Welcome 2015: Favorite Expat Destinations
Germany: The Land of Opportunity
Germany is the right place for those who value a positive work-life balance.
For expats who value job security coupled with a harmonious work-life balance, Germany is the perfect choice. Seven out of ten participants in the Expat Insider 2014 survey were happy with the level of job security they enjoy and a quarter even say they are completely satisfied. Overall, Germany ranks third in this category, coming in only behind Norway and Luxembourg.
One in five expats in Germany work in the IT industry. As the country is experiencing a skills shortage in this area and experts are in high demand, many expats have found a safe and secure job in this field. Indeed, the highest percentage of expats (17%) list having found a job in Germany as their main reason for moving abroad.
Once they settle into their new job, expats are happy to find that the average work week consists of 39 hours, leaving plenty of time to spend with family and friends and engage in leisure activities. At first, many expats find it difficult to adjust to the fact that stores in Germany are closed on most Sundays and in some states shut their doors in the early evening during the week. After a while, though, most learn to plan ahead and enjoy their leisurely Sundays. Indeed, one in five expats say they are completely satisfied with their work-life balance.
Safety - It’s in the Numbers
When it comes to personal safety in Germany, the numbers speak for themselves. Nine out of ten expats feel that it is possible for them to move about freely in their neighborhoods, cities, and the country in general, without fearing for their personal safety. In fact, the country received less than 0.5% negative ratings in this respect!
Expats appreciate being able to walk around Germany’s cities and sleep peacefully in their beds each night, all the time feeling safe and secure. Even during the Oktoberfest in Munich and after World Cup soccer games, foreigners are often surprised at the relatively low amount of trouble that Germans get into, compared to what they would expect to see in other countries. With its low levels of crime and high standard of living, it’s no surprise that one-third of survey participants list the desire for a better quality of life as one of their reasons for moving to Germany.
Germany’s Got You Covered
Another aspect that expats in Germany really value is the excellent quality of medical care they receive in the country’s medical practices, clinics, and hospitals. A striking 92% rate the healthcare system positively and almost half of the survey participants even say the quality of medical care is very good. While no one contests that the quality of care is superb, some expats experience culture shock when faced with the comparatively laid-back German mentality when it comes to modesty and privacy.
The cost-benefit ratio of Germany’s healthcare system is also very high, with many procedures and medications covered, even by public health insurance companies. Expat women who give birth in Germany are often pleasantly surprised to find it is not only possible, but encouraged, that you stay in the hospital for several days after delivery. German medical care is very efficient and thorough, with patients receiving all the care and attention they need before, during, and after medical procedures.
A Cloud in the Perfect German Sky?
While Germany ranks very highly for job security, quality of medical care, and personal safety, there are some areas in which it falls far behind other countries in our survey. First of all, only one in ten people are very happy with the climate and weather in this European country. Luckily, with excellent transportation options and a central location within Europe, escaping to sunshine and warmer climes for a long weekend or extended vacation is a breeze.
Expats in Germany also find it quite difficult to settle into life here and make new friends, especially local ones. The cool and distant outward demeanor of many Germans is often interpreted as rudeness. The blunt, frank way of speaking and expressing opinions can come off as tactlessness. Only 14% of the survey respondents think the local German population is very friendly and the country ranks a miserable 50th out of 61 in terms of overall friendliness.
Despite this less-than-ideal result, expats who manage to crack the hard outer shell and become friends with Germans will find that they have made fast friends for life. Although excellent knowledge of English is widespread throughout Germany, being able to converse in German will help pave the way to feeling at home and making local friends. As our Recommended Blogger Jenni in Berlin notes, “Granted, the grammar is difficult, but learning even just the basics of the language opens the door into German culture and really does make your stay more enjoyable!”