. Mini-jobs are

But, what is a mini-job? What about health insurance? Can a minijobber get fired?

In this post I try to answer all your questions. Let’s go!

What are mini-jobs?

A mini-job is any form of employment with an average monthly payment of no more than €450.

Although mini-jobs are typically related to cleaning jobs, they can also come from agencies, startups, language schools and larger companies looking for part-time help.

Which are the pros?

  • Minijobbers – people who have a mini-job contract – with no alternative source of income pay zero taxes on earnings up to €450
  • The state covers the minijobber’s social and health insurance
  • All minijobbers have the same rights as other employees, meaning that “same rights” apply on holiday and sick pay, as well as on maternity leave
  • Minijobbers can take on another side job

Which are the cons?

  • Minijobbers are usually paid a lower wage than fully employed colleagues
  • To improve emplyoment statistics – you may have heard that the unemployment rate in Germany is around 4% – politicians count minijobbers as regular working people
  • It can be difficult to turn a mini-job into a full-time job.

Who benefits from this kind of job contract?

Both parties.

For minijobbers, a mini-job is always a good opportunity to earn some money – the €450 arrive always to the person’s bank account with tax deducted already –  and get some experience in the German market.

There are my students that work as minijobbers while studying just to get some extra money. At the same time, many expats use this system to try working in a multicultural environment until they feel secure enough to work for a large company.

For employers, a mini-job is a good deal to save some money – they do not have to pay for insurance obligations – and to hire motivated professionals. A good example of this are startups companies. Most of them use this system to hire people until they have enough earnings to pay for higher salaries.

Why are mini-jobs more popular among young people?

Organic food in Germany

After many years of debate, the European Union reached a couple of weeks ago an agreement on an overhaul of the existing EU rules on organic production and labelling of organic products.

This agreement was taken based on the increasing consumer demand for organic food in the european countries and, at the same time, it sets uniform rules across the EU with the aim of encouraging the development of organic production in the EU, as well as of improving the labelling of organic food.

Is this new agreement important in Germany?

Yes, this agreement is a huge step for the German market since Germany is a key player in the global organic market and has also played a pioneering role in the organic (people call it BIO here) food movement since many years ago.

What is the definition of organic food?

Organic or BIO products are made of ingredients, which were produced without any synthetic inputs and do not have any chemical additives.

Organic products do not contain toxic substances such as parabens, phthalates or lanolin, among others.

How do I know that I am buying organic food?

Easily. In order to regulate organic food standards, the German ministry of agriculture issued, in 2001, a bio label which allows customers to distinguish all the organic products* of the market.

*Organic products: no less than 95% of the product’s ingredients of agricultural origin must come from organic farms.

 

With more than 40% of the European market, Germany is the biggest organic importer in Europe with a turnover of more than €7 billion and more than 3.000 German companies producing around 50.000 products which carry this label. To date, every day an average of 20 new products are submitted for certification.

Where can I find organic food in Germany?

Finding organic food in Germany is really easy, as you can already imagine. Many businesses offer organic products (food, beverages, cosmetics…) due to the importance of the BIO culture in this country.

If you are interested in buying organic food check the following list of organic grocery stores:

#1 Denn´s Biomarkt

#2 Super Biomarkt

#3 Bio Company

#4 Alnatura

#5 TEMMA

#6 Reformhaus

What I really like about these businesses is that they do not only offer organic products but also products for allergy and intolerance sufferers (like me!).

Can I find organic products in regular grocery stores?

Sure! Many companies like Rewe, Kaufhof, Edeka or Lidl offer some organic products (not that many to be honest, if you really like to eat organic food it is much better to buy at a organic places).

Where can I get more information about this topic?

There are several organic associations in Germany such as Demeter, Bioland, Biokreis, Naturland, Biopark and Ecovin where you can find more information about organic products (press on the name to discover more). Some of these organizations operate worldwide and follow stricter rules than EU ones.

Another interesting information point is the International Green Weekwhich takes place each January in Berlin (more information pressing the name) and has attracted thousand of visitors in recent years (around 400.000).

Is there place where I can find organic beauty products?

Sure! Although many people relate the words “organic” and “BIO” to food and beverages only, beauty and skincare organic products are also present in the German market.

Since many years I also buy these kind of products, although I have to admit that since I moved to Germany I have discovered a lot of organic brands.

Therefore, and after trying different products of those brands, I am going to share with you which are my favourite ones (do not hesitate to tell me yours)

  1. Weleda – I love their face care and hand creams.
  2. Dr. Hauschka – I cannot choose just a single product… My favourites are the rose day cream, the soothing cleansing cream and the lavender sandalwood calming bodycream.
  3. Neobio – Trying their shower gels and shampoos should be a must 😉

If you guys decide to try any other skincare product or another organic grocery store please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. I am always trying new things, I cannot avoid it…

I hope you enjoyed this post 🙂 Do not hesitate to leave your comments below 🙂

 

 

 

Art in Düsseldorf: Tomas Saraceno In Orbit

Hey guys! How are you? Long time no see. It is more than one month since I posted something new.

Last month was a busy time for me but I am back and ready to tell you more about our expat adventures here in Düsseldorf.

A couple of weekends ago I had a really special visit. Some old friends came here to celebrate the bachelorette of one of them. I was so excited!! We wanted to prepare a perfect weekend for her and, at the same time, I wanted them to discover this incredible part of Germany.

Therefore I organized a beer taste evening at the Beer Craft Festival in Düsseldorf, a tour around Cologne (the sun shined the whole day :)) and another beer taste afternoon, but this time in Düsseldorf.

However, I was not satisfied enough. I wanted to offer my friends the possibility to enjoy something different, something unique. But what could I do?

Suddenly I realized about something; there is still one thing you can do in Düsseldorf that you can´t do at any other place (and it is not beer related 😉 ).

To carry out my plan I convinced my friends to spend some time in a museum. Although that weather was perfect, I mean, we had more than 20 degrees and a splendid sun shinning above us, they accepted to make some indoor activity.

The exhibition

The museum chosen to experience something unique was the impressive, well known K21 Museum.

One of the main exhibitions of this awesome museum is called In Orbit, an enormous installation suspended at a high of more than 25 meters, created by the argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno.

The physically accessible work is constructed of steel mesh that interlaces three levels. Five air filled spheres are located within the net structure.

Visitors are welcomed to enter the installation, during 10 minutes, and explore it by climbing it from the inside. Those brave enough to venture into this unique piece of art will experience a mix of feelings up there.

If you suffer from vertigo I would sadly not recommend you to enjoy this “floating in the sky” adventure, unless you feel brave enough to walk 25 meters above the floor.

Inside the installation

As previously mentioned, the installation is a construction of steel mesh that interlaces three levels. To access this art work you will be provided with a special suit to prevent personal things falling down to the museum visitors down below. Furthermore, the museum staff will also provide you with a special pair of shoes so that you can walk safety inside the net.

The entrance to the structure is located at the third level in order that the visitor can decide the path he wants to follow during his visit.

Usually I like to start at the third level to come down calmly until the first one. Personally, I think this is the best way to avoid the initial shock of being 25 meters high protected only by some steel cables.

I must admit that, although I have already visited this exhibition more than 3 times, I am still impressed by the height once I reach the first level of the net.

Price, opening hours & more

The museum opening hours are the following:

  • Tuesday to Friday from 10.00 am until 18.00 pm
  • Saturday, Sunday & holiday from 11.00 am until 18.00 pm

The admission price is 12,00€ (9,00€ for children)

Here you can find more information about the museum.

I hope you are brave enough to enjoy this unique experience! 🙂

 

How to find a flat and not die trying

No matter whether you are looking for a flat or for a shared-flat (WG), in Germany you will have to work hard to get one.

Depending in which city you are looking, it can be really complicated to find something suitable: Either the properties are really expensive, or the demand is too high. This does not happen all around the country, but mostly in big cities such as Münich, Düsseldor or Cologne.

In this post I would like to provide you with some useful advice, so that you find the flat of your dreams when living in Germany.

Looking for a flat

Before start looking for the perfect flat, you have to decide whether you want to live alone or whether you want to share a flat with other people. Both options have advantages and disadvantages in terms of costs, cohabitation and daily life.

Once you have decided what is more suitable for you, you can start dealing with the whole looking-for-a-flat process.

First of all, you should know that flat interviews are really important here in Germany. If you succeed to get one, it does not mean that the landlord or your future roommates are willig to have you in their flat. It just means that they are willing to know you better and, therefore, you are going to pass a “test”, where they will ask you many personal questions. So, when looking for a flat apply to offers only if you can fulfill all the requirements. For example: If the offer says that the owner of the flat looks for someone without pets and you have a dog, do not apply.

Secondly, you should be aware that germans love to rent unfurnished apartments. Yes, this includes apartments without kitchen furniture. However, not all the flats are empty.

Here you can find all the possibilities of the market:

1. Unmöbilierte Wohnung: Unfurnished apartment (the most common thing). In this case you will have to buy and bring your own furniture and once you move out, you will need to leave the flat totally empty.

2. Unmöbilierte Wohnung + Küche: In this case, the former tenant is taking all his/her forniture but the kitchen. In most of the cases, they will sell the kitchen, which lead to:

  • The price of the kitchen is not included in the rent: You will have to buy the kitchen to the former tenant before renting the flat.
  • The price of the kitchen is included in the rent: You buy the kitchen buy increasing the basic monthly rent, until you pay the whole amount.

3. Möblierte Wohnung: If you are interested in a furnished flat be careful. Here there are also different options:

  • You have to buy the furniture to the former tenant
  • You have to rent the furniture to the flat’s owner (this does not happen so often)
  • You do not need to pay for the furniture at all

WG: Shared-flat

If you are new in the city and you would like to meet new people I highly recommend you to take a look at WG-Gesucht . It is the best website to find a WG o shared flat.

Here I also recommend you to apply to the right offers. Therefore, check if your hobbies, way of life, age, gender… match the requirements written in the room offer. And do not forget that the more E-mails you send, the higher the chance to get invited to a flat interview.

If you german is still not good enough, do not panic! You can always contact your future roommates in English, usually young people are quite flexible when it comes to speak in other languages but german.

Finally, remember that if you are not living in Germany and you cannot attend an in-person interview, you can ask for a skype/zoom call.

Rent a flat

Here it comes the difficult part.

There are a lot of websites to look for a flat. However, the most commonly used is ImmobilienScout24.

Finding a flat in Düsseldorf and Köln is a tough task since the demans is really high. Prices are also increasing rapidly. Therefore, if you find any interesting flat, I recommend you to contact the real state agency by telephone (if possible), because once they have a considerable amount of candidates requests they do not answer more emails.

If you succeed to have a personal interview with the landlord or real state in the flat, take into account that it might not be a one-to-one interview, but a group one. This means that you won’t be alone while visiting the property, but with 20-30 more people. If this happens, remember that the more you show interest for the flat, the higher chance you have to get a contract. Try to ask many questions and to spend some minutes alone with the owner or the real state employee.

The landlord

In Germany you can find different kinds of landlords:

  • Private landlords
  • Real states

Depending on the landlord, the former tenant can carry out a pre-selection of candidates and send their information to the landlord. This information is very useful if you already know someone who is planning to move out. This person could talk his landlord about you and invite you both to have a personal interview in the flat.

Most of the times, however, the owners of the flat like to make this pre-selection themselves. How do they do it? Easily, they base this pre-selection on the E-mails and calls that they receive when posting the renting offer online. Therefore, when you contact the landlord or real state, you have to sell youself, you have to show them that you are the right person for the flat. In Germany, the impression matters the most.

Once the pre-selection process is done, you will be invited to a personal interview. As I previously mentioned, this can be privat or in group. Do not forget to be prepared to answer and ask many questions. If you really like the flat, do not hesitate to show your interest.

Finally, if the personal interview went well, you will have to give the landlord thousand of documents such as information about your income.

The documents

As I previosly said, landlords want to know more about you before allowing you to rent their place (this applies also to WGs or shared-flats). Therefore, they will ask you for the following documents:

  • Net income of the last year or the last three months (depending on the landlord)
  • SCHUFA*
  • Auskunt: Here they include all the documents related to your personal information such as: Family status, bank account, anmeldung and former address.

*SCHUFA

I know this concept does not exist in other european countries, so let’s see what is this weird thing.

The SCHUFA is an official document that shows how realiably you have met your financial obligations and landlords (and other entities) use it to decide how worthy you are of being granted further obligations, in this case, how worthy you are of paying the rent every month. In this page you can find more information about it.

Social Networks

And last but not least, Social Networks!

These are helpful tools to find a flat in Germany. Here you can find various expat groups where people post information when they move out and leave their flats. Contacting them can be a good way to be pre-selected for a flat visit.

Be patient and keep looking!  In the meanwhile I wish you good luck!

 

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 more about you!

 

*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.

German beers

If I ask you: What would you drink if you were in Germany? You will probably answer…

Beer!!

However, there are different kind of beers depending on the German region where you are. Do you already know which beer belongs to each region?

Following you can find 7 german beers I would like to recommend you. Could you guess about which regions and beers I am talking? Check if you know a lot about beer. Keep reading until the end!! Let´s begin! 

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1. Our first beer takes its name from its place of origin. This beer contains only a 3% of alcohol and it is usually mixed with woodruff syrup (Waldmeister) or raspberry syrup (Himbeere), which provide it with a green colour, in the first case, and a red colour, in the second case.

 

2. This time it can be more difficult to guess about what beer and region I am talking, however, let´s try it! 🙂

This beer tastes and looks similar to the weath beer, however, it has a peculiarity: The beer from this region is elaborated half with barley malt and half with weath malt. Formerly, the water of the river was used to elaborate this beer. That is the reason why, the beer takes its name from this river.

 

3. This universally recognized beer has a 4% of alcohol and its taste and look reminds us to Pilsner beer. It is composed of malt, hop, and mineral water. Hint: Its logo includes a key with a red-coloured background. 😉

 

4. Our next beer dates from 1390 (in the Middle Ages) and it obtains its characteristic colour due to the low fermentation of the malt during the brewing process.

 

5 – 6. This two beers are rivals (as well as the cities where they come from). The first one is elaborated with high fermentation yeast and dark malt. The second one is a blonde beer with a 5% alcohol and a certificate of origin. Both of them are usually served in small glasses (20 – 30cl). Tip: Both of them love Carnival 😉

 

7.  Finally we are going to talk about the most important beer during the Oktoberfest. With a 5% of alcohol this weath beer is mostly consumed in the region where it comes from, and it is served in one-liter glasses. Its almost transparent colour is due to the weath malt.

 

Was it easy to guess which beers and regions are we talking about? If so, maybe you are germanizing ;). If you still want to know if your thoughts were the right ones just scroll down and check the map 😉

 

  1. Berliner Weisse -Berlin    
  2. Gose – Lower Saxony
  3. Beck´s – Bremen
  4. Köstritzer (Schwarzbier) – Thuringia    
  5. Altbier – Düsseldorf
  6. Kölsch – Köln
  7. Weissbier – Bavaria

7 signs you are becoming German

Are you getting used to the German way of life? Are you including potatoes and sausages in your diet? Do you also think that the christmas markets are the place to be during winter time? If you answered yes to all these questions it is a sign of your “germanization”. Are you becoming German? Here you can find definitive 7 signs you are becoming German

1. When you
move you bring your old furniture to your new flat

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In Germany it is quite usual to do not leave a single nail in your old apartment when you move to a new one. Germans
take all their furniture when they move: the kitchen, the freezer, the wash
machine… also the bulbs!

If the furniture does not fit in the new apartment they leave it in the street, so that other people can re-use it. Recycling the old-fashioned way! 🙂

2. When you
see a ray of light sun and you run outside your flat

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It does not matter if it is winter or summer. Germans are crazy about the sun. If there is
a sunny day they will be on the street enjoying it. Everytime the sun shine the
streets are crowded of people having a walk or drinking a coffee in the terraces.
No one will stay at home during a sunny day.

3. When you split the bill

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Zusammen oder getrennt? That is the question. If you come from the south of Europe there
is a high probability that your answer “zusammen (together)”. In some countries
it is common to invite friends for a coffee or to pay a meal.

However, a good german would have answered “getrennt (separate)”. In Germany they split everything, also the coffee bill! So, if you want to invite a friend do not be
surprised if he looks weird at you.

4. When you
remove your shoes in the entrance of your flat

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It is a non-written rule. When you enter in a flat you have to remove your shoes, to
leave them at the entrance and to walk barefoot.

The main goal of this non-written rule is to avoid scattering the snow and the water of the rain around the whole flat. It is a good idea, taking into account that the average of rainy days in Germany is around 128 days per year.

Do not forget it when you visit a german friend!

5. When you like to spend a day at IKEA

Spending the day at IKEA is a german common hobby. No matter which day of the week, if
you go to IKEA it will be totally crowded. We do not know the reason why
germans love to spend their time there, but it is quite normal for them.

Did you know one of the biggest IKEA of the world is located in Germany?? Concretely in
Düsseldorf.

http://www.rp-online.de/nrw/staedte/duesseldorf/duesseldorfer-ikea-ist-jetzt-der-groesste-der-welt-aid-1.1144216

6. When you cannot wait to get off the public transport

Germans tend to be ready to get off the public transport before it stops. Usually they
start to queue up at the previous stop. In the subway they queue up during 2
minutes, however, it can take longer when you travel by train.

It looks like if they were always on a hurry! Can it be due to the punctuality of the Deutsche Bahn? We would like to apologize before sharing the following with you: German public transports come hardly on time! Maybe that is the reason why germans are always in a hurry?

7. When your idea of a perfect summer plan is to organize a BBQ in a park

When summer comes organizing a BBQ in the park is THE PLAN. Nothing else can make germans
happier than a good BBQ, beers and friends.

In fact, it is easy to organize one. You just need to buy some beers, food and to find a place in some random park around the city or in front of the river. Sincerely, we do not why they
love BBQ so much, is it maybe not because of the food itself but due to the weather (as we said before)?

We are almost “germanized” 🙂 After some years living here we like their way of life. An what about you, are you becoming German?

On est a Paris!

Because every time I go there I say “I´ll be back”…

… and I´m always back.

ParisParis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because I love having a walk among its streets, I enjoy visiting the Champs Élysées, walking around the Champ de Mars, eating Pain au Chocolat, drinking Rosé, having a walk in Rue Rivoli, having a snack in a terrace, remembering goods moments in Pigalle, eating Crêpes…

Paris

 

But most of all, because I love visiting the most beautiful building of Paris: Le Tour Eiffel.

And this time, because I am glad to say that I had time to visit some really cool people. We expats love to meet in different cities around the world.

 

 

And, as I am sure I will be back…

A bientôt Paris!!!

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