Germany is the best place in Europe to move, but probably not for the reason you think.
People, Germans especially, often ask me with a tinge of surprise, why out of all the countries in the world, I picked Germany.
Truth is… I didn’t, really. Germany, in a way, picked me, which sounds much more romantic than it really is.
So the recent headline is that Germany slipped from 12th place in 2019 to 15th place this year on a list of 38 OECD countries.
That’s oEcd countries, not countries with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Though that would explain a lot about Germany…
The OECD is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with mostly European countries plus Chile, Costa Rica, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Canada, and the US. The study focused on seven categories that foreign workers are believed to value, like quality of opportunities, income and tax, future prospects, family environment, skills environment, inclusiveness, and quality of life.
Germany suffered mostly from complaints about the bureaucracy, the language, and specifically in Berlin, the inability to find an apartment.
I can back up that these are all completely valid. German bureaucracy operates in the stone age; even if you do try to learn the language, people in places like Berlin will often switch to English at the first hint of foreignness. And don’t even get me started on finding an apartment.
When I first moved to Berlin, someone told me that you don’t pick the apartment, the apartment picks you. In my case, that’s 100 percent the case. We got wildly, stupid lucky with our apartment––and we can’t possibly imagine leaving any time soon because of how bad it is out there.
So why in the name of all that is holy would I dare say that Germany is the best place in Europe to move?
One thing the study didn’t mention is the difference between EU Citizens and Third-Country Nationals.
EU Citizens can for the most part live and work anywhere in Europe. Third-Country nationals, like someone from the United States (points to self), face more obstacles. Generally speaking, anyone hiring a Third-Country National needs to prove that said candidate has a very particular set of skills that cannot be found among a local national or an EU citizen.
Although you’d never guess it based on the way Germany represents itself in the world and even nationally, it’s a very international country. Germany is home to the world’s second-largest immigrant population behind the United States.
The government may be behind the game, but the country’s tech and startup scene has long recognized the importance of catering to foreign workers. This finally gets us to why Germany is the best place in Europe to move: Trommelwirbel, bitte…
You don’t need to be able to speak German to move here and get a job.
Yes, the bureaucrats will only speak to you in German and they might give you a hard time for not being able to speak German even though you’ve just arrived. But you can at least get the job and move here.
When I started looking at jobs in Europe, it’s not like I had my eyes set on Germany. Truth be told, I was fresh off of living in Costa Rica and speaking Spanish.
¡Quería mudarme a España!
But I quickly learned that the job market in European countries only considered candidates who could already fluently speak the national language. Germany was the exception to that rule. There was no expectation that I be able to speak German when I first moved here nearly seven years ago. Jetzt fühle ich mich wohl, wenn ich Deutsch spreche. But I knew next to bupkis when I first came here.
So that’s why Germany is the best place to move to in Europe. Not because of Germany itself––no offense, I do love it here. And if you want to know why I love it here, let me know in the comments and I’ll make another video.
It’s the best place to move to in Europe because, for someone from a Third Country, it’s actually possible without already being fluent in the language. Spain, France, Switzerland, and so on were all non-starters.
Other European countries might be subjectively better in (pick your category). But if your goal is to move to Europe, none of that really matters if you can’t get here in the first place.
If you’re interested in living and traveling in Europe, leave a comment and let me know what your questions are. Then, check out my culture shock video on the 10 most surprising things about living in Germany and see how living in Germany has changed my perception of the US and Europe.