Moving to Germany
Your Expert Relocation Guide

Mind made up on moving to Germany and wondering how to go about it? Our expert moving guide covers everything you’ll need to move to Deutschland like a pro. Below we’ll cover moving costs, visa requirements, finding a job, and what it’s like living in Germany. From end-to-end, we’re here to make your relocation to Das Land der Dichter und Denker (aka the country of poets and thinkers) as smooth as possible!

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Moving to Germany from the USA: How Much Does It Cost?

Let’s begin with what you’re probably most interested in, money talk. Ballpark cost? Around $4,500 on average. It probably comes as no surprise that moving to Germany won’t be as cheap as moving within the US —unless you decide to sell everything and make the journey only with the clothes on your back!

If a minimalist move isn’t really what you’re interested in, then it’s advisable that you familiarize yourself with the factors that can have an influence on your moving costs –we’ve done the work and summarized them here for you.

Because we know that all of this can sound a bit vague, we’ve compiled some ballpark estimates for a sea-freight move to Berlin from the east and west coasts of the United States in the tables below.

Moving to Germany from the East Coast

Property SizeShipping TimeEstimated Cost
1-bedroom6 – 9 weeks$5,700 – $7,600
2-bedroom3 – 5 weeks$7,500 – $10,200
3-bedroom3 – 5 weeks$13,200 – $17,700
4-bedroom3 – 5 weeks$14,200 – $19,000

Moving to Germany from the West Coast

Property SizeShipping TimeEstimated Cost
1-bedroom7 – 10 weeks$6,800 – $9,200
2-bedroom5 – 7 weeks$9,100 – $12,300
3-bedroom5 – 7 weeks$16,100 – $21,800
4-bedroom5 – 7 weeks$17,300 – $23,100

Disclaimer: the rates shown above are just mere estimates. Your moving costs will vary depending on your actual point of departure, the size of your move, and the service rates of the company.

Finding the Right International Mover

Think that finding a price for moving to Germany isn’t a particularly exact science? Well, you’d be right on that one! This is why it’s so important to find the best price from the right international moving company to Germany for your particular move. Otherwise, you may begin your new life in Germany without the side-cash to explore!

Want to make sure you get the most accurate price possible before moving to Germany from the US? By filling out the form below, you’ll be able to receive up to five free moving quotes!

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How to Move to Germany: A Brief International Checklist

If you want to fit in with the Germans, you better become a lover of organization and structure. We might be feeding a stereotype here, but Germans are actually known for their ability to plan and organize —something we’re definitely envious about!

What better way to dive into the administered lifestyle than putting some proper structure into your plans for moving to Germany? To give you a hand, we’ve put together this brief checklist of ‘must-do’s‘ while planning any international move:

✅ Make Decluttering Your BFF

Remember that the final volume of your move will heavily influence the costs of moving to Germany. So, declutter, declutter, and then declutter some more! Unsure how to start? Check out our tips to learn how to downsize your home like a pro.😎

✅ Calculate the Volume of Your Move

Make sure to calculate the size of your move before requesting moving quotes. Providing this estimate to international movers will help them get back to you with accurate quotes. We recommend using our handy volume calculator toolyou don’t want any last-minute surprises when it comes to this, trust us!

✅ Collect All Legal Documents

Moving from the US to Germany will already be stressful enough, so make sure you have your basics covered. Collect all your legal documents (e.g.: passport, birth certificate) and store them in a safe place during transit to avoid any unnecessary legal mishaps upon arrival.

Are you interested in a more extensive moving checklist? If yes, then we got your back. Luckily, we have more than a few tricks up our sleeve to ensure a smooth move —check them out here!

Landscape view of Neuschwanstein castle in Germany

How to Move to Germany: Some More Specifics to Consider

We can imagine you’re itching to hop on a plane and start your new life in Germany, and we get you! With its strong economy, vibrant culture, and over 5,000 brands of beer (say what?!), Germany certainly has a lot to offer.

But as an American moving to Germany, there are more than a few things that you’ll likely want to tackle before embarking on this adventure to Europe’s economic powerhouse.

Securing a Visa

Good news! If you’re intending on permanently moving to Germany from the USA (which we assume you are!), you can enter Germany for 90 days on a tourist visa. Yay US passports!

As an American citizen, you’ll be granted the opportunity to apply for a residence permit after entering Germany –but do note that you must obtain this permit within the first 90 days of your arrival (and this is where the tricky part starts). You’ll need this residence permit to legally reside and work in Germany.

Alternatively, if you’re not one to leave things to the last minute (which is probably smart), you can also request a residence permit before moving to Germany at a German Consulate. If you’ve got a job lined up as soon as you arrive then this is an especially wise choice since you won’t be allowed to legally work otherwise.

✅ How Can You Obtain a Residence Permit?

Most often expats start off by receiving a Temporary Residence Permit, like a student visa or employer-sponsored work permit. Conditions apply, however, like German language proficiency or a market test that an EU citizen couldn’t fill the job opening. So sign up for German classes now!

If you’re moving to Germany for marriage (how romantic!), then you can gain a residence permit for family unification.

After three years in Germany (regardless of the initial reason), you’ll be automatically given a permanent residency. Whoop whoop!

Arranging Finances

One of the most important things you should get done upon moving from the US to Germany is to open a German bank account. Luckily, you’ll be able to open an account in Germany before you receive the residency status (score!), but you’ll need to be present at the bank branch to do so (not so score…).

To apply, you’ll likely be requested to provide the following documents:

  • Proof of identity (e.g.: passport)
  • Proof of address registration or Meldebescheinigung
  • German tax ID number
  • Residence permit (if you’ve already obtained it)
  • Work contract

Sirelo Tip! Exchanging your currency a few weeks before moving to Germany (or immediately after you arrive) will save you a lot of headaches —trust us on that one.

Healthcare

Let’s quickly cover what you need to know about the German healthcare system. Believe it or not, having health coverage is a legal requirement in Germany (sounds intense…). So, make sure that arranging your health insurance upon moving to Germany is on top of your priority list!

Like in most countries, the German healthcare system is split into two sectors:

  • Private (Krankenversicherung)
  • Public (Gesetzliche Krankenkasse)

You might be surprised that private health insurance works a bit differently in Germany than back home. You’ll only be eligible to choose private health insurance if you earn above €62,550 a year –if earn less, you’ll automatically be enrolled under state health coverage. Not too shabby, huh?

Sirelo Tip! If you want added coverage, it’s easy to take out an international insurance policy back stateside before or after moving to Germany.

Working in Germany

Just so you’re aware, the average salary in Germany is €47,700. Of course, this varies by profession, and there are comparatively fewer big-wig millionaires walking around Germany than in the US.

If you’re one of the lucky ones moving to Germany from the US with a job already in your pocket, congratulations! If you’re still searching, then take a peek at this brief breakdown of the German labor market.

We’ll start with a quick heads up, finding a job in Germany without knowing any German can (and most likely will be) a bit tricky. So, if you’re moving to Germany for work with hopes of improving your professional life, do make sure that you take up some German lessons beforehand.

Currently, the most in-demand job sectors include:

  • IT
  • Human resources
  • Banking
  • Telecommunications
  • Engineering
  • Construction & real estate
  • Marketing & PR

Some useful online platforms that can help you during your search for a job in Germany include:

Sirelo Tip! Americans moving to Germany have the most luck finding a job in Berlin. The cosmopolitan capital is the most forgiving of non-German speakers, having the most available jobs in Germany for Americans.

Shipping a Car to Germany?

If you think your car can hold its own on the autobahn, you can easily bring your vehicle along when moving to Germany from the US. If you ship your vehicle separately from the rest of your move, the average cost of shipping will range between $900 to $1,300.

In order to carry out the shipping process, you’ll likely be requested to provide German customs with the following:

  • Copy of the original vehicle title
  • American registration of your vehicle
  • Proof that you’ve owned the vehicle for at least 6 months
  • Copy of bill of sale
  • Proof of employment
  • Copy of your passport
  • Copy of residency registration in Germany

Sirelo Tip! Are you particularly attached to your car? If not, it may not be worth it to bring it along. Because you must pay import taxes on your own possessions, it might be more worth your while to purchase a car after moving to Germany.

Don’t Forget About Your Furry Friend

Last, but certainly not least, moving to Germany wouldn’t be the same if you left your furry friend behind! Luckily, moving pets to Germany from the USA is more than possible, provided that:

  • Your pet has been microchipped
  • Your veterinarian has issued your pet an international health certificate
  • Your pet has been vaccinated against rabies (a certificate signed by your vet will be requested)

Broad cannals in Hamburg at night lit by building lights

Costs of Living in Germany

Let’s kick off with some good news! The costs of living in Germany are actually not as high as you might expect. Actually, they’re even lower than in the US. On average, living in the States is 16% more expensive than living in Germany —score!

Even though taxes are considerably higher, you get more bang for your buck. Remember that state-provided health insurance, for example. This system allows the German government to subsidize services for low-income families to help control their living costs and keep life affordable. Whoever said a bit of socialism was a bad thing?

Housing

DwellingAverage Cost
Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment€730/month rent
Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment€1,384/month
Purchasing a property€5,141 per square meter

Disclaimer: Keep in mind these are mere estimates. Your average monthly expenditures will vary depending on your lifestyle, family size, and the city you reside in.

Groceries

What can you expect from supermarkets in Deutschland? A host of high-quality local products, with Germans being particularly proud of their bread. Below we list some typical grocery store prices:

ItemCost
Milk (1L)€0.70
Loaf of bread€1.25
Local Cheese (500g)€4.50
Eggs (12)€1.90
Chicken (1kg)€7.50
Beer (0.5L)€0.60

Leisure

To wrap up this section on a high note, we’ve compiled some of our favorite things you’ll be able to do after moving to Germany (along with their respective costs, of course). 😎

ActivityCost
Gym Membership€30/month three three three
Three-course meal€50
Museum€13 (sometimes free entry)
Cinema ticket€11
Ticket to the Leipzig Zoo€18
Basic day package to Liquidrom spa€45

How to Survive Living in Germany

Survive, really? That seems somewhat melodramatic. Perhaps, but we can imagine your first few weeks of living in Germany might feel a bit like survival.

Besides the obvious culture shock, you better catch on quickly to the many systems Germans have deployed in their everyday lives (no joke, there’s a system for everything). So what should you look out for? Well…

✅ There are specific color codes for trash and recycling for one

✅ Another is to stock up on supplies before Sunday, since all shops are closed by law

✅ Don’t jaywalk (or risk being scolded by a stranger)

✅ Don’t expect a ‘customer is always right attitude when dealing with German businesses

✅ And, lastly, if someone realizes you don’t understand German while speaking to you, they might just speak louder, as if that helps (you’re an expat, not deaf!)

Americans in Deutschland

Of course, you’ll want to meet people to share your life with after moving to Germany. Most Germans connect by joining clubs and groups around their favorite sports and interests (and actually have the highest level of social cohesion in the world!).

However, if you’ve still got a language barrier in front of you, we wouldn’t blame you for trying to reconnect with your own fellow Americans. Luckily this is easy, as between 300,000 and 400,000 Americans are currently living in Germany.

How to get connected? Get online! Joining expat social media networks and attending expat meetups is a great way to round out your social circle after moving to Germany.

Pros and Cons of Living in Germany

Moving to Germany is undoubtedly an adventure, and adventures have a way of having their upsides and downsides. To sum up some highlights you can expect, check out our pros and cons list for living in Germany:

Pros:

  • Excellent public infrastructure (everything is built like a Mercedes…)
  • Public health insurance and universities
  • Organized and punctual society (never be late again!)
  • Rich cultural heritage to explore

Cons:

  • Daily life is difficult without speaking German
  • Feeling like an outsider (or ‘Ausländer’)
  • Rigid and stern culture (especially around rules)
  • High taxation (and you thought Uncle Sam was bad…)

Panoramic view of the Berlin skyline at night

Did You Know…?

  • 65% of the highways in Germany (aka the Autobahn) have no speed limit —this one is for all you thrill seekers out there!
  • In his visit to Berlin, JFK said “Ich bin ein Berliner”, which also translates to “I’m a jelly donut”.
  • The biggest beer festival in the world is held in Germany —one cannot simply miss the good ol’ Oktoberfest, where an average of 6.7 million liters of beer are consumed.
  • The Fanta orange soda was invented in Germany during WWII by Coca-Cola when it became impossible to import the syrup necessary to make Coke.

Moving to Germany: Sirelo Makes It Easy!

And that’s it, folks! Moving to Germany from the USA never seemed this easy, did it? 😉 We hope that you feel more than ready to pack up and embrace your new life in Deutschland.

If you’re still in need of extra assistance with moving to Germany, we’re here to help! We recommend checking out the pages linked below. We wish you the best of luck with your move. Auf Wiedersehen!