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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Germany Remains Stable and Secure in an Ever-Changing Europe

Economic security continues to attract expats, but they can expect language barriers and a cool welcome in Germany.
  • Almost 7 in 10 are positive about their job security
  • Disappointing weather brings down German rating
  • Germany in bottom 10 for ease of settling in
  • Good leisure options for kids

Still an Economic Powerhouse

Germany’s economic strength still proves to be a draw for expats, with one in eight (13%) citing finding a job in the country as the main reason for their move. Good career prospects and job security also help Germany reach 7th place out of 65 countries in the Working Abroad Index. Almost seven in ten expats in Germany (67%) rate their job security positively, well above the global average of 57%. What is more, the majority (52%) consider the state of the German economy to be very good, in contrast to only 19% worldwide. But it’s not all work and no play: Germany also scores well with regards to work-life balance, with almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) rating this factor positively.

A Safe Place to Live

It’s not just the German economy that is stable; Germany also ranks highly for security despite increasing tensions across Europe. When asked to rate the country in terms of personal safety, just 2% of expats in Germany responded negatively, compared to a global average of 11%. Despite 2017 being an election year in Germany, expats living in the country still view it as very politically stable, with almost nine in ten rating it positively (88%) and 46% even saying it’s excellent.

Germany’s weather brings down its ranking in the Quality of Life Index: though 61% worldwide say they’re happy with the climate in their host country, only 42% say the same in Germany. Even if the weather dampens Germany’s performance, the general environment is still rated highly by expats. Successive German governments have pushed for green policies; the country has an extensive recycling program and produces almost a third of its energy from renewable resources. Perhaps this explains why more than nine in ten respondents living in Germany (92%) view the quality of the environment in a positive light, a significant result compared to the global average of 64%.

Good for Those with Kids

Expats with children are generally positive about Germany, ranking it 22nd out of 45 countries in the Family Life Index. Expat parents are twice as likely to describe education in Germany as very affordable as they are internationally (32% vs. 16% worldwide). This may well be connected to the fact that over two-fifths of expat parents opt to send their children to a local, free-of-charge state school (43%), rather than a private or international school (11% and 18% respectively).

‘ Free-range parenting’ is the norm and children can get to their own activities with their bikes, on foot, or public transport.

Leisure activities for children are also seen as a plus in Germany, with 81% of expat parents rating them positively. Together with the excellent safety ratings, this seems to lead to a different pace of family life, as one respondent described: “It’s not easy to pick what’s best [about Germany]! ‘Free-range parenting’ is the norm and children can get to their own activities with their bikes, on foot, or public transport.”

However, despite good ratings in many fields related to bringing up children, expats with families find German attitudes somewhat cool towards those with kids. Seven out of ten parents based in Germany say they had experienced positive attitudes towards families with children, while 85% say the same globally.

Not the Warmest of Welcomes

On the whole, Germany is not seen as the friendliest country. Ranking just tenth from the bottom in the Ease of Settling In Index, expats find Germany a difficult place to fit in. One British expat living in Germany commented that “Germans in general can come across as rude and obnoxious. Although that is a huge generalization”.

Expats have further difficulties when their German skills aren’t up to scratch. One expat described being “shamed for not speaking the language”, while others complained that locals were not always accommodating to non-German speakers. Overall, just one in twenty strongly agrees that it is easy to live in Germany without a grasp of the local language. Internationally that percentage is far higher at 18%.

Germans in general can come across as rude and obnoxious. Although that is a huge generalization.

Globally, half of all expats report that it is overall not easy to learn the language(s) of the country they live in, but this figure is almost 20 percentage points higher in Germany, with 69% saying they struggle to pick up German. According to the Defense Language Institute, German is a relatively easy language, but due to its complex grammar it takes longer to learn than other Western European languages such as French, Spanish, or English. This may be why language still ranks as one of the top 3 disadvantage expats foresaw when moving to Germany.

Expect to Earn Enough

Although the German economy is strong and job prospects are good, expats shouldn’t expect to earn big bucks while working there. While close to four in five expats surveyed (79%) feel their household incomes are sufficient to cover their living expenses, fewer expats in Germany are making top dollar. Just 7% of respondents in Germany report earning considerably more than enough to cover their outgoings, compared to 10% who feel the same worldwide.

However, their income in Germany was still a step up for many expats: over half of those who are working (54%) state that they are paid more in Germany than they would be for doing a similar job back home. Combined with continued economic prosperity, this has helped Germany remain a desirable destination for those moving abroad.

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