Germany Is a Big Place: Where do you want to live and work?

Baldev is still working on the layout of his master’s thesis and is documenting his final results. He has signed up with me in order to have support while seeking a job. While inquiring about his dream job, I also ask in which area of Germany he would like to search?  I’ve heard his answer, or something similar, quite often: “Oh, it doesn’t matter – the main thing is getting a job.”  Well, that’s right – but then again, as Germany is a big place: where do you want to live in Germany?


Technical professionals find many vacancies: Where do you want to live in Germany?

Taking a special place or region within Germany into consideration when searching for a job — this seems to be a luxury for many international people.

But the German shortage of skilled workers in the technical professions, such as computer scientists, electrical, and mechanical engineers, has come to a point where there are large numbers of job vacancies all over Germany.

Why not, therefore, consciously take the location within Germany into account when searching for a job?

Even though I am aware that Germany’s climatic differences cannot be compared to those of countries in Asia, for example, maybe we have differences within Germany that actually matter to you …. or should matter. 

Let’s take a look:


North versus South

Hamburg and Munich: these are the big cities up above and down below in Germany (oh man, my geography teacher is wincing in pain right now!)

The north of Germany is less populated, except for the larger cities of Hamburg, Bremen or  Hanover or ( a bit more east) Berlin. If you would like to learn how to sail, the vicinity of Hamburg and the coast will be fantastic for you. Hamburg is also clearly a metropolitan region with a very special flair.  Jogging around the outer Alster, dancing in nightclubs, or cultural experiences on the Reeperbahn – those are the first things that strike me about Hamburg. And there is a distinct business district, close to the port.

Berlin of course is the hottest City in Germany, ‘multi’ international and diverse.

Munich, in turn, is the Bavarian capital, a place of beer gardens, Gemütlichkeit (often translated as “cosy-ness”, but that’s only a fraction of it), and of tasteful culture or high-end clubs.  In the south of Germany, there are also a variety of other large cities such as Stuttgart, Ingolstadt, Regensburg or Nürnberg (Nuremberg). The flair of these cities is distinctly different from the north, and the people are usually considered more open and affable than in the north.


City versus Countryside

I would imagine that the major German cities aren’t exactly comparable to Asian or African metropolises.  By German Standards, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart or Munich are big cities. People of different nations live there, and there is a wide range of culture, nightlife and sports for young and old.

But beware: for example, the “city of Munich” is really just the city center, which is the part traversed by the metro lines. In contrast, “Greater Munich” means an area with a radius of 50 km and more, and you might be living or working in a small town or in a village. Very pretty, also much cheaper – but just not the city. (By the way: do not confuse Großraum [the greater Munich/Cologne/Berlin area] with Großraumbüro [open-plan office]!!).

However, there are also many genuinely rural regions to live in Germany. Very, very many companies have their location pretty far out in the country or in a small town, as the rents directly in the city are expensive. And the amount of space needed for production halls or research areas is much easier to get in the country. Life is more relaxed there; many people live cheaply and have their own home and garden.

These areas can be 30 min or more from the nearest big city.


“Normal German” versus Dialect

The German language knows slightly different colors and slangs. In the middle of Germany, High German is spoken, otherwise known as “language-course German”. In the south and north there are significant deviations. I am bit proud that we in Paderborn speak quite good High German (ignoring some small deviations) and sometimes I find it difficult to adjust to the dialects of other German regions, such as Bavarian, Hamburger, Palatinate/Low German, Fränkisch etc. etc.

Most Germans can speak High German, so quite understandable. But everyday life brings it to the day! If you’re interested in what other places sound like, check out some sound samples (or google a particular region).


Airport on your Doorstep

Frankfurt, for example, has a massive an international airport. For some professionals, this is a very good reason to look for a Job in Frankfurt city: From here, you can be with Mama in Mumbai in 8 hours (non-stop) and tell her Happy Birthday in person. Flying from Paderborn? You’ll have a connection or two on the way…


Skiing, horseback riding or sailing?

Working hours in Germany are usually between 35 and 42 hours per week, and qualified professionals are granted 30 vacation days a year. That’s a whole lot of free time coming together.

Unless you are a coach-potato (not that I’d blame you, when you’re working so hard!), you have time to enjoy a wide range of leisure activities.

It is very easy to learn how to sail in northern Germany, or in the many smaller lakes in Germany. You just register in a club, get your sailing license, and go!

Skiing is obviously possible in the south; from Munich, you are in the middle of the Alps in just a few hours by car. And if you love red wine and the Dolce Vita, then you can go right on through to Italian Tuscany. As long as you’re not sitting in traffic jam with everyone else (which, admittedly, you have a lot in the Munich area), it’s really great.

Golf or horseback riding are great leisure activities in rural areas.

Many beautiful regions with an extremely high quality of life await you with their open nature.  Where the prices for houses with a big garden are favorable, many people have a horse in the barn or go to walk in the forest which starts only a few meters from the house. Such beautiful places can be found all over the country.


Expensive living in 40 square meters—or kicking back in your own house and garden?

Oh, man – Buying a house has become incredibly expensive in German cities in the last 10 years.

In the big cities, this is almost no longer possible for average earners. And anyone wanting to rent an apartment (or find one!) in Munich pays €17.28, in Ingolstadt €11.85, or in Hamburg €11.7 per square meter).

In Paderborn, by the way, that drops to an average of €8.11.

Anyone who wants to live with a family in a house, with a dog and garden, and Maybe grow his own vegetables, lie on Saturday afternoon in the hammock, and barbecue in the evening with the neighbors, will move to rural countryside, to the suburbs, or to the small towns. From there, you can get to the city in 20 to 30 minutes by car for swimming, shopping, or going to the theatre.


Sun in Freiburg or a stiff breeze at the North Sea?

Germany lies more towards the west within Europe. The weather is thus influenced by the west-wind zone of the Atlantic.  This wind brings us humid and “warm” air in the winter, at least relative to our northern location. As a result, the differences between summer and winter are not so extreme.

In recent years, winter has also become much warmer. There is still snow, although in NRW very little (quite a lot in the southern and eastern part of Germany). This is due to the continental influence – whoever has been in winter and icy wind in Berlin knows how the East wind drills straight into your face.



Public Holidays – our Christian heritage

Here Comes a really underestimated difference within Germany: the number of public holidays!

Here’s something to celebrate: We are off, can sleep in, and are still being paid. Within Europe, we are somewhere in the lower half, but have considerably more than, for example, England.

There are at least 9 days available in all of the German federal states: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Whit Monday (Pentecost), May 1 (Labor Day), German Day of Reunification, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

The Hamburgers have it a bit tough, being Protestants: they have just these 9 holidays. In contrast, Bavaria has the most public holidays. They get four additional ones: The Feast of the Three Kings, the Assumption, Corpus Christi, and All Saints Day.

And oh, my friend Julia in Augsburg has pulled the big ticket!

Since she lives in the Augsburg city area, she already gets the 13 (!) public holidays given to Bavarians. Additionally, she (along with the other citizens from the inner city of Augsburg) benefits from an additional public holiday: the Augsburger Hohe Friedensfest on 8 August.

So, make sure you choose a Region you really enjoy to live!



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