5 Reasons to Move to Germany
By Tricia A. Mitchell
Every year, tens of millions of travelers flock to Germany. They come to experience the country’s legendary festivals, its castles and palaces, and its soaring mountains.
While Germany is a great place to visit, it’s also a lovely place to call home—something I did for more than ten years. Here’s why I’m happy I moved there.
Germany may be a bit smaller than the U.S. state of Montana, but it still manages to offer a great diversity of landscapes. These include everything from mountains and coastal areas to forests and valleys.
Hiking and cycling are two of my favorite ways to savor Germany’s natural scenery. Over the years, I’ve found that German trails are well-signed and well-maintained. From a gentle hike (with no special equipment required) to a more challenging Klettersteigclimb (with fixed cables or ladders), I’ve also encountered many types of hiking trails in Germany. Some mountains are outfitted with cable cars and restaurants, both of which present magnificent views.
Beyond hiking and biking, Germany has to explore. In the north is the Wadden Sea National Park. Its wetland areas are home to porpoises, seals, and a great variety of birds. If you head south to Berchtesgaden National Park, you can see extraordinary lakes, forests, and glaciers. Golden eagles, red deer, and hundreds of butterfly species inhabit this natural space.
Central Location & Great Connectivity
Germany’s location in Central Europe, coupled with its excellent public transportation network, make it a breeze to get around.
Trains, buses, and trams are modern, and ticket prices are reasonable. Unsurprisingly, I’ve found that the best train fares often present themselves when you plan ahead. However, you can also purchase (Länder-Tickets), which allow you to explore a given state in Germany for a reduced fare.
Germany’s well-connected international airports also make it easy to explore Germany—and the rest of the world. I liked being able to leave my apartment, step onto mass transit, arrive at the airport, and ultimately fly to another corner of the world without ever hopping into a car.
With top-notch hospitals and affordable healthcare, Germany’s medical system is another reason to consider moving there. Over the years, I’ve had routine care in Germany (things like dental and dermatologist check-ups and routine physicals) and I’ve had overwhelmingly positive experiences.
As in many countries, you might encounter a language barrier when you seek medical treatment. However, I’ve generally found that doctors in moderate to large-sized German communities speak at least some basic English. Often, they have an excellent command of English.
From musical performances and food-themed festivals to museums and historic towns, Germany has much to offer in the way of culture.
During my time in Germany, I’ve donned a Dirndl (traditional Bavarian dress) for Oktoberfest and wine festivals. I’ve seen world-class musicians perform in handsome concert halls. And I’ve attended theatrical performances in courtyards of centuries-old castles. On a snowy evening, my husband and I were even fortunate enough to get married in a German castle.
Speaking of winter, the lead-up to Christmas is an especially festive season in Germany. Most towns and cities hold their own Christkindlmarktor Weihnachtsmarkt.
Communities erect tiny chalet-style structures in their town centers. Inside these huts, vendors sell trinkets such as ceramic-ware, jewelry, candles, and handmade mittens. Of course, they also sell mouth-watering treats. At cozy Christmas markets in Nürnberg, Heidelberg, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, I’ve feasted upon Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Kartoffelpuffer (fried potato pancakes), gebrannte Mandeln (candied almonds), and Glühwein (mulled wine).
In addition to Germany’s many festivals and special events, there are also attractive Altstädte(Old Towns) throughout the country. UNESCO has inscribed a whopping 43 German cultural sites on its World Heritage List. These historic landmarks include cathedrals, Roman monuments, and art from the Ice Age.
But what’s perhaps most endearing about Germany’s cultural events is witnessing how a community comes together to make a celebration possible. In some respects, when you attend, you also become a part of that time-honored tradition.
Clean & Orderly Environment
Having traveled to parts of the world where stray dogs roam and garbage clutters streets and waterways, I’ve come to greatly appreciate Germany’s penchant for cleanliness and order. The country is one of the world’s top recyclers.
The water in German cities is drinkable and fresh, and German rivers and streams are usually garbage-free. It’s also uncommon to see litter on the streets or in forests.
At a neighborhood level, residents tend to take pride in their properties. For example, it’s not uncommon to see people sweeping their driveways, trimming their hedges to perfection, or primping the flowers in their window-boxes.
Overall, Germany has a great respect for the environment and animals. You also won’t see stray dogs on the streets. There are animal shelters, but in general, pet responsibility is taken quite seriously. Dog owners must pay a dog tax, and dog ownership is regulated more than it is in other parts of the world.
Places to Move to in Germany
Berlin is Germany’s multicultural capital and is home to about 3.8 million people. This makes Berlin the largest city in the country.
Divided into East Berlin and West Berlin for 28 years, it wasn’t until 1989 that the Berlin Wall came down. Ever since its reunification, Berlin has become a hub of creativity and innovation.
As a capital city, Berlin offers world-class museums, a dynamic restaurant scene, and other urban amenities. It has good medical care and a major . Berlin is also home to one of Germany’s largest expat communities.
Munich is the capital of the German state of Bavaria and has a population of about 1.5 million people. Even though it’s Germany’s third-largest city, is known to offer a great quality of life.
Munich also has numerous parks. One of the largest is the English Garden. This 900-acre green space is popular with walkers, cyclists, and picnickers. Inside the English Garden there’s a beer garden, a Greek-style temple, and a Japanese teahouse.
Beer connoisseurs will be drawn to Munich. The city hosts the world-famous Oktoberfest and numerous breweries.
Munich is also home to a wide selection of diverse restaurants. You’ll find everything from hearty Bavarian fare to Vietnamese and Japanese dishes.
The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak, towers over the quaint Bavarian resort town of . GaP, as it is abbreviated locally, is a favorite destination of outdoor enthusiasts. The city hosted the 1936 Olympics and still uses the open-air stadium and ski jump that were built for that event.
In Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s center, homes and storefronts flaunt chalet-style architecture and traditional frescoes called Lüftlmalerei.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is located roughly 60 miles southwest of Munich and 80 miles from the Munich International Airport. In addition, the city is only about 20 miles from the Austrian border. This proximity to Germany’s southern neighbor makes trips to the Austrian Alps and Salzburg (made famous by Mozart and The Sound of Music) a breeze.
Situated along the Neckar River between two forested hills, is home to Germany’s oldest university. In the 18th and 19th centuries, artists, writers, and philosophers flocked here. They were drawn to Heidelberg’s romantic setting and its .
Today, Heidelberg boasts a well-respected university hospital, a walkable Old Town, and the Hauptstrasse—one of Europe’s longest pedestrianized shopping streets.
Pfalz Wine Country
Not surprisingly, wine is a big part of the culture here. The German Wine Road (Deutsche Weinstrasse) cuts through part of the Pfalz and leads wine connoisseurs from one winery to the next. In the fall, festivals dominate the social scene in region’s tiniest towns. The world’s largest wine fest is held in .
The Pfalz’s has 1,800 hours of sunshine. As a result, the warmer temperatures nurture not only grapevines, but also almond, chestnut, fig, and even citrus trees. The most widely-produced wine varietals are whites such as Riesling and Müller-Thurgau and reds like Dornfelder and Blauer Portugieser.
Forests, mountains, and vineyards dot the landscapes of the Pfalz, offering hiking and cycling opportunities. During springtime when almond trees reawaken, parts of the Pfalz turn pink. To celebrate, the village of Gimmeldingen hosts an .