As I promised, this blog will have broad range of topics. So today I would like to share some insights about top destination in Germany and the city I ended up living at the moment, heart of conservative state Bavaria – yes, about Munich.
Munich (München) is the third largest city in Germany after Berlin and Hamburg and offers studies in large well-rated universities LMU and TUM, as well as many more smaller institutions; it hosts huge amount of companies and therefore job offers, especially in different IT/technical areas, but also keeps to have very broad cultural spectrum and gathers artists/actors/singers form all over the world. Munich is reach in history and perfect touristic destination. It surrounded by Alps and amazing nature resorts, perfect place for hikers, climbers, fans of active winter sport and everyone, who wants to reach beautiful landscapes with half an hour ride. Also some people claim Munich is one of the most friendly cycling city…well, after living in Belgium, I would question this, but it is definitely good enough compare to some other German cities.
However, if you plan to relocate tomorrow, don’t hurry up packing your luggage and booking flights to Munich after reading the first half of this post. Especially if you have partner/family, I would suggest to learn about the country/city where you plan to move unless you are going for very short time (max 1-2 years) just to get an experience. From personal experience I can only advice to do it smartly and not randomly like I did it in the past 🙂
What do you need to consider moving to Munich:
- It is damn expensive place! – Don’t get trapped by higher salary that the company might offered you and especially watch out if you are going to study. You rather save quite some money before the trip. Munich is the most expensive city in Germany. It starts with simple living costs to bars and restaurants. If your salary is high enough, this shouldn’t stop you, but you can be at least morally prepared for the costs.
- Welcome to the Apartment Hell – Don’t expect that you will find a flat to rent in 3 days after arrival unless you are incredibly lucky or ready to pay horrifically high price for it. Many expats and even locals joke that finding a job in Munich is much easier than finding a house. Despite of the ridiculously high prices on rent, the demand is incredibly high. You will have to apply with your kinda CV, which holds information about your nationality, income, habits (playing piano or painting in smelly oil), pets, kids… And there will be another hundred of people competing with you and queuing on a public viewing. Well, your chances are rather low if you are single or a couple, you do smoke and have pets, but rather higher if you have big family and can afford 4-5 rooms apartment. Average flat search takes 6-8 month, but you can also get extremely lucky in the first week, but do not count on that. Some useful links to find shared/temporary place and flats for long-term, you can get more familiar with prices and consider 2-3 month rent price to pay as deposit (Kaution) in the first days of moving.
- Tracht – Munich is very international but as well pretty German and Bavarian. Bavaria is one of the most conservative regions and keeps being proud of own language – Bavarian dialect – as well as traditional cloth. This is completely normal to see people wearing lederhose and dirndls in the streets, shops, cafes and sometimes even in work place. During local holidays and fests just the number of people you can spot will increase.
- Deutsch bitte! – Germany is a special country with its own complicated history. Don’t take Munich international look for granted, most of the “foreign”-alike people will speak perfectly German and maybe even Bavarian. The difference between, for example, Flemish part of Belgium where I used to live and Germany, that you have to learn the language, English is simply not enough! You can survive with English in Munich, no doubts, but actual living experience, understanding the culture you can get only by speaking the language of the country you move to. If it comes to choice of doctors, treatment in the official bodies (even the one that take care of foreigners), better job conditions, higher chances to get affordable and better flat… poor language skills will hit you the most. Especially if you live longer time (I know people living 5 and more years) without speaking a word, Germans would give you quite hard look and get offended that you didn’t put any effort in the integration in their country. Personally I can understand that and highly advice to start learning German before coming even for a short amount of time, because people you might meet on your way will not care much is you live here 1 month or 5 years… And be prepared to learn some dialog as well!
- Beer is a Food – This is well-known expression is often used by my friends and colleagues. In Bavaria people drink beers mostly in liter-glasses, so called Maß, and more rare half-liters. Don’t get surprised by seeing someone starting their day with opening a bottle of beer. And of course, Munich is the capital of well-known Oktoberfest, so you might sacrifice 2-3 weeks in September-Oktober by meeting very drunk people on the streets and in fully-loaded public transport 24/7. Most of people try either join the crazy event or leave the city completely. Companies treat local traditions differently, most of them will have some corporate event in one of the Oktoberfest days with booked table, food and few beers per person. My company offers beers in the fridge the whole year along with juices and water, but we are officially allowed to drink it only after 4pm, so called “Beer nach Vier”. However offices in the other cities do not have that at all… well, they have their local specialties like Karneval, for example 🙂
- More about food – As I mentioned before, Munich is international and therefore offers food from all over the world. However if we talk about traditional Bavarian food served in the restaurants and beer gardens (Biergarten), you should be aware that 99% of dishes have meat and most of the time it is pork (unless something else is mentioned in a dish name/description). So if you are not vegetarian or do not have special meat requirements, you can enjoy delicious fatty specialties, otherwise carefully read the menu and ask the waiter if you are not sure what is inside. I know a few people that got unexpected surprises which spoiled their Munich experiences…However if you decide for Biergarten and you take a sit outside on a benches, you can bring your own food and order only drinks, this is completely normal and you will see many people doing this.
And if you are not scared reading my long post and still consider Munich as an option, I may share more insights with you in the following posts. If you have any questions or wishes, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.