What You Need to Know When You’re Moving to Dortmund

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  • Daiki Saito

    When my company decided to send me to Essen, I took a quick look at the local community and said: Please do!

Relocating to Dortmund

About the City

A lively, modern city, Dortmund is extremely popular with tourists, students and expats. From its roots as an industrial powerhouse for early 20th century Germany, to the technologically-based economy of today, the city has seen some remarkable changes, and has embraced them wholeheartedly. Impressive industrial landmarks are now centers of culture and entertainment, while the multitude of green spaces characterizes Dortmund as the “Green Metropolis”.

Visas for Germany

Expats moving to Dortmund with EU citizenship, as well as citizens of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, don’t need a visa to live and work in Germany. Expats from outside Europe must apply for their visa or work permit in person at their nearest German embassy or consulate. Students should apply for a student visa in their home country at least three months before coming to Germany.

For those who do need a residence visa, and also want to work in Dortmund, there are three kinds of work visa. One for general employment is granted according to the economic needs of Germany, and requires a vocational qualification plus a concrete job offer. A “Blue Card EU” can be obtained for ‘special professionals’ – university graduates who can obtain well-paid jobs. The third is for self-employed workers, who must prove they can invest and bring economic benefit to Germany.

After five years holding a residence permit, non-EU citizens can apply for an unlimited residence permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis), which grants the holder the right to live and work in Germany. Applicants must speak German, have adequate knowledge of the legal and social system in Germany, have a secure income and adequate living space, and have paid into the statutory pension scheme for at least 60 months.

Finding Accommodation

Living in Dortmund means being able to choose from a range of accommodation, from hotels and apartments, to sub-lets and housing associations. The TU Dortmund University website has great advice and resources for expat students living in Dortmund, while Immobilien Scout 24 is a great resource for general house hunting.

South Dortmund is home to a large number of important German corporations, and is close to the fashionable Kreuz district, peppered with bars, cafés and restaurants. The Kaiser Street area is also popular, as is the sought-after former Traum Street, which passes through the historic inner city of Herdecke. Dortmund West contains the TU Dortmund University, University of Applied Sciences and the Technical University, plus the Techno Park numerous high tech companies. Accommodation is well kept and there are many family homes available to rent.

The leafy streets of the north of the city contain many cheaper, self-contained apartments and single family homes as well as more expensive apartments. The east of the city is home to many sporting grounds, the airport and a leisure lake, Phoenix Lake. Famous for its food, attracting visitors from all over Germany at the weekends, many companies have residential complexes close by and there are plenty of apartments available in urban and quieter settings.

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