Moving to Germany? Wanting to avoid awkward situations like being told to leave that sauna because you are wearing a swimming costume, being yelled at for crossing the road or the stress of trying to buy food on a Sunday. Here’s an English expat guide to things I wish someone had told me before I moved to Frankfurt.
- Cash is king
Germany is still very much a cash society, and because of lack of demand, it is not common for places to accept cards as payment. In particular, credit cards. This will even include most restaurants and corner stores. Get used to carrying cash around with you.
Officially, it is not illegal but… cross the road before the green man appears at your own peril. Germans get very annoyed about jaywalking. Even if there is no visible traffic expect disapproving looks, rude comments and maybe even slight aggression if you cross the road before the green light. The main reason for this is that it sets a bad example for children.
- Don’t go into the office sick
This seems like a weird one, but in the U.K. it’s very common to go into work if you are feeling under the weather. In Germany, sick days are taken very seriously. You will be told to go home, possibly scolded for potentially passing your germs to the rest of the building. Always go and see a doctor and get your sick note.
- Saunas go nude
As a typical Brit, this public nudity can be quite a shock. What is worse is making the mistake of sitting in a sauna with a swimsuit on and being told to leave. Don’t make that mistake – go nude.
- Recycle EVERYTHING
Germany has one of the best recycling rates in the world, they recycle almost everything. Glass bottle bins are located around the streets and all other waste is separated into categories (organic, paper, electronic etc). Make sure you separate your rubbish and use your the bins correctly to avoid any disagreements with neighbours. A deposit (pfand) is also charged on plastic bottles and glass beer bottles, which can be collected back when you return the empty bottle to any shop.
- Fizzy drinks
Most drinks in Germany are carbonated, and they rarely drink tap water. Two things to note when ordering water in a restaurant: It will not be complementary and it will be sparkling. German love fizzy drinks.
- Sunday is a day of rest
But really. It is a complete day of rest. Not a day to get chores done, because everything is closed. Sundays are Ruhetag or ‘day of rest’. With a few exceptions such as churches, gas stations, some restaurants or cafes, everything else will be closed. So don’t wait until Sunday to do your food shopping. If you are desperate for a supermarket though, the ones in the airport are always open.
- Unfurnished flats
The average German apartment is unfurnished. But unfurnished in Germany also means they will remove all light and wall fittings. And in some cases, even the entire kitchen. If you are moving into a new unfurnished place immediately – don’t forget to put a plug in lamp at the top of your shopping list.
- Frankfurt is actually fun
Before moving to Frankfurt, I was warned about it being boring. A financial hub, with a terrible reputation. Truth is, there is a huge international community here, and the city takes advantage of that by accessing loads of fun things to do. Festivals, food markets, theatre, great bars, a large range of restaurants.
Keep an eye on our blog as we explore all of the fun and interesting things to do in Frankfurt.
(Words Contributed by Kira Crabtree)