A family day trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber from Nuremberg…
Novotel Nürnberg am Messezentrum
We have been trying to visit Nuremberg for the better part of 3 years now. It is always on our list and always manages to get pushed back by some vacation or emergency. This year, we were making it happen and adding it to the very beginning of our vacation. There was no way out of this city, not this time.…
Family-Friendly Guide To Nuremberg Germany With Kids
While this generation may only know the name for it’s historically recent and infamous position of power during World War II, Nuremberg Germany is much more than a city of office buildings and war-crime tribunals. Nuremberg is a central hub for countless day trips at the top of Bavaria, it is home to a magnificent medieval castle, and host to one of the most famous Christmas Markets in the world. We started our Winter Vacation road trip with 3 days in Nuremberg and the city did not disappoint. Of all the things to do in Nuremberg at Christmas, our first stop was clear; the Christkindlesmarkt. This is what to do in Nuremberg Germany with kids in mind.…
As the second-largest city in Germany, Hamburg is the home to many attractions, buildings, and cultural events.…
Dusseldorf is the beautiful home of over a half million people. It is also the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the seventh most populous city in Germany. It has also been my home for the past 3 years and I love finding new and interesting things to visit with the kids, or when family comes to visit.…
We say huge cathedrals, amazing museums and the burial place of Charlemagne during our day trip to Aachen in Germany with our Kids.…
Germany, oh Germany
With our contract coming to an end, and my recent trip to Canada putting this all into perspective, I have started to think about all the things that I will miss about Germany once we have moved. While it was hard to limit it to just 10, we have come up with the top 10 things that we will miss about living in Germany. We have also made a list of the top things that we won’t miss, because let’s be honest, nothing in this world is perfect.
10 things I will miss about Germany
- Autobahn no speed limit
- These people are freakin’ crazy and I love it. If the road is safe and you are a good driver, why the hell not. Drive as fast as your heartdesires, knowing that everything you do will come back to haunt you in this life, and the next. Did I mention that obtaining a Germany drivers licence is no easy feat. These people know how to drive at these speeds, that’s for sure.
- Rough translation – an outdoor Beer hangout. Because why not. Sadly, only available in the warmer months. Lucky for me, it rarely gets cold in this part of the country so we are not with out for long.
- Excessive number of castles
- And I do mean excessive. It’s like every other town has a castle or two protecting it. It’s amazing.
- Freebies for kids
- Don’t worry about feeding your kids during snack time; just head to the grocery store and walk through the various counters. They hand out sausage slices at the meat counter, cheese and crackers at the cheese counter, and brotchen at the bakery. All you have to do is order your usual groceries from those counters and voila – free snacks. Shops also hand out random toys or gummies to the kids too, but this is more fun.
- Budget airlines
- Porter has nothing on Ryan Air. The sheer number of budget airlines running around this continent, connecting every possible vacation destination, is ridiculous. They are a la carte so you pick all your add-ons based on budget and away you fly.
- Inexpensive, good wine at the grocery store
- I recently discovered a wine in Germany that sells for 4euro, goes for $14 in Canada. It’s crazy! And it’s not crap wine either; it’s Chanti, and Valpolicheli andPinot Grigio.
- Drinking in public
- I like that I don’t need to finish my beer before I can walk onto my front step. I can order a drink from the biergarten and sit next to my kids at the park. They have pop-up beer trucks everywhere in the cities. One time, we were given a free beer on May Day when we walked into a Nursery (the plant kind, not the small children kind)
- 80s mentality on personal safety
- Take care of yourself and don’t be stupid. The government isn’t going to hold your hand and tell you how to live your life or raise your kids.
- While Canada is taking away train tracks, Germany is installing more and growing their network everyday. There are very few towns that can’t be accessed by train – it may require a transfer or two, but they can be reached sans personal vehicle. Check out more about traveling by train.
- No plastic bags
- The stores don’t provide them!They are at the end of the check-out counter and cost between 50cents to 1.50euro for fabric bags. The bakery has paper bags for their items and those still cost 10cents per. They don’t mess around with garbage (or rubbish, as they call it) – with a population this size (81.4 million in case you were wondering – that’s 2.5 times more than Canada), you can’t blame them for wanting to cut down on unnecessary waste.
Also see; 18 Cool Travel Gadgets
10 things I wont miss about Germany
- Complicated highways and exits
- When the GPS says things like “take exit left, and keep right, then keep left”… I question my decision to drive
- 20 letter words
- As if learning the German language wasn’t hard enough, there are literally words that translate into an entire sentence.
- Drinking in public
- While I have no problem with moderate drinking while walking down the beach, I have an issue with drunk-ass chick buying more vodka at the corner store at noon. There are legal limits to how drunk you can be in public, mind you, but that requires the police to find you.
- Netflix selection
- It is better than Canadian Netflix, but not nearly as great at American Netflix. There are still a handful of shows we can’t get here, and they are different than the shows that we can’t get in Canada, so it’s a very real mix of emotions for my children. We have discovered a few German shows that are dubbed into English, as well as the original version of others – did you know that Octonauts is British, not American? Amazon Prime isn’t much better – most of the kids shows only have one or two season in English and the rest are German.
- Neon 80s fashion
- Between the bright colours and the accessories, I feel like personal safety isn’t the only thing stuck in the 80’s in Germany. It has made shopping for clothes a little tricky, but not impossible. It’s all up to personal taste, honestly. I don’t like standing out that much – my English-speaking rambles with the children do that enough for my taste.
- Bag your own groceries
- While it can be fun torace with the checkout lady in bagging your own items, having everyone stare at me as I fumble between packing my bags, keeping the kids from unpacking them to find their snacks, and paying the cashier, all before the next customer starts getting antsy, a little too stressful for a quick stop at the local grocery store. I can’t handle the pressure.
- When it rains (and it always rains) it pours
- I know everyone says that it rains a lot in the U.K and I’m sure they aren’t wrong, but man alive does it ever rain in Germany. After a few days in a row, every week, for months, it starts to grow old. You can easily spot the locals from the expats – the locals will jump out of their houses the moment the rain stops in order to get those few minutes of fresh air and a walk around the block before the rain starts again. There is no putting off plans, no need to consult the weather network – make your plans and just bring proper rain gear, because there is always a chance that it will rain. Even in December.
- Crazy-ass German drivers that cut at close range
- Getting cut off on the highway is scary. Getting cut-off on the unlimited sections of the highway is enough to give a young man a heart attack. They cut so close to you and without warning. I know they are good drivers and they wouldn’t do it if they couldn’t, but still – two cars length people. And signal for Gods Sake.
- No Sunday shopping followed by a Monday holiday
- I have no problem with being closed on Sunday. As a former retail manager, I appreciate having Sunday’s off as family day. What I do dislike is the Sundays that proceed a holiday Monday. The lines that form Saturday afternoon and Tuesday morning are crazy long and the shelves are never stocked enough. It’s like we can’t live with the stores closed for more than one day at a time – and you want to know why – Our fridges and kitchens are so crazy small, we can’t keep that much food in our house at any one time.
- As a Canadian, I find the German honesty and forwardness a little on the rude side. But then, I can only imagine what they think of my Canadian politeness.
Also See; Day trips from Dusseldorf
All time favourite thing about Germany
My all-time favorite thing about Germany… is all the holidays! Holy Smokes do they ever celebrate holidays. Sometimes it feels like the kids are never in school, it’s insane. Between Karnival, May Day and Saint Martin, there are so many celebrations to be had in Germany that it is hard to keep track of them all. And the Christmas Markets are amazing. They start the last week of November and some go as long as the first week of January, depending on the city – but most end December 23.
Check out my various articles regarding Christmas Markets in Germany and across Europe by clicking here.
An excellent resource for planning all of Germany can we found with the Lonely Planet GermanyGuide.
Moving to Germany | Guide
Moving is stressful and the to-do list can go on for days. Moving to another country, across the ocean, that speaks another language, that you have never visited before, and you can see the stress levels rising beyond what you think you able to handle. Rest assured that you can do this! Countless have done it before you and countless will do it after you, and I am one of them.
I can guarantee you that there are resources and people out there, all too ready and willing to help you make the transition as worry-free as possible. While we can’t pack your house and cancel your contracts for you, I have created a Guide to Moving to Germany to help ease the stress and finally give you that “to-do list” check in the box that makes every Type-A list maker happy.
When to Cancel Contracts
As soon as you have a firm confirmation of work, you should notify your contracts. Some require 30 days, some require 90. Make sure they have your move documented in your file properly and take the name and employee number of the associate that helped you. If possible, also ask for a conversation tracking number. If something goes wrong and they didn’t cancel it on their end on time, this is the only way to get you out of those cancellation fees.
If you work for the government and are moving because of your job, or your partners, many agencies will waive cancellation fees to government employees. Tell them everything about the move to try and squeeze every last discount and waiver possible.
Ask around to others that have done the move before or at the same time as you. Maybe their representative knows something yours doesn’t. It doesn’t hurt to exchange notes.
Opening New Contracts
Before leaving Canada, you will need to decide what kind of contracts you want to carry over into Germany. While you will need a new bank account in Germany for your new income (and Canadian debit cards don’t work in Europe), you will want to hang on to your Canadian bank accounts for any residual incomes and income tax purposes.
Do you need to change your credit cards to better suit your new lifestyle? Some cards offer better points deals if you plan on traveling a lot. Be aware though, Europe doesn’t like credit cards very much so not everyone will accept them. Local grocery stores, for instance, only take cash and European Debit cards. American Express is rarely offered, and Master Card is a close second. The main credit card of choice, where available, is Visa.
Since taxes are will be that much more complicated with the new income stream, think of hiring an Income Tax agent to handle all of your new special needs. Same goes with your Will, Life Insurance, and Power of Attorney. Find one that will be honored in your destination country, as not all are recognized internationally.
Speaking of Legal…
Not everything that is legal in Canada is recognized as such elsewhere. While Germany has more or less the same laws and values as Canada, surrounding countries that you may find yourself visiting, may not. Things like civil unions, same-sex marriage, and adoption laws may not be the same and require extra documentation if recognized as legal at all. Be aware of these differences and respect their laws, whether you agree with them or not, morally right or not.
When to Quit Your Job
While it is always nice to give your employer as much notice as possible, in order to find a replacement, you are not legally obliged to do so. Find out when you absolutely have to tell them and ensure you comply with those rules. If you want a reference letter, make sure your resignation letter is peppered with flattery and it’s handed in promptly.
If you are able to take an extended leave of absence, try doing that instead. Some companies will allow you to remain an employee for an extended period of time, if you are only moving for a contract, as opposed to an undetermined amount of time. Only gone for 3 years and your company has locations across the country? Ask to be transferred to where ever it is you will lang when your contract is over. You won’t get the same position and may not even keep the same paycheck, but you will have a job waiting for, which is more than many returning expats get.
When to Sell the House
During the job offer/screening/deliberation process, it is recommended to make the house in sell-able condition. This includes shopping around for a Realtor and having them look around the house to mention anything that might stand out.
You don’t pay them until the house is sold, and a contract isn’t signed until the house is officially listed on the market, so you are not bound to them, but make they know this too. If your offer suddenly disappears, we won’t want to have invested too much of their time into a house that will never make them money.
Once the job offer is solid, start discussing a listing date. You will want the house on the market as soon as possible to give it the most exposure possible. There is a “sweet spot” for listings, known as “posting season”. This is when the military members start looking for houses in their new area, followed by college students looking for places to live after graduation. It generally starts around Easter and can last until mid-summer. Your Realtor will tell you to have the house ready for this window.
If you choose to keep the house, or simply can’t sell it, start arranging for a renter or a company to care for the house in your absence. These agencies will be in charge of keeping the house in working order, tending the garden, and vetting potential renters. They will also have a handyman on contract to care for any tenant related problems.
Germany has a similar vaccination schedule to Canada, but being in such a densely populated, multi-national area, can lead to the spread of viruses that move more slowly in Canada. Hep A & B are highly recommended, as well as anything that you may need a booster for before you return from a contract.
While German doctors can do these, the language barrier can be a little scary at first and it is much easier to simply have it done with your current doctor.
Are Travel Visa’s needed
Canadian Citizens do not need a Visa to enter the EU. Canadians are allowed to be in the EU for up to 90 days without special documentation. After which a Travel Visa or Residency card will be required.
Documents for the new job?
Your job offer will come with immigration paperwork to be completed before you are allowed to legally earn an income in Germany. Take those documents to the Rathaus (Town Hall) and submit them for your legal residency card. This will make you eligible for all public state insurance, access to local schools and financial programs like your Baby Bonus.
This also means you will have to file your taxes in both Canada and Germany, but that is between you and the tax man.
- medical documents
- purge house
- research new country; schools, medical services, citizens expectations
- consider language courses
- notice for contracts
- end lease/sell house
- travel visa
- travel credit cards
- book flight
- research new country bureaucracy; registering with the city, taxes, customs, and traditions
- book and fill storage container
- book shipping container
- vaccinations up to date
- copy and scan documents
- open or close any accounts
- change of address at the post office
- Notify change of address to all unions, student loans, friends and family
- create a Will/Life insurance that is valid in the new country
- travel health insurance
- test-pack luggage
1 week before
- inform banks of the move
- registrars office – license and health insurance
- pack luggage
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