Monthly Archives: July 2022

Renting an Apartment or Flat in Germany

Renting a Flat in Germany: Step by Step

Renting a flat in Germany can be a challenge for everyone, especially for expats coming to the country. Documents, bureaucracy procedures, phone calls in a foreign language… It may all sound too much. But don’t worry – Project Expat is here to help you. We have created this article in order to assist you during all the steps in renting a flat in Germany. Let’s dive right into it!

What documents do I need to rent a flat in Germany?

First of all, if you’re coming to Germany as an expat, you should make sure that you have the right to stay in the country (that is, you are in possession of a residence permit, if applicable). If you want to rent a flat in the country, the first thing the landlord will ask for is your ID or passport. Afterwards, you must be able to prove that you can financially support yourself in the country and you can therefore pay your rent. Normally, you will have to provide your landlord with a salary slip or your bank statement to prove that you have enough income.

If you have already lived and rented a property in Germany before, you will need to provide the credit record documentation, also known as Schufa Record. This document tracks the debt that you may have, which is why landlords might ask for it.

Lastly, if you are unable to submit the aforementioned documentation, the landlord will ask you for the name of a guarantor. If you are unable to pay your rent for any reason, this person must formally agree to do so. However, this is not very common and possessing all the needed documents is usually a piece of cake!

How do I look for a flat in Germany?

There are many options for expats who want to rent an apartment in Germany. Most people just use online renting webpages where you can search for individual or shared flats, talk to the landlords and arrange everything from the comfort of your home. Some of the most popular ones are Immobilien Scout 24, Immowelt and WG-Gesucht, but there are many others.

In addition, you can also choose to rent a flat through a real estate agency, which can make things much easier, but you also have to pay a fee for this service.

After you have found your place, all that you must do is pretty simple: you just have to arrange an appointment with your landlord, submit all the documents and simply get the keys for your apartment!

What’s the usual cost of renting a flat in Germany?

This totally depends on the German city where you’re planning to stay. However, average prices are normally set per square meter. The most expensive cities to live in Germany are Munich, Hamburg and Cologne, where apartments right in the city can range from 1.500 to 2.500 euros a month. However, the further you move away from the city, the less you will pay. In the rest of cities, a one-bedroom apartment costs around 700 euros, which is very reasonable.

When you rent an apartment, you have to pay a deposit equal to three months’ worth of rent. Additionally, utilities are typically not included in the rent. Make sure that the rental agreement specifies this. Kaltmiete or “cold rent” refers to a property that does not include heating nor utilities in the rent. On the other hand, a Warmmiete includes heating costs and all the other expenses.

For expats moving to Germany, renting unfurnished apartments in Germany might be a terrific choice because it gives them the freedom to customize the interior to their preferences and needs. When renting an unfurnished flat in Germany, there are a few considerations to make. First of all, expats should be ready to pay a larger deposit, which is often equal to three months’ worth of rent, as well as one month’s worth of rent up front. Expats should also be aware that they will be in charge of paying their own utility bills, including those for water, gas, and electricity. It’s also crucial to remember that many German landlords want liability insurance from their tenants, which can be acquired through a German insurance provider.

All things being said, we have gone through the whole list of what you have to do to rent a place in Germany. Yes, we know – it’s easier than it seems! We hope that this article made you feel less stressed about renting a flat in the country. If you’re patient enough, you will find the best home for you. Good luck on your search! Check out our 5 Step Relocation Plan!

Most Common German Stereotypes when on Holiday

6 Common German Stereotypes when on Holidays

With the rise of travel lovers around the globe, it is very easy to confirm that every country has its own stereotypes when it comes to behaviour during the holiday season. Now that COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted worldwide and we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we thought that it’d be nice to refresh 6 Common German Stereotypes on vacation while you get ready for the upcoming holidays. Have you chosen your destination yet? Let’s see how the locals will perceive you over there!

Sandals and socks – an eyesore?

If you find yourself in a Mediterranean or exotic country with temperatures ranging from 25 to 35 degrees, spotting a German will be an easy task. Being one of the most well-known German stereotypes, brown leather sandals and white socks are the holiday essentials that most tourists pack in their hand luggage.

Leaving this terrible attack on the fashion world aside, what most locals wonder is the following point: if it’s warm enough to wear sandals, why would you want to wear socks with them? Many Germans would defend themselves against this cliché by arguing that socks are useful to prevent blisters on their feet!

The early bird catches the sun lounger

It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and you wake up to the peaceful sound of the chirping of birds. You’re enjoying your summer vacation in a wonderful 4-star hotel. After your breakfast buffet, you decide to go down to the swimming pool and sunbathe while you read your favourite book. All of a sudden, your relaxing dream turns into a nightmare: there’s not even one spot left! Does this ring a bell?

Germans have an obsession with throwing their towels into the sun lounger at 7 a.m. to reserve them for later, so it’s no surprise that this has become one of the funniest German stereotypes. The reason behind waking up this early on their days off remains a mystery, but it’s worth saying that this accurate stereotype infuriates tourists worldwide!

Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera – the German Paradise 

It is no surprise that the most popular destination for German tourists is the Mediterranean. According to tourism statistics, over 4.5 million German citizens have visited the Balearic Islands every year since 2016. This figure pops up a question: have you ever met a German who hasn’t been to Mallorca – or better said, the 17th Bundesland, like Germans call it?

In addition to tourists, the German community on the island continues to stand out from the rest of foreigners with more than 36,000 people registered in their local municipalities.

But what stereotypical conceptions do locals have about them? Well, as rough as it may sound, we could say that especially young tourists don’t have the best of reputations over there. In fact, they are well known for partying until sunrise and drinking beer and sangria in abundance.

However, it is not only the nice weather and cheap prices that make the Germans want to return to this top summer destination, but rather the endless wonders that can be found in this charming island.

Farmer’s tan

Nothing says summer like an uneven tan! Have you ever peeled off your shirt at the beach only to find a sun-kissed lower arm but a blindingly pale torso? Then you know what we’re talking about! During their holidays, some Germans forget to put on sunscreen whilst the sun is at its peak, resulting in a natural good-looking body painting they wish they had avoided!

Sparkling water: hate it or love it

Even though sparkling water is quite common among many European countries, if we take into consideration that the biggest holiday destination for Germans is Spain, ordering a bottle of mineral water might end up in disappointment.

Carbonated water is not everybody’s cup of tea outside of Germany. We can assure you that waiters prefer not to be yelled at if they bring still water to their customers. Moral of the story: you’d better wait to have your Sprudelwasser at home.

Germans: Masters of the Rule Book and Connoisseurs of the Fine Print

Germans take their rule book on vacation because they love rules so much! They’ll be relaxing on the sand, observing the “no running” sign with vigilance, and making sure their beach umbrella is put precisely 10 feet apart from their neighbour’s. Even a neighbourhood watch will be set up to make sure that everyone abides by the “no diving” policy at the pool.

They may be observed at the hotel buffet weighing out their assigned portions according to the restrictions of the “all-inclusive package.” And when it’s time to check out of the resort, they’ll be sure to strictly abide by the “check-out before 11am” guideline. But don’t worry, they still know how to have fun – they just make sure to follow the ‘designated beer drinking time’ rule while doing so.”

To end this article on a good note and avoid potential offenses, keep in mind that these are just funny and sometimes exaggerated stereotypes – we know that not all Germans are the same!

If you wish to find out more curiosities about Germany, check out our blog article on German superstitions! 

Donath Relocation Services 5 step plan

5 Step Relocation Plan: Moving to Germany

If you’re moving to Germany, we are aware of how extensive the whole relocation process can be. Don’t worry! Our partners from DONATH Moving & Relocation count on specialists that will assist you by providing their best moving and relocation services. Overall, they will support you and ensure that the entire move goes smoothly while you can focus fully on your job and your new workplace.

Step 1: Finding a good moving company

As an expat, it might be difficult to decide which moving company is the most appropriate for you. Therefore, it is important that you don’t only compare prices, but you also make sure that it offers all the high-quality services that you will need during the move. DONATH Moving & Relocation created a super useful checklist for expats to help you find the best moving company. Download it here to find out the 5 steps that you should follow in your search!

Step 2: Being well prepared

The DONATH relocation experts can assist with a wide range of time-consuming tasks when moving to a new residence:

  • home search
  • rental agreement
  • school and kindergarten search (if applicable)
  • preparation of visa application
  • formalities and administrative paperwork
  • integration of the family
  • all questions relating to pets, etc.

This allows you to focus on your new professional challenge while the experts take care of everything else.

Step 3: Packing your household goods 

We recommend to only use a professional moving company for your move to Germany. They have the knowhow how to pack and load an overseas container and give you advice on how to ensure your household goods.

Pack up your personal belongings and set them aside. Valuables, keys, documents and passports should be packed in a separate bag that you keep with you at all times. This way, you won’t have to spend hours looking for the things that you desperately need for the first night in your new home.

Step 4: Moving day

Don’t forget taking a day off work on your moving day. To ensure a smooth transition to Germany for the whole family, why not arrange for some trusted relatives or friends to look after your children during moving day?

Don’t forget to pack all of your most precious possessions and make sure you include plenty of snacks and refreshments – keeping everyone’s spirits up! The moving crew would also be happy to have a cup of coffee or a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

donath moving and relocation logo

Step 5: Arriving in Germany 

Congratulations, you’ve made it to your new residence!

Moving to a new home can be an exciting and empowering experience. However, it’s important not to forget one key step: reaching out to various organizations such as banks, registration offices and insurance companies so they are aware of your updated address!

Any questions left? Do not hesitate to get in touch with our partners at DONATH Moving & Relocation. You will not regret it!

Midwifes, Pregnancy and Birth in Germany

Pregnancy and Giving Birth in Germany

Midwifes, Pregnancy and Birth in Germany

Are you pregnant and new to Germany? Congratulations – what an amazing time in your life! Pregnancy and birth are among the biggest transitions in life that you can experience. It’s exciting, and maybe a bit scary, but even more so in a new and different country. Pregnancy and giving birth in Germany is likely to be very different from being pregnant in your own country since Germany offers a unique service to expectant mothers.

Preparing yourself and your partner for parenthood is an important task. Babies can only be born once, and it helps to have an understanding of the process and what your options are, giving you more confidence to face the big day.

Let me take you on a journey through all the different stages of your pregnancy, exploring how things work here when giving birth in Germany.

The gynaecologist

When you think you’re pregnant, your first stop is usually your gynaecologist. Unlike in other countries, it is the gynaecologist (who will also be trained in obstetrics) rather than your general practitioner (GP) who confirms your pregnancy, and takes you into their care.

This doctor will set up the various appointments you need to attend during pregnancy, do the antenatal check-ups, including taking blood, conducting ultrasound scans and prescribing any medication needed, but they won’t actually deliver your baby.

The midwife

One of the questions you are most likely to hear is whether you have found a Hebamme (midwife). Alongside seeing a gynaecologist, as described above, you can – and should – find a midwife to guide and educate you throughout your pregnancy, and to support you during and after the birth.

At its core, the midwifery model of care, which the German system is based on, sees pregnancy and birth as normal physiological events rather than as medical emergencies.

In Germany, midwives are specialists, professionally trained in caring for women during pregnancy and birth, and in the period immediately after. They train directly in midwifery at a hospital rather than starting out in general nursing and then specialising. They must pass an exam to get a state diploma, and from 2022 they will have to undertake further study.

Midwives can practise both inside and outside hospitals, and offer a range of services. Germany has always had a strong midwifery profession, and legally it is only midwives who can attend when someone is giving birth in Germany, not nurses. Doctors can deliver a baby, but only in the presence of a midwife, whereas midwives can attend a normal birth without the presence of a doctor. This is why labour wards are staffed exclusively by midwives.

Let’s look at all the services midwives offer in Germany.

Prenatal care in Germany

While many women choose to go to their gynaecologist (Frauenarzt/Frauenärztin) for prenatal care, midwives also provide prenatal, or antenatal care, sometimes on their own or in partnership with a gynaecologist. Midwives can do everything that the gynaecologist does, except for conducting ultrasound scans. If you choose shared care, you will have alternating visits with your gynaecologist and your midwife.

Even if you are seeing a gynaecologist for all your antenatal care, it’s still worth consulting a midwife. She will offer you advice about nutrition and exercise in pregnancy. Some midwives offer alternative therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal remedies. All of this is can be helpful right from the early stages of pregnancy, when you may be suffering from nausea, right through to the end.

Alongside the prenatal care, many midwives offer a range of courses on pregnancy, birth and the period immediately after birth. These could include pregnancy yoga, exercise classes, antenatal/birth preparation classes, hypnobirthing courses, breastfeeding workshops, postnatal recovery classes, baby massage and many more.

The cost of some of these courses, like the antenatal classes, is completely covered by health insurance (but only partly covered for the partner). Some courses have to be paid for privately, but being well prepared physically, emotionally and mentally can bring great benefits at this important milestone in your life.

Care during giving birth in Germany

Whether you’re in a hospital, a birth centre, or at home, midwives are the principal caregivers during labour and giving birth in Germany. Whether you have met the midwife who will look after you during labour will depend on the setting:

  • In hospital it is likely that you will not have met the midwife who attends you during the birth, but in general it will be midwives rather than other health professionals who look after you during the birth.
  • Midwives who work in a birth centre (an independent centre run by midwives) or offer a home-birth service usually provide care throughout the pregnancy. They are keen to get to know you and establish a relationship of trust.
  • Midwives with visiting rights (Beleghebamme) offer a private one-to-one service within a hospital. They have a contract with a hospital that enables them to take their clients to that hospital for the delivery. The advantage of this option is that you receive one-to-one care, and you know who will be attending the birth of your baby.

Postnatal care in Germany

You can also find a midwife to cover your postnatal care (Nachsorge). She will visit you at home in the period after birth, to support you with breastfeeding and your recovery, and to offer advice about looking after your baby.

Benefits of midwife care

Being in the care of a midwife gives you the opportunity to ask all your questions and get them answered by someone with a wealth of experience. Seeing her regularly means you can be better informed during this crucial stage of your life. Studies show that women who have been under the care of midwives are more likely to have a better outcome at the birth than those who haven’t.

Finding a midwife

Unfortunately Germany, like many countries, has experienced a shortage of midwives. However, during the coronavirus pandemic, Germany allowed midwives to offer online support, and this has opened up new opportunities. It means you can consult a midwife anywhere in Germany, no matter where you live, and get answers and support.

Your first step on discovering you are pregnant should be to find a midwife, and a place for the birth. Finding a midwife can be tricky, so it’s best to start looking as soon as possible.

Here are some options for finding a midwife in your area:

  • Simply Google ‘Hebamme’ and the name of the area you live in
  • Ask your doctor – they will be able to provide you with a ‘Hebbamennliste’: a booklet with the contact details of all the midwives in your area
  • Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations
  • Have a look on Facebook: you will often find groups called ‘Hebammenvermittlung’ plus the name of your city
  • International groups on Facebook can also be a useful source of information

Take a look at these sites:

Although it would be great to have all your services in one place, it’s often not possible. It’s probably better to see a midwife during your pregnancy, even if she is not one who can take care of you in the postnatal period. You can always be looking for a postnatal midwife as your pregnancy progresses.

Birth is the start of life, and everyone deserves the best start in life.

Useful terms

  • Antenatal care: Vorsorge
  • Antenatal course: Geburtzvorbereitung
  • Birth centre: Geburtshaus
  • Gynaecologist/OB-GYN: Frauenartzt, Frauenärztin
  • Home birth: Hausgeburt
  • Labour ward: Kreisssal
  • Midwife: Hebamme
  • Midwife with visiting rights: Beleghebamme
  • Postnatal care: Nachsorge/Wochenbett

Jutta Wohlrab has been an international midwife for 38 years and a hypnotherapist for 15 years. She has dedicated her career to guiding expecting parents to a joyful, safe and happy birth.  In her book “Happy Birthing Mind”, she shares all her tips and secrets about reducing pain, releasing fears and feeling calm and confident about giving birth. She is also an international speaker and teaches her methods to birth professionals all over the world.