Hallo, guten tag! I’m hoping everyone is keeping well! It’s been 6 months or so since my last blog update and boy what a 6 months that has been!
Since my last post about my iconic trip to New York City, I continued working my little butt off – which may have included a trip to Berlin, Liverpool, London and Newcastle… but I did continue working as the Sales Executive for award-winning Irish coach company, Citylink. However, I felt that it was about time I made a bit of a change and really rock the apple cart in my life.
So… I decided to quit my job, pack myself up and tag along with my best friend and move to Cologne, Germany! Wild, right?
Do I speak German? Barely. Has living in Germany been in my life plans? Every now and then. Will I make the absolute most of it? ABSOLUTELY.
After 16 full days of being in Germany – between Köln and Dortmund (Dortmund will be another Micropost) – I’ve decided I’ll write this post with some cute little info for anyone out there considering a move to Germany.
Before You Go
As I mentioned above, I decided to tag along with my Canadian friend, Nelson, as he was initially moving to Germany. With that, we’ve each had our own experiences in relocating to Germany and I can share some tidbits that may be helpful for both European and North American audiences out there.
The first key step I would consider before moving anywhere in Germany is to make a decision on where it is you want to set up your base. For us, we had been to Frankfurt, Heidelberg and Berlin on a different trip. I enjoyed the working/business style vibe of Frankfurt, the peaceful riverside energy of Heidelberg and the historic yet metropolitan spirit of Berlin. Based on conversations with some German friends of mine, we narrowed down the choices to Cologne and Berlin – Cologne for it being an internationally friendly city and Berlin for it’s, again, metropolitan and unique city bustle.
Once your choice is narrowed down, now the real fun begins. The dreaded house hunting.
Like most places these days, finding an affordable yet comfortable apartment at a reasonable price can be like finding hen’s teeth, nearly impossible. Thankfully, my German friends were very helpful in supplying me with some webpages and sites which offer frequently updated property listings. It’s also important when searching to do some research on the various neighborhoods to see
In most cases, we seemed to come across a lot of subleased rooms in flats rather than an apartment, which is what we desired. Our search went on for a few weeks – it wasn’t the easiest as we were on different continents and trying to coordinate our searches. We used the following sites for our house searching:
- WG Gesucht – Great for anyone looking to get a room but this is where we found our flat in the end, so you could get very lucky, if you wish to rent a whole apartment.
- ImmoScout24 – A great site if you’re focused on getting a flat for yourself. Be warned, however, it is common for German properties to NOT come with a kitchen – which threw me for a loop!
- Immowelt – I would prioritize the first 2 sites over this site as it doesn’t provide the best options. Again, you could get lucky and find a gem!
Making sure you have the correct documentation for coming to Germany / Europe will save you so much time when you get here. For EU Citizens, it’s actually not a lot of documentation is needed as we’re in the EEA and can move freely but there will be some registrations etc to be made if you want to stay and work in a city like Cologne. Your passport, obviously, is the most important document you’ll need to bring with you. Some landlords will request a copy of your passport, employers may do that, banks will ask and so will the City office when you register.
For those outside of the EU, most notably in North America, it is important to note the exact document requirements you’ll need to a) Travel and b) Reside in Cologne / Germany. For example: Visa. Does your visa allow you to work whilst you’re in Germany or is it restricted to travel? How about if you wish to study here? Plus also, consider how much time you wish to spend and travel in Germany and Europe. For non-EU Citizens, processes are generally the same as EU Citizens but you may need to acquire some other pieces of data i.e Residence Permit – this will be requested for when you wish to set up a bank account.
One thing you’ll need for when you move into your new place is a letter from your landlord stating that they give permission for you to register with the City of Cologne. More on this below.
Top Tip: Get a little binder or plastic pouch to keep all your necessary documents for before and after you travel and make sure you have a soft copy as well as a hard copy… you never know when items will be mislaid!
Germany is a country that is well fitted with airports. For those of you who live in the European Union, Ryanair will most likely be your mode of flying to Germany. From Dublin alone, Ryanair serves: Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig, Memmingen and Nuremburg. It really is quite an accessible country. With it being in the middle of mainland Europe, a lot of you in neighboring countries can just take the train to your preferred city.
For me, I flew with Ryanair to Cologne and learned a valuable lesson… Don’t try and be smart with Ryanair baggage policy. Between my friend and I, we were scalded for nearly €100 in nonsensical bag charges and miscommunication. Be sure when you’re booking any trips with Ryanair that includes any luggage that is not a backpack/handbag to check, double check, triple check and be sure of the options you are purchasing to avoid being stung for nearly €50 at the gate and being “given a warning”. Another piece of wisdom when flying with Ryanair specifically is consider that their luggage size is typically Small Bag, 10kg and 20kg – whereas most airlines are 23kg – just so you also don’t get slapped with €11 per extra kg!
Coming from further afield, Lufthansa is always a safe bet when going to/from Germany. I like the service provided on-board and the treats are usually bangin! Lufthansa has its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, which are major cities in Germany to consider for your relocation. Lufthansa is also a member of the Star Alliance airline group which sees it codeshare and do transfers with a whole host of airlines across the world i.e Air Canada, Austrian Airlines and United Airlines
Another option for consideration when flying to Germany is Eurowings! From Edinburgh to Yerevan, Eurowings – whose hub is in Cologne/Bonn Airport, offers transport options across Europe, Asia and Africa!
Packing for Germany!
This was the tough part of relocating – what to bring for the winter/spring. According to some locals, the 2 major seasons received in Cologne is Spring and Autumn, which is right in my closet wheelhouse! I love my long coats and sweaters. Germany is part of “potato” Europe, or the part of Europe, like Ireland, which can get cold, windy and devoid of sun and heat sometimes. When packing for Germany, be sure to pack plenty of your knits and sweats… and walking shoes!! You’ll find yourself walking a lot and even in your flat, a lot of apartment buildings are walk-ups and don’t have lifts!
The fashion in Cologne particularly is practical and seasonally proficient. People here like to look the part but also be warm. You’ll see a lot of boots being worn and beanie hats. Similar to European fashion however, you’ll also see cuffed trousers, cool socks and long coats (again, right in my wheelhouse!!).
A top tip in regards to items to pack: Tote bags/Shopper Bags. I’d be lost without my tote bags. I got into using them in my previous workplace. My goodness! They hold everything, they’re super practical and so handy if you need to pop to the shops on your adventures. Most stores I’ve come across have their own branded shoppers but it’s always handy to pack your favorites!
Getting Around and Set Up
Transport in Cologne
One thing that is right up my alley and it’s something that a majority of Germany cities and most European cities possess and that is functional, quick and reliable transportation.
When we disembarked our plane and were traveling to our hostel in Cologne, we decided it’d be easier to take a cab considering we had multiple luggage items. Fair warning, you’ll easily drop €50 on a taxi from the airport. It is possible to take transit to the city but, like us, if you have multiple items to lug around, it may be worth the €50 to get to your place and not get metro-stressed.
Once you’re in and settled, try out the tram! It is the easiest way of getting around town and nowhere in Köln is too far from an U-Bahn station. You can be in Neumarkt or Heumarkt in less than 20 minutes, which is super convenient if you’re working or wish to do a bit of shopping. The same can be said for places like Dortmund and Berlin. You have the tram and underground option available to you to get around town! In Dortmund, you can pretty much access the Dortmund Zoo with the tram (They have flamingoes and a red panda… definitely worth visiting)
Not only is there the tram network but also you have e-scooters and bikes! For those of you who have followed my blog a while, you know my history with e-scooters 😶 but that being said, they’re so handy! I recommend downloading the “VOI” app, as their scooters are in Cologne, Berlin, Helsinki, Brussels… all over really! My only advice: Don’t Drink and Scoot!
In Cologne, Dortmund, Berlin and Frankfurt, walking places is super easy too, albeit Frankfurt and Berlin are a bit more spaced out but I’m continuously impressed by how I’m navigating the streets of Cologne. You can walk from Severinstraße to Barbarossaplatz in around 10 minutes! If you’re relocating to Cologne, I’d recommend getting a bicycle or just walking around as much as possible to get your steps in. The city is gorgeous to walk around in!
Registering / Anmeldung!
I’m sure, like me, you will have checked out videos on Youtube and Tiktok before you make your decision on moving abroad and you’ll see these content creators mention the “Anmeldung”. This is essentially registering yourself at your address and confirming by the city that you now live in the city and that you have a mailing address. I’m not 100% on the criteria for registration in other cities (perhaps others who have moved elsewhere can comment on how its done).
In Cologne, it is incredibly straightforward to get registered. When you know your arrival date in Cologne or perhaps you know your move-in date to your flat, you should simply search “Anmeldung Cologne” and it will bring you to the City’s webpage and will offer various locations in which to register and the next available date. It is best to do this as soon as possible to ensure you’re not waiting too long for an appointment. There is approx. 10 different city locations as to where you can register.
When you’re registering with the city, you’ll essentially need 2 things: 1) Your Passport as proof of identification and 2) An official letter from your landlord stating that you’re now the tenant, which will allow you to register for Anmeldung.
It is noted that should you change your address, you’ll need to do this process again to ensure the city has a record of your address etc.
When searching this information, I found that HousingAnywhere had a very useful page on how to register which includes links and timings: Get registered in Cologne: Step-by-step guide (housinganywhere.com)
Getting Work and Getting Paid!
If, like me, you’re moving to pretty much enjoy yourself, earn a bit of money and basically just live life a little bit then it is great to know what kind of jobs are available and how to get paid.
For me, I am in Cologne and have a background in hospitality, retail, marketing and logistics. The easiest thing for me to do was to look up Irish bars in Cologne (there is quite a few!). I found an email address and I sent a little email stating my background, my skills and when I’d be arriving in the city. I was very lucky that I received an interview upon my arrival and subsequently landed the job in the pub! (Come see me at The Black Sheep!)
Since the pandemic and with labor shortage pretty much everywhere, a lot of food service and bar establishments actually have job postings on their windows. For native english speakers who, similar to myself, are just learning the language casually, then perhaps Irish bars or similar places are the way to go! Do up your CV and pop in for a pint. Bars are a great place to work because you’ll meet new people so much quicker and perhaps get the chance to trial out some German phrases!
Another option is the old reliable Indeed.com – Indeed is so handy as it is updated regularly with new jobs and positions that are easily applied to!
In terms of getting paid – For EU Citizens, having a Revolut Account is super duper handy. An online banking system and you can get paid into this account from your employer, should they agree to it. Alternatively, it is very useful to sign up to a German bank account. For this, however, having an anmeldung is required and, it may require a Residence Permit if you’re from outside the EU. I’d recommend checking out Revolut or N26 is a good start.
Click the link on Revolut above to learn more and sign up!
Download Some Apps!
It’s always handy to know what kind of apps to download when moving to a new place. For me, I downloaded language apps, transport apps and social apps, all of which can provide convenient and helpful things for me. Some apps I’d recommend downloaded would be the following:
- MeetUp – A social app that shows you different group meetups in the area, can include language learning, sports, culture etc.
- Duolingo – By now, I’m sure everyone knows Duolingo, the language learning app. For just 10-15 minutes a day, you can learn some German vocabulary and grammar. Can be useful to pass the time on the tram!
- TrainLine – This app is universally handy! This allows you to find cheap/discounted train tickets which I found useful for traveling to and from Dortmund!
- McDonalds DE – If you’re like me, you find the need to visit a McDonalds, then having the app that allows you to get some deals and offers. How can anyone say no to McNugget offers!
- Google Translate w/ Google Lens – Oh this is so handy! If you’re struggling to understand and grasp German, then having this will be really useful. Just turn the camera on some written German and it’ll translate there and then!
Try the Food & Drink!
German food is top tier! Schnitzel, Strudel, Wursts… and, as mentioned above, it is apart of “Potato Europe” so you’ll find some pretty tasty potatoes in these parts too!
In Köln, a staple of their gastro offering is Kölsch beer! Brewed in Cologne, it is typically served in 0,2L glasses and you need never approach the waiter for more. Once they see an empty glass, they’ll give you another until you cap your glass with the beer mat and ask for the check.
I’ll do a follow up post in the coming weeks about food in Cologne and some recommendations based off my first month or so of living here!
Moving can be pretty nerve-wrecking to be honest. You can never account for how things will actually turn out so as important as preparing yourself to move is, be okay with the fact that it could be rocky the first couple of weeks or even your first month! For example, Bureaucracy in Germany can be incredible and annoyingly pedantic with crazy wait times. But don’t let it bog you down! You’ll get there and in the meantime, walk around your city and enjoy the hell out of it!
I’ll do some follow up posts and try to update this blog with more content over the coming weeks! I’ve a few trips to write about.
Also, check out my instagram – @TravelwDavid for new stories and posts!