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LIVING IN GERMANY

Readers’ voices: These are the best things about living in Germany

Germany is a country packed with beautiful scenery, a great work-life-balance, friendly people and “ridiculously good” bakeries, according to readers. On the eve of reunification day, we looked at what you love about living here.

Readers' voices: These are the best things about living in Germany
Readers enjoy the German way of life, including their love of nature. Photo: DPA

Whether it’s for work, to study or to explore, Germany attracts thousands of internationals every year. 

So clearly many people believe Deutschland has a lot of great things going for it. And our readers agree. 

Almost 80 percent of respondents to our survey said Germany was a “good” place to live, while just over 20 percent described it as “average”.

So what do people love about settling down in this country? We received nearly 100 responses when we asked you about the good (and bad) points about life in the Bundesrepublik. 

As October 3rd marks 29 years of reunification of Germany, we’re focusing on the positives. 

High quality of life 

The high quality of life thanks to a strong work-life-balance as well as employees’ rights were some of the most frequently mentioned good points.

Emily, 30, from the US and now based in Hamburg summed it up. She said: “I love the focus on work-life-balance, having affordable and accessible healthcare, the good infrastructure and public transportation.”

Bhushan Chaudhari, 29, in Munich, said he loved that in German there's a word for enjoying the time after work – Feierabend

“I love the work ethics of Germans,” he said. “Working for eight hours and the concept of 'Feirabend' is worth imitating; kudos to you for that! I think this is the biggest value addition to my life after coming to Germany and the biggest lesson that I would take home.”

READ ALSO: Revealed – this is what Germans do (and don't do) in their free time

Readers also ranked public transport highly, with lots of people saying they enjoy not having to own a car because they are able to get around their home by bus or train. 

Victoria, 27, an American in Hamburg, said: “The infrastructure of transportation is great. I don't have a car and I don't need one, which saves me a lot of money.

Victoria also mentioned workers’ rights as a huge plus point of living in Germany.  

“Where I work, I have 30 paid vacation days per year,” she said.  “We are also still paid normally if we have to stay home sick from work (and we are encouraged to do this so we don't make others in the office sick). It's a completely different mindset that I believe is much healthier in the long run for both the employer and employee.”

Along the same vein, the “reliable” social security system was also frequently praised. One reader also said services for people with disabilities were a positive point of living in Germany. 

Lots of opportunities in Germany 

It’s no secret that Germany is the EU’s most powerful economy. So lots of respondents highlighted the good things that come with that.

There are a lot of vacancies in Germany which can make job searching easier. Photo: DPA

Silviu, 37, in Munich praised the “many job opportunities” – along with the fact Germany is in a “great geographical location, full of choices of lakes, mountains and travel destinations”.

Faisal Khan, 26, from Reutlingen, was another reader who praised the work-life-balance and job opportunities. He also said Germany’s view towards education was “amazing”.

Others praised the affordable cost of living, including Danielle, 28, in Cologne and Jennie, 47 in Leverkusen.

“I am able to afford fresh produce and live a healthier lifestyle.” In the USA, she added, “I tended to have unhealthy diet because fresh and healthy foods are so expensive,” said Victoria in Hamburg.

Great people

Lots of readers praised the Germans themselves. 

Jaime Hyland, 54, from Ireland and now based in Berlin said: “I love the practical helpfulness of my German neighbours and friends.”

Hyland also said the “continued determination to bear witness to the horrors of the Nazi time” was also something he admired. 

Taher Abbas, 26, who lives in Kamp-Lintfort and is from Bangladesh, said: “People are very helpful, it's basically a very friendly environment. The culture is more diverse and open.”

Pete, 66, in Frankfurt am Main said there were “good souls” in Germany. 

David, 32, who’s originally from Honduras and now lives in Berlin said he felt people were welcoming. 

“Life is lovely in Germany,” he said. “There is a general openness to different lifestyles, I find Germans very welcoming. In other countries I have felt like an immigrant, here I am valued. That being said, I've really enjoyed embracing German traditions, festivities and lifestyle and making it my own.”

Andrew France-Raffeneau, 34, from the UK, said it was “very safe” in Germany and added that people were very “tolerant”.

Photo: DPA

Meanwhile, Aishwarya in Göttingen loves the “punctuality, straightforwardness, and people minding their own business”. 

Chitra, 27, who’s from India and now in Schlesweg-Holstein talked about the “wonderful people” she’s met during her internship and studies, and discussed how safe she feels in Germany. 

“Meetings and events can be arranged safely per mobile app or Facebook,” she said. “This phenomenon is still under development in my home country – as a woman, I would be far more wary of new encounters.

“I find most people I meet, locals and expats alike to be conversable and extremely respectful of personal space and time. Travelling (within the country and international both) is also a far more safe and pleasant experience than I am used to.”

One respondent praised the dating scene, claiming it’s nice to date Germans because “they are not jealous or controlling”.

Plush nature

Of course, it’s difficult to write an article about what people love about Germany without mentioning the picturesque mountains, hills and lakes. 

And it seems, nature is a big plus point for lots of our readers. 

Elisabeth Rygg Storø, 49, who’s from Norway and now in Mannheim, said: “Beautiful nature is an absolute plus, us Scandinavians love green, plush, wild nature. 

“I actually had no idea how beautiful Germany was before I moved here.”

Others said they liked the German love of the outdoors and the culture that comes with that, such as sports clubs and associations. 

Many people also mentioned the concern for the climate and care for nature as a plus point of living in Germany. 

Joana, 28, who lives in Tübingen and is originally from Portugal, finds “environmental protection” and nature to be huge positives. 

Kim Dallas, 59, from Rhineland Palatinate praised the “beautiful countryside: the forests are a walker's paradise.”

The weather was a positive for many of our readers, with many people praising the fact Germany has “proper defined seasons”. Although we’re guessing it really depends on what the weather is like in your origin country. 

Good food and beer

Bread is rated highly in Germany. Photo: DPA

Lots of our readers are, unsurprisingly, taken with Germany's strong bread and beer selection (we're definitely with you on that).

Michael Lowe, 32, from England and now in Berlin said he loved the “casual beer drinking culture and “ridiculously good bakeries”.

Another reader said Germany makes “the best bread in the world.”

“Awesome bread, beer, coffee, cheese, Riesling and chocolate,” were some of the plus points highlighted by Nancy, 34, in Hamburg.

Thank you to all our readers who contributed to this article by filling out our survey.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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