Expat life in Germany: Pros and Cons

It’s been over a year since I’ve lived in Germany. I love my life in NYC so I can never imagine myself ever moving back to Germany, but at the same time, it is a country I lived in for about three and a half years. Having lived there during my early to mid/late 20’s, it’s definitely a country that has shaped me, despite having moved on for more than a year now.

Thinking back to my time as an expat in Germany, here has definitely been a lot of pros and cons. Here are some of my highlights!


  • Experiencing a new culture is fun and exciting! Every little thing, like paprika chips and traffic lights seems strangely enticing and exotic
  • All the people you meet! People say it’s friends that shape a city and that’s totally true. I’ve met and became friends with people from all over Europe, and around the world. Dating Germans can also be very fun, I must say
  • Free education. Yep, got a master’s degree entirely for free. Cha-ching!
  • Affordable healthcare… (I’m looking at you Americans)
  • Being in Europe! People always think it’s amazing how many countries I’ve been to, but travelling around Europe is the easiest thing ever. Saying “I love going to Paris for my birthday” can sound pretty pretenious to non-Europeans, but to me, it’s just a fun city that’s only a 3 hour train ride away. No biggie.
  • The work and play mentality. When Germans clock out from work, they will travel far and wide. It’s great meeting so many like-minded travel buddies.
  • Great food and cheap beer. The average price for a beer in NYC is about $7. That gets you about 3-4 beers in Germany.
  • Reliable, punctual people. When Germans say they’ll meet you exactly 13 days from now at 5pm, if they don’t show up, it means they’ve been murdered.
  • Learning German! I’m rather horrible with learning languages so this doesn’t apply to me, but I’m sure many others have been sehr erfolgreich 😉


  • Germans aren’t known to be the most outgoing people, so crazy nights out can be rare and easy friendships even rarer
  • There’s a saying that Germans are their own policemen, and it’s true. If you don’t like strangers approaching you all the time and telling you all the things you can and cannot do, then unfortunately you’re going to have a tough time in Germany
  • Bad customer service. So bad that eventually I only shopped online from British and American retailers in fear of ever having to make a return.
  • Unless you speak fluent German, it’s hard to integrate with society. From finding a job, to dealing with bureaucratic matters, the struggle is real.
  • Cobblestone streets. Sure they’re pretty to take Instagram photos of, but you’ll quickly learn why people wear nothing but sneakers in Germany
  • Weight gain…what do you expect from a country that’s big on sausages, schnitzel and litres of beer?!
  • Culture shock! It’s a Western country, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Have you guys lived in Germany? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!



  1. Jenny
    September 20, 2017 / 12:50 am

    Hi Michelle!

    Great post! I have been following your blog for quite some time now and I appreciate these tips! I am planning to relocate to Germany permanently next year to start a sommer semester Masters program.

    One of the tips you outlined is that Masters Education is free. I have read up about that but had a couple of questions on what’s the easiest way to get there?

    Best Regards,

    • Michelle
      April 11, 2019 / 4:40 am

      Hi Jenny! Congrats on your move! Have you checked out the website daad.de? They offer a lot of great resources for international students about uni applications, scholarships, etc. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me!

    • Alex
      July 24, 2020 / 8:28 pm

      Hey Michelle! Just bumped into your blog and this article really fascinated me – since I am German (who likes to travel and work around the world, too 😉 ), I really enjoyed reading your point of view about “us” and “our country” and some points just made me laugh 😀 just to know: why didn’t Germany felt western to you? When I came back from my stay as expat in Vietnam, I felt more “western” back in Germany than ever before!

      Cheers from Leipzig!

      • Michelle
        December 11, 2020 / 5:13 am

        Hi Alex! Hello from LA and welcome to my blog!

        For the most part Germany definitely felt very Western, but some things really threw me off — like how most stores (even big ones like McDonalds) only accepting cash as payment rather than paying by card, or any sort of application process always requires you to mail in forms (rather than being able to do it online). I think a lot of these things have also changed a lot since I lived there. I’m sure things must’ve felt way more “western” after living in Vietnam! 😛

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