2013 ist schon da! A new Kaffeeklatsch thread for the New Year - living in Germany and Austria

(923 Posts)
LinzerTorte Tue 08-Jan-13 11:48:02

All welcome - whether you're living in Germany or Austria, have questions about life in those countries or just want to chat. smile

Previous thread here.

slatternlymother Fri 18-Jan-13 16:30:27

Thankyou outnumbered smile

We looked on a British expat website and they mostly seemed furnished. It would cost around £4000 to move our worldly goods, and I'm not 100% sure whether to do that or not. Opinions?

We would be working at Hamburg Airport, so fairly central. We would look at an initial period of 2 years before deciding whether to move back, as that would be the point where DS would start school. We would certainly hire a nanny (how do you go about this? What are rates etc?) and would like to place him in a nursery 2 days a week as well, as he is so sociable and chatty and bubbly smile <goes gooey>

Our wage would be about £9000 per calendar month, which is a lot over here but how does that translate over there? Worth it or not?

DH would go out first, set up and I would shut up shop in the UK and follow on 3-4 months later.

I don't want a huge commute as I want to be as close to my DS as I can; 30 minutes would be my maximum, really.

Another thing (and very childish) but... Is it easy to make friends?

will be back on later, trying to manage the chaos that is my life right now wink but your wages sound a lot for Germany too (you said it was after tax, right?) you should be able to find a nice place quite central. I dont know about the furnished...maybe on the expat sites that'S those kind of places are advertised more. as I am not part of the expat scene (I am a GErman who lived in the UK for many years and then returned to GErmany), I really dont know. maybe someone else will come on later who knows more about it. in general, unfurnished places are the norm though. right, really must go...

slatternlymother Fri 18-Jan-13 17:06:20

Yes that is after tax, but highly skilled job and 12 hour days.

I am hugely grateful. thanks

It is so daunting, never thought I'd get emotional and clingy over sofas hmm

cheaspicks Fri 18-Jan-13 18:06:56

Hi, slatternlymother. As outnumbered says, that sort of salary will probably stretch slightly further in Germany (even in a major city like Hamburg) than in the UK and you should be very comfortably off.

Things like nursery provision vary wildly from one Bundesland to another. I'm in Thüringia and had no problem getting a full-time place (6am-5pm M-F) for dd from age 2 (not that she goes for those hours, but she could if necessary). I know the situation in the former West is very different, though - very few full time places afaik. The idea of a child going two days a week would be viewed very strangely here at least.

Furnished appartments really aren't the norm and you would have a much wider choice if you don't limit yourselves to looking at furnished places. Remember you can sell on a kitchen, washing machine and any other furniture if you decide to leave in two years, so it's not as expensive as it might seem.

Re making friends: it's not a shallow question. Ime Germans tend to take longer to make friends than Brits, or at least don't seem to make an effort to welcome newcomers. In a place like Hamburg there will be a lot of expats and various English-speaking groups, so probably a lot easier to make English-speaking friends than where I live. grin

slatternlymother Fri 18-Jan-13 18:11:21

Thank you so much!

Can I ask why 2 days a week would be viewed as odd? Is it too much? I was hoping to be able to have a nanny as well, and for wraparound care should we need it on nursery days (if we didnt get home until 7pm, say).

slatternlymother Fri 18-Jan-13 18:15:04

I know it seems like a long time for a mother to be away from her child every day, but on the weekends we would be off and there is 6 weeks per year paid leave. We could offer him a lot more by both working.

I also have a history of depression, and being isolated in a new country would trigger it again, no doubt. I think throwing myself into work would be the best thing, after a settling in period, obviously.

slatternly right, my boys are in bed - touch wood - so here goes...

re the 2 days at nursery: it will be looked strangely upon for the opposite reason of what you think. most places here will only offer either half day or full day places, but both being for 5 days a week. they arent as flexible as nurseries in the UK where you book your slots. however, some places are more flexible here too but you would have to ring around I guess? I am pretty sure that there is at least one bilingual or international pre-school in Hamburg. they may possibly be more flexible than your standard german 'Krippe' (the German word for nursery.

would hiring an au pair be an option for you? on the salary you mentioned you should be able to afford a big enough house/flat and have money spare to pay for the au pair? the au pair could then go to toddler groups, baby gymnastics and wherever your ds can socialise. Or even if you find a nursery where your ds can go just a couple of days a week, maybe the au pair would be an option for you anyway? I went back to work a few hours a week when ds2 was 11 months old. ds1 wasnt yet at pre school or nursery either. I did end up getting a 'kinderfrau' (nanny) just for the hours that I was gone. we put an ad in the local paper, shortlisted and then did interviews. That nanny was fantastic (7 euros and hour) and we are still in touch now.

i think one does have to make an effort to meet people, but I do think people are welcoming and friendly as a whole. my advice would be to really look at the area where you will rent. I would move into a very family friendly area with lots of other young families. in those areas neighbours tend to socialise a lot with each other ime. so if I was you, I'd rather have a slightly longer commute to work if it means that you will be in a neighbourhood with lots of other people with small children. and Germany really is a lovely place for children to grow up. I am sure everyone else on this thread will say the same smile

Hamburg airport is in the north of the city isnt it. if you are intending to drive to work, rather than public transport (which is very good btw), then Id try to stay on that side of the Elbe river, as the Elbe tunnel in particular constantly gets jammed.

oh, and here you can get an idea of what's for rent. will your work be giving anything towards relocation? both when we moved from the UK to GErmany, as well as 2 years ago when we moved from Lüneburg to where we are now, dh' work payed some or all of the costs. I personally would always prefer to have my own furniture around me than someone elses. I just think it's much easier to actually feel at home.

slatternlymother Fri 18-Jan-13 19:06:46

this is the website we are using; I don't know if it's right or not. But it's in guessable German and English. The maximum per month I would spend is 2000 euros per month. I haven't factored in utilities and council tax for this. How much would they be?

Yes, would I be able to get an au pair who lived with us during the week? I had factored about 2000 euros per month for 5 days a week (long days, but he sleeps 6pm-8am but I would want this adjusted so we could put him to bed at night, and naps during the day too). What could I ask an au pair to do? She would have to work the odd Saturday (1in 5) and 6 weeks paid leave. Are those reasonable terms? I think perhaps I'd still try for a nursery place; if we stayed (am open minded), I'd hate for him to not know the language. That worries me a little.

Would we need a car? We currently have car on lease; could we do the same in Germany? Reluctant to buy in case we have to sell 2 years down the line, and we already have a large outlay for furnishing confused

I'm sorry for so many questions blush

slatternlymother Fri 18-Jan-13 19:08:21

And yes; we're looking into the cost of shipping our more precious items.

slatterly I will send you a PM

cheas I dont think I knew you were in Thuringia. my mum's side of the family is from near Eisenach, and my SIL is from Schmalkalden. Beautiful area. where abouts are you?

well, we have survived the first week of dh in his new job. he is very pleasantly surprised and seems to be enjoying it. he has been doing silly hours though and wasnt home in time to see the boys on any of the days. Tomorrow night he will have to go out on a business dinner as well. I do hope it's not going to be like this all the time from now on. although, I have to say, the boys are - so far - dealing with it quite well. they have accepted that they only see dh briefly in the mornings, and then not again until the next morning. at least it's the weekend coming up now. I ordered two plastic sledges with steering wheels which should arrive tomorrow - I have probably jinxed it now and all snow will be gone.

slatternlymother Fri 18-Jan-13 19:39:52

Thank you outnumbered I really appreciate that.

Weissdorn Sat 19-Jan-13 10:44:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

slatternlymother Sat 19-Jan-13 10:53:39

weissdorn Thankyou thanks congratulations on your new arrival! How has the care been for you? We are starting (well, I am grin) to slowly come around to the idea of another. Can you recommend the care?

We've been looking at more property (DH was too excited to come to bed; he can't believe how nicely everyone lives), to get an idea of what we'd be moving into. The city itself looks fabulous; I just hope I don't get too lonely before I start working.

<passes out tea and biscuits to any homesick ladies>

Weissdorn Sat 19-Jan-13 14:13:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LentilAsAnything Sat 19-Jan-13 14:31:38

Hi, All. Not been on for a while, trying to cut down my screen time. Well, DS is cutting it down for me! grin

Just a quick reply to the newcomers, as I am in Frankfurt! Hi, Merlioness and scorchienne. Hello, Slatternly, too, though I am not in your area.

To answer some questions.
Yes, it is very easy to get by not being able to speak German. I learnt the phrase for 'Sorry, my German is not very good, do you speak English?' and do ok. I do feel a bit ignorant, and am trying to learn the language, but it is slow going. Same as you where you are, if I do try to speak in German, people just speak back in English, it it obvious to them that their English is better than my German.

We like it here fine. There are lots of parks, lots of well-equipped playgrounds. I find the shops somewhat lacking in variery, but obviously people get by fine, and I have probably just been spoilt by living in London for so long.

€70k is either loads to live on, or not enough, depending on what kind of a slender you are! ;)
I don't know about Kiga and costs, as we don't send DS to one. I do take him to classes (music, gym, indoor play) so I can provide links to those, and there is a decent (if overpriced) soft play place we go to. He is 2.3. I'd be happy to meet up and show you around.
There's also an expat toddler group here, well, a few, I think. We don't go, it's on too early for us, and actually, I would prefer to meet more locals than English-speakers. But there are loads of expats here.

We live in the city, but in an area that has a nice village feel, and shops of its own. Depends what you want! I wanted DH home sooner rather than later after work, so a shorter commute for him, and for DS and I to be able to pootle into town easily rather than the big effort of a longer trip.

Hth, any other questions, do ask, I'll make an effort to check in!

slatternlymother Sat 19-Jan-13 16:10:34

Can I ask if kindergarten is state funded? Or is it something we pay for?

slatternly in most states Kindergarten is state subsidised. I am in one of the few (or only?) states where it is completely state funded. in the other states the contribution varies, and it depends on your joint income. I would think that you will be in the highest bracketwith your income . to give you an idea though, when we were still in Lüneburg, ds1 was at Kindergarten for 4 hours, 5 days a week. dh wasnt in the highest bracket, but close. we paid about 200Euros/month.

bare in mind though, that for under threes in most states you will not have them in the normal Kindergarten but at Krippe, which costs more. we never used a Krippe, so cant tell you how much more exactly.

TheUKGrinchImGluhweinkeller Sun 20-Jan-13 07:11:12

Helo slatternly - I am in Bavaria and each state is different, but here Kindergarten is subsidised but never (as far as I know) free - it's a bout €120 per month if you just do "core hours" here - which is 8.30-12.30, 5 days a week. Getting full day places is hit and miss, only about 1/3 of places are full day, and where we live full day means 7am-4pm, which is when Kindergarten closes - but we are in the countryside, and also Bavaria is the least likely state to provide childcare geared towards 2 full time working parents/ single parent by the sound of it!

Where we live 2 year olds don't go to Kindergarten - Kindergarten takes children from age 3, Krippe is nursery, and that is where a 2 year old would go but places are scarce. For a state Krippe place you both have to be working, and you have to go 5 days a week - they are subsidised. However there are (much more expensive) private Krippe which don't have rules about working parents and will take children part time.

I have never met anyone here with a nanny but I am sure that is because of where we live (very rural, traditional etc.) I am sure it is perfectly possible and normal in bigger places.

I've had 2 babies here with public insurance and the care is really good - far better than I had in the UK when I had my eldest. However it is very medical/ invasive if you just go with the flow - in Germany you have to say unequivocally what you want, and if you state it clearly and without apology or attempts at subtlety you tend to get what you need - antenatal care tends to be doctor led by default though you can engage a midwife for pregnancy it won't happen automatically, it is down to you to put a package together (find your own ob/gyn and midwife and register at a hospital of your choice for the birth) in that sense care is not "joined up" as it is in the UK.

outnumbered hope your DH's work hours calm down soon!

Weissdorn yay for DD recognising you now

Jenny hope your back is better soon

DD has a friend over atm for a sleepover and DH is grumpy because they have been awake since 4.30am and woke him/ kept him awake being noisy - I am less bothered as it is no different to a normal night for me, he usually sleeps through the multiple night wakings I get up to, so although I agree the girls should have stayed asleep/ quiet til 6am I am less overflowing with indignation and sympathy than he might like :O

itsMYNutella Sun 20-Jan-13 15:20:54

Sorry this is only going to be a moans miserable post. I am really angry and I'm sure I shouldn't be so angry but I can't help it.
Earlier in the week DP was reading something about not putting yourselves under pressure as new parents and avoid all stress (other than a newborn with outrageous gas issues obviously). Then the next day he asked if his parents could come over this weekend for another visit. confused I said I'd prefer not to see them again so soon because they have only been critical thus far and made us both rather sad. Also all they can think about is their grandchild and they feel entitled to visit and see him (they actually asked DP on the phone this week why they are being kept away from their grandchild). DP has explained to them that we have been to hospital twice (once for T -jaundice issue; and once for me - uterus not contracting properly) and we're busy enough just trying to sort ourselves out.

I also pointed out that he had said we should avoid stress and then he had allowed his parents to put pressure on him. Then he had to persuade me to say yes sad I said yes because I know he is always stuck in the middle and feels hugely obligated to say yes.
We try and get out for a walk every day, we all enjoy the fresh air and some daylight.
The PIL were supposed to be here at 16:00. We arrived home from our walk at 15:40 to find them standing on the doorstep. They couldn't agree (between themselves) if we had said 15:30 or 16:00 so decided to come at 15:30 hmm

I think we need to have a talk with them and set up some boundaries. I feel it's unfair that they manipulate DP and don't seem to have a problem doing it. Or am I overreacting?

admylin Sun 20-Jan-13 16:24:42

Nutella I have never had an IL-experience so I can only imagine what you are going through. I don't think you sound like you're over reacting especially if they were critical last time you saw them. Hope your dp can deal with it better next time. shock at the statement that they think they are being kept away from their grandchild.
Is everything going OK otherwise?

slatternly have you been to Germany before? Could you have a few days or a week in Hamburg before you decide to move?

I went with dh to vote today but I wasn't allowed of course and it got me thinking why I don't have a German passport. Anyone ever thought about it? It'd also be so much cheaper (if we do end up staying here) to renew passports, the dc only have German ones now anyway because the British ones were so expensive.

LinzerTorte Sun 20-Jan-13 16:45:12

Nutella Speaking as someone who is still irrationally annoyed, eight years later, about PIL insisting that they couldn't come for their first visit to see DD2 (a wek or two old at the time) without DH's niece, I don't think YABU in the slightest. And particularly not if they're making it all about them/their grandchild and are criticising you. Sounds like a case of PFBgrandchild... Can you get your DH to have another word with them?

admylin A British friend of mine was considering applying for a German passport, but I don't think she's got round to it yet. I've finally come round to the idea that it's far more sensible for the DC to have Austrian passports, but am still stubbornly clinging on to my Britishness. grin Renewing an Austrian passport would certainly be quicker and easier, though.

LinzerTorte Sun 20-Jan-13 16:47:04

Forgot to say hi to slatternly. smile I'm in Austria, don't know the Hamburg area very well and have never lived in Germany with DC so can't help much with your questions, but it sounds like you've had a lot of good advice already.

LentilAsAnything Sun 20-Jan-13 18:00:07

Aw, Nutella, I feel for you. Sorry you are having this stress. Definitely get those boundaries in now. Or move! smile You are not overreacting. They are obviously mega keen to see your baby, and who wouldn't be, but they need to know you need some space too.

nutella I had something similar with my ILs when ds1 was little. My mum was already very ill then, and I would go back to Germany about every two months to see her. Obviously, as ds1 was still tiny, fully breastfed, and dh was working, I took him with me on every trip home. I did try and see the ILs as often as possible too, but one time they had an absolute screaming fit down the phone at dh. How they never got to see ds1, how my parents always got to see him. And then ended with accusing us of only milking them for the money confused. It was all very odd and ott.

After my anger and annoyance had passed I opted for writing then an email. The ILs are not very good at being reasonable or listening, which is why I thought something in writing would be best. I told them that ds1 is very lucky to have grandparents who care so much about him. And I told them that I want to do everything possible so that they can have a close relationship with him. But that they also have to accept that it is not just about ds1 but also about me, and what I need. Can't remember what else, but since that email, that particular issue has never arisen again. I say 'that particular issue' as there have been several other 'issues' I have had to address...
Sigh, the joy of having in laws wink

I hope you get those boundaries set. More stress is the last thing you need! How is ds now? And how are you?

admylin how would you feel about having a German passport? I don't know why - as I really would not call myself patriotic - but I would feel very odd giving up my German passport. I had to renewing twice while in the UK, and it is expensive. But then, it's not that often you have to do it. Would you have any other advantages from having a German passport here?

Hello to everyone else smile

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