Expat Insider, Expat Life, Featured, Working in Germany

Germany Offers Expats the Best Work-Life Balance

Expats in Germany may be unhappy with their social life, but a well-paying job can make up for having no friends, right? RIGHT?!

Okay, maybe not. But after failing so badly at making expats feel welcome, Germany excelled in the “Jobs & Education” section of the Expat Insider survey by InterNations.

In fact, the survey found that what makes Germany so attractive to foreigners is its good career prospects and job security — Germany ranked #7 of 65 countries in the career section of the survey. Of expats working in Germany, 67% rate their job security positively and 52% consider the state of the German economy very good (in contrast to only 19% worldwide).

Here are all of Germany’s rankings within the “Jobs & Education” section of the InterNations survey (of 65 countries):

  • Work-Life Balance: #20
  • Job Security: #2
  • Job & Career: #21

The main points contributing to expats’ happiness in this area include personal safety, political stability (16 year of Angela!), quality of the environment, school education and leisure activities for children.

Here are the overall stats for expat workers in Germany:

As I mentioned in the previous post, the US is the most represented nationality of expats in Germany. American expats working in Germany are particularly happy with their work-life balance, as German companies are required to offer at least 24 days of paid vacation per year and have significantly shorter working hours than US companies. In fact, employees in Germany only work an average of 1,371 hours per year compared to US employees’ 1,674 hours per year.

If you work in Germany, are you happy with your job? How does it compare to work life in your passport country?

Culture, Expat Insider, Expat Life, Featured

Expats Feel the Most Unwelcome in Germany

Germans are known for being cold and distant. And while stereotypes are unfair to the stereotyped, maybe – just maybe – they also sometimes hold a bit of truth.

Earlier this week, I introduced InterNation’s recent Expat Insider report, which analyzed the feelings of 12,500 expats around the world – nearly 800 of which were living in Germany.

If you believe the stereotype, then it should come as no surprise that Germany ranked particularly low in the section “Ease of Settling In” – just 10th from the bottom (#56) among the 65 most popular countries for expats. Other areas where Germany ranked quite low included:

  • Language: #56
  • Finding Friends: #59
  • Friendliness: #51
  • Feeling Welcome: #50

Language

If you’ve ever taken 5 minutes of a German class or spent 5 minutes in the country (or read one of the my Mistranslation Mondays), then you know that German isn’t an easy language.

Globally, half of all expats report that it’s overall not easy to learn the language of the country they live in, but this figure is almost 20 percentage points higher in Germany, with 69% saying they struggle to pick up German. Only 5% of expats strongly agree that it is easy to live in Germany without a grasp of the local language. Internationally that percentage is far higher at 18%.

While the language is difficult, I find Germans very accommodating to foreigners that struggle with the language. The overwhelming majority of Germans under 40 can and will speak English. And in my experience, anyone that can’t speak English is open to (and thankful for) foreigners that speak broken German with a bad accent. However, I do agree that at least a loose grasp on the language is required for living here.

Friendliness

In the Expat Insider survey, expats in Germany placed Germany far right on the scale of friendliness. The only countries that expats find more “reserved and calm” than Germany are Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

Friendliness of Countries to Foreigners

Finding Friends & Feeling Welcome

Knowing that expats find the Germans so un-friendly, then it follows that these expats also find it difficult to find friends, causing Germany to be ranked at 59 of 65 countries. InterNations reported that many expats in Germany tend to stay in the “expat/foreigner bubble”, where they have a social circle solely comprised of fellow foreigners.

The metric of “feeling welcome” was visualized in the below graphic. Respondents placed Germany pretty central along the axis from “Constant & Traditional” to “Dynamic & Innovative.” However, Germany is at the far left end of the “Rational & Distant” to “Emotional & Welcoming” scale.

What do you think about these results? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Expat Insider, Expat Life

Expats in Germany Are American, Female, & In a Relationship

Female? Check. In a relationship? Check. US-American? Check. Turns out, I am a completely average expat in Germany. Go figure.

InterNations, a popular expat network, recently released its annual Expat Insider report. Of the over 12,500 respondents, Germany was the most-represented nation – nearly 800 expats in Germany participated in the survey (I didn’t, in case you were curious). Survey participants were asked to rate up to 43 different factors concerning various aspects of life abroad on a scale of 1 to 7.

Demographics of Expats in Germany

The figure above shows the demographics of the expat respondents in Germany. Most of the expats in Germany came from the US, just like me. In fact, of all Americans that responded to the survey, 9% were living in Germany. The majority were also female and in a relationship. The only area where I don’t represent the average expat is age (whew!).

Life in Germany for Expats

Overall, Germany seems to be a pretty good place to live for expats – it ranked #10 in Quality of Life, which was driven by Germany’s economic security and stable job prospects. I definitely agree with the high ranking in this area. As many of you know, I just found a full-time job in Germany earlier this year. My workplace is very international, especially in the technical departments, where many German companies find the need to recruit international talent.

Unfortunately, expats in Germany do not feel very welcome by the locals, causing Germany to be ranked in the bottom 10 of countries in the area of “ease of settling in.” I will look more into why this is in the coming days in a mini Expat Insider Series. So check back soon!

If you are an expat (or any “person living abroad” as I don’t love the “expat” label), how would you rate your quality of life? Is it higher than it would be in your home country?