So you want to move to Germany? Working in Germany
American Georg Behrendt details his experiences of living and working in Germany in this third part of his series on moving to Germany. He looks at local state and government, stress and employment.
In his ‘So you want to move to Germany series, Georg Behrendt’s two earlier articles (So you want to move to Germany?, So you want to move to Germany? Overcoming obstacles) describe his “torment, trials and tribulations of getting permission to live in Germany and explain the certifications needed to do anything.” Now he continues battling with “the hurdles, regulations, and rigid structure of the government machine.”
Local and state government
You need to know that one branch of the government never knows what the other branch of the government says or does. More so, the same branch of a government office has not a clue (keine Ahnung) what the same department in a different city does or says. Therefore, to avoid problems it is better to process anything in a larger and more international city, not a small town (Dorf).
If you want to start a business, this too has to be approved. First, they will state that you have to invest EUR 100,000.00 to do so. Then they might say that considering it is a starting business, only EUR 500,000.00 is necessary, where in fact you now can start a new business for approximately EUR 5,000.00. However, the better bet is to start it in the States for USD 35.00 to 50.00 and just transfer the name to Germany. That will cost you about EUR 50.00. All this is predicated on the basis that you are American and that you are able to prove the business already exists in the States. Americans are given several Special Privileges that are not offered to other countries.
With the local and state government, be prepared for a total lack of common sense in many areas. The area that is my pet peeve is the Chamber of Commerce. They collect money from you and when your company gets larger and more productive, they collect a percentage. To quote them: You have to be with us because it is the law. In reality, they perform no service for you in any way shape or form. They do not answer any correspondence, but they will send you an invoice for their services which they do not perform. If you dare to question them, their only recourse for an answer is: It is the law.
If you wish to make a copyright, trademark or registration, you do not need to go through a lawyer and spend EUR 3000 to 4000. Do a little legwork, go directly to the European Union, and obtain what you need for a few hundred euros each. Lawyers here operate on the fear factor in all cases. They want to protect you (and increase your costs) for anything that might happen, could happen, should not happen, or has an ever so slight chance of happening. They build up this fear to extract more money from you. In fact, if you do the legwork, you find it simple to obtain all the necessary certifications.
Germany is an extremely structured country that needs stress to operate. Without stress, it is hard for them to deal with anything. If they do not have stress, they will cause stress to be comfortable. They will also try to place the stress on you. Be aware of this and do not accept it; there is no reason to have stress 99.9 percent of the time. The only stress you have is the stress that you accept. The Germans will over analyze a situation--like beating a dead horse--and then send it to a committee for a decision.
Germany is also a very labour-intensive country. They have 83 million people in an area the size of Montana, who they have to keep working and productive, One million of these are Turkish. The Germans look upon the Turkish people as Americans look upon the illegal immigration problem in the States. I find both cases are a bit pathetic but it is reality.
Labour-intensive jobs do have their advantages; for instance, take bread, sausage or cheese. Although these items are handmade here in Germany, at least these items each have a unique and individual taste and quality. Unlike the States, you will find these items are the real thing and not a meagre imitation of the original. They all have a different taste and consistency. All sausages do not taste alike, all breads do not taste alike, and cheeses do not taste alike. Believe it or not the prices are less than half of the imitations you get in the States. This is where labour-intensive is a definite plus. So, sit back and enjoy the food here, it is the real thing. Even the cost of your weekly food shopping is about half of what it costs in the States.
In the working force
Most everyone works for a company. I believe that less than 10 percent work for themselves. The opportunities for entrepreneurs are wide open, and more so if you have an American (more aggressive) attitude. Most of the self-employed you will find in the restaurant industry, and usually in the smaller towns the family will be living above the restaurant they own. The majority of Germans still think that if you are educated in one profession you have to practice that profession the rest of your life. They wonder what is wrong with you if you even think of changing professions.
Ageism in the workplace
It seems even though Germany is very much a labour-intensive country, when you are in the work force, you are old and useless by the age of 45-50 years. Yep, you read correctly. It seems as though your life is over at this age bracket. If you are replaced, retire, lose your job for any reason, you will pay hell to get back into the work force. This is one of the many reasons that there is a Brain Drain in Germany. The intelligentsia feel there are better living conditions in the U.S. and other countries. And heaven forbid that you are in your 60s, you will not stand a chance, so be prepared.
Your resume, these are called a CV (Curriculum Vitae) and guess what? You will include your photograph, age, religion and family history and possibly your financial status. It is a different world here so understand that before you pull up stakes and hop over.
Over the next few weeks Georg Behrendt will offer his perspective on a variety of topics including transport, hunting, the German language, post office system, technology, medical care and customer service in Germany. Stay tuned...
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