Home Moving to Germany About Germany 30 things to know about the Germans
Last update on June 03, 2021

Moving to Germany? Check out our list of things you should know about German people and their culture before you arrive.

We proudly present you with a practical summary (with some practical jokes in it) of what our interview partners from the past six months have told us about Germany and the Germans. Yes, you will find some stereotypes in here. You might even get annoyed by them, or laugh out loud instead.

Things to know before moving to Germany

  1. Germans will know that you are a foreigner. They just do.
  2. Germans are very traditional, very hierarchical.
  3. Germans are rule-oriented in every aspect – make sure you wait at traffic lights – and prepare yourself for a lack of flexibility in rules and regulations. In Germany, rules are a way of life.
  4. German punctuality means arriving at least 10 minutes before the appointment.
  5. The German language is a lot of trouble. And don’t worry about messing up the tenses or articles. They’ll understand you, but they’ll also correct you.
  6. Stereotypes about Germans might be true, but they have to be tested every time. Not everyone is ‘German’ to the core. Maybe just a few.
  7. Things are usually in order and work, but, surprise surprise, you will discover that Germans are not always efficient and they do make mistakes here, too.
  8. There is much more trust between people and a greater sense of society. People will return your lost keys or wallet.
  9. Learn to love pork – in all its incarnations. Learn to love Wurst and Sauerkraut. There’s no chance you can escape them.
  10. Germans are cautious about new things.
  11. Germans usually do one thing at a time.
  12. German literature is something to be proud of, and deserves close affiliation.
  13. For many, the weekend begins at 2pm on Friday. You don’t believe that? Good luck calling an office on Friday afternoon.
  14. Germans are eco-friendly. Learn how to recycle. Before you know it you will be happily recycling everything from glass bottles to paper towels.
  15. Learn not to interrupt or jump into a conversation. They wait to speak until the other person has finished.
  16. Get used to the idea of going grocery shopping in more than one shop. Supermarkets don’t have everything in them; the local butchers or bakery might though, or certain supermarkets will carry different brands.
  17. There is lots of paperwork waiting for you in Germany – more than you can imagine.
  18. Dogs are nicely treated and allowed in most of the hotels and restaurants.
  19. Germans are hard working but they know how to celebrate life, although celebrating is as regulated as everything else in Germany – there is time to be happy and friendly and time to party, like at Karneval.
  20. Most Germans speak English, and when they tell you they speak only a little bit of English, don’t believe them – their English is probably perfect.
  21. Rentals often include a rental fee, as annoying as that is.
  22. On Sundays shop are closed but the museums are open.
  23. Germans are a mailing and calling country. If you need to contact a person, don’t email, just pick up that phone and call.
  24. Sauna = naked! That’s a rule!
  25. Germans are not spontaneous. Make appointments with them to do pretty much everything, including going for a coffee break. That might be an exaggeration for some people, but for others, maybe not.
  26. Especially for Americans out there: there is no personal space, people stand very close to each other.
  27. Germans might overstep their boundaries in regards to commenting – it has to do with that sense of community we talked about earlier.
  28. They love their cars, they are holy for them. An average German washes his car up to 10 times a year.
  29. German men tend to be very shy and don’t take a first step – women may feel unnoticed – while women tend to wear jeans and are a bit more aggressive than elsewhere in the world, at least according to some of our male interview partners.
  30. Germans separate their private and work life – don’t consider calling your colleague after working hours.