32 Things You Didn’t Know About Living in Germany


In January 2013, to pursue my career, I moved from Warsaw, Poland to Germany. I planned to stay 2 years. Eight years later I’m still living here and I have a German passport. There is a lot I love about my new home country. And there are just as many things I dislike and try to avoid. If you’re also thinking about moving to Germany and maybe aren’t sure what to expect, read my subjective observations that I have made during my time in Germany. 

  1. Germany does not act like a typical country, it is rather a lot of regions that were put together into borders. The culture, mentality, dialects, and even bank holidays are different in different parts of Germany. I live in the south of Germany and was told many times that people here are much more friendly outgoing than in the north… oh, really? 
  2. The people are proud to be a part of small communities or regions. They do not perceive themselves as “Germans” – rather Berliners or Swabians. Or Bavarians. Or Frankonians. 
  3. Most Germans I know, have never been to Poland – my homeland and their neighboring country, but more have been to Spain or Italy.
  4. It seems that unlikely to my Polish colleagues, Germans are on a low information diet – nobody talks about politics, economy, and other topics we have no influence on. 
  5. You should always have cash in hand..and forget credit cards. In most cases, they will not be accepted.
  6. Always have some change in your pocket while you are driving a car for a longer distance – bathrooms on the highways are not free. In most cases, you pay 0.7 euro and get 0.5 back as a redeem coupon  
  7. Recycle system is quite sophisticated. In fact, you can recycle almost everything but it takes ages to understand this system. I mean, years. 
  8. Sunday is a day of rest. Everything is closed, do not even think about shopping. 
  9. Some restaurants are closed in the early afternoon and one day during the week. Again – it takes time to figure out which restaurant is opened and when. I failed trying to learn this. 
  10. Drinking tap water is not popular at all. 
  11. Germans do not drink still water at all. If anyone orders still water in the restaurant – (s)he has to be a foreigner
  12. Mixing drinks… this is quite a long topic. Seems that Germans LOVE to mix drinks – water and juice, water and wine, beer and water, beer and coke, coke and soft orange drink… The only thing I tried is a classic Apfelschorle – water (of course sparkling) with apple juice. Great beverage for summertime – tastes like juice, refreshes like water.
  13. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy beer than a bottle of water
  14. You cannot buy good tea in Germany. You can select from many herbal infusions but if you like tea, order some British one on amazon.
  15. The education system is quite complicated and having a higher education is rather an exception than a rule. Germans prefer on-the-job education and many of them do not study at all. 
  16. Driving the highway is not that as crazy as I thought. The cars are driving fast but everyone keeps the safety rules. Unless the driver is a foreigner. 
  17. You can be fined for not keeping an appropriate distance from the other car 
  18. I have never received so many speeding tickets as in Germany. Although in Germany there is no speed limit on highways. But if there is, you’d better keep it. 
  19. I even lost a driving license for one month. I was flashed at 5 a.m. on Sunday when all people were still in bed, I drove 83, and the limit was 50.  
  20. German men are very emancipated. They take parental leave and some of them even take their wife’s surname. 
  21. Germans love seasonal veggies and fruits. Depending on the season that could be asparagus, strawberries, pumpkin – you will see them everywhere and all the restaurants will have a special seasonal menu.
  22. It seems that women can make a career only to a certain level in the company hierarchy. Executive board positions are “reserved” for men. Glass ceiling exists everywhere.
  23. Germans take their online privacy seriously. Many of them do not use social media or use fake names on Facebook. 
  24. Renting a flat in Germany is an exceptional thing. In most cases, you are renting empty space with no kitchen furniture, no fridge, no washing machine, no lamps. Nothing. Only the space between the walls. 
  25. Germans take big care of insurance. And they get minimum 3 or 4 types of insurance. 
  26. Cost of food, cosmetics, and household items is lower than in Poland. 
  27. Germans love doing “Kaffe und Kuchen” – coffee and cake –  for all sorts of occasions.
  28. They love outdoor activities. The most popular are hiking and biking. 
  29. Germans, largely, are always exceptionally well-groomed.
  30. They love folklore and are proud of it. The most known folklore event is, of course, Oktoberfest in Munich. For me, it is too big and there are too many drunk guys. But definitely, it is the event you should attend at least once in your life. 
  31. They love football. But unlike Polish, fans of different teams are able to talk normally to each other and even watch the game together.
  32. Movies are all dubbed in German. They do not know the real voice of Meryl Streep, Keanu Reeves or Angelina Jolie. 😳

You can’t just be a tourist when you spend almost a decade in a new country but you can still have a fresh view 😉