Moving to Munich as an expat can be a great adventure, but the expectations may not always match up with reality.
Lots of things will turn out just fine, but there will be other aspects of expat life that you will wish you had known before the move. Mr Lodge, an agency providing furnished apartments in Munich, lists the most common questions expats ask when moving to Munich.
With 25 years of experience, 16 different languages spoken, and 80 employees, our team is in charge of more than 10,000 apartment requests each year, from more than 2,000 companies and institutions. And with about 3,000 successfully rented out objects every year, Mr. Lodge is the biggest agency for furnished apartments in and around Munich and the biggest company in this sector in Germany.
1. Do I need to speak English in Munich?
For expats coming to Munich to work, English may very well be the language they speak most often; their companies may have designated English as the official language, and expats may socialise with other internationals and use English as the common language. And, because it is a popular tourist destination, plenty of places in the city centre will be English-friendly.
However, though Germany ranks ninth on the EF English Proficiency Index, over 65 percent of working Germans said they spoke poor to average English, which can make daily life a little bit more complicated outside of work. Supermarkets, bakeries, banks, public schools—these will all often be operated in German. Even if you do not plan to stay in Germany, it may be beneficial to learn German—or at least, a few key phrases—in order to eliminate any frustration when doing your daily tasks.
2. How and where do I find a place to live in Munich?
Like any major city, apartments are the norm in Munich; houses are available in the suburbs, but newly relocated employees often want to be in the thick of things—and close to transportation—when moving abroad. Munich ranks 35th worldwide in the Economist’s Cost of Living index, meaning it can be a pricey place. A recent report from the German real estate association IVD showed that most rental properties in Munich cost over EUR 13 per square meter, while surrounding areas were largely under EUR 10 per square metre.
An unfurnished 70-square-metre apartment may cost anywhere from EUR 600 to EUR 1500—without utilities—depending on the neighbourhood, with the most expensive located in the centre of the city. Furnished apartments are also available throughout Munich, costing EUR 1500 and up.
Expats looking for apartments in Munich can find them in a number of local newspapers, though they are often only available in German—and working with landlords directly can be complicated when there is a language barrier. Agencies, on the other hand, often provide listings in English and can help expats arrange their accommodations in Munich.
3. Which neighbourhood in Munich should I live?
Before you pick out the apartment, you have to choose the area you want to live in—and this, of course, vastly affects the price. Choosing which neighbourhood to live in when moving to Munich can be a little confusing, especially when the names can be as long as Thalkirchen-Obersendling-Forstenried-Fürstenried-Solln (a borough at the south end of the city).
There are 25 boroughs in Munich, and an even greater number of neighbourhoods within them—and they all offer their distinctive characteristics. Alstadt and Lehel are the most expensive neighbourhoods in which to live, followed closely by the centrally-located Maxvorstadt. Conversely, Hasenbergl and Neuperlach are among the cheapest neighbourhoods in Munich.
Schwabing is popular with the younger crowd as it is home to plenty of cafes and bars, while Bogenhausen is a quieter, affluent neighbourhood. Before settling on a location, speak with fellow expats in Munich or ask your rental agency which neighbourhood suits your lifestyle best—they can give you the inside scoop.
4. How do I get around in Munich?
Munich has an extensive public transportation system that includes the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, tram and buses, which runs as efficiently as anyone would expect in Germany. However, that efficiency comes at a price—a day ticket within Munich costs EUR 6.60, while an IsarCard, which is available as a weekly or monthly pass, costs anywhere from EUR 16.00 to EUR 222.90.
5. Where can I find a supermarket/clothing store/repair shop in Munich?
When you’re new to Munich, you have to start from square one. You’ll need to find a supermarket, choose a favourite restaurant and discover the best hangouts. Local expat groups can help you navigate the city and online guides to Munich are useful for first-timers, but the best way to get acclimated is to simply walk (or bike) around the city—so get out there and explore your new home.