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Thread: Thoughts on life in Germany

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    Registered User jeff.ferguson's Avatar
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    Thoughts on life in Germany

    I'm strongly considering packing up the family and moving to Germany for a few years. I am a Department of Defense civilian and have an opportunity to take a position in either Stuttgart or the Ramstein area next summer. I know the riding is amazing over there, but the purpose of this thread is to get some of your thoughts on living in Germany. So for those of you who have lived there - what can you tell me? I will make more than enough in salary to cover all expenses, so money is not an issue. I am fairly familiar with the DoD schools in the area, so not too worried about that. But info on everyday life, ie rules, taxes, quirks, and pros/cons of living there would be greatly appreciated. Of course any motorcycle specific info would also be appreciated as I will be shipping my r1150r!

    Thanks,
    Jeff

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff.ferguson View Post
    I'm strongly considering packing up the family and moving to Germany for a few years. I am a Department of Defense civilian and have an opportunity to take a position in either Stuttgart or the Ramstein area next summer. I know the riding is amazing over there, but the purpose of this thread is to get some of your thoughts on living in Germany. So for those of you who have lived there - what can you tell me? I will make more than enough in salary to cover all expenses, so money is not an issue. I am fairly familiar with the DoD schools in the area, so not too worried about that. But info on everyday life, ie rules, taxes, quirks, and pros/cons of living there would be greatly appreciated. Of course any motorcycle specific info would also be appreciated as I will be shipping my r1150r!

    Thanks,
    Jeff
    America is still a land of opportunity and today we call into remembrance of those that have died for this country. In addition, Mexicans and Cubans die en route in an attempt to get to our great land. And, of course you have who knows how many trying to get here from around the world. We have a statue in a harbor representing our great country. The riding here is amazing as well although perhaps not where you currently live. Many on this forum can lead the way to spectacular good 'ol USA riding. Are you sure you really want to leave America?

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    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    We spent two tours living in West Germany in the 70s and 80s. Keep that in mind when evaluating my comments. I also made over 20 short visits to Germany for meetings and exercises.

    We lived in Heidleburg for a year, Mannheim for two years and Ansbach for two years.

    We loved Germany and having the ability to drive or ride to many countries. Where you live will play a part in how you enjoy your stay. We liked Heidleburg and loved Ansbach in Baveria. Try to live away from the American enclaves and find a place in a small German village. While assigned in Heidleburg we lived in a small village outside the city (St. Ilgen) and loved it. In Mannheim we lived in an American housing area and were far less happy. In Ansbach we again went out to a farming village (Aurach) and loved it.

    Watch your waistline. Eating in a German Gasthaus and drinking their bier and wine is a good way to put on the weight. My fondest memories are of running at 6 AM in a 10k Volksmarch followed by a couple of beers, and riding around Baveria in the fall visiting the small fests that every village seems to hold at the end of harvest.

    It will be a wonderful experience if you make an effort to absorb their culture and learn a little German instead of holding up in an American ghetto and occasionally being a tourist.
    Last edited by AKBEEMER; 05-27-2013 at 10:45 PM.
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    Registered User jeff.ferguson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy walker View Post
    America is still a land of opportunity and today we call into remembrance of those that have died for this country. In addition, Mexicans and Cubans die en route in an attempt to get to our great land. And, of course you have who knows how many trying to get here from around the world. We have a statue in a harbor representing our great country. The riding here is amazing as well although perhaps not where you currently live. Many on this forum can lead the way to spectacular good 'ol USA riding. Are you sure you really want to leave America?
    I think you may have misinterpreted my post. I'm not looking to leave the U.S. for good - just for a few years. It's a great opportunity to live abroad that my family may never get again.

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    Any place where WalMart can't survive has to be OK.

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    Registered User jeff.ferguson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBEEMER View Post
    We spent two tours living in West Germany in the 70s and 80s. Keep that in mind when evaluating my comments. I also made over 20 short visits to Germany for metings and exercises.

    We lived in Heidleburg for a year, Mannheim for two years and Ansbach for two years.

    We loved Germany and having the ability to drive or ride to many countries. Where you live will play a part in how you enjoy your stay. We liked Heidleburg and loved Ansbach in Baveria. Try to live away from the American enclaves and find a plave in a small German village. WHile assigned in Heidleburg we lived in a small village outside the city (St. Ilgen) and loved it. In Mannheim we lived in an American housing area and were far less happy. In Ansbach we again went out to a farming village (Aurach) and loved it.

    Watch your waistline. Eating in a German Gasthaus and drinking their bier and wine is a good way to put on the weight. My fondest memories are of running at 6 AM in a 10k Volksmarch followed by a couple of beers, and riding around Baveria in the fall visiting the small fests that every village seems to hold at the end of harvest.

    It will be a wonderful experience if you make an effort to absorb their culture and learn a little German instead of holding up in an American ghetto and occasionally being a tourist.
    I'll have to find a balance between German culture and maintaining our "American" way of life. Four school age kids will dictate that we become a part of the local military community, but at the same time everyone is up for the adventure of living amongst the locals and embracing their culture. As a government civilian, we are not allowed to live on base/post, so out only option is to live in a local village.

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    Registered User WalterK75's Avatar
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    Drive right, pass left. This is strictly enforced I understand. Living in a smaller town sounds like great advice. I don't know if it's possible, but you might want to look into getting your children into local schools where they will learn German and make new friends. Finally, living outside of North America and hearing news etc at a distance changes one's perceptions of things. Sounds like you have a great opportunity and I strongly encourage you to go for it.
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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff.ferguson View Post
    I'll have to find a balance between German culture and maintaining our "American" way of life. Four school age kids will dictate that we become a part of the local military community, but at the same time everyone is up for the adventure of living amongst the locals and embracing their culture. As a government civilian, we are not allowed to live on base/post, so out only option is to live in a local village.
    Sounds like a fantastic opportunity for everyone in the family.
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    I was born and lived in Germany for 36 years before I came to the U.S. I still go over there frequently (as 6-8 times a year). Things have changed since I moved away from there, but there is still a distinct difference as far as daily life is concerned.
    While those who come from over there will find it more pleasant here as far as the "space" is concerned, it may be a challenge for those who go over there to cope with the closeness of everything - including your neighbors. There is a distinct advantage, however, of having a lot of things within walking distance from you residence, such as grocery- and drug-stores. You don't have to jump in the car and drive two miles to get a quart of milk.
    Traffic , as Walter hints, is significantly different. Substantially more discipline and a higher level of skill among all drivers. Be prepared to be honked at a lot the first couple of weeks. In Germany, you only use the left lanes when you are passing somebody. The police may even pull you over, if you are a "left lane hugger".
    You mention "taxes" and I hope your assignment will provide some tax protection clause. Otherwise be prepared to be shell-shocked if you have to pay German taxes. Although you think you will be comfortable regarding your income, cost of living is quite a bit higher over there and it is not like it used to be in the 60s and early 70s when GIs used to own the place because the Greenback was worth 4 German Marks.
    Things that cost 1 U.S. Dollar here, cost 1 Euro over there and that makes stuff 1.3 times more expensive automatically.
    I could go on for a bit, but that would probably exceed the frame of this forum. We can continue some of this via pm or e-mail.

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    IMO, the educational/cultural experience value to your kids is beyond measure! Given that Germany is a safe, beautiful country to live,work & play-go for it! Have I lived there, no. I always encouraged my kids to reach out into the world. Logical to ask here too.
    "If I had my life to live over, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time...I'd relax,I'd limber up... I would take fewer things seriously...take more chances... take more trips...climb more mountains...swim more rivers...eat more ice cream." Jorge Luis Borges at age 85.

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    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    Your income will not be subject to German taxes, but you will however pay any sales taxes. If your Frau were to get a job on the German economy, then the tax situation for her would be complex. If she were to get a job working on a US installation, then she too would be exempt from their income taxes. Will you get a COLA for living in Germany?

    I envy the adventure you and your family are about to undertake.
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    Registered User kthflieger's Avatar
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    not unlike Mike, I too grew up in Germany and still have family and friends in Stuttgart. I go back often. I also have family near Munich and Duesseldorf with whom I have done some riding so I can give you lots of good info if you want to contact me via PM. Good Luck. You and your kids will enjoy it!
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    Registered User jeff.ferguson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBEEMER View Post
    Your income will not be subject to German taxes, but you will however pay any sales taxes. If your Frau were to get a job on the German economy, then the tax situation for her would be complex. If she were to get a job working on a US installation, then she too would be exempt from their income taxes. Will you get a COLA for living in Germany?

    I envy the adventure you and your family are about to undertake.
    I know my income won't be taxed, and I doubt my wife would work (3 little kids and a teenager), but if she did, she would work on one of the bases/posts. And yes, I would get paid a living and quarters allowance - basically COLA. It's a pretty lucrative deal actually....

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    Registered User jeff.ferguson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kthflieger View Post
    not unlike Mike, I too grew up in Germany and still have family and friends in Stuttgart. I go back often. I also have family near Munich and Duesseldorf with whom I have done some riding so I can give you lots of good info if you want to contact me via PM. Good Luck. You and your kids will enjoy it!
    If I get one of the jobs I'm looking into, I will certainly be in touch! Thanks...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff.ferguson View Post
    I think you may have misinterpreted my post. I'm not looking to leave the U.S. for good - just for a few years. It's a great opportunity to live abroad that my family may never get again.
    I do realize you said for a few years and you are getting a lot of support from the forum and helpful advice.

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