Monday, November 30, 2009

Laundry in Germany

Many of the German washers and dryers take much longer to get the laundry done than those in the States.  It takes about 2 hours to wash a load of clothes and 2-3 hours to dry a load.  That may be one reason many people seem to lay their clothes out to dry.  When I first moved here laundry really stressed me out.  As if it's not bad enough without taking so long to get done.  I even shrunk some of our clothes because the dryer never seems to stop!  While we were living in a hotel when we first arrived, after leaving my clothes in dryer for 3 hours and they still were not dry, I took them out laid them in the sauna in our hotel room to dry.  Our old hotel room had its own indoor sauna.  It was in our bathroom, kind of cool but a little weird too. 

Another difference with the typical German washing machines and dryers is they are generally smaller than many of the ones in the States.   Many of the German dryers also have a bucket that fills up with water from the moisture in the dryer.  So when you're done drying clothes you have to dump the water. Also most clothes you buy in Germany say not to dry them.  There are pros and cons to that.  On the positive side, your clothes will generally last longer and many of the clothes are made of high quality.  On the negative side, you have to iron everything and you can't wash and dry in one day because it takes a while to air dry clothes.  I hate ironing and so after my husband purchased several shirts and pants in Germany that could not be put in the dryer and wrinkled really bad, we decided it was worth it to buy his work clothes wrinkle and ship them from the United States.  We also lucked out and have washer and dryer connections for an American style washer and dryer.  Therefore our washing machine is a little bigger than the standard German size and we have an air vent so the moisture from our clothes can exit the vent rather than collect in a bucket that has to be emptied in our dryer. It's the little things in life that make life easier.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Carry extra change

When traveling in Germany and in some other European countries it is important to carry extra change with you.  You will need the change to pay to use the restroom.  It usually costs anywhere between 0.30 Euro cent - 0.50 Euro cent.  Places where you normally do not have to pay include McDonalds, most restaurants if you eat at them, and a few retail shops if they have a public WC.  You even have to pay at most malls to use the restroom, usually around 0.30 Euro cent.  Most gas stations cost 0.50 Euro cent but will give you a ticket you can use at the station to buy something.  There are a few exceptions for everyone.  Handicap people usually do not have to pay and if you need to change your baby's diaper you can usually do that for free.  However, not all changing rooms have a toilet, so you may still have to pay for yourself to go.  On the positive side, the restrooms in Germany are usually really clean.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cell Phones in Germany

Many Americans move overseas hoping for the same or similar cell phone service they had in America. That's what we were hoping for too. After 2 months of researching for a cell phone plan we decided to go with T-Mobile because they have free mobile to mobile. That was a BIG mistake. First of all, if you're only planning on living in Germany a few years, don't waste your time with a contract. Just buy a prepaid cell phone plan. We have had so many problems with our bills. Customer service is horrible here. For example, in order to straighten out a cell phone bill one has to go to a T-Mobile store (in our case since we have a contract with T-Mobile), wait in line, then the sales representative will hand write your complaint to T-Mobile and fax it along with a copy of your cell phone bill. Many times you have to make several trips to the store and this process goes and on and on. My advice, stick with prepaid plans.

Here are a few differences in cell phone plans in America and Germany with T-Mobile and many, but not all cell phone companies in Germany and the U.S.

U.S. - free nights and weekends
Germany - unlimited calls to land lines, free incoming calls, free mobile to mobile with certain plans

U.S. - you get a certain amount of minutes per month to use plus free mobile to mobile
Germany - only with the more expensive plans do you get minutes, otherwise you pay to call cell phones outside of your phone plan, most cost 0.29 EUR cent per minute. But unlimited minutes to landlines and mobile to mobile with T-Mobile

U.S. - can call the 800 number when there's a problem with a phone bill and most of the time the phone rep can take care of the problem
Germany - have to make a trip to the store and the sales rep hand writes your problem and faxes it to corporate

U.S. - lots of cheap cell phone plans
Germany - expensive cell phone plans

U.S. - can sign up for a one year contract
Germany - the minimum contract is for 2 years

U.S. - you can leave your cell phone contract after your contract ends
Germany - your contract will renew for another year if you do not send a hand written letter at least 3 months before your contract ends telling them you want to end your contract

What are cell phone plans like in your country? If you have had a good experience with a cell phone company, please share it with us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Making the Move

When my husband decided to accept a job in Germany we both had a lot of mixed feelings, mainly positive ones. A lot changed, I had to quit my job, we had a house in the States and only a month to try and sell it or rent it, and the economy was not doing so good back home. Over all we welcomed the change. My husband's new job sounded interesting. We also thought, what a great opportunity to see Europe. At the time we did not have any kids so it made traveling a lot easier. After two months of living over here, however, I became pregnant with our first child. My pregnancy was an exciting time as we prepared to have a baby overseas.

There is a lot of things to consider before making a move overseas. Here are a few questions to consider before diving forward:

1. Can I afford to move? Losing my salary was a challenge at first especially since we still have a house in the States.

2. Am I okay moving to a place that speaks a different language (unless you already speak the language). Neither one of us spoke German when we moved.

3. How will you keep in contact with family and friends? Thankfully international calling plans are not very expensive so that's a great way to stay in touch. Also the internet is a great tool.

4. Is it a good move, career wise?

5. Do I like to travel? There are so many great opportunities to travel when you move.

6. How will the other members in your family adjust to the move? If you have kids it's especially important to include them in your discussions on moving overseas.


I have been living in Germany for a little over a year with my husband. When we arrived we found little information to help us adjust to life in Germany. I hope this blog will provide information to help others thinking about and making the move overseas. Even if you never plan on living overseas I hope you find our experiences interesting. Since moving to Germany I have given birth to my first child and have experienced many challenges and joys along the way. This blog is dedicated to helping others find their way in Germany.

Feel free to follow me if you are interested. I would also like to make this blog as interactive as possible, so if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment. Enjoy!
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